The Undead Come Alive! Zombie Portrait Commission

The Undead Come Alive! Zombie Portrait Commission

3 minute read

Just in time for Halloween, the undead come back from the grave in a zombie portrait diptych. The final commissioned products were created on my iPad in Procreate and printed onto 12x16 wrapped canvas for the client. While a lot of artists I know tend to ideate on the iPad, I still like to start in the sketchbook and used this opportunity to play with ink.

The Undead Come Alive! Zombie Portraits Ink killerpancake ki11erpancake illustration halloween

This all started in late September when Sarah R. commissioned me for a set of portraits as a gift for her friends, Buddy and Kim. After consulting with Sarah and hearing about their love of all things undead including Walking Dead and The Last of Us, I sent over a little letter explaining to Kim & Buddy that they could become either a zombie or post-apocalyptic survivor—they both went with zombie 🖤

After splashing around some ink in my sketchbook, I went to the iPad with my collected undead reference and started to slowly build out the underdrawings. She wanted a more classic zombie look while he wanted to be like a clicker/infected from The Last of Us. I spent some time revisiting Romero films and Walking Dead episodes. I found some The Last of Us concept art to see what a clicker looked like when it wasn't rambling around a level in the video game (I realized that I didn't really know what they looked like because I was trying to get around them 😅) I also looked up the fungus that the game designers mentioned modeling their infected after. Not ashamed at all to say that I made a zombie vision board for this project!

Taking it all in, I took my own pass at it. I'm not interested in recreating another artist's aesthetic but want to bring my own shapes, lines, and color choices to the table.

Finally, the color phase of the portraits and lots of refining. The biggest concern is getting the values right and making sure the eye is focusing on the most important parts of the piece but keeping the composition balanced. I also fussed around with Kim's rotting face. It was important to get a nice dead green and reveal some red fleshy bits underneath but keep the saturation low—red and green are complimentary so they look great next to each other but can also come across as Christmas-y.

The canvas prints have been ordered and will arrive just in time for Halloween! (Pictures forthcoming)

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