Illustration: Whitefall 🚌

All aboard!

Hello my lovelies! So glad to sit in front of a keyboard and talk to you all again, because wow — it has been a while!
Since we last talked, I moved to a different city and settled in at my new house. It took some effort to get my drawing battlestation up and working again, but now I am back, more rested than ever, stylus poised and ready!

Let's do this!


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I immediately sprung back into action when my old pal David Cummings of the NoSleep Podcast asked me to illustrate the cover art for the season finale of season 12 of the show.

As I mentioned before, I consider drawing the finale artworks a very special honor that I was lucky enough to have done multiple times in the past (The Public Domain, When the Stars Go Out and The Hidden Webpage).

The script for this episode, entitled Whitefall, came from C.K. Walker and really took me on a fantastic and intruiging journey.

First ideas

The story's main protagonist, Kris Stykes has a fight with his girlfriend and sets out on a very long bus journey across the US. As usual, I'm trying to keep this mostly spoiler free, so I won't tell you where the good guy ends up, but I think I won't give away anything when I say that what looks like a bad situation quickly becomes a bad, bad situation.

Kris spends the first few scenes of the story carefully rationing out his remaining cigarettes, so the image of him lighting a smoke was the first idea that popped into my head. Even if the protagonist quits his addiction later on in the story, he ponders some really deep questions while smoking, which was exactly the light I wanted to portray him in.

Since a lonely figure standing in the foreground would make for a pretty dull picture, I wanted to incorporate other important facts from the story as well. My first idea, as you can see in this sketch, was having the objects - including a poptart and a payphone - fade into the cigarette's smoke in the background.

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While I was still tinkering around with the arrangement of the different objects, my girlfriend just happened to walk past my art tablet and asked: "Why don't you just use the smoke to draw the other stuff?"

And - of course - that's exactly what I did!

Painting smoke

Painting smoke, whether from cigarettes or campfires, is actually one of my favorite things to do! I started out with a technique similar to this Photoshop tutorial, relying heavily on Photoshop's Liquify filter, which helps you "smudge" around shapes and can achieve some stunning results if done right!

It worked well for a while, but the fading of the Liquify filter caused the image to get a little "cluttered" after a while. Especially when you're trying to build something the viewer can recognize from the chaotic lines, you need some more clarity.

So I decided to just have parts of the smoke be this playful and chaotic (as you can mainly see in front of Kris' face), but paint the other parts with a soft brush and a lot of patience.

After I sent the image off to the NoSleep team, David asked me if I could include a snow storm effect into the painting to hint at the fact that most of the story takes place in a blizzard. I achieved this by:

  • building a brush in Photoshop which paints pseudo-random dots
  • altering those dots by hand so they seemed more natural
  • using a combination of gaussian blur and motion blur to give it the illusion of motion
  • doing multiple layers of this so it actually looks like the snow is wafting around Kris

End result

I'm pleased as punch with how the final illustration came out. I think the central focus on Kris and one of his last cigarettes works well, and the smoky figures in the background hint at different parts of the story, without giving too much away.

I hope you enjoy the illustration as much as I enjoyed making it.

All the best,

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Illustration: Pass It On 📝

I started the game with a plea. I don’t want to play anymore. The scrawled message was almost illegible as if even this violated some implicit rule. My hand kept moving across the page. Before I even realized what I was doing, before I realized I wasn’t in control of my arm anymore, I’d written a reply.
“Pass it on.”

— "Pass It On" by Penny Tailsup

Read More

Illustration: The Public Domain 📚 (plus a video!)

Every once in a while, a commission makes me smile even more than usual. And David from the NoSleep Podcast asking me if I'm up to do artwork for the season finale makes me smile so hard my face hurts.

The season finale of season 11 was even more of a nice surprise than usual, because not only did it feature multiple stories, but the main story (which the team asked me to focus on) was written by Henry Galley, one of my favorite NoSleep authors and a personal friend.

