Making a Gory and Realistic Undead

This tutorial will show you how to make a realistic, skin peeling, undead person. I’ll warn you, it’s a little gross.

This started off as an experiment, and it turned out pretty disgusting, so I thought I would share it with you all. A good zombie-how-to is worth a look at any time of year.

There are some pretty basic elements to this tutorial. You’re going to need a picture of a person you want to rip the skin off of, and some pictures of raw meat. Yes, that lovely steak you have been craving is now going to be put to use as a gory element to our picture.

Here are the pictures I am using to demonstrate my method to you. I got the stock photo of the girl on ComstockComplete.


Step 1: Matching and Layering

Open both of your pictures and make them whatever color you want. The easiest way to do this is working with black and white photos – which you may want to start with and work your way up to the full-color gory details in a later project.

So, first thing is first. Convert your images into black and white. My photo I am working with starts off black and white, but the steak needs to change. I cut it out, drug it into my photo, and Desaturated it (Image>Adjustments>Desaturate or CTRL+Shift+U).


Don’t worry if your steak isn’t quite as high in contrast, or more so than your person, you can adjust this later with Burning.

Now, you’re going to copy the layer that your person is on, and paste it in a new layer above your piece of steak. Don’t forget to position your steak so it covers the area you’re going to be peeling the skin from.

Step 2: Removing the Skin

We are going to do some old-fashioned erasing here. For this, I used one of the Chalk Brushes, to give the skin a little more unevenness when removing it (it looks a little more realistic if it looks torn).

Change the Opacity of the brush to around 20%. We don’t want to just punch a big hole in her face, we want it to look like her skin has decayed from her face. Now, with the lower opacity, every time you click the brush is only going to remove 20% of what is there. I like to make the brush a little larger, then scale it down some, getting more detailed as it eats the skin off of her cheek. Once I get to a point where I want the piece of steak to show through completely, I up the opacity to about 60%, and click a couple times to get that last bit of skin from there.

To get a little more depth to the skin, use your Burn tool, and change its Exposure to about 20%. Select the steak layer and while using a Soft Round Brush, burn around the edges a little. If you want to darken the skin some too, select that layer and do the same to it. If there are darker areas in the steak picture, you might want to scale the burn tool down a little and emphasize some of those, making more crags and crevasses.

Step 3: More Details Bloodied Lips

Don’t want the lips to look quite so kissable? Select the top layer with her skin on it, and use the Lasso Tool. Draw a little area in the cracks of her lips, making a shape out of it, and color it black. Deselect that area (CTRL+D), and use the burn tool again. Start off smaller, using that same Soft Round Brush, and darken the area where you drew that shape. The trip here is that you don’t it to look like you drew a shape, you want it to look ‘natural’. Increase the size of the brush as needed.

By all means, use these techniques for the rest of the picture. White out the eyes, make them vacant looking, it’s up to you.

Step 4: Finished

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Let me know what you think!

Here is what I made as inspiration for this tutorial. Click the image to see more detail.

By Kirin Knapp

Kirin Knapp is a graphic designer for the iEntry Network, publishing company of FlashNewz. A flash animator and illustrator, she is the creator of her home site, Inkdu.com.

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