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

Illustration: The Hidden Webpage

You coming?

Hello my lovelies,

it's been a few days since I was able to update this blog with some new, delicious art, but that just means I'm all the more excited to share this one with you.

Two weeks ago, I nearly peed my pants out of giddy excitement when David Cummings, showrunner of the NoSleep podcast, asked me if I was up for illustrating the season finale for season 9 of the show.

I was sorely tempted to send an email back simply stating "ARE YOU SHITTING ME OF COURSE I AM", because not only is this a huge deal for me, but the podcast also has some fun with the finales, making them up like movie posters.

You can find some fine examples by my fellow co-artists in the NoSleep shop.

So after some back and forth with David to see if my idea for the poster got the ambience of the episode right, I set to drawing.

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A healthy dose of nostalgia

As someone who grew up when the internet wasn't a thing and who still attaches fond memories to the sound of a modem handshake, The Hidden Webpage was right up my alley from the get-go.

The antagonist of the story is never clearly described, apart from the fact that his face is described as "hazy", which gave me the necessary artistic leeway to make up my representation of the "villain" and having some fun with the glitch effect obscuring his face.

I added the neon stripes of the suit and the splashes in the background to give the image a more retro feeling, and since the story features the early instant messenger ICQ quite prominently, I thought it would be fun to use the program's iconic flower symbol as a pin on the bad guy's suit.

More fun with glitches

To give the background a more "glitchy" and chaotic effect, I copied the whole image to a new document and then used a process called datamoshing.

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The process is actually really simple and just requires the standard Windows text editor Wordpad. You can learn more about how to do it yourself on datamoshing.com.

I then worked this new graphic into the background, polished it up with some scanlines like they occured on old CRT TVs and sent the image out to the cast!

Please make sure to check out The Hidden Webpage on this week's NoSleep podcast, I can assure you it'll take you on a wild ride through the 90s.

Until then, take care, my lovelies.

— Jörn

Illustration: They Stalk the Thicket

Sit down, why don't we have a talk…

Gather round, children, it's NoSleep time again! This time I'm illustrating “They Stalk the Thicket” by author Michael Marks.

Something shady is going on here

The story prominently features the work of the US Department of Agriculture…or so it might seem. Then as the story unfurls, we learn that whatever the protagonist saw in the thicket sure as hell weren't wolves.

I found the idea of the USDA being involved in a government coverup so hilarious that I had to chose that scene for my illustration.

It started with a photograph

I knew exactly how I wanted the scene to look, and I also knew that it would feature some interesting lighting effects playing off of each other — the table being reflected in the laptop is one example of that.

So in order to make sure to have everything aligned properly, I arranged a still life.

Simply arranging this was so much fun. I asked my wife to pose as the suspicious Dr. Karen and made her wear a bathrobe in lieu of a lab coat.

Since I knew I wanted to spend a lot of time rendering the interesting light effect, I opted to save time in the beginning by not drawing from the photograph like I'd normally do, but trace over the existing photograph in photoshop.

I really enjoy how it turned out, and I hope you get a kick out of this small behind-the-scene.

Until next time, my lovelies!

— Jörn

Illustration: Burn

Watch out, coming in hot!

Hi folks! I'm very lucky to be on duty for the NoSleep podcast this week again!

This week's episode, Season 9, Episode 10 brings you a bunch of creepy tales for your listening pleasure, amongst it “Burning” by author C.M. Scandreth, which I chose as the subject for the cover art.

Drawing the flames

This week, I knew pretty early on what I wanted to draw. The claustrophobic idea of being trapped in a burning car, one hand futilely grasping at the window, sent shivers down my spine, so I set to drawing.

Drawing the car turned out to pretty straight forward, and I settled on the blue hue to have a nice contrast to the orange and yellow flames.

Since I had some trouble actually drawing the flames, I sent out in search of some online tutorials. If you ever worked in Photoshop, you know the type: often working with PS tools like layer styles they end up looking kinda like what you're trying to accomplish, but not really.

I tried one or two of them out before discarding the idea, sighed, and rolled up my sleeves. I found a photo of a burning car that I used as a reference and set to work.

Not a carbon copy

I wanted the flames to have a more illustrative look than the photo ref, so I spent quite a lot of time and a couple o' hundred more brushstrokes than I intended on drawing the flames until I got them exactly where I wanted them.

Hope you enjoy the artwork and the podcast episode, and drive save out there.

Take care, my lovelies!

— Jörn

Illustration: Standard Deviations (Book Cover)

Hey guys, who's ready to go back to school?