So, before I talk about the process a bit more, let me first present my artwork for The Public Domain:

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Making use of the Public Domain

Henry's story revolves around, without giving away anything too important for the story, characters from the Public Domain coming to a dangerous mockery of real life. Featuring characters that were not copyrighted anymore, the story awarded me with an awesome opportunity: I could actually do a kind of fanart and draw depictions of well-known characters in my style!

The first step in my art process involved, as it always does, research. So I sat down with a nice cup of coffee and visited Project Gutenberg. After giving it some thought and getting input from my girlfriend, I settled on the characters of Robin Hood (from "The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood"), Alice (from "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland") and Sherlock Holmes (from "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes").

My goal was to find the author's original description of their respective characters. I wanted to find a balance between those descriptions (to stay true to the source material) and the way they are usually depicted in popular culture (to make them more recognizable).

Shading with text

While I was working on my first character, Alice, my girlfriend and I came up with an awesome idea: Why not use layers of text to create the faces? To try that out, I copied huge chunks of the original text into Photoshop using a small font size and used the layer mask feature to make them appear in certain places.

This enabled me to basically "paint" with text! By layering different passages of the source material on top of each other, so that the letters of one text fill out the spaces of the other, I could achieve the look of a darker shading while I used another layer written in a white font to create highlights.

If that sounds convoluted, that's because, well, it kind of is! So I recorded a little video to explain it better.

Enjoy!

PodUK Conference, Birmingham, UK

Last Friday, I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. After providing artwork for the NoSleep Podcast for four years now, the day had finally come: I finally got to meet some of my lovely coworkers. Last Friday, my partner and I boarded a plan and set off on our merry way to Birmingham, UK, to attend the PodUK conference.

PodUK is, as the name might suggest, a conference centered around podcasting and those who do it, focused, not surprisingly, around the British podcasting scene.

Early on Saturday morning, we arrived (a little grumpy after having to switch out the morning coffee for the customary tea) at Millenium Point (the venue for this event).
While we were still busy getting our bearings, we were already set upon by Erika Sanderon and David Ault with impetuous hugs and warm welcomes.
I was especially happy to meet these two because (apart from being awesome, genuinely warm, and friendly people) they were the exact two voice actors who lend their voices to Minnie and the nameless protagonist, the characters of Word & Color, the first story I wrote for the podcast.

The PodUK staff honored us with a table we could spread out on, so Erika and I started decorating it with our merchandise.
It’s amazing how much professional artwork and graphic design the podcast has accumulated over the years. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a genuine twinge of pride for being part of this project when I saw it all laid out.

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As soon as we had set up, the visitors started trickling in, and we had countless amazing interactions with the podcast’s fans, who - I have to say - are a very pleasant bunch.
In addition to our morning crew, I also had the honor of meeting voice actors James Cleveland and Brian Mansi, as well as the authors Henry Galley, Meghan Tuten and Gemma Amore.

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Some more Highlights

The day had so many great moments that writing them all out in detail would surely be out of scope for this little article, so I present them to you in list form:

  • I attended a lovely coaching session with Robin from Coaching for Geeks in which we, as a group, talked about the challenges we faced in our creative endeavors and gave each other tips as to how to overcome them
  • I had the pleasure of attending a live performance by the folks from Wooden Overcoats. If you’re into bone dry, morbid, British humor, you owe it to yourself to check out one of their episodes. I was laughing my proverbial ass off
  • NoSleep hosted a Meet’n’Greet during which I talked to countless fans about working for the podcast, my art process, and all things NoSleep.
    Furthermore, I also had the genuine pleasure to meet Alasdair Stuart, founder of the Escape Artists podcast network. I’ve been a fan of his work ever since I contributed to PseudoPod as a voice-over artist way, WAY back in the day

Last, but not least, the convention ended with a live performance by the NoSleep people. Erika, David, and James performed “Eternally Yours”, a story by Elias Witherow, which was set in the same Black Farm universe as the notorious “Feed the Pig” and “Escape the Black Farm”.

After being a fan of the podcast for so long, seeing them perform live was quite the experience. The video of the performance is not out yet by the time I write this, but you should definitely keep your eyes peeled.

