Spoopy” is an Internet slang word used to describe something that is comical and spooky at the same time. Originally seen on a photograph of a misspelled Halloween sign (source: Wikipedia)

Not sure if all of my Drawlloween submissions come under that but I like the word and that cute sort of humour, so spoopy it is. I guess disaster might be a good descriptive word for some of them – weirdly most of the ones I hated were the most popular. Pity points? Maybe?

My favourites and potential redraws are the Little Witches, the Spider Bride (bottom of this entry),  Plague Doctor and Crypt Creep. I learned that the Windsor and Newton ink I used is a little like water colour in application and a bit of water will keep it wet for longer leaving you ample time to make an absolute mess of it before it dries in to rancid streaks of bleak. Happily you can add another layer and pray it masks all that heartache or develops into an accidental masterpiece.


I did learn to like the fineliners, a little. The very fine pens (my finest being 0.05) aren’t too much trouble and I used mine as I would a pencil – working out the details and lines, and lightly adding fine marks to build up the lights and the darks. I also realised that, though it may be frowned upon by some, lightly drawing out your piece in pencil will actually help build confidence as it prevents mistakes and despair. I simply drew my idea, erased my mistakes and worked away until I was happy. I rolled a putty eraser over the pencil work to make it even lighter (and pick up any graphite dust) and then drew over the work with my pen. I realised that I could actually use the pen and come away with a decent line drawing – all ready and waiting for pen marks to create the form, shadows and little details. Maybe even mess it up! But at least it had a fighting chance.



Days 1 to 16


Days 17 to 31

Bibliography and Inspiration

A lot of inspiration was found in fellow Drawlloweeners and spooky movies.

My slowly growing Spectrum book collection – Spectrum 24 is out this month!!!


I have pretty much spent the entire month listening to Deftones. I recommend ‘Rosemary’ – its subject matter is very sci-fi, and ‘Tempest’.


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)


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.


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

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.



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!?


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!


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



Music I listened to:

The Zombie E.P – The Devil Wears Prada

Siouxie and the Banshees-  Hyaena

The Chameleons

Requiem in White