Friday, 31 October 2014

Happy Halloween everybody!

I put a final layer of paint on the zombie head last night, and now it's sitting on a windowsill ready to greet the trick or treaters this evening.  Here's hoping the rain passes over by then.

I mounted the head on a table lamp, which means I can do this:

Sure it's cheesy, but hey - it's Halloween.  In Old Norse you'd call this a draugljotr: a zombie lamp.  Sometimes zombies in Viking sagas are associated with strange, supernatural lights, so I thought why not?

The skin colour looks a lot like a bog body, with some nice blue undertones.  I've also put gloss varnish inside the mouth and on the scabby areas to contrast with the matte finish on the surface of the skin.

Thursday, 30 October 2014


How's that for a blog post title?  With a title like that, you know there's going to be something entertainingly disgusting coming up.  I'll try not to disappoint.

I wanted some crusty, scabby texture in places where the zombie's skin is torn, and spent ages trying to figure out think what would be the best way to achieve that.  Then I remembered an old episode of The Simpsons: Lisa pranks Bart and Homer by pasting fake scabs on their skin while they're asleep, and when they wake up they think they've caught some horrible disease.  The fake scabs are made with oatmeal.  

It's very simple to do this.  I just glued oatmeal wherever I wanted a scab and moulded some ripped skin around the scab using paper.

I've painted the scabs with a mixture of black and red, plus a little bit of yellow and brown, and the same goes for the muscle in the zombie's neck.

After that, I started on the skin.  I covered the lot in blue-brown undercoat with a bit of black.  In Scandinavian traditions zombies are typically a blue-black colour, so Thorolf  here is getting a dark skin with plenty of blue tones.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Neck muscles

Yes, this whole zombie thing really is just an excuse for gratuitous nastiness.  Here you can see its neck with the skin torn open, showing the neck muscles underneath.  There's absolutely no reason to do that beyond me having a warped fascination with anatomy.

To get this effect I've made strips of muscle tissue just like I did for the face, and stuck them in place.

Afterwards, I've added skin over top of the muscle structure.  The other side of the neck is intact, but it will still get some nasty scabby bits where the neck is severed.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Putting the finishing touches on the zombie face

So far I've made the zombie's mouth, nose, and eyes.  Obviously, the next job is ears.

I quite like making ears, because they're interesting.  Ears have all sorts of curves and bends, which makes them quite entertaining from a sculptor's point of view.  Especially when the subject is a zombie and it doesn't matter if the ears come out looking a bit wonky.

This one's not too wonky though.

In fact, my ears start with a simple twist of paper held in place with masking tape.  This gives me the outer curve of the ear more or less, and acts as a platform for me to build the rest of the ear on top.

This is the basis for the ear.  I simply glue it onto the head and go from there.

Doing the ears took ages though, because every so often I had to stop and dry out the ear before I did any more.  Unfortunately, this meant I didn't get as much done on the zombie tonight as I'd planned.  I'd hoped to make a start on the neck.  As it was, I only got a paper tube stuck on there to make the armature for the neck.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Not quite a scowling zombie, but he doesn't look happy either

Yesterday I wasn't very pleased with the way my zombie face looked.  So after work I did a few alterations on the brow line, and the result looks much better.

I haven't actually changed the face very much.  All I've done is given it a slight frown, but it gives the face some expression which wasn't there before.

I've also started playing around with skin textures on the right side of the face.  Again, the changes are subtle, but you can see that the skin is becoming slightly wrinkled.  Ideally I want it sagging off the head a bit. 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

More zombie eyelids

Last night I made a start on the tissue around the zombie's eyes and forehead.  Because it's a severed head I wanted to give it a blank, slack jawed expression rather than a vengeful scowl.  Here's what I've got so far:

The eyes look abnormally large at this stage, but that's because only part of the eyelids have been painted.  Once the whole thing is painted the eyes will be back to their proper size. 

I didn't do any more on it last night because, honestly, I'm not sure about it.  It's not bad exactly, but there's something not quite right with that face.  Maybe it does need a bit of a scowl.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014


Moving further up the zombie's face, it's now time to install the eyes.  Like the mouth, I like to do these from the inside out.  The inside of the eyelid is brown paper with a line of eyelashes made from hairbrush bristles.  Hairbrush bristles are ideal for making eyelashes.

Unfortunately, these are the only photos of this step that came out properly.  It seems the camera eye has trouble seeing what's going on with the eyelids at this stage.  It's probably operator error, since I belong to the "point, click, and hope" school of photography.  However, the pictures do show how I positioned each eye in its socket and built the shape of the eyelid over top of it.  As in real life, each eye has a top lid and a lower lid.  I glue the lower lids in place first, then curve the upper lid over top.

Doing the top and bottom lids separately is important, because they curve in different ways and it really is a lot easier to get the bottom lids glued in position and dried so they won't move about, and then move on to the top lids.  Trying to concentrate on both at once is a nuisance.

The next step will be to build up the outer skin around the eyelids.