Monday, October 13, 2008

Sheila, the zombie cheerleader

I’ve finished my zombie cheerleader painting; my husband named her Sheila. I’m not completely happy with Sheila, but I learned a few things about what I like and don’t like about the process I was experimenting with. As requested, here are a few pictures of Sheila, the zombie cheerleader, with notes under each picture.

The original sketch: I did this sketch in pencil, then finished it with crayon. I like the cartoony, child-like quality of Sheila here, but she doesn’t look very zombie-ish.

The finished painting: Sheila looks much more like a zombie now, and I moved her leg over with the other one so it wouldn’t be hidden under the pompom. There are several things I would change about this painting, and if it hadn’t been an experiment in process, I probably would have scrapped the first image mid-way and re-painted to fix some issues. The one thing I do like, that doesn’t show up so well here, is the black lines in the background. There are 6 cheerleaders behind Sheila, along with swirls in the sky and lines and bugs in the grass.

The stage right before the finished painting: I actually like this better than the finished painting, even though I’m a big fan of the black outline. I think there’s a way to get this more painterly look, and still have some sort of outline. FYI, the first two images were scanned into my computer, but this one was a picture taken with my cell phone because it was still taped to the board so I could continue painting. The colors are the same as the final.

Next up: I’m painting a picture of the MC in the novel I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo. I’ll be using a slightly different painting process, starting with black outline over the sketch, then thin layers of acrylic wash (think varnishes or glazes), and finally deciding if I want to finish with a technique similar to the zombie painting, or if I want to keep it more layered and transparent.

p.s. It’s October 13, Only 18 more days until Halloween, when the zombies appear!


  1. I'm always fascinated by seeing illustrators' processes.

    But the best part is that the whole thing begins, "I’ve finished my zombie cheerleader painting."

    Because a zombie cheerleader painting is something everybody should try.

  2. that is by far the best Zombie Cheerleader I've ever seen! from beginning to end! :0) Zombie Cheerleaders ROCK!


  3. I prefer zombie cheerleaders to their living counterparts:)

  4. She's cute! I like all three stages, for different reasons. I always hate that I can't keep all the spontaneity of original sketches, but in the end the final product usually offers more.

    Will there be more zombies to come?

  5. "Because a zombie cheerleader painting is something everybody should try."

    Exactly Jacqui! Even if it's not the best zombie cheerleader painting ever, at least you can say you painted one ;)

    Thanks Christy!

    Candace - ha! Me too!

    Thanks Adrienne! I think the final product usually offers more too, or at least I hope it does. I want to do more zombies. I have some zombie circus elephants sketched out, but I'm not sure when I'll get to them.

  6. Thanks for showing the stages!
    Three cheers for Sheila the Zombie Cheerleader!

  7. Thanks Kelly! Sheila says thanks for the cheers, too ;)

  8. COOL! I love seeing the process illustrators go through.

  9. Seeing the process you've gone through is fascinating! I think the finished product is hilarious and cute at the same time. Next time I get stuck on the zombie WIP, I'll have to drop in to your blog and look at the painting for inspiration.

    And you're right; the swirls and cheerleaders in the background ARE fabulous!

  10. Thanks Rena!

    Carrie: Thanks! Good luck on the zombie WIP! If your zombies need cheering on, I could always send Sheila over to do some Rah-Rahing and get your zombies all fired up ;)

  11. I never knew there was so many differnt stages to the process...I also liked the black outlined cheerleaders in the made her more real somehow...great job!

  12. Thanks Brenda! There can actually be even more stages, depending on style, process, and whether or not the zombies are staging a revolt and refusing to be painted.