HHN26 Dead Man's Wharf Story Elements

Originally Published Friday, August 25, 2017

As HHN 27 is quickly approaching, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on last year and dig up some art that I made, but never did anything with. The stories in the scare zones last year were incredibly rich, and it filled me with this desire to expand upon them. Dead Man's Wharf might've been one of my favorite scare zones ever, so it was easy for me to create some story elements that would exist in this world. Not every scare zone comes with a sign telling you the entire story of the zone, so that was definitely a unique opportunity that Dead Man's Wharf presented me. 

During the event I was going through my records and found my Swiss Family Robinson storybook and record. Inside the book are these beautiful line illustrations, and on the actual record there's a drawing of the ship. This immediately lit a spark of inspiration inside me and I wanted to apply Dead Man's Wharf to this concept. 

IMG20132 (1).png

First thing I did was make a line illustration of the boat from the scare zone. I did it using only single stroke lines with the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator to try and replicate that beautiful line work from the storybook. I laid the line illustration right over this picture of the boat to make sure I was capturing the correct details and to help with the angle. 

Once I completed the illustration I need a page to put it on, and instead of printing it on specific paper, it's easier for me to replicate and weather it in Photoshop and just print it on regular paper. So I used the same method I tried for the Vamp '55 yearbook pages.  I lay down a simple off-white color, add a high resolution scan of a paper texture, then I use a feather brush in a darker color to add some weathering around the edges. 


This page is acting as the very first page inside the cover once you open up the story book, so I decided to just use what was on the sign in the scare zone, as it gives a good overall synopsis of the story. Once I put in all the text, I ran it through Retro Supply Co.'s action set "Ink Champ" to give it a little wear, and recreate the effects of older ink printing methods. 

Here's a before and after comparison of the text effects

IMG69374 (1).jpg

And here's the finished digital file


I intended to print this out and make it look like a page ripped right out of the book, but I never got around to doing it last year. In light of my excitement for this years original content, I dusted this project off and finished the job.


Initially I tested it out on card stock, but regular 20lb copy paper was a closer match to the actual storybook. I took my earth tone soft pastels and rubbed the edges, folded the corners, ripped one side, and bent it around to simulate wear. In the end I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. 
While I was at it, I had a file for a newspaper clipping that might've been published in the town that this happened a few days after the actual event. Luckily I had some newsprint laying around, so I sent it through the printer, and cut it out.


Since I couldn't use a photo of the wrecked boat I found a comparable vessel on google images, and halftoned the image. This might not necessarily be accurate to the time period, but I tried my best when thinking about the font choice. 

So, there ya have it. Some great examples of how something that can be viewed as just a silly little theme park Halloween event can actually contain some brilliant story telling that I know inspires and captivates more than just me. 

Thank you to the Halloween Horror Nights team for coming up with this story, and to all the scare actors in the zone that brought it alive. 

I can't wait to see what new stories will be told this year at HHN 27