Illustration: The Graduation ūüĒ™

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Man, in the years and years I‚Äôve been work¬≠ing with David Cum¬≠mings and his team for the NoSleep pod¬≠cast, they sure nev¬≠er ceased to amaze me with the amount of excit¬≠ing and inter¬≠est¬≠ing projects they throw my way.

I can say with­out hyper­bole that work­ing for them has been one of the most impor­tant steps in my art career.

This week, I was asked to illus¬≠trate ‚Äč‚ÄúThe Grad¬≠u¬≠a¬≠tion‚ÄĚ by D. Williams. Let me show you the art¬≠work before I tell you why this par¬≠tic¬≠u¬≠lar illus¬≠tra¬≠tion stands out.

The Graduation

Just a very nor¬≠mal camp¬≠ing trip

For my excite¬≠ment to make sense, you must first know that the NoSleep Pod¬≠cast some¬≠times fea¬≠tures ad-reads. Rather than read a bor¬≠ing, boil¬≠er¬≠plate text, though, they have fun with it. All adver¬≠tise¬≠ments are a fun¬≠ny mini-sto¬≠ry, firm¬≠ly anchored in the hor¬≠ror genre, but usu¬≠al¬≠ly hilar¬≠i¬≠ous. Instead of being a jar¬≠ring inter¬≠rup¬≠tion in your nor¬≠mal enjoy¬≠ment of your enter¬≠tain¬≠ment, they pro¬≠vide some¬≠thing many fans look for¬≠ward to.

This week‚Äôs spon¬≠sor is none oth¬≠er than Amer¬≠i¬≠can Hor¬≠ror Sto¬≠ry! The hor¬≠ror anthol¬≠o¬≠gy is cur¬≠rent¬≠ly pro¬≠duc¬≠ing a new series called Amer¬≠i¬≠can Hor¬≠ror Sto¬≠ry 1984 (which is, coin¬≠ci¬≠den¬≠tal¬≠ly, my birth year) and will the¬≠mat¬≠i¬≠cal¬≠ly give a hat-tip to that era‚Äôs slash¬≠er flicks and B hor¬≠ror movies.

If you look over the page for NoSleep‚Äôs S13E12, you will find that the sto¬≠ries also pay homage to that same theme. 

One theme, five illustrators

To cel¬≠e¬≠brate the spe¬≠cial¬≠ness of this episode, NoSleep com¬≠mis¬≠sioned five illus¬≠tra¬≠tors from the team to illus¬≠trate a sto¬≠ry that was fea¬≠tured. All of these illus¬≠tra¬≠tions were insert¬≠ed into a poster design, mak¬≠ing them look like VHS tapes (aah, the memories).

Here’s the full spread:


From top left to bot¬≠tom right: 

How I did the illustration

I start¬≠ed my work, as usu¬≠al, by doing research. This led me down a delight¬≠ful path of cheesy and some¬≠times out¬≠right kitschy 80s slash¬≠er hor¬≠ror posters.

One ele¬≠ment that fea¬≠tured in many of the designs was the killer or crea¬≠ture (the ‚Äč‚ÄúBig Creepy‚ÄĚ, as it‚Äôs some¬≠times called in our house¬≠hold) loom¬≠ing men¬≠ac¬≠ing¬≠ly over our pro¬≠tag¬≠o¬≠nists. That, togeth¬≠er with the fact that one of the vic¬≠tims in the sto¬≠ry describes the killer as hav¬≠ing no face, gave me my first idea.

Since the cab¬≠in by the lake is the only rea¬≠son those poor, mis¬≠guid¬≠ed teenagers are in harm‚Äôs way, I also need¬≠ed to fea¬≠ture it. I chose to depict the scene as harm¬≠less and serene, in stark con¬≠trast to the bloody knife loom¬≠ing over them.

When the illus¬≠tra¬≠tion was almost done, I noticed it being a bit mono¬≠chrome. Thus, the idea of the neon out¬≠line was born. It serves three purposes:

  1. direct the atten­tion of the view­er upwards to the killer
  2. break up the monot­o­ny of the blue hues with some bold colors
  3. give a delight¬≠ful throw¬≠back to 80s aesthetics

All in all, The Grad¬≠u¬≠a¬≠tion was a fun explo¬≠ration into a dif¬≠fer¬≠ent style, and I am very grate¬≠ful to NoSleep for the oppor¬≠tu¬≠ni¬≠ty in tak¬≠ing part in some¬≠thing so cool.

Until next time, my lovelies, stay safe‚ÄČ‚ÄĒ‚ÄČand maybe don‚Äôt make any vaca¬≠tion plans involv¬≠ing remote, qui¬≠et lakes.