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So sad to say goodbye

After the convention ended, we joined the NoSleep folks for a pint at the pub, before we said our sad farewells. The day had left me exhausted in body but rejuvenated in spirit. I left with a heart full of friendship and a head filled to the brim with exciting new art ideas.

I think it was really important to spend this day with people who are as passionate about bringing the fruit of their creativity to life as I am. In the grind of our daily lives, it’s really easy to lose your focus or lack the energy to pursue our creative endeavors, especially after all of life's little responsibilities keep pulling you off-track.
Spending time with people who still manage was genuinely inspiring to me.

I sincerely hope this was not the last convention I attended with these friends and I can’t wait to see all of them again.

Stay weird, folks.

Illustration: Secrets and Motives

Oh poor, poor Bethany…

Hello folks!
I know it's been a while since you read from me, but that has beautiful reasons: I was travelling the world!
Not only have I been to the US of A to visit scenic Pennsylvania, but I also pitched my tent between the rugged mountains on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.

The vacations were a much-needed break from work to get my creative juices flowing again, and boy oh boy, did it work! The first illustration after my absence was for the NoSleep podcast:

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Bethany:

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Bad to the bones

WARNING: SPOILERS FOR THE STORY AHEAD!

When I first read the story, “Secrets and Motives”, by author Tristan Lince, I immediately had the finished image in my head and “just” had to put it on the digital canvas!
When you listen to the story, you might find agreeing that the skeletal hand is a striking image.

I picked up my iPad and began the process of creating the image. As a first step, I used an app called Handy Art Reference Tool that allowed me to pose a digital hand exactly like I wanted it to:

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The main challenge here was posing the hand in a way that would hide the missing fingers! I wanted the NoSleep fans to think it would be just your typical, run-of-the-mill skeletal hand and to realize the fact that it's owner suffered an injury only after listening to the story!

Then, I googled around for some medical illustrations and brushed up on the actual anatomy of the human hand. Since I didn't find any reference images that matched the pose I had in mind, of course, I had to figure out how the bones would be arranged if they would be arranged the way my digital hand was.

Here's me figuring it out, in sketch form:

Stretching my legs in a new art style

I've been realing enjoying the digital ink look I used in my illustration Driftwood, but I wanted to try out how the style would look if I added some color to it.

I wanted the color to be less polished than my other illustrations. Mr. Clacky-Teeth, for example, has a more photorealistic look, but I was pretty sure that would clash with the illustrative look of this piece.

So I used a broader, more textured brush for painting and blended the colors less. Thus, I was able to achieve a more natural and painterly look for the artwork.

Back in the game

I'm really happy that the NoSleep Podcast gave me the opportunity to stretch my art legs again.

There are some very cool things and projects coming my way soon, and I promise that you guys will be the first to hear about it.

As always, I hope you enjoyed this illustration and I will see you soon!

Take care, my lovelies,

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Illustration: Survival Kitten 😺🔪

Out in the jungle, all on your own...

I was not always what you would call an outdoorsy person. My childhood was almost entirely spend indoors, alternating between devouring books and immersing myself in video games.

It was way past my adolescence that I discovered my intense love of nature. This love not only manifested itself in my choice to go vegan to try and minimize the damage I do on Mother Nature and our furry friends, but also in a change in my interests and hobbies.

Sure, I still love books and games, but you can also often find me under a blue sky. Be it geocaching, running, bicycling, or hiking, if it can be done outside, I love it! And if there is a way to spend a vacation with a tent on my back and some sturdy boots on my feet, then count me right the frick in!

So, of course, I was more than excited when the guys from the online card game Catamancer asked me to illustrate their card Survival Kitten.

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Kitten overload

Survival Kitten marks the fourth illustration I did for Catamancer. If you want to check the first three illustrations, here is Catsplosion, Cardboard Box and Cookie Cutter Cut.

Working with Frostbolt Games, the publisher of Catamancer, is an absolute blast, and this time was no different.

When I posted my initial idea about my little rambo cat, cute but also ferocious, they were game immediately. And I have to say, folks, I didn't have so much fun drawing something in a long time!

