How to paint your NIGHTMARES





Hello! My name is HOZ, you can find me on Instagram @hozartist and on artstation as HOZART. For four years I’ve been painting and creating professionally for the animation and video game industry. In this tutorial I will show you the process of how I did this spooky illustration, and also a MEGATIP i can use for paint FX's, ghosts or any kind of magic lights. Let’s begin.



There's infinity of things in this universe, and also, infinite are the things that can cause fear to someone, after all, human beings are a piece of meat…. a very complex piece of meat, and even though it may seem difficult to design something that's going to evoke fear, believe me, the only thing you need to know is to correctly organize some elements. And to make life easier, i've condensed all the things that make us fear in 3 small groups:



The things that we believe can cause a physical damage to us, cause fear, such as certain insects, sharp or pointy things for which our skin is not very resistant and the jaws of certain animals, remember the pointier the teeth, the better.


Someone once said that "Human being fears the unknown" and everyone agree with that ... me included, that which our mind cannot understand us completely will disturb us, for example, what happends after death and the paranormal, can be scary for a lot of people, in that way, some people are disturbed by the dark and others are afraid to think about the deep sea or the immensity of outer space… yes, i'm looking at you Howard.


Everything has a primary function, that thing that pops into our mind as soon as we think about it, but if we put that object out of its comfort area and paste it somewhere else, into another thing, some weird and disturbing stuff might appear.

The japanese know how to do this very well, for example, some yokais use this concept wonderfully. Another example, think of a cat, many people think it's adorable, right? Well, what would happen if we replace it’s fluffly little paws wiiiiiith…. 10 insect legs?!!... i no longer think so many people would find it cute.

For more examples like these, i recommend studying the work of japanese artist JUNJI ITO, He's a master using all of this concepts i mentioned to you.


With this in mind, we can start (finally) designing our creature


In this case i preferred to scrawl some lines first, some masses with many extremities here (those are "things out of context"), some fangs (a piece of danger) and eyes there (more uncanny stuff), and in the end, ended up with these 5 designs

What i did after is something that also always recommends doing to all artists, ASKING FRIENDS and/or FAMILY, in this case most agree that number 4 was the most frightening.


I took that design, and as i always usually do, i made some thumbs in two inks looking for an interesting composition and narrative, after another vote, the winner was thumbnail number 3, but number 2 was pretty close.

So i developed the thumbnail a little more by adding more intermediate values and trying to mix those two thumbnails and ended up with this.


I grabbed the thumbnail and turned down the opacity and began to make a better sketch defining the elements of the creature, in this stage i decided that the small character would serve as guide for the colosal monster that is behind it because monsters can also have friends.


Finishing the sketch I began to look for a color palette that could represent the oppressive mood of a place where you don't want to be, and for that the first thing you should do is look for REFERENCES, enter the wonderful internetland and look for photos that transmit these emotions that only you can find.

With refs you can take the sketch and copy it several times and color it using layers in MULTIPLY and OVERLAY, for the purposes of light i like to use ADD (GLOW)

When the thumbs were finished, i asked my friends again and some liked number 2 and some liked number 3 so i did AGAIN a mix between the two options.


With the final color thumb, I can start painting, I expanded the small image and I placed it behind the sketch I’ve drawn before, I changed the color of the lines to a more saturated green and I began defining the volume of the forms in a normal layer above.


In order for this to go well first you have to know how to paint the basic figures from any angle with any lighting, although in this particular case the figure that prevails in the composition is ... the cylinder and the sphere. so, i brought back a few explanatory figures, to show you what I have in mind when better defining the volumes of these two figures:

I personally like to start with the figures' silhouette

Then add a basic shadow in which i define the direction of the light

Then soft the edges of the shadow

In this illustration and according to the color thumb, there are some secondary lights here and there, so taking into account where the light comes, i can define where the light hits and where the shadows projected by the objects (which are always opposed to those lights) then add the oclussion shades, which remember, are the darkest shadows that are where two surfaces meet, some highlights here and there and this way i define the volume of the objects in my paintings.

Back to the illustration, i know it's something intimidating at first to see so many shapes here and there, what you need to do is this, first think where are the biggest and most general shapes shapes and start there.

Then define the medium ones

And at the end the smaller, what we typically call "the details"

In this case and to not overwhelm me, i erased the secondary lights to focus on the main lighting first, with the volumes a little better defined and taking into account where the light comes (the girl with the flame in her hand) i painted the shadows that this source of light would create.

After defining smaller and concrete shapes I added the secondary lights...

and here comes the mega tip for funky effects!


STEP 7: FUNKY (no so scary) TIP

First of all I want to thank the master COLDBURGER ART for teaching me this technique.

Follow the next steps:

1) Create a layer and fill it with black

2) Create an empty layer and clip it to the layer bellow (the black layer )

3) Go to the LAYER tab /new correction layer/ and select "gradient map", click OK and clip it to the black layer

4) Go to the black layer and select change from NORMAL to LIGHTEN

You can put these three layers into a control+G folder but (important!) you must change the folder from NORMAL to THROUGH.

With this set up arranged, we double click on the gradient map layer and we can fix the gradient map to our liking taking into account that the right end is always white and the left one is always black, at the middle you can create any succession of colors that you like or need

Then in the empty layer you can begin to paint in GRAY SCALE, we don't need colors because the gradient map layer above will interpret the values of the gray and it will associate them with a color of the succession that we create

So if we start painting with a brush that has opacity sensibility, with a white color, we can generate these effects and if at the end you don't like the result, it doesn't matter you can go back to LAYER tab /new correction layer/ and this time select HUE/SATURATION/LUMINOSITY

And modify it without having to create a gradient new map, everything that remains is to experiment and have fun.


With this powerful tool i began to define the lights that the monster has in the arms and the flame of the girl then painted where this new light would hit the characters and elements.

At the end the girl didn't to convince me that much, so i erased her and used the same technique to create a ghost girl that would be the new friend of our monster.


I ended with the lights for a moment and decide to detail a little more the floor, creating some doodles that look like forest herbs and grass, copied and pasted this vegetation shape several times to create details and texture on the ground quickly and added some highlights and shadows to the setting to integrate them with the illustration.

i decided to detail the image more and later asked for the last time some friends their opinion on the image, thanks to their tips and opinions i gave the ultimate touches to the image creating an denser blue atmosphere (nothing fancy, just painted on a normal layer with an airbrush) to evidence more easily the size of the monster, adding elements to the foreground to emphasize that depth and decrease the intensity of light that comes out of the monster shoulders so that they don’t steal that much attention

Finally, i detailed a little more here and there and finally with the help of MORE layers of correction in this case LEVEL CORRECTION and COLOR BALANCE i turned up the contrast a little and brought back some of those magenta tones that i liked from thumbnail and here it is….



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