Updated: Feb 9, 2019
Ever since George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead made its way to the silver screen in 1968, zombies have increasingly staggered and lurched their way into popular culture. Zombies have since overrun the theaters and have stumbled into T.V. by the hordes with popular shows like The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead, iZombie, and Z Nation. Many more are sure to follow as the zombie craze doesn’t appear to be dying down anytime soon.
In light of this zombie mania, I thought it would be fun to zombify myself. Why? I certainly wouldn’t want to turn into a decaying, brain eating monster, but doing it in Photoshop would be a lot of fun. This is not a tutorial or step by step instructions. Rather, this is meant to inspire experimentation with layering, transparencies, coloring, and other fun effects. The sky is the limit—and that’s only if you limit your imagination to the sky.
I found this photo and this cracked skin effect idea and used them for my inspiration. There are so many creative ideas and tutorials out there that can help you achieve your desired look. What I used to get my zombie look was a photo of dry, cracked mud, a photo of an open wound, and a photo of some foundation powder. Once you layer the cracked mud over your picture, you can fine tune it, by deleting sections, lightening or darkening certain areas, adding an effect or two, and erasing any lines that run off the face and neck. You can make these as pronounced or as heavy as you like, or show only a little, whatever floats your boat.
The next thing I did was take the photo of the wound I found and positioned it in various places at different angles. If I was really going for the gold here, I would have chosen multiple wounds, but since this was just for fun, I used the same one. I blended around the edges of the wounds and used the burn tool to make the wound stand out more in places.
For the look around my eyes, I used a picture of powdered foundation. I colored the powder a purplish-red and layered it over my eyes and manipulated the layer until I was satisfied. I also added some bloodish-red to my eyes and added a slight grayish tone to my hair.
Using the paintbrush, I used a couple shades in Color mode to enhance the color of my skin. The goal was to give off a sickish look to it, so I went with a yellowish gray. Overall, I’m very happy with how this turned out and it was really fun making all the images and effects work together. Next time, I’ll try for an even more gory look, maybe with an eyeball hanging out and an arm semi-severed from my shoulder or something. Woohoo!
Doing these types of projects are super fun, but they also help elevate your skills. I always take the time to browse the work of others, take a few tutorials here and there, and try something new—or improve on something old. I have learned so much from doing this and have applied certain techniques I've used in ways I never would have thought of before, even in unrelated professional projects. So, have fun. Go crazy. It will pay off in the long run.