The Zombies in the Wood

I am teaching myself to draw and someone (not a zombie!) asked me if I had any advice on how to go about it. I think, for me, there are many answers to this and I decided this question might be something I could write about here.  I think it worth noting that you should never stop experimenting and pushing yourself – otherwise what is the point! Whenever I have the time I like to look back at old work and try again. Like this project – The Zombies in the Wood (the original piece is included further down)

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Work in progress – The Zombies in the Wood – graphite (2H, H, HB)

For me, drawing things that interest me is very important. The few structured art classes I did years ago were pretty uninspiring and I think I have figured out why. I like fantasy and Sci-Fi. If someone asked me to draw a chair (which they did) I could see that the task was useful but not ever so exciting. If someone asked me to draw a pirate king’s throne then I think I would have been all for it. Clearly I didn’t have the imagination to see that back then, but I guess better late than never. I also get that the chair is totally necessary – it’s really important to use reference material and if you are drawing people or animals then it’s a good idea to consider the anatomy and think about what lies under the skin. This really helped with my figures and characters.

I use all kinds of things for reference – I collect objects ,  catalogues with pictures of vases and clocks, fabrics and furniture  or just stringy people in jeans! Every autumn I go to the park and collect Autumnal things. I decorate my home with Autumn.  It helps with the arduous task of getting through summer.

I draw every day if I can and I always listen to music – that is important for me but not compulsory. Maybe.

If I don’t draw I look at my books (see Inspiration) and plan what I am going to draw. I have collected a lot of books. I have learned so much from these resources so far and I haven’t even scratched the surface!. Perhaps I buy too many.

Ask yourself what you want to draw and then make it your mission to find out how.  It’s important to look at the larger shapes and negative space – once you’ve established these you can then look at the smaller shapes within.

When I first began learning I tried a lot of different media. It helped me discover what I wanted to use. I think it’s important to experiment with different media but ultimately use materials that you enjoy using so you can be really good at one or two things instead of OK at lots of things. My favourite is dry media – especially graphite. I’m starting to really realise how much – I always come back to it.  I am desperate to try the coloured water soluble graphite pencils from Derwent. Maybe I will get them for Halloween!

I also love watercolour although I am not sure that it loves me! Some advice I took without regret was to buy the best materials you can afford –  cheap materials can be frustrating and the results disappointing no matter how much skill you have.

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My favourite pencils and my home made drawing board (incline fashioned from ImagineFX magazine cardboard packaging)

I think what I have learned the most from is making a finished drawing – not a sketch – but a complete illustration.  Drawing individual subjects in a vacuum is great for practice but actually planning, researching, sketching thumbnails, practicing key elements and then making a piece – a finished piece – is by far the most exciting way of learning how to draw – it forces you to look at so many different things and bring them together and make them work.  You can look at what you made – see what worked and see what didn’t, and then start again. I am going through this process with The Zombies in the Wood. I did this in a rush last year and I have developed a keen hatred for it. So, I am starting again. I will probably look at it in another year and do it again. In fact, I am counting on it!

 

Bibliography and Inspiration

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Anatomy for Fantasy Artists – An essential guide to creating action figures and fantastical forms, Fabry, G., and Cormack, B., David and Charles Publishers, 2006.

Martin, Justin.,  Poses for Artists, Vol. 2, Standing Poses, Eagel Ink Factory, Justin Martin, 2016.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, Austen, J. and Grahame-Smityh, S., Titan Books, 2009.

 

Music I listened to

Miss May I – Monument

The Birthday Massacre-  various

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I turned my son into a zombie receptionist.

The Book Cover

I have explored many avenues for making this thing. Some of the twists and turns lie festering on Growing Paynes  and show a few ideas I explored. One idea actually turned into an illustration for inside the book so all that work was pretty useful!

But here I am – not the final destination because a.) That never ends well and b.)  I am sure the next one will be completely different again, so it’s a temporary solution to an ongoing problem.