It all started with a base sketch that I did on my iPad in Procreate. I've gotten into the habit of taking my iPad to work with me and merrily scribbling away on it during my lunchbreak. I know, I know, it's not the most healthy habit and I should take a break once in a while, but LOOK AT THOSE EYES! IRRESTISTABLE! How could you leave that alone?

A question of color

So, which color should the cat be? Now, personally, I'm a big fan of black cats (and not just because my partner's cat is black, which — by the way — was the reason for the cat in the "Cardboard Box" illustration being black), but I wanted to go with something more colorful for this illustration.

Since I already knew the camouflage shirt would be predominantly green, I thought the orange coat would fit that just fine and would also go along nicely with the blue background.

The cat's eyes have been orange, too...until the home stretch of the artwork, when my partner suggested that I should try icy blue instead. The reason being — you guessed it — another cat that we know. :)

Anyway, drawing the kitten was a lot of fun, I am really pleased with the results and I hope I can work for the Catamancer game again in the future and draw some more furry critters.

In the meantime, please make sure to find the cat nearest to you and give it a little pet!

Cheers,

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Illustration: Mr. Clacky-Teeth 🐰

"You always forget my dentures, Holly!"

In this week's episode of the NoSleep podcast, the protagonist of the titular story Mr. Clacky-Teeth makes reluctant acquaintance with her roommate's stuffed bunny slash ventriloquist dummy.

While she gets an eerie vibe from the toy right away, she ignores it at her own peril until she finds herself forced into finding out about the history of the rabbit's dentures.

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Emulate another style? Or do my own thing?

As I have mentioned in the past, I try to not spoil the story's reveal of the creature if they have some kind of monster in them, but in this case, since the rabbit is introduced in the first scene, I thought I could make an exception.

Besides, who could resisting drawing this smile?

The image of the puppet formed in my head pretty quickly; and the final result ended up looking pretty close to my original idea. For the background, however, I had to decide between two very different ideas.

The first idea is the one that made it into the final artwork. Since the girl in the story uses Mr. Clacky-Teeth as a ventriloquist dummy in a standup routine, I sat him on a bar stool onstage in a dimly lit café.

The second idea would have ended up blindingly colorful. The story tells us that Mr. Clacky-Teeth's owner Holly hangs a poster featuring the artwork of Lisa Frank. If you're from outside the US like I am, you might not have heard of her — in that case I strongly recommend clicking that link and looking at her art.

It is — and I can say that without hyperbole — an awesome experience.

Her style is so unique in fact, that I shied away from trying to emulate it. I never worked in her overly cartoony, bright and over-the-top style, and trying to bring myself up to speed to do her justice seemed like a larger task than I could tackle in the time I had at my disposal.

So! Dimly lit stand-up café it is!


An unwitting model

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Shortly after the episode was released this Sunday, Lindsay Moore, the story's author contacted me on Twitter.

"It looks uncannily like the inspiration for Mister Clacky-Teeth," she wrote. "How did you know what my childhood bunny looks like?!"

One could argue that toy bunnies look somewhat alike, but I'm still happy that I unwittingly chose a likeliness for her imagined creature that made her think of her childhood toy.

I love my job so much.

Finished Product: Final Boss — The Card Game

IT'S GAME NIGHT, GUYS AND GALS!

Today, we're playing Final Boss!
Wednesday, I received a mystery package from Luxemburg out of the blue. After shaking it carefully (you know, in case someone sent me 1,500 live ladybugs or something), I had to admit I had no idea what could be in there.
The package contained the most beautiful card game package I ever saw, chock full of fun cards with amazing artwork on them.

I'm sure some of you read of Final Boss for the first time, because it's been quite a while that those guys did their Kickstarter campaign. A couple of months before they launched the campaign, I got in contact with Rafael, one of the two creators of the game.

I created 5 illustrations for the game and actually met Rafael and Luis, the co-creator and head artist, during SPIEL, a board- and card game convention in Essen, Germany.

We played a round of their game prototype, which still had a lot of placeholder artwork and lacked the final polish of the game rules and just had a ton of fun together.

So you can understand why receiving the finished game with my art on it means a lot to me.

There are few greater feelings to me than seeing my art made real in the world.

I love my job.

