99 Red Balloons

Overview » 99 Red Balloons is an illustrated picture book inspired by the lyrics of anti-war protest song during the Cold War.


Cold war, 1960s, short story, hand-drawn


Markers, colored pencil, charcoal, InDesign

Art Direction

Dermot Mac Cormack

Inspiration » Nena’s “99 Luftballons” tells a powerful story: Balloons released by civilians are mistaken for military aircraft when they float over the Berlin Wall, leading to nuclear war. I liked how the lyrics imply a darker theme.

Visual Direction » I chose a black & white palette to strike a somber tone and red to foreshadow danger. The hand-drawn lines and textures on cream paper make the story feel raw and puts it in historical context.

Process » This was my first time illustrating this way, and I had fun exploring materials, and working with tracing paper, markers, and a scanner for a change.

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