Scary Monsters (Super Freaks)

This article is from the vaults -I wrote it AFTER the show – and was past Halloween by the time it was even half way done. Also Halloween shall live on in our hearts – next to my Oingo Boingo albums and oddly growing Abe Sapien collection. So it’s monster season whenever I say it is.

For process and sketches from this years monster show – they are posted up on the Patreon along with colorsheets made from the line art from last year’s paintings. 


Well the temperature dropped finally, the owls outside my window are having hooting contests and my grocery store is overrun with mutated warty gourds. This can only mean one thing…

It’s time for Halloween – and the annual Monster Show

I’m too lazy to make fancy looking text  – so here’s a seasonal gif from Hausu.

Monster Show is an annual art show hosted by a local gallery/shop that I usually try to join in, if they’ll have me.  I’ve talked about stuff I’ve done for this event previously on here.

Alas it seems I got wrapped up in other things and didn’t participate in 2017 (it was a weird time in Houston in general.)  Welp no shame away we go.

While I can count on there being an annual Monster show – I can also count on there being an annual fit of artist block as I try to figure out what “monster” constitutes. This year is only slightly different in that I at least have a vague direction.

In the gap between this year and the last time I joined in the fun, the gallery has moved and changed a few rules. Now the pieces have to be framed and ready to hang as opposed to just existing on paper and being sold bare and exposed to the world. I’m a cheap skate so this actually is a bit of a deciding factor on what I’m going to do.

The line up of suspects.

I have A LOT of small weird looking portrait frames I got for an intended projects ages ago that I want to sort of get rid of to make space for more things. So whatever I’m doing is going to have to be small and read quick as a portrait. So simple things – stuff people can identify in a simple composition rather than a setting.

So to keep things easy – and cause I already got drawing yokai out of my system recently – so we are going to not go sifting through folklore for random oddities – and instead stick with concepts and creatures people are at least acquainted with.

After interrogating– asking my friends for advice and ideas I ended up with a  few suggestions. Mainly old school movie monsters – or sexy gay cryptid action.

Unsure how one even goes about establishing a cryptid’s lgbt status in a snap shot moment I decided to go with the movie monsters. So I start with one someone suggested to me – the Bride of Frankenstein and one I’m fond of already; Count Orlock.

I feel yah girl - I hate when some dude starts pawing me five minutes after I wake up too

The Bride I don’t know much of outside general popular culture’s of decades of “cute” couple’s costumes and the version from Penny Dreadful. I hilariously enough do have a bootleg movie poster of the film on my wall, but I chose it for aesthetics and had intended to get around to watching the film sometime.  That sometime ended up being as I was working on these pieces. I managed to find an online bootleg that wasn’t dubbed in Portuguese and watched it.

Good effects – fun film but in the wake of certain political events and the #MeToo movement this definitely left an impression on me.  But Art Blog – so we aren’t here for that. (For those curious what I mean – the fact the film is all about the making of a female monster but shes killed before she even gets to have an opinion on the situation.)

*sigh* So Dreamy

Count Orlock is a dude I’m familiar with and fond of, I loved the Dracula novel when I was younger and found Nosferatu in a discount bin for two bucks ages back and decided to get it on reputation alone.

Even decades later – with primitive effects – and early film language Orlock has a great presence and the film has an amazing atmosphere.  Like all good horror there are a lot of overtones to read into this film but I was but a simple art student so we aren’t here for that. I just really love his look – it’s eerie – inhuman and readily identifiable.

Without thinking too hard I just scratch out rough ideas of where I think I’m going to go. I don’t have any references per say – just a vague direction and a pen. I also recently managed to find craft paper sketch books again to my delight. I used to use these a lot when I was in college and I prefer them to working on a white paper background.

Now when I set out to do these sort of parody portraits I base the poses and backgrounds on real life portraits. I actually have a large collection of old Victorian photo portraits I use for these sorts of occasions but I decided to go a bit older for these pieces.

The Bride is loosely based on a Goya portrait. The sleeves and the posture brought the bride to mind for me – and I liked the veil so I decided to incorporate that into the portrait. Cause – well “bride”




Not my best work – and my sister argues that the Bride looks too much like an elf (can’t argue I’d been working on a lot of Dragon Age art at the time) and that the scars need work. Also her hair isn’t that good. Generally these are all good points and taken into consideration. Rough sketches like this are free for ripping apart so they can be improved later.

Orlock’s position and stiffness is based on that one portrait of Vlad the Impaler. There really were few paintings or personages I felt Orlock could take cues from. I give him some of the pimp coat energy but leave his face un-moustached.




The first sketch of him is pretty much on point. His shoulders are wonky but that can be fixed.

