Nightmare at 20,000 Feet | Skillshare Projects

Jonathan Ball

Letterer & Typographic Designer



Nightmare at 20,000 Feet



I'm a little hesitant to start because I fear I may have missed the boat on this class, but I've decided to go ahead and post my process anyway.

For my project, I've decided to pick an episode from one of my all time favorite shows, The Twilight Zone. The episode I'll be illustrating is probably one of the most iconic of the series. It's called "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet."

Here's a link in case you're not already familiar.

I've seen the episode numerous times, but never with a pencil in hand, so I recently sat down and gave the episode another watch. After some brainstorming and sketching, I started to generate a few ideas. I apologize for the randomness.

I decided that I enjoyed the idea of this composition best, so I did a slightly better sketch...

The idea behind this arrangement (the one on the right) is to emphasize the main character's obsession/fixation with the gremlin he believes is tampering with the engine on the wing of the plane. The gremlin's presence on the wing threatens the main character's physical and mental well being. He is assured by others on the flight (his wife, the stewardess, and even the captian) that the creature is simply a manifestation of his fear of flying. Throughout the episode he begins to doubt that the creature even exists, hence the transparent rendering.

This sketch isn't a final layout, but merely a start to what I hope to convey. I also plan to incorporate the title of the episode somewhere as well.

I assumed there probably wouldn't be any feedback after posting these sketches (due to the class having been over for so long), so I decided not to wait around. I began to refine my composition and characters, and work on some type treatments for the title.

My aim with this composition is to emulate a 1950s horror movie poster.

The biggest challenge for me thus far, was trying to render the sihouette of the creature in a way that's menacing, but still maintians the idiotic look he has in the episode.

Moved into the digital realm...

I'm a type fanatic, so a lot of the time was spent on the lettering up front. I then moved into the details (shading, texture, etc.) and started exploring a little bit of color.

Color is tough one. Seeing as the episode (and entire series) was black and white, it's hard to draw a palette from the visuals. I considered sticking with the black and white, in an effort to be true to the series, but I think a better solution may be monochromatic with a specfic hue. I'm leaning toward green for its creepiness, but I'm still exlopring.


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