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Drawing the "Stranger Things" Search Party

Randy Hunter | May 16, 2017

Last year, Stranger Things became an instant hit as Netflix released yet another successful ‘Original Series’.

I have used the show for motivation on several portraits since the show came out, and now I’m turning my talents over to the world of Stranger Things and focusing on the surroundings instead of the people.

You can follow along with my step-by-step process in recreating the scene where the whole town is searching for Will (Season 1, Episode 1). I added a little bit of the Upside Down to make the piece feel a little more original and fun!

Tools of the Trade

I used many colors for this piece but I probably could have finished it with half as many. I like to add in as much variation as I can to give the art more life. Don’t be too worried if you don’t have all of the colors I used. As long as you have something similar, you will do just fine.

  • E15, E47, E55, E57, E74, E84, E87
  • W3, W4, W5, W6
  • C1, C3, C5
  • N6, N8
  • B00, B12, B41, B93
  • YR27
  • G99
  • BLACK 100
  • Warm Gray Multiliner - 0.1 & 0.05

The Process


First, I quickly sketched out the the scene. The scene in general is fairly simple. The trees are mostly bare, so mimic the landscape and different sizes of the trees as best you can.

Next, I colored in the people. Don’t worry at all about the details. Just quickly color the clothing and move on. The people are a very small detail in the piece as a whole and because of how small they are, being perfectly accurate is not necessary for what we are trying to achieve.


I then filled in the trees with a base layer of gray using a W3.


Throughout the rest of the piece, I used several different shades of brown (E) to color the trees. If all the trees were the same color it would not be as realistic. The trees are all at slightly different depths from the camera, different sizes, and different species, so they will all be slightly different in color. The first color I used here was E87. (NOTE: The colors might not show perfectly because of the lighting of my progress photos.)


E55 and E57


E47 and E74


After adding all of the Earth Tones, I went back over everything with the W4 and W6 to desaturate some of the color and blend some slight shadowing into the trees. This scene shows an overcast day and therefore the shadows on the trees are not particularly prevalent, which makes the coloring slightly easier as you can just add a variation of colors and not be concerned with shading.


Next, I used the G99 and the YR27 to dab in some leaves. Again, you can see this technique in several of my previous “Tree” tutorials.


In this step, I used the 0.1 and .05 warm gray Multiliners to add in a bunch of the smaller branches on the trees. After finishing, I used a B41 to randomly scatter in blue sky off in the distance. There was no precision to this. I just jumped around the page and splashed in the blue.


On to the ground cover. With the YR27, I used different sized dabs to represent the leaves.


I used a combination of browns and gray, such as E15, E55, E84, W3, W5, with the same technique to finish the leaves.


With the normal world finished, it’s time to move on to the “Upside Down.” I used a combination of six colors to create the blueish gray background and another couple of colors for the trees.

First off, the trees are simply a mirror image of what the real world example is showing. Again, don’t worry about being exactly perfect, just try to match the trees above but in the opposite direction, like a reflection in a body of water. I began the background by fading the B00 and B12 into each other.


For round two, I went over the blue in the same exact fashion with the C1 and C3, and then again with the B00 and B12. I also used N6 to add a base color for the trees.


Finally, I used the B93 and C5 on the background and again added in the B00 and B12 and another round of C1 and C3. I was trying to find the right balance between blue, gray, and how dark I wanted it to be. I finished the trees with N8 and Black 100.

To bring the scene to a finish, I added in Will and the Monster to the Upside Down...Run Will!!!

I thought the chosen would would allow me to expand on some of the “Tree” tutorials that I have previously created. If you’re interested, you can find those here.


Topics: Illustration, Copic

Randy Hunter
Randy Hunter on May 16, 2017

Randy Hunter is an Associate Architect in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania as well as a Custom Art Business Owner. His primary subject matter includes both color and black and white commissioned portraits as well as landscapes and architectural illustration. Randy received his Master of Architecture and Master of Business Administration from Kent State University.