Refining the process of Black & White Illustration

After the success I’d had with my Batman illustration, I wanted to try something a little more challenging with my black and white illustration work. For some time I’ve been wanting to make a contribution to the Night of the Living Dead Reanimated project. For those unfamiliar with it, the basics of the project are that various artists in all sorts of different mediums (including puppets!) are contributing to a completely new visual track for the classic movie, Night of the Living Dead.

I had the privilege of getting to preview the mid-draft composite of the movie, and I was impressed. I went through the movie several times in order to select a scene that had not been tackled by anyone yet. I settled on the scene where Ben attempts to settle the hysteric Barbra down by checking out what dangers might be upstairs. In order to prepare for the drawing I watched the scene over and over again.

I finally decided that I wanted to do a comic page, as it was the best way for me to represent a movie scene. The multiple panel layout would allow me to include several frames of the movie, letting the viewer see an entire scene. So I popped the DVD in my computer and started sketching.

One of the big advantages of DVD is that I can pause the movie and do sketches based on individual movie frames. Once I finished a few different sketches I scanned them in and brought them all into Photoshop. I then combined all the different sketches into one page layout. The joys of digital let me play around with different placements without having to redraw my sketches each time.

Here is the final sketch layout I settled on:

 

Night of the Living Dead Sketch

Night of the Living Dead Sketch

 

Having decided on a layout I set the opacity of the sketch to 25% and printed it out on a piece of 9” x 12” Strathmore Bristol paper. I then broke out my favorite pencils and got to drawing. Using the freshness of my sketch as a guide I started working up all the little details of the illustration. This is really my favorite part of an illustration, as I love to draw and work on details.

Here is the finished drawing:

 

Night of the Living Dead Pencil Drawing

Night of the Living Dead Pencil Drawing

 

I scanned in the drawing and once again set the opacity to 25% and printed it out on a new piece of 9” x 12” Strathmore Bristol paper. I then used brushes, pens, and ink to finish the piece. One new method I tried was the use of gray ink. As I worked up the drawing it became apparent to me that I would need another tone in order to capture the dark moody feel of the Night of the Living Dead without sacrificing to much detail to the darkness. The gray ink allowed me to darken the final illustration with out over using black.

Here is the finished inked illustration:

 

Night of the Living Dead Inks

Night of the Living Dead Inks

 

To finish the piece before sending it off I scanned it in and used Photoshop to darken the black areas of the painting. In the end I was quite happy with the results and the piece was accepted by the Night of the Living Dead project manager.

Here is the submitted version:

 

Night of the Living Dead Final

Night of the Living Dead Final

 

Here are a couple close-ups for detail:

 

Head Close-Up

Head Close-Up

 

Corpse Close-Up

Corpse Close-Up

 

 

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