Making Alice in the Basement

Animation, illustration

(This post originally went live on But I thought it was a conversation I wanted to have here as well.)

Once upon a time I had a YouTube channel called Haunting TV. I made all sorts of videos. Ghost tours, book reviews, movies reviews and Let’s plays to try and fill the world around our pride and joy webseries- Haunting Light.

During that time Immortal Alexander and I stumbled across and idea of doing illustrated short story readings and excerpts as a different approach to creating book trailers. I reached out to one of my internet author-friends and asked them for a short story to perform. That author was the talented A.F. Stewart. The story was “Alice in the Basement” from her collection of horror short stories in Killers and Demons II.

Here’s the resulting video:


Behind the Scenes

So this idea was sparked in 2014. Yep waaay back in November of 2014 A.F. Stewart and I started the first attempts at this. I ended up doing 19 illustrations for the project which, admittedly, took forever. These survived a motherboard crash on my old laptop and a switch from using Photoshop exclusively to Corel Painter. To say the learning curve slowed me down a bit would be an understatement.

Character Creation

To create the character I first turned to Pinterest and scrolled endlessly until I had a good vibe on what I wanted the art to feel like. Here’s a few of the images I drew inspiration from:

I’ll try to scrounge back though my Pinterest boards to link back to the images sources when I get a moment.

I was very drawn to this Gothic grunge style of art doll and felt it really captured the innocently creepy quality of Alice in the story. The big eyes, the Victorian style clothing it all felt spot on for her.


Alice’s World

On a practical level, I knew drawing her entire world would end up taking too long. Though at one point I was actually going to draw the “small dark room” as the “Chokey” from the movie Matilda.


So I thought about the story as if viewed through the eyes of Alice. As a proper psychopath and probably narcissist based on how she hated sharing her toys and her parents’ attention, I figured it would be fitting to have Alice exist as if in a void. Where the only things that gained definition were the object she specifically interacted with.

Here’s an example of how I was initially going to approach her world compared to  where I ended up. There were two reasons I moved away from the first style.

  1. It was too concrete and
  2. Alice got lost in the color palette. I wanted better definition between her and the background.

The background textures were a few layers of watercolor textures and a black vignette effect around the outer edges. It felt hopeless and  just a bit… moldy. Just right for our rotten little villain.

This is also the reason her parents became so abstracted. I remember when I was a kid and I got into trouble. (Which was fairly frequently, lol) I remember my parents not as whole people but as emotion manifest. As movement, as hands pointing and mouths shouting. I figured it fit Alice’s world view as well.


The Animation Style

If knowledge on how to animate were a box of cereal my specific knowledge on how to do it would be the handful of crumbled flakes left at the bottom of the box. IE. I’m a total amateur when it comes to any kind of animation. So, keeping my own limitations in mind I took a page from 60’s and 70’s era animation and used the heck out of pan and zoom to give the piece some movement and life- without learning yet another program to try and create this project.

Want to support our work?

killers and demons II coverYou can buy a copy of A.F. Stewart’s book: Killer’s and Demons II.  If bought through that link you sending both Anita and I a little money, so thank you!

Or you can buy prints of the artwork on my Society 6 store.

I currently have Alice in Trouble and Mom to the Rescue up. If there’s another one you’d like from the short, just let me know 🙂

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