Kisses,

Illustration: Cookie Cutter Cat

Look what the cat dragged in!

Hello folks!
It's been a while since last we spoke, but now I emerged from my hole with some new art in tow! Check out Cookie Cutter Cat, my newest illustration for the game Catamancer!

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Catamancer is a free-to-play online card game centered around, you guessed it, cats! This little cutie pie is the third illustration I did for the game so far, after "Catsplosion" and "Cardboard Box".

None of the three cards are playable in the game so far (and neither is the secret fourth one I'm working on!), so you guys are getting an exclusive sneak peek!

See you again soon for the next adorable cat!

All the best,

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Illustration: Driftwood

Imagine yourself, if you will,...

...taking a leisurely stroll at the beach, the gently settling evening sun warming your skin, the crash of waves in your ears, the warm sands under your feet.

When you see something protruding from the sand, looking — at first glance — like an intricate entanglement of sun-bleached driftwood. You think about taking some of it as a souvenir, when, suddenly, the sands start to shift...

Deer God! (get it?)

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"Driftwood" is the newest story by author Manen Lyset, who is a very consistent contributor to the NoSleep Podcast.

So consistant, in fact, that his story "The Pigeons Around Here Aren't Real" was the very first story I illustrated for the podcast! That was three years ago already...man, time flies!

You can listen to the fantastic production of "Driftwood" here!.

Anyway, while I normally dive into research for inspiration when I start on an illustration, I started with a very clear picture in mind with this one: the deer creature was just too cool to not draw it!

I wanted to do a very illustrative style in either black and white or a very limited color palette.
In the end I opted for black and white because the color of the skull and the color of bleached driftwood is pretty close together, which would have left me with a flat-looking and boring picture.


 

More color! MORE COLOR!!!

The background originally started as a simple greyscale gradient with some texture painted into it because I wanted the skull to be the star of this image.

However, as the painting progressed, the composition looked a little tame, I spruced it up by adding the triangle and the "magic sigil" with a cool flame effect. Fun fact: the sigil was originally intended for another project that never came to pass, so it found its new home here and saved me some time!

 

Recording the process

Because Manen and I are friends, and because he expressed his interest when I told him I'm working on his story, I decided to record the whole process. Every single brushstroke, every art decision I made, all in a single video!

I'm currently in the process of mastering it (read: I am too dumb to master it and have to google and learn how to do it), but I will absolutely make sure to share the video here.

I hope you like the illustration as much as I do, because I'm really content with how it came out.

All the best,

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Sketch: Paniivar, the Broken Promise

Hello folks!

I'm currently working on two different commissions, and since I can't show you these yet (no spoiling the fun!), I want to present you with something special.

Dear reader, may I introduce to you:

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Paniivar, the Broken Promise

Paniivar is my first drawing for a project with the working title "Beneath Two Pale Suns. It's a personal project in which I want to explore a new art style and experiment with different ideas in the weird fantasy genre.

The project will be set in a nameless parallel universe, in which human life as we know it never developed and into which only some us will ever tread. It's a vast desert landscape with ancient, long forgotten cultures that operates under rules of physics which will seem alien, illogical and sometimes downright hostile to us humans.

While the denizens of this universe are usually not directly hostile towards humankind, you should watch out all the same, should you ever find yourself beneath the twin wan suns. The place was not designed for humans to walk.


Origin story

I first explored the idea of this world in a short story named "Word & Color" that I wrote for the NoSleep podcast.

If you're a season pass member of the podcast, you can listen to stellar production in S09E03. David Ault & Erika Sanderson fucking nailed this.

You can also read the story here:


I hope you guys enjoy the sketch so far, and I will — of course — keep you posted on the progress of this piece! Furthermore, I plan to write up a piece on background lore for her that is developing nicely so far.

All the best,

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Illustration: Cardboard Box — Catamancer 🐱

Catamancer's back!

Oh yes, folks, it's been quite a while since I last drew for the folks of Catamancer but I have to say: this illustration has been exactly as fun as the last one.

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Catamancer is a free-to-play online card game centered around — you guessed it — cats! The Cardbox Box card can be played to hide other cats inside it so they can't be attacked by your enemy.