Working in my sketchbook, I came up with an entirely different idea from what I had first imagined it would be. I wanted to represent the protagonist and her post apocalyptic world.  I decided to work in graphite and only use colour for the eyes – the eyes are important as there is a lot of tech involved in the story so I wanted the viewer to be drawn to that – and it looks interesting to me. I really love working in greyscale with just a hint of colour!

I also worked on another drawing for the back. Its a zombie receptionist. I used my son as a model for this drawing and I cannot quite decide if he is more annoyed about the fact I turned him into a zombie or if its because I turned him into a woman.

Next I began to think about the cover design.  I wanted to find a font that would work for a book cover – so I did some research on designing a book cover. An internet search brought up a wealth of information. I’ve included a link or two.  I used Photoshop Elements to put it all together – I am an absolute novice with that – I had to get a little help – but it made me realise that I would love to make some digital art and this is definitely something I am going to explore.

But, anyway.  Here it is. The book cover. I hope it says something about the characters, what they are up against, who they are – I hope it invites Alistair’s readers to want to look inside and see more.

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/08/5-great-fonts-for-book-covers/

fontsquirrel.com

Biblography and inspiration

Anatomy Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Sketching from the Imagination: Sci Fi, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Sci-Fi Essentials, Imagine FX/Future Publishing.

Music I listened to

Doom:VS – Dead Words Speak

Cranes – Wings of Joy and Inescabable

Miss May I – Monument

The Gnarly Knuckle

I’ve been doing some work on hands – it’s something I’ve really started to love to draw – they are not that easy and just to make life even harder I like to choose really awkward poses – it’s rewarding to draw, more interesting to look at and sometimes a gnarly zombie hand emerges from the graphite dust just begging for some rot to be added to its suffering limbs, and what’s not to like about that!?

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Hand drawn in graphite

The first drawing was done from some photos of my hand and arm in tense gestures. I wanted all the tendons to show so I could try getting the tension down on paper. I think I succeeded and the next step was to re-do the piece in watercolour pencil, like another zombie hand I made recently.  I used tracing paper to transfer the image and I did a little research (see bibliography) to figure out what level of rot and bone exposure I would be going for.

I traced it onto a watercolour background I had painted previously – I like practicing washes and trying different colour mixes to create atmosphere, and I always try and make them with possible backgrounds for drawings in mind – it’s less wasteful!

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The Gnarly Knuckle – gnarled with watercolour pencils

For this drawing, I intentionally used a lot more watercolour pencil than I would normally go for as I wanted the hand to look like old, rotten, dirty skin – perhaps a little too much in retrospect as there were some areas that looked a little too muddy even for a dead thing – so, I re-wet the areas I wasn’t happy with and lifted some of the colour off with some clean kitchen paper. I then used a clean, wet brush to blend and pull the colours around until I was happy. Once dry, I went back in with the watercolour pencil and tidied up any lost lines or little details I wanted to keep. I will probably do more pieces like these – it’s excellent practice and seriously good for ones calm.

Bibliography and Inspiration:

Leonardo da Vinci, Anatomist , Clayton. M, and Philo, R, Royal Collection Publications, 2014

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

3dtotal.com

Craftsy.com

Music I listened to:

The Zombie E.P – The Devil Wears Prada

Siouxie and the Banshees-  Hyaena

The Chameleons

Requiem in White

Creeps of London Underground

I have been drawing zombies and zombie portraits for a book a friend of mine is writing – he is self-publishing and when he asked if I would help I was really excited as I am big a fan of the old zombie!

He had a deadline and so my earlier drawings needed to be kept simple – I didn’t have that much time to explore some of the ideas I had so I saw book 1 as a chance to develop characters.  Now I am on book 2 I am continuing working on the characters but I am also taking my ideas a little further and exploring action, gesture and composition.

Blood Chin Zombie

This is one of my newer zombie portraits – a recently infected wreck of a man who just scored a meal. Compared to my previous portraits I have focused more on detail, rather than mood, as I have started to think about the decomposition of muscle and flesh. It’s no way near that point yet – but I can see my exploration of anatomy is going to be useful for this project and that’s the next step for me – I will be working from the inside out.

