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In my advanced figure drawing class this past semester, we did a short project were we had to sculpt a bust with clay—something I’ve never done before. We were given two class periods to do the project. In the first class, I put together a basic head that I was pretty happy with, but I didn’t want to keep working on it. I wanted to go further, I wanted something with more expression, more detail and realism, basically—something more exciting. So on day 2 I started this zombie head. I chopped off the nose and distorted the expression to show intense rage. I exaggerated and stylized certain features such as the eyes and eyebrows, and added cuts and textures to show wounds and rotting flesh.

I decided to continue to work on the head for my final project for figure drawing as well. So after the head was dry, I spent several weeks refining what I had, shaving off much of the lower half of the face and elaborating on texture and details. When it got to a point I was happy with, I covered it in gesso and started to paint it with acrylics, ink, pastels, and gloss. I used a make-up sponge to apply the paint to get more of a skin texture and to avoid leaving brush strokes.

When the head was complete I decided to make three large paintings to accompany it. I chose three different positions that would allow me to exaggerate the features and expression of the zombie even further. I used everything in the paintings from ink and olive oil, to watercolors, gloss, and pastels. This variety of media allowed me to capture the grotesque grunge quality that I had painted on the head.

The final product of both the paintings and the head are shown in the gallery above along with about a dozen process pictures, showing the head’s transformation from start to finish.

Fun Facts

  • I named this zombie Christina, ‘Tina‘ for short.
  • Tina is a male. He has a short temper.
  • The power in my house went out while I was working on the paintings, so I did a significant amount of the work via the light from my iPhone.. BUT, it really helped with the whole ‘apocalypse’ idea of the project.
  • The concept for Tina was based on the zombie in the digital painting below that I did a couple years ago.