So I actually sat down and watched The Bride of Frankenstein before I got around to the next round of line arts. I decided I really liked the look of the actress’ face even if I hate the big ol’ Nefertiti hair (Egyptian shit was in vogue at the time so apparently that’s the big hair origin). So I decided to work more of her features into this rendition – also did more research on how to make big hair that had an actual structure to it. I have no idea who the blonde lady in that photo is but goddamn that is an edifice.

Orlock I just fixed his shoulders. Theres not much you can do to fix/mess up the perfection of my boy. (I have been informed by a friend that Orlock does not usually have a ratty looking overbite but I’m leaving it. His teeth are a mess anyway.)






With these all cleaned up its time for the actual painting part of the process.  I used to have to use soft graphite and leave little shadows of pencil on the watercolor paper to fill in later.   But when I’m using non mounted watercolor paper combined with power of LED SCIENCE I don’t have to.  Lightpads are really really handy for this sort of shit.




So in the end we have ink lines with no need to clean up anything. I did draw in the framing border with watercolor pencils so it should blend in a bit when I put down the background layer. I have no idea why I have no process images of Orlock. I can’t find any. My files were sill all over the place when this happened so anything could have happened.


Children do not keep your pallets like me – I’m a mess.

For more techincal info – these days I use a hilarious combination of watercolor paints. I’ve been more careful lately so I use a lot less gouache in my show pieces,  gouache, while thicker – and more versatile tends to have a lower lightfastness which means it might fade faster under direct light. 

That said – the paints I’m using on these pieces are shown in the photo and left to right are:


A 24 piece Gansai Kuretake paint set.  These are my newest paints – and are very vivid -but are very granular and don’t blend as easy as the rest of the paints I use. But great for covering areas quickly – it takes very little pigment to get a vivid color. Can also become more opaque or hazy looking if you aren’t careful with them.

A portable pallete of anthing really– This  pallete is for traveling and mixing. The contents of it are…I honestly can’t say. A variety of tubes and mixed colors. (not shown is my box of paint tubes.)  Some are tones I’ve mixed earlier – some are just dabs I saved for a piece. Someday I’ll run this through the shower and the question of what exactly is on it will be moot.

Windsor & Newton watercolor set.  This set is old – and they no longer make it exactly like this. I’ve had this pallete for years – I just replace the pans I need to. But these paints have been a nice solid backbone to work with for ages.




So with my lines done – paints set out – and brushes ready (off camera) I queue up a spooky podcast for background noise and get started.

My first step is to do the background – I like to start out with the biggest areas and work towards the smaller detailed bits when I paint. Orlock’s coat is just another such area. The Bride’s dress is white so I’m leaving that untouched until later.

Both of these characters are from black and white movies and have no colors persay. But I want these to be more my interpretation of these characters not just a direct translation of them – so we aren’t doing a monochromatic scheme.

Frankenstein’s creatures usually are associated with green so I felt that was a decent background for our girl. Orlock gets red. Cause Blood – red – it’s a thing.

I started early with under painting on The Bride cause I knew what was going to be probably the most time consuming stage with her.


One day I’ll try to make a proper tutorial about underpainting – but thats not today.  I’m not sure I know enough to explain it  properly.  I’ll just say her under-painting is a lot of burgundy and and hints of purple, especially along her scars. Not quite a bruise pallate but not colors I’d use on a normal complexion.

I also add tones from the background to her dress and a bit on her skin – cause both would reflect colors around it.

I decided to change her background to more of a gradient with green and a blue-green to darken it. The granulation with the gansai are very obvious at this point – but I’m happy with the effect here.

This color change contrasts a bit with her scars and also makes her eye pop out more. I wanted to focus her gaze at the viewer.

Painting her veil – is a lot of washed out colors and sort of mentally following the lines. Not coloring in them so much as using them as guides. Cause the lines are the folds where the fabric is thicker so less transparent.



Orlock came out more monotone than I intended. I hadn’t set out to only use one or two colors on him but even after you drag him into the land of color theory – his design is very simple. So one or two warm browns ended up being the main colors I used for him. That’s not intended – just how things came out.

The ink lines on him did more of the work so there isn’t much to say about his painting steps.It’s fairly straight forward and there’s no real under-painting on him since I wanted him to look pale and waxy.

I wanted to focus on his eyes as well, but did it differently than the bride. I lightly tinted all of Orlock and the pure white bits of the paper left are his eyes. It’s not a huge difference but enough to draw you in. I never saw the  color remake of Nosferatu so my mental image of the count has these beady pinprick eyes instead of any colors.

After getting to this stage its just a matter of pushing the darks and adding highlights. (My first drawing prof in college was always telling us to add darks to the point thats my automatic response to any work in progress- more dark values!) The highlights were a combination of white gouache paint and white gel pens.

After that its time to frame them and send them to the gallery. These folks sold pretty quickly but prints and various other items are available on Redbubble




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