Every fall, I get a serious case of horror-fever. Usually it comes in the form of an overwhelming feeling to watch as many spooky movies as I can, but this past season I also became inspired to craft some horror art and it wound up being my most productive attempt yet. It all started back in early October when I had an idea to create a horror alphabet made up of my all-time favorite scary movies. As I began to assemble a list and sketch early concepts, it became clear pretty fast that this would need to be a longer term goal. Perhaps it could be something I tackle over the course of the year. However, the process of compiling a list made me realize there were a few of my favorite flicks I really wanted to do prints for. On top of that, I booked a table at the 2015 Syracuse Horror & Sci-Fi Garage Sale that was happening in late November. This would be my first public print sale, so the pressure was on to deliver. Having a hard deadline was perfect and I decided I would try to create three new pieces.
After a recent screening of the 2013 CARRIE remake, I had a yearning to revisit Brian DePalma's 1976 masterpiece. The original is so well crafted; The tone, performances, the story, all pitch perfect and spooky as hell. After some initial research, the image featuring a blood-covered face of Sissy Spacek really stuck with me. Those eyes! That expression! That was it, I had an idea and I was off to the races. I wanted to create something that was simple and stark but made you feel uncomfortable. Being a big fan of minimal design, my concept was very straight-forward, Carrie's big blue eyes, surrounded by streams of blood dripping down the page to form the film's title. I really wanted the composition and flow of the blood that fed into the title treatment to feel real and organic, so I decided to paint the entire piece first and finish it digitally.
Let me start off by saying that there is no shortage of BIRDS fan art spread across the web, so when I decided to create an original piece for the Hitchcock masterpiece, I knew it would be an uphill battle. I began by sketching out a few bird shapes - three shapes turning into five, five into ten, to twenty, and so on so forth. By the time I was done the inking process, I counted at least 50 birds to work with. I then converted each one into a vector shape and imported them as a smart object in Photoshop. Tedious and time-consuming? Yes, but this process gave me the most freedom and flexibility and allowed me to move each one around the canvas to really take control of the layout. My goal was to arrange the birds in a way that would black out the sky around the edges and as they moved towards the center, the flying predators would break up, creating a negative space spotlight for the title treatment. Speaking of which, after struggling a bit to find the perfect type to fit the tone of the poster, I found a nice old-fashioned serif font that worked perfectly!
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
I've always been a huge fan of Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror masterpiece, but it was the passing of Gunnar Hansen back in early November that got me thinking about doing a Texas Chainsaw tribute piece. As with most folks, I was drawn to the (now iconic) shape of a chainsaw-wielding Leatherface and decided on that for the centerpiece of the art. At first, I had a plans to use various red finger prints to form the body, but after doing some concept sketches, I really liked the way a simple silhouette shape looked filled in with various blood red textures. During a fun and messy painting session, I created a range of red textures and then converted them into digital brushes to fill in the silhouette. I used lighter shades of red for his arms, blood sprays and the chainsaw, and darker for his clothes and hair. Initially, I wasn't planning on adding a ton of depth to the fill, but a happy accident led me to use some of the darker shades as shadowing around his weapon of choice and arms (An effect that I wound up being really happy with.) Finishing touches included a hand-drawn title treatment created using a fat sharpie and then inverted in post as well as a adding in a few old paper textures to create a warm and dust-speckled background.