Like my other attempts, I used charcoal and a variety of old watercolour brushes for blending.  I spent some time looking at zombie art and graphic novels, and I bought “Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies” so I could take some lessons – my page “Zombie Book” includes some of the little projects I did and I think they were really useful and most importantly, lots of fun. I’m also using “Anatomy for Fantasy Artists” which has been very useful for gesture, anatomy and reference photos.

Tunnel zombies

This is a scene I am working on (I think it’s almost finished) showing zombies creeping towards a fleshy meal in the dark tunnels of the London Underground. I used vanishing point to work out the perspective and I tried to make sure all the heads of the upright zombies in the mid ground and background were at the same level which helps keep the perspective consistent. I began by lightly working out the larger shapes and then focusing on the gesture, capturing the smaller details as I went along. I used graphite and a lot of swearing.

 

Bibliography and Inspiration

Leonardo da Vinci, Anatomist , Clayton. M, and Philo, R, Royal Collection Publications, 2014

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Anatomy for Fantasy Artists – An essential guide to creating action figures and fantastical forms, Fabry, G., and Cormack, B., David and Charles Publishers, 2006.

The Walking Dead Vol. 1, Kirkman, R. and Moore, T. Image Comics, 2006.

The Walking Dead Vol 2 -17, Kirkman, R., et al, Image Comics.

Revival, Seeley, T. and Norton, M., Image Comics,

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, Austen, J. and Grahame-Smityh, S., Titan Books, 2009.

Music I listened to

The Zombie E.P – The Devil Wears Prada

The Powerless Rise – As I Lay Dying

An Ocean Between Us – As I lay Dying

JuJu – Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Creep  – Radiohead

My Dead Hand

This is the first instalment of my art journal. One of the things I always find daunting is drawing realistic hands and I want to address that because it is one of the main reasons I am nervous about drawing actual people. I decided I needed to learn about anatomy so that my attempts do not look so wooden and they look believable.  Besides, to draw a good zombie one must be aware of its innards!

This is My Dead Hand – it’s actually my hand and I have zombified it. I used watercolour for the background and watercolour pencil for the hand itself.

 

 

These hand sketches are the result of gesture exercises from a class I bought on Craftsy – a very useful online resource which provides tuition videos and feedback on many creative endeavours. I have also been looking at Da Vinci’s “Anatomist” and some of the Fantasy Underground books for some clues and inspiration.

 

I have been practicing drawing hands with graphite on rough paper, as you go through a lot just finding the movement and shape to begin with, and it seemed less wasteful than using up a good sketchbook.  I get a little precious over nice paper so this approach helped me loosen up and throw caution to the wind! My aim is to show the gesture and energy in the hand and I think these sketches are good examples of the stages and the progress I have made so far. The more polished piece (dare I say finished?) is for a zombie story a friend of mine is self-publishing. He asked me to do some illustrations for his book – a task which has been hard work but motivating, and one that has helped me to focus on some of the goals that are important to me; improving my knowledge on anatomy, and developing my skills using gesture. I am now working on the second volume and this drawing is one I hope to include.

The zombie hands were rendered using watercolour for the background and watercolour pencils for the hands. I have always wanted to make a decent water colour piece but I have had very little success. I don’t think I have the patience. Water soluble pencils are great because you can make the drawing and then use water to make it look more painterly. They appeal to me as I am more of a drawer than a painter. I have realised through trial and error to move the water away from the light area to the dark – otherwise flat or even muddy nightmares result.  I’ve included some of my favourite sketches here and the rest of them are on my sketchbook page – a sort of gallery of efforts  and progress.

Bibliography and Inspiration:

craftsy.com

Leonardo da Vinci, Anatomist , Clayton. M, and Philo, R, Royal Collection Publications, 2014

Fantasy Underground – How to Draw Zombies,  Butkis, M, and Destefano, M, Walter Foster Publishing Inc, 2010

Beginners Guide to Sketching: characters, creatures and concepts, 3dtotal Publishing, 2015

3dtotal.com

 

Music I listened to:

The Zombie E.P – The Devil Wears Prada

The Powerless Rise – As I Lay Dying

Requiem – Mozart

Ocean Rain – Echo and the Bunnymen