How to draw zombies the Zombie Nation way.

I get asked how to draw zombies often enough to finally be motivated to write up a tutorial on it.  I hope you like it.

The first step in how to draw zombies is to start with some decent reference material.  I like to start with an image of someone so viral, so obviously in the prime of their life, and reeking of health that the idea of them becoming a horrific rotting zombie simply boggles the mind.  Naturally I chose to use a picture of myself to start my zombie illustration.

Ladies (and some of you men) I know what your thinking, but I’m sorry, our love can never be as I am already married.  You’ll simply have to worship me from afar.
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I start by scribbling shapes out on the page simply trying to make sure I’ve got the proportions correct.  At this point don’t focus on details just simple shapes.  Your zombie is going to look pretty funny if he’s got a lopsided head… actually sometimes that works.  The beauty of how to draw zombies is that even when you screw up it just adds to how horrific the final zombie drawing will be.

Of course given how damned handsome the original reference photo of me is, we’re going to have to work really hard to make this zombie gross looking.

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Now it’s time to start working on the values of our zombie.  I use a set of drawing pencil to start lightly shading in the face.  I’m just putting in blocks of light and dark down.  At this point I also start figuring out how I’m going to draw the rotting flesh of the zombie.  If you want more reference material for wounds  and gross zombie examples it’s readily available online.

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This is the part of how to draw zombies that I start adding details, while further refining my values.  When drawing gross zombie wounds you can’t add too many details, in fact the more wrinkles, folds, holes, and divots you add to the zombie’s face the more interesting it looks.  Nothing looks more boring than a zombie with a smooth complexion and a pleasant expression.  That’s what those stupid vampires are for, and vampires suck.

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With the pencil drawing done I scan it into photoshop.  I set my pencil layer to “Multiply” and create a layer underneath it.  Wherever my zombie is I fill this area with grey.  You can use photoshop’s tools to adjust your pencil drawings values at this point as well.

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This is the fun part of how to draw zombies.  On the grey layer I use the paintbrush set to a low opacity to start working the values up and down till I’m happy with the illustration.  Often I’ll use the dodge and burn tools at the end to push the values just a little bit more for contrast.  Keep in mind your light source when detailing scratches and divots.  It doesn’t hurt to make your zombie’s face look like the craters of the Moon.

It’s time to add a background and make sure there is enough contrast with it and your zombie for the zombie to stand out.  I like to use a textured paper background.  I like the water stains on it, it looks messy.

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The comic at the top is the final result.  I added the text and finished the illustration off with some custom splatter brushes to represent blood, dirt, and other zombie grossness.  Also I put a glow over the zombie’s eyeballs to show it’s a supernatural zombie type …. Spooky I know.  🙂

Hope you liked that tutorial, feel free to link to this all over the interwebs, write about in your diary, possibly call your grandparents and let them know how this zombie drawing tutorial made you feel inside. (I feel warm and gooey)