Illustrating Netflix’s Stranger Things Characters
Back in 2016, along with the rest of Netflix viewers, was a huge fan of the show Stranger Things. At the time I had just made the transition from working for an agency to working as a full-time freelancer and was in need of a fun personal project to work on in my spare time.
Around the time I was finishing binge watching Stranger Things for the second time, I decided to pick up my Wacom Cintiq and start creating my version of one of the characters. Below you’ll hear more about the creative process behind one of my favorite personal projects.
Creating The Characters
The very first character I created was the character “Eleven”. My first try at it was just a fun little exercise that I tried to complete in less than 20 minutes and it turned out ok, but I wanted to try to do better and expend to the other characters.
I began this version 2.0 with Eleven as a bench mark. Each illustration began with a quick and loose sketch that focused on certain features that helped dictate that these were the characters I was trying to portray.
From there, I brought the sketches into Adobe Illustrator and began to create the line work for the characters using brushes made by Retro Supply Co. The line work was done using my Wacom Cintiq (a tool that I have since replaced with my iPad Pro using either Adobe Mobile apps or my Luna Display dongle).
Once I had the line work created, I then began apply values (greyscale color) behind the lines. The reason for using greyscale here vs going straight into color is because I want to focus on the contrast created here and make sure the overall composition works before I add the colors.
When the contrast is square away, I then applied color to bring the character to life. The final part of the process is adding shading to the character. This step is the one that makes the character pop.
One of the hurtles that comes with trying to illustrate a character based on a real person, especially in a cartoon style like these, was the instant recognition that this character was X or that character is Y.
With the Eleven character, the features I used to help make the character recognizable was the pink dress, the blood coming out of the nose and the Eggo waffles. With others it could be just the clothes, a hat, or a bandana.