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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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: 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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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