Work in Progress: Zombie Hunter

In between client projects, I’ve been returning to this older painting, “Zombie Hunter,” that has been on the back burner since last year. I know – that’s a long time! It took a while for me to figure out the direction that I wanted this piece to go in but now that I’ve finally established what I want to with it, things have gotten easier. Here’s the previous post I wrote in case you missed it.

For a little refresher, the above image is where I was at the last time I worked on this piece. Since then, I decided that I wanted to make this piece work as a book cover sample, so I tightened things up and made it vertical, allowing for space on the top and bottom. Also, I built a model so I could see just how that pillar and the surrounding space appears in perspective.

Blender has once again proven to be super useful in constructing reference for three-dimensional spaces! It’s a relatively simple set up with just a pillar and a ceiling, but being able to throw light around and experiment with camera angle and lighting opens up so many more possibilities than I could imagine.

I love these pillar designs from a buddhist temple that have this strange bulbous form on top of a polygonal column. It’s an interesting departure from the standard greek columns I’ve seen over and over again. Something I’ve learned is that it helps to find interesting reference for every single aspect of a picture, no matter how small or seemingly unimportant. Illustrations are about visual interest, after all, so it makes sense to pay close attention to small details.

You also might have noticed some costume changes for our Zombie Hunter. In the original reference image, my model was wearing a dress but it just didn’t feel right for this Arya Stark look alike that I’m building. Arya wouldn’t be caught dead in a dress, so neither will our heroine. I did some digging on Pinterest and found just the right image of this Snow White character from the movie “Once Upon a Time.” Almost perfect! I think I will change her top vest from a fur to more of a leather texture but other than that this outfit works really well.

Lastly, our Zombie Hunter got a serious upgrade in her weaponry as well. I was really stuck on how to make her dagger more interesting. I originally stole the blue glowing blade look from Lord of the Rings in which Frodo has a sword named Sting that glows blue when orcs are nearby. It just wasn’t communicating here though and I wanted something with more oomph. I was already in a Game of Thrones mood when I struck upon the idea of a flaming blade, a la Beric Dondarrion.

That’s more like it! So, I guess our Zombie Hunter is really a combination of Arya and Beric, which is totally OK with me. The feeling of a character is really important and seeing as this lone Zombie Hunter is going to be facing off against a horde of zombies, she’ll need serious armament to match. The flaming blade also stands in nicely as a light against the darkness, a warm ray of hope in a cold dead crypt. Can’t wait to see just how much damage she’ll end up doing – more coming soon!