Silver Crow Project

How To Draw Zombies by Mike Butkus & Merrie Destefano

How To Draw Zombies by Mike Butkus & Merrie Destefano

The book says:

Discover the secrets to drawing, painting and illustrating the undead. Welcome to the Fantasy Underground, a land where nightmares emerge from the mists of imagination. In this volume, the once-shrouded history of zombies will be exposed, from voodoo legends to magic curses, from cannibalism to scientific experiments gone awry. Renowned entertainment illustrator Michael Butkus and urban fantasy author Merrie Destafano, lead you through the dark, twisted realm of the undead, where you'll discover how to capture the likeness of some of the world's most dreaded monsters: the zombie. You'll learn how to create pencil drawings of this legendary creature, and how to manipulate your illustrations on the computer. Among the projects included are a voodoo queen, a zombie climbing out of the grave, a zombie out for a midnight snack, and the great zombie apocalypse. But consider yourself warned. You should probably read this book with all the lights on, and all the windows and doors locked. Because the zombies are loose. And the latest rumour is that they're hungry.

I say:

Well now. I start this review with a huge smile on my face. Because I really don't know how to review it. You'll see why - let's just dive in...

It's entitled How To Draw Zombies. The beginning section is really quite good in this respect - shows you how to draw your usual 'alive person' face and then how to hack bits off, distend, generally turn that face into an undead being. Trouble is here... I reckon you need to be pretty damn decent at drawing in the first place. I think it's assumed that you, the reader, know a bit about drawing already. You need to know what 'value' is and how to shade and highlight, how light and shadow works etc. So if you can't draw people, well, you might want to practice that first. If you come to this book as a complete beginner - you might be disappointed... I consider myself a definite learner and what was described as a rough sketch in the book - I would have considered a finished masterpiece and been chuffed to bits.

Scattered throughout the book are interesting snippets about zombie legend, recommended novels, how to surround yourself with inspiration. I really liked this aspect and did think it added to the overall feel of the book. Nice to learn a bit more and there were a few books I have now added to my read list.

There are 16 projects to work through, all thoroughly detailed and exquisite. I really like how each piece started as a physical sketch and each stage was shown.
At the end there is an option to move onto the computer to enhance the finished piece with a program like Photoshop - again, I think you'd have to know a little bit about this type of program as it's not an in-depth going into. Just add this, do that, add some scabs here and some bits of vein there. No telling you how you actually do that. I do have to say that I sometimes preferred the finished piece pre-digital tampering and with others I did like the altered version.

Each project comes with a comprehensive list of tools used to complete that picture; the pens, pencils and paints used as well as optional extras like airbrush (though how to achieve similar effects with paint on a brush is explained) and Photoshop. I literally guffawed out loud when one of the suggested tools was a light table. Not a light box... a whole light table. I am lucky if my light bulb in the room I'm in is bright enough. I did find that amusing. The artist, Mike Butkus, has a seriously drool worthy studio with multiple PC screens, one of which he can draw directly onto with his pen... obviously us readers don't all have that set-up, he's just showing us how he works.
I cannot stress how much I love the amount of detail and information that's given about creating backgrounds in this book. I can seriously say I have learnt some things that will be so helpful in other projects. I knew window cleaner had to have a better use than just for cleaning boring windows. That gem alone... well, I almost kissed the page!
I come away from this book itching to be better at drawing and painting, I want to be able to do the techniques outlined in this book justice. I want to dabble with airbrushing and I may even finally crank open the free Photoshop Elements software that came with my PC. Methinks a drawing tablet may find it's way to my wishlist too - I don't think that coming away from a book with a hunger to learn something new is a bad thing.

So. You see. How do I rate this book? As a "How To draw..." you actually have to be able to draw to begin with, in my humble opinion. However, if you look at this book and imagine it in the same vein as the Dragon Art one I reviewed a while back - they described their book as "inspiration, impact and technique" and that's what this is too. So for that reason I highly recommend this book. Highly. If you love zombies, even if you aren't really wanting to draw them, the snippets of legend and lore, the recommended reads... the absolutely beautiful (in a blood splattered, gory kinda way) art make it a must have. If you want this purely to draw zombies and you are a complete beginner - you might come away disappointed but I really fail to see how if you are that into zombies.

Many thanks to Quarry Books for sending the book.

Thank you, as always, for stopping by :


  1. Oh Carmen!!! How to draw Zombies!!! I saw the post title and didn't even have to look who's blog it was on. It could Only be yours ;)

  2. Yay!!! Great review!!! I love zombies and I love drawing I must get this book!!! Actually it would be really good for me as every time I try to draw a zombie it always comes out cute!!! I need to learn how to 'hack things off' properly ;0) Loved your review Carmen! :0)

  3. i havvvveeee this book.

    and i love it.

    do you hear me carmen readers? i LOVE it.

    go buy it.


  4. Hi, eeuuuuuwww, what a gory pic on the front of that book! As you know, I'm not what you could call a zombie fan but I do like drawing so had a gander at your splendid review. I'm curious now though, window cleaner? C'mon, spill the beans! ☺ x

  5. Yep, I'm interested in the window cleaner too

  6. Great review, Carmen. I'm not much good at drawing people - onions, aubergines and mushrooms I'm pretty good at but I've never heard of a zombie aubergine. I could be mistaken. The book still looks great though, and I'm sure would be an interesting read whatever skill level.

    ps We're half way through the new series of Walking Dead (they've paused it half way through and won't be back until February next year, grrrrrr! Why do they do that?). Anyway, it's brilliant - you'll love it when it finally arrives on terrestrial.

  7. A zombie aubergine would be so COOL! Can't wait for The Walking Dead to hit 'normal' TV!

  8. I like the pics...think they are ultra cool, but have no desire to draw a zombie whatsoever...haha! You write a good review, though! I enjoyed reading about the book...even if I don't want to own it ;)

  9. Excellent review! This book looks so creepy good. I wish I could draw at all. Because I would totally pick up a copy of this if I could. Alas, I am no artist, so I'll leave the drawings to you.
    If you do any of the projects, you'll have to show them off! :)

  10. The pictures are amazing. Yes, give them a go carmen and let us know how you get on

  11. Great review! Love me some zombies. I would also love to be able to draw them. Very cool.

  12. ok I only read the first paragraph of your review and I am hooked, off to find this on amazon. xxx


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