The Fall of the House of Usher

I am in a Horror/SciFi/Fantasy Illustration class. We started with the horror genre. Our first assignment was to do a black and white illustration for an Edgar Allen Poe story. From the story options we were given, I chose The Fall of the House of Usher. As I read the story I worked out a number of small thumbnails in the margins of the pages. From there, I refined four ideas in rough sketches.

Usher SketchesThese are the four ideas that came to the forefront. I liked the idea of the narrators approach to the house. I thought it was a good start and I could make it a little jarring and creepy. I was looking at a lot of Bernie Wrightson’s work on Swamp Thing at the time and found a lot of inspiration in his drawings. The second and third ideas are of the moment the two men inter the sister’s coffin in the dungeon of the house. And the final image is the moment that the sister comes through the door to frighten her brother to death. That moment is pretty great but my sketch wasn’t very strong so I went back to my “approach” idea.

From there, I started working on a larger drawing. I went away from the narrow format which was a mistake.

Usher 001 copyThis looks like an ink sketch but it is actually in pencil. The scan made it look black. There are a ton of composition problems with it. But, it lead me to better work after this. You may wonder where I got reference for a horse in this position. There is an app for that! The app is called Horse Pose and it allows you to pose a horse by each joint and rotate the camera around. You can also light the horse from various points. I used Eadweard Muybridge’s photography to find the pose I was looking for and posed the horse from that. Then I spun the camera into position and voila!


Once I had redrawn the design by cutting and pasting the elements from the drawing above into a photoshop document I could move all the parts around until I found the composition I was looking for.


This is the final comp with the corrections from the teacher. There were a few weird things that needed resolving but I was given the go ahead to move on to the final work. I decided I would do this piece in black ink on illustration board. I projected the sketch above onto my board and did an outline drawing of all the shapes. It looks pretty cool like this.

Usher Fin Dwg 2

From there it was a paint brush and ink. I filled and corrected, filled and corrected.

And here is the final scan. There are a few things I want to correct but that won’t happen for a little bit.

Usher Final

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