Today’s Art (17th July 2017)

Well, although today’s digitally-edited painting is another cyberpunk painting – it ended up being considerably more gothic/ horror-themed and somewhat less detailed, due to a combination of feeling uninspired and not being in a great mood when I made it.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Storage" By C. A. Brown

“Storage” By C. A. Brown

Four Basic Ways To Create 1990s Style Gothic Horror Art, Comics etc..

2017-artwork-1990s-style-gothic-horror-article

Although the gothic horror genre has a very long and interesting history, I thought that I’d focus on 1990s style gothic horror today. This was mostly because I was reminded of how great gothic horror was in the 1990s when I started playing a retro computer game from 1999 called “Shadow Man” a few days before writing this article.

So, how can you add some 1990s gothic horror to your art, comics etc…? Here are four of the most basic ways that I’ve learnt from things I’ve seen in the genre.

1) Lighting is everything: If there’s one thing to be said for the 1990s (and the 1980s), it’s that people knew how to use lighting well back then.

If you look at a lot of “gothic” things from the 1990s, you’ll tend to notice that they often make heavy use of ambient lighting contrasted against a dark background. It looks a bit like these modern 1990s-style digitally-edited paintings of mine:

"Skeleton Catacomb" By C. A. Brown

“Skeleton Catacomb” By C. A. Brown

"Late Return (II)" By C. A. Brown

“Late Return (II)” By C. A. Brown

"Another Bedroom In Arles (After Van Gogh)" By C. A. Brown

“Another Bedroom In Arles (After Van Gogh)” By C. A. Brown

This gothic style of lighting is probably most notable in many old-school 3D computer and video games from the 1990s, but it can also be seen in a number of sci-fi and/or horror films from the era like “The Matrix”, “Ghost In The Shell”, “Cube”, “Death Machine”, “House On Haunted Hill (1999)” etc…

With this type of lighting, the general rule is that at least 30-50% of your painting or comic panel should be shrouded in darkness. Likewise, you should also learn the basics of how to paint realistic lighting – since you’ll need to use the few light sources in your painting not only to illuminate key details of the picture, but also to hint at whatever is lurking in the mysterious darkness. You can do this by adding silhouettes to the foreground, only illuminating part of an interesting-looking location etc…

2) Victorian England: Ok, this is kind of a timeless thing in the gothic horror genre, but it’s quite telling that some of the best gothic horror games (except for the original “Silent Hill”) from the 1990s that I’ve played have had some connection to Victorian England.

For example, “American McGee’s Alice” is a gothic horror game (released in 2000, but presumably made in the late 1990s) that is based on ‘Alice In Wonderland’. Likewise, although the main plot of “Shadow Man” technically takes place in the 1990s, the storyline revolves around Jack The Ripper’s activities in the afterlife.

Many of the more well-known classics of the gothic genre come from Victorian England too – “Dracula” being the most notable example. Of course, over in 19th century America, there was also Edgar Allen Poe too. But, if you ever want to make something look instantly gothic, then add some connection to Victorian England and/or the 19th century. Yes, even if it’s a silly comic mini series about time travel:

"Damania Repressed - Goth" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Repressed – Goth” By C. A. Brown

3) Nihilism: With more “modern” things in the gothic horror genre that were made in the 1990s, nihilsm and/or alienation often seem to be the main emotional themes. I’m really not sure why, but these themes seemed to be a lot more popular in the 1990s than they are today. Whilst this is probably difficult to get across in art, it might be worth bearing in mind if you’re creating characters for a comic or webcomic.

Just try not to go overboard with it. Too much cynical nihilism can easily turn into comedy (eg: the hilarious “My whole life is a darkroom… One, big dark room” line from a 1980s movie called “Beetlejuice”). Likewise, there’s also a fine line between ‘broodingly gothic’ and ‘depressing for the sake of depressing’.

4) The fashions: Finally, one important thing to remember is that gothic fashion in the 1990s seems to have been a lot more understated than 1980s gothic fashion.

