Ghost Stories

As a follow up from what I mentioned in the “What Makes something Scary” Post, I myself have gone away and tested out my theories.

Although these are still the early stages of development, and I would like to get some feedback from my tutors about my work before continuing too far, I am fairly pleased about the results of the images I produced.

I wanted to create an image that looked a little like an old creepy photograph or painting, so, sticking to b/w or minimal colours, so I opted using etching as a fairly good method of creating this.

The first Ghost story, admittedly, I found a little tedious. It was set in a church and something jumped out and tried to strangle a man. It was relatively predictable and same-y. but the description of the scenery made it an interesting story to create illustrations for.

One scene in it depicts a stone, described to have had seven eyes on it in the shape of a cross. The image of it stuck in my mind quite heavily and thought it could be quite an iconic illustration if it were to be put along side the writing.


I created a fairly simple cross, but drew little-to-realistic eyes on top of it. I wanted the eyes to land somewhere between stone carved/depicted in an ancient wood cut/realistic, so I used obvious cross hatching to shade them, simplified their eyelashes and tearducts, but drew in veins, iris shading and eyebags.

I also made some of the eyes look in slightly different directions other than straight forward, helping to give the illusion that the eyes maybe moves, or were alive. On top of this, I gave the image a sort of “ephemeral, unrealistic shadow”, which i discussed in the “What Makes Something Scary” post, by drawing simplified outlines of extra eyes floating around the cross along with cross hatching and scratchy markings from sandpaper. To add one finally creepy feel to it,  (and also to play onto people’s very common mild trypophobia), I drew clusters of tiny eyes around the margins of the print.

I left most of the ink on the plastic when I came to print the image, picking and choosing which areas too highlight (I chose eyes, and some edges of the cross). I am fairly happy with the results, and did a few more reprints playing around with colour.

If I were do to this again, I think I’d take better care drawing the cross so that the lines were more accurate and less obviously hand drawn. Most of my work is deliberately created that way simply because it gives a night effect, and injects a certain feel into to the image, but for this particular image, I think accuracy would improve it.

The second story was the tale of a man who went aboard a ship and ended up in a room with some sort of nasty undead corpse like sea creature. I enjoyed this a little more, because of the mystery behind it, and the quest the man went on to solve it. I like how the mystery was never quite resolved either.

I found this story a little more difficult to illustrate, and would like to test out a few other imaged as well as the etching I have already produced, but I elected to depict the image in my head from the moment in the story when one of the workers had just won a bet from the main character, and he stood at the end of the corridor, smiling. I just found this image a very creepy one, and especially as this scene happened at night.


As you can see, I left a lot of ink on this etching as well, having really liked the effect it gave on the previous image. I would like the reprint this image and leave a little more ink on it towards the far end of the corridor – creating as larger sense of depth and making the figure at the end a little more difficult to see and creepy.

The final story, I found was enjoyable, but not easy to think up illustrations for seeing as we weren’t allowed to actually draw the ghosts of these ghost stories.


I am not entirely sure about the image I produced, but think it is a good enough starting point to work with. It is fairly difficult to see, but the etching is of a wide opening beach with the tide right back, and the sun on the horizon. In the centre of the picture is a tiny figure casting a large shadow – the main character – to help give a sense of scale. In the foreground is the silhouetted corner of the house which the story is about. I played around the ink amounts and colour a lot with this image, and think it gives a certain sense of loneliness and dissertation.

Although, as I mentioned before, I do not like this piece very much, I do like the fact that is it fairly ordinary – about the fact that out of context this image is not very scary, and could even be put along with a story that depicts a happy tale. I like the fact that you may look at this image initially and think of it as a pleasant image, but as you read more and more of the story, it begins to become increasingly horrifying in its contextualization.

Whether that makes it a good illustration or not, is very much up for questioning, but I do feel, despite this, that this throught process is something I may delve into again with future projects – and may be something looking into in a philosophical or psychological way.


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