Bram Stoker & The Brothers Grimm: Victorian Goth Love

Here are my latest illustrations for my Writers Portraits series. This series is a ode to my literary heroes of the (mostly) Victorian Era. These authors help us all celebrate our inner goth hearts and souls.

First off,  say a hearty hello to the Brothers Grimm!

The Brothers Grimm brought German and Eastern European folk tales to the world. Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm dedicated their lives to researching and rewriting some of the most macabre and spooky tales the world has ever known. Without their hard work, I wonder what kinds of stories we would be telling around the campfire and scaring our kids to death.

Debra Styer, A Moonlit Tale of Grimm, 2015

Grimm Sketch...Wilhelm on the left, Jacob on the right

Brother Grimm Print

Look into their eyes...Closeup

The next portrait is of the incredible Irish novelist Bram Stoker!

Bram Stoker, of course, is best known for being the creator of Dracula. Like the Grimm Brothers, Bram had a love of German folklore. Count Dracula is one of the most wicked yet loved literary characters of all time. Could you imagine a world without Vampires? Thank you for all the nightmares,  Mr. Stoker.

Debra Styer, Bram Stoker and the Vampire's Kiss,  2015

Bram Stoker Print

Bram Stoker Sketch

The original illustrations were hand painted in layers with watercolor and gouache over my graphite drawings.

The Brothers Grimm print and the Bram Stoker art prints are now available in the shop.

Who should I paint next?

I've got news!

One of my illustrations from, "The Seven Ravens" by the Brothers' Grimm
Last week I received an email from a exhibit designer in Germany. They are working on an exhibit honoring the Brothers Grimm on their 200th Anniversary of their first publication. Woo Hoo! I love Grimm's Fairy Tales. We'll that's not the best part...I was asked if I wanted to participate in the exhibition! Double Woo Hoo! I already sent my images to them and it is a go. The images will be blown up and placed on part of the exhibition framework.

Amazingly enough, they found my illustrations for "The Seven Ravens" on my blog and really liked them. At first I was a bit skeptical (thinking this might be spam?)but I'm happy I went ahead answered the email. The exhibit will start off at the Goethe Institute in December and then do some world traveling. I'm so excited about this. It is kind of like a dream for me. I'll tell you more news when I get it.

 I guess this really pushes me to finish my mini-book...I would love to get it done before the exhibition starts. One more piece to go...

New Work...The Seven Ravens

Here are the illustrations for the mini-book "The Seven Raven's" by the Brothers Grimm I've been working on. I still have some work to do with the text but the illustrations are pretty much finished.Here is a tiny synopsis of the story...

 The story beings with a very sick little baby girl. The family thinks she is going to die.Through desperation, her father sends her brothers off to gather holy water to help save the soul their sister. When the boys fail, the father curses the sky and the boys are all transformed into ravens and fly away. Surprisingly, the girl survives and only years later hears about her doomed brothers. She is filled with tremendous guilt and decides to see is she can save them. Her journey forces her to face her fears and beg for help from the sun, the moon and the stars. This was not easy and only the star helps.  It gives her a secret key to help her enter the cave of her brothers. She continues her long and frightening  journey and she finally finds her family but loses her special key. In order to open the door she has to cut the tip of her finger and use her true skeleton key to open the door. It works.  Her bravery has broken the curse and her brothers return to their human form and they all live happily ever after.

So here you have it...I hope you like the paintings.
The cover illustration for The Seven Ravens...

The scene where the father curses his sons into turning into ravens.

The daughter on a journey to save her brothers.

The sister on the search to save her brothers...

What do you think? Would you like to see the finished mini-book?

The making of a mini book...Part 2

Here are the sketches I've been working on for the mini-book,  "The Seven Ravens" by the Brothers Grimm. I will still be tweeking them a bit before laying down the color for the finished pieces but here is what I have so far.
This will be the cover, text will be added later
This is the scene where the father curses the boys and turns them into ravens.
The girl asking for help from the sun, moon and the star.
The girl climbs the mountain in an attempt to rescue her brothers.

One of my favorite parts of being an illustrator is doing the research. I love looking at photos and drawings from different time periods and being inspired by them. I think that is why I like to choose different time periods to illustrate when I create my artwork. It is a hidden history lesson in everything you do.

Although my Ravens are a bit simplified it really helped looking at a bunch of them.

This was one of the pictures that gave me some inspiration via

So what is the next step? I'm going to make some small copies of the sketches that I have and play around with the colors. Because of the limited amount of pages in the book, some of the pieces contain a few different scenes in them. So whatever colors I use will determine what scenes pop out or fade into the background.

After I've played with the color ideas I will start the painting. This book will be done in mixed media. I will be using gouache, watercolors and a bit of acrylic paint on these pieces.

I will say I love the painting part of the process.  It really makes these drawings come alive. I am so excited to get this started. I will post them as soon as they are done.

The next step in the process(Part 3) is putting this whole book together. This will include scanning the paintings, laying the text and adding type to the cover of the book.

Here is a link to Part 1 in the series....

The making of a mini book...Part 1

I'm a book what is the best thing to do when you are addicted? MAKE YOUR OWN!

Step 1: Choose a story:
I decided to make a 16 page mini book of the story, "The Seven Ravens" by the Brothers Grimm. I chose this story because it was dark and very visual. I thought it had an unusual twist because the hero in the story was a young girl. Instead of the familiar damsel in distress story, the girl was the one sent off on a dangerous journey to save her brothers.  She finds her courage, takes some big risks and succeeds. One of my favorite parts of the story is when the girl visits the Sun, the Moon and the Stars to ask for help. It will be so fun to illustrate. Another reason I chose this story to illustrate is because is part of the public domain,  this means  there won't be any copyright issues to deal with. In the end, I will probably rewrite it a bit  to make the tale a bit more contemporary.

Amazing book full of insight...

Step 2:  Starting a Book Dummy
I began laying this story out in Adobe InDesign. You need to made sure there was enough space for the text to fit in the format. I chose a 5in x 7in page document. Working with the layout will give you an idea of where to place your illustrations and if you need to play with your type.  Here is a basic example of a good mini page layout. Of course, all of this can be adjusted later. But it gives you an idea of all the pages that should be included in a mini book.

I always think it is easiest to create a tiny book out of paper to get a feel of how the book will actually feel in your hands.
Step 3: Start laying out the illustrations.
This is what I am working on right now. I am currently making the sketches for the final illustrations. I started by first making thumbnail sketches, then drawing larger more detailed sketches and now I am starting the final sketches. I'm creating the illustrations about 4 times the size of the final book(19 x 13) so that I can create a lot of details within the illustrations.

I'll post these sketches by the end of next week...

This will be a multi-part series...ending with a finished book dummy and 3 full illustrations, one book cover and 2 to 3 spot illustrations.  Due Mid-October...