Whilst 1980s gothic fashion was inspired by the punk genre (and often had a certain theatricality to it), 1990s gothic fashion was probably more inspired by the industrial and/or metal genres, plus the general “anti-fashion” trend of the 1990s too.

So, instead of giant spiky hairstyles, fishnet vests/stockings and lots of eyeliner, any goth characters in 1990s-based gothic horror comics or art that you make are more likely to be wearing things like black vest tops, leather trenchoats, shades etc…. Just watch “The Matrix” for lots of great examples of this type of fashion. But, in essence, your “goth” characters should look more like this:

"Cold Road" By C. A. Brown

“Cold Road” By C. A. Brown

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Today’s Art (5th May 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the fifth ‘episode’ of “Damania Regenerated” – an eight-part (?) sci-fi/comedy horror narrative webcomic mini series featuring the characters from my long-running occasional “Damania” webcomic (you can find links to many more comics featuring these characters in the ‘2016’ and ‘2017’ parts of this page). Stay tuned for the next episode tomorrow 🙂

Surprisingly, this comic actually ended up being significantly different to my original plan for it – although most of the changes were made for pacing reasons, and so that I could cram an extra joke or two into the comic. The original plan would have spread the dialogue from the first panel out over two panels, the second panel would have been the third and the last panel would be mostly unchanged.

Plus, if you’re wondering why aliens have suddenly appeared – they haven’t. They first made an appearance in yesterday’s comic.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Regenerated - Creatures" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Regenerated – Creatures” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (3rd May 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the third ‘episode’ of “Damania Regenerated” – an eight-part (?) sci-fi/comedy horror narrative webcomic mini series featuring the characters from my long-running occasional “Damania” webcomic (you can find links to many more comics featuring these characters in the ‘2016’ and ‘2017’ parts of this page). Stay tuned for the next episode tomorrow 🙂

Yes, what is it with evil maze-like areas in abandoned space stations/spaceships/futuristic buildings in videogames, movies etc…? They must be ridiculously impractical before the area in question gets abandoned.

The best example of one of these types of locations (albeit not in space, probably) can be found in an awesome, and undeservingly obscure, sci-fi horror movie from the 1990s called “Cube“, which was probably one of several influences on this comic. Although, for copyright reasons, the maze in the second panel of this comic is actually made out of spheres.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Regenerated- Death Maze” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (28th April 2017)

Well, I was feeling slightly uninspired when I made today’s digitally-edited painting. This gothic horror painting also required more editing than I expected after I scanned it (eg: cropping it for compositional reasons, raising the colour saturation levels, altering the colour scheme digitally etc..)

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"The Skeletal Hall" By C. A. Brown

“The Skeletal Hall” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (24th April 2017)

Well, today’s picture was a bit of an experimental one – although I’ve used digital tools (“Paint Shop Pro 6” and “MS Paint 5.1”) to add colour to traditional B&W ink line drawings before, I kind of wanted to try this with something more complex. Since I was in a cheesy 1980s/90s horror movie kind of mood, I decided that a picture with this theme would also allow me to practice adding lighting and shadows digitally too.

This also explains why this picture is slightly smaller than usual, mainly because this extensive level of digital editing is somewhat easier with smaller images.

As usual, this picture is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"The Office Monster" By C. A. Brown

“The Office Monster” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art ( 19th April 2017)

Well, although I was still feeling uninspired, I was able to get around it by making a new version of one of my old horror-themed paintings (called “Late Return) that was originally posted here early last year.

When I made the old version of this painting, I was just beginning my “limited palette” phase -and, although I’m glad of all I learnt during this phase, this particular painting certainly works well with a slightly more expanded palette. Likewise, I’ve also learnt a few new digital editing techniques that I didn’t quite know when I was editing the original painting.

As usual, this painting is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

"Late Return (II)" By C. A. Brown

“Late Return (II)” By C. A. Brown