The test is God.
— Marcus Damanda, Standard Deviations

Thus begins the titular story Standard Deviations by author Marcus Damanda, and if you're into horror, you'll love this story and the others he collected in his book.

As many of you know, I'm a resident artist for the NoSleep podcast, and couldn't be more glad to be a part of this lovely bunch of misfits and do-no-gooders. We often kid that we're part of a big and strange family, and I often feel like we really are.

So when Marcus approached me and asked me to illustrate the cover of his collection of short stories, I was giddy as a little kitten.

So without further ado, here it is!

The tools of the trade

Our original idea was to draw portraits of NoSleepers that Marcus worked with in the past…but mounted on plaques like hunting trophies.

I really liked the macabre idea, but I was worried that people not familiar with the podcast won't see much in the image — after all, it would just be a bunch of strange people to them!

Since two of the stories, the titular Standard Deviations and the fantastically gory The House Sitters both feature surgical instruments (and I'll leave it to your twisted imagination why that might be), we settles on an arrangement of tools with just a liiiiiiitle splash of blood to make people see at first glance that something is off.

Oh, the things you will see…

First thing I did was forage the text for mention of specific tools. Take the Gigli saw, for example (it's that corkscrew looking thing in the middle! You use it to saw bones!). Next, I went hunting for reference images, and let me tell you…there were some images that made me glad I was sitting already.



Also, one of Marcus' many fans is actually a forensic pathologist, and he said that I nailed the blood pooling. How cool is that!

The book is currently in the publishing process, and I will make sure you're among the first to know when it is out!

Take care, my lovelies!

— Jörn

Illustration: The Forest of a Thousand Legs 🕷

Little Lucy Lockhart ran
From her daddy’s frying pan
The Forest of a Thousand Legs
Killed her and then laid their eggs
— Rex Lovezinski

This eerie children's rhyme starts off the very aptly named story “The Forest of a Thousand Legs” by author Rex Lovezinski, the story I chose to illustrate for this week's episode of the NoSleep podcast.

The “thousand legs” part refers — of course — to our animal friends of the small and eight-legged variety, so if you're creeped out by spiders or other crawling creates, I'm sorry.1

What to draw, what to draw…

After NoSleep's executive assistant, the ever-lovely Violet, shared this story with me, I was at a loss, at first.

There were a lot of elements that feature prominently in the tale, but I wasn't sure they would lend themselves to an illustration that has to work as a podcast cover.

My first idea was to draw the forest itself, because Rex' description of the creepy place really sent shivers up my spine. I saw, before my minds eye, tall, ancient trees, almost monumental, casting a shade that was hardly ever pierced by the day's light, all covered by a thick, sticky membrane of old spider webs.

The problem with that? Drawing trees is not really my forte, and I would have to really draw a lot of details to aptly communicate the image I had in my head.

Okay, back to the (literal) drawing board

I hope I'm being vague enough in telling you the story features a certain monster creature, as many NoSleep stories are wont to do.

I always enjoy painting those monsters and thus bringing them to life, as I did — for example — with the wonderful Skinny Rogue episode.

The problem with that, of course, is that revealing the monster in art form before the listener even started the story, is that it takes away from the storie's suspense, so in my recent works for NoSleep, I tried to stay away from that.

So, no monsters, no forest…

Then I had the idea of illustrating different insects and spiders that feature in the story, since it mentioned one of the characters owning a collection of rare insects.

As soon as I grabbed my stylus and started working, I knew I was in for a treat. Painting those little guys, especially the shiny jewel beetle, was time-consuming, but a lot of fun.

I decided to add the graphic effect to really draw the listener into the story and make the illustration more enthralling, graphically speaking.

I hope you like the illustration, and I'll see you soon with the next one!

Take care!


1 I'm not really. :P

Design: Congeria — Lineup

Are you guys looking for a new podcast to listen to?

Because Congeria is nearing the final stages of production, and if I'm not mistaken, it's gonna be a wild ride (trust me, I read the script).

Congeria is a noir-esque crime drama with a supernatural twist centering around the central protagonist of Jenny, a hard-boiled, no-bullshit PI who's on a fast track to becoming my favorite female lead of all time.

My friend Atticus Jackson was kind enough to commission me for this graphic, which will be featured on Congeria's iTunes page upon launch.

We quickly settled on the idea of a police lineup, but agreed that painting full-body illustrations of each cast member would put too hard a strain on the budget, so we came with the solution of representing them as silhouettes.

This way, I was able to hint at the character's appearance, while still being vague enough to not stifle the listener's imagination.

If you want to make sure you don't miss the launch of Congeria's first episode — and I highly recommend you make sure — follow them over on Twitter!