Create A Rockabilly Zombie Girl with Illustrator CS5

In this tutorial you’ll see the step by step procedure of the creation of a rockabilly inspired zombie prepping for her date(s). I use the term “date” loosely seeing that there are multiple disembodied suitors coming over the hill top.

A ghoul needs to look her best, so we’ll be creating her and accessorizing her outfit in an attempt to make her drop dead gorgeous enough to “knock them dead” all over again.

Tutorial Details
  • Applications Used: Adobe Illustrator CS5
  • Difficulty: Advanced
  • Estimated Completion Time: 3h +

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Final Product What You’ll Be Creating

Step 1

The initial concept was sketched with a typical 0.7 leaded pencil and scanned into the computer using a dpi of 300. Before using the sketch, it was taken into Adobe Photoshop and the levels were changed in order to darken the lines and define the final shapes for easier vectoring. The idea is loosely developed which means that there was no need for reference materials. We’ve all seen a cat and we’ve all seen animal skeletons, but since this is a more fancy free sketch, so I think we can see past a few misshapen bones for whimsy’s sake.


Once the lines are to our liking, we can save the sketch as a JPEG or PNG and bring it into Adobe Illustrator. This particular file was prepared at 8.5 x 11 for printing convenience. If need be, you can check your preferences by heading to the top of the bar and clicking on Document Setup > Edit Artboards or using the hotkeys Alt+Ctrl+P, where you can either manually pull the dashed lines around your Artboard to the size you require, or input the size at the top of the bar.

Step 2

In this step, I’ve started working on the base skin tones using only my Pen tool (P) and Curves are accomplished by holding down the (Alt) key as points are created to form each path. I’ve used only two gradients in this case to keep things less complicated. This is a linear gradient with a solid opacity throughout. I’ve also begun to label my layers. If this was a more complex project, it would become even more necessary to label my layers, not only for myself, but also in the event that I may have to share it down the road with printers or the like. My advice would be to make this a continual practice until it becomes second nature.

Step 3

At this point, our base skin tone has been mapped out with our Pen tool (P). I’ve labeled my layer “Zombie Girl”, knowing that I’ll have many other layers that I’ll want to keep separate. This makes resizing easier in the future. I’m not worried about the body having various tones to it. As you can see there are varying shades on each limb. This is a great way to simplify your work load. Depth is already being created by the gradient alone, and added shading will only enhance from here on out.

Step 4

While working with my simple gradients, I’m choosing colors that will read well. Try to play attention to signals within your color palette. These are warnings that many people ignore, but they’re there for a reason. By pressing on this yellow caution triangle, it will automatically adjust the color choice which will enable it to be more printer friendly. This is of course up to you.

…and that’s the end of the preview!

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