Drawing animals is a little bit outside of my comfort zone, which is why I decided to go even further outside of it: by trying a new process.

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My usual process takes place entirely in Photoshop: from sketch to the final adjustments on the image, all is done in Adobe's flagship software.

But lately, I've been tinkering around with the app Procreate, a digital drawing software for the Apple iPad Pro (affiliate link).

I couldn't really put my finger on the why, but I have noticed it makes my sketches much more loose and fun.

After the sketch was completed, I imported it into Photoshop and painted like I normally do.

I'm very pleased with the finished product, so I think I will continue to explore this avenue!

Hope you like the artwork, and I'd be delighted if you checked out the game!

All the best,

Illustration: BB-8 Birthday Card

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away...

...Jörn picked up a pencil to draw a traditional illustration! I know, it's rare, because I mostly work digital, but once in a while, it's a lot of fun. Pencils are my favorite traditional medium, mainly because I love the haptic feel of drawing on paper with a freshly sharpened pencil.

Please enjoy this BB-8 birthday card that I drew for my delightful girlfriend:

When photographing artwork, it's — of course — *very* important to also include the tools you used!

When photographing artwork, it's — of course — *very* important to also include the tools you used!

You can think about Force Awakens what you want (some say it's a brilliant installment in the Star Wars series, some think it's a smoldering garbage fire), but I not only enjoyed the movie a lot, but also have found memories of because it's one of the first movies my girlfriend and I bonded over.

Furthermore, you just can't argue with the fact that BB-8 is simply the cutest.

The gift of art

I simply love drawing birthday cards. In fact, creating presents for people is one of the main reasons I became an artist in the first place.
After you reach a certain age (I'm old, shut up), birthday presents can quickly start to lose their meaning. Since we all make our own money, we might get used to simply clicking on an Amazon link instead of writing a wish list.

That's why I think it's extra important to give gifts with meaning. Trust me, I know how corny this sounds, but I take a deep delight in gifting something that I created myself and that is thus unique in the whole world.

No one else has this birthday card. There exists only one copy of it.

And that makes me happy.

Illustration: The Conqueror Worm

“It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs”

But see, amid the mimic rout,
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.
— Edgar Allan Poe — The Conqueror Worm

After having the honor of drawing not one (Season Finale: The Hidden webpage), not two (Valentine's Day Special) but three (NoSleep Live 2018) special episodes for NoSleep in a row, we return to our normally scheduled program with Season 10 Episode 15.

One of the old masters

But this illustration turned out to be a special one, after all, because in this episode the NoSleep team produces material from the public domain for the first time!

The episode's first story is actually a poem called The Conqueror Worm by noone else but one of the greatest godfathers of horror literature: Edgar Allan Poe himself.

So in order to do this occasion justice, I decided to go with a portrait of the master. The reference I used, of course, is the famous photograph of him we all know (or more accurately: the daguerreotype of him!), and while it was a lot of fun to paint, I had to work for a while to get the likeness of the portrait excactly where I wanted it.
The photograph is so well known that I wanted to get as close to it as I possibly could.

Imagining a worm

In the poem, Poe sets up the stage in a strange theater filled with a veiled audience and mimes dancing to and fro. In the climax of the poem (which you can read for free here), a giant worm appears and devours the actors.

While I usually shy away from actually drawing the monster in the story, I found it easy to make an exception for this artwork. First, the poem is quite short, and second, well — the worm is right there in the title!

So I set the sights to the internet to see if I couldn't find some kickass worm paintings to draw inspiration from.

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Of course, it wasn't long before I stumbled over the images drawn for the notorios sandworms of the desert planet Arrakis in the influental Sci-Fi Novel Dune by Frank Herbert.

The first design decision for my worm was foregoing the flaps covering its mouth, but adding some teeth instead — to better devour you with, obviously.

My earlier sketches for my drawing have shown the titular worm dropped around Poe's shoulders in corporeal form, but I couldn't get it to look right.

It took me a while to realize why that was: In the poem, at least in the way I read it, the worm is an allegory for death and not a literal worm. So to indicate that, I opted to draw it in its current, wispy form.

I really hope you like the painting and am very happy to be able to pay my homage to one of horror's greatest.

Until next time, my lovelies, take care,

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Illustration: NoSleep Live 2018 — Escape the Black Farm

Oh boy, what a ride!

In the cold and bleak German winter last year, David Cummings, the showrunner of the NoSleep podcast, brightened my day by commissioning me to draw the illustration for the upcoming NoSleep Live Tour: "SleepLess Live 2018 — Escape the Black Farm".

How can a podcast go on tour, you might ask? Quite well, actually! David and his team, consisting of the vastly talented voice actors and the composer of the music, Brandon Boone, tour the states and do a live reading of the script, accompanied by live music.

Let me show you what I came up with for the design:

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Welcome to purgatory

The title of this year's tour is Escape the Black Farm. The story takes place in the Black Farm (duh), invented and concocted by the amazing Elias Witherow.

The first story in this fictional universe, Feed the Pig, became infamous for NoSleep because it is...well...quite gross, gruesome, and mind-numbingly awesome! (seriously, go listen!)

The titular Pig — with a capital P — also stars in the current tour script, so, naturally, I had to do it justice by drawing my interpretation!

Because I knew that the design would feature on merchandise like posters, banners and t-shirts, I had to work with flat colors. Which means I couldn't blend my brush strokes or create gradients, but had to create the illusion of gradients by painting distinct brush strokes over each other.

This is something I didn't do often yet, but I really like the illustrative look it gave the design! Peeps on Twitter even said it looked like a tattoo, which made me do a little, quite unmasculine squeal of joy.

Strange jewelry

The first order of business was making the Pig look METAL AS ████. It's a demon, after all. The blind eyes and the gross holes in its jaws should do that just fine.

Next, I thought about what the pig might wear as regalia. After all, it's pretty high up in the hierarchy of the farm, so some adornments are in order. I added the big, ugly nail through its skin to indicate a former rite of passage it might have gone through.

The nose piercing, on the other hand...well. It's called a Spiked Nose Ring and it is a cruel practice used in dairy farming in order to prevent the calves nursing on their mother's milk. If you want to know more about it, and can stomach seeing the gruesome conditions of factory farming, here is an article about it.

I thought that the Pig would be just the kind of demon to wear a symbol of animal cruelty as a piece of body jewelry.

Merchandise!

After a lot of work doing the illustration (seriously, I poured a lot of hours into this), David sent me the photos of the finished merchandise a few weeks ago, and my heart almost exploded with joy.

Seeing my illustrations out in the real world always makes me incredibly happy.

Sadly, I won't be able to attend this year's tour. It's going to the United States only, and getting there would necessitate a transatlantic flight.

I really hope I can attend the next tour and meet all the delightful people involved in making this project possible!

A big thank you to David Cummings and the whole NoSleep team. I love all you guys!

Until next time, my lovelies,

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Illustration: When the Stars Go Out

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star…

Hello lovelies!

While I still have a very secret NoSleep project that I'm not allowed to talk about (I know, NDAs suck, but I'll be ready to share it with you soon!), I also have a special illustration to share with you today.

You will recognize the movie poster format of this illustration from my illustration The Hidden Webpage, but while the latter was a Season Finale, the former is for the NoSleep Valentine's Special.

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All lovey-dovey for a change

As you can see on first glance, this is a change from my usual style of horror art. The Valentine's episode goes a slightly different route and tells the story of a tragic couple in love and the hardships they have to face.

I'm not giving too much away when I say the story has some very interesting turns and is a blast to read (seriously, you should check out the episode right now!).

Obviously, I had to change gears with this one a bit. It's not a horror story, it's a straight up drama story, so my illustrative style had to change to reflect that.

First, I took a look at movie posters for drama flicks, to get a sense of a general style.

(You can easily see I don't watch a lot of drama movies)

One design choice that stood out was that love stories tend to have the actors playing the couple at the top, sometimes looking wistfully at each other.

I decided to portray Brian and Robin, the main couple, at a happy moment in their life, and made special effort to make Brian as wistful as I could.

Brian's grasping hand at the bottom, as well as the heartrate element hint at specific points in the story I won't spoil for you here.

Test driving a new style

While I am aware that switching up your style while working on a polished drawing is not the best choice, I did it anyway. :D

The style I used for the illustration leans towards comics much more than usual. If you look closely, for example, you can see it has solid color lines, something I usually don't do in my drawings.

Also, I made it a point to not blend my brushstrokes too much to give it a more illustrative and less realistic look.

This poster illustration was a lot of work, but I am very happy with the result and am grateful I can share it with you guys here.

As always, until we meet again, take care, my lovelies.

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Learn digital art with me — My courses on Skillshare!

Hello my lovelies,

I still remember the feeling when I first picked up a stylus and set out on my art journey. I was bright-eyed, optimistic and inspired, yes, but I was also 100% clueless and bumbled my way through more errors than my Cintiq has pixels.

But you don't have to make the same mistakes I did! If you are at all interested in creating digital art yourself (and believe me, you can!), read on!


My offer for blog readers

I would really like to teach you what I know about digital art. This is why, if you sign up for Skillshare (and enjoy their staggering amount of content!) using my referral link, you will get 2 month of Skillshare Premium for free.

Not only that, but my class Emulate Traditional Media in Your Linework is (and will continue to be) completely free, no strings attached, no bullshit, whether you sign up for Skillshare Premium or not.


My online courses on creating digital art


So far, I created two online courses which will teach you different aspects of being a digital artist over on Skillshare (and you will — of course — be the first to know if I publish new courses!) that I want to showcase here.

You can find my teacher profile here for an always-updated list or to just say hi.

Adobe Photoshop: Squeaky Clean Edges in Your Drawings

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When creating simple and fun illustrations in Photoshop, it is important to keep a clean and concise look to your forms so you can work loosely and freely without worrying about whether it will impact your drawing’s neat look!

In this class, you will learn different tools to block in colors with sharp, clean edges and a variety of methods you can use in order to make your pixels stay where they belong.


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One of Photoshop's most amazing features for creating digital drawings is the possibility to influence how your brush tool works.
This becomes particularly exciting when you use Photoshop to emulate traditional drawing media, like for example pencil, watercolor, ink or brush pen.

In this free and short class, I want to show you how you can use your standard brush tool to give your linework a more textured and nuanced look and how to make people swear that your lines were actually drawn on paper.


I would love it if you checked out the courses and told me what you think! Also, if you have any questions concerning the process of creating digital art, I'd be glad to answer them — perhaps even in video form!

Illustration: Ravenclaw Crest

Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
if you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind.
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

A very special christmas present

Hey there, lovelies!

First of all, how great is the Sorting Hat quiz over on Pottermore?
Second of all, Ravenclaw represent!

Last year, I found myself in need of a very special Christmas present for a very special person. And what do broke artists give as Christmas presents? That's right, art, obvs.

Click to enlarge!

So. Many. Dots!

The more attentive of you will notice immediately that this is not a digital drawing! It's right, I don't venture into traditional art that often, but one of the styles I like to do is called Pointillism (or sometimes also dotwork).

It is created by making lots of tiny little dots close to each other. Because the human eye tends to see those close dots as one surface, you can create darker colors by clustering dots closer to each other.

I like it a lot because — similar to digital art — you can layer shading on top of each other. Start with a light grey color and then build up more and more dots on top of each other until have you have exactly the shade you want.

That way, it's easy to go back and make a certain area of an image darker.

Closeup. Sorry for the blurry camera quality.

The downside of Pointillism is…well.
There's a metric !@#$ton of dots to make!

I didn't look at the time while working, but this picture must have taken more than 20 hours to make.

Working on this artwork showed me again how important it is to take care of yourself and your hand. Pointillism requires a lot of precision because one out of place dot is something you can't take back.
And holding your hand in a constricted pose and making the repetitive motions required to make the dots will bang up your wrist faster than you can say Episkey.

What I'm saying is, if you're doing art, please take care of yourself and remember to stretch often.

— Jörn