I had intended to do an in depth write up for my progression through this piece, but as the deadline approached I ran out of time.
My initial idea was straight forward, a bunch of zombies attaching and pulling apart a man and a woman. This is the initial thumbnail I came up with
I then proceeded to the rough sketch.
to which my art director had this to say
Dear Erik, I love the basic concept, but the piece needs changes. 1. All the really cool zombies are at the top of the page and will be covered by the logo. All that people will see are the backs of zombies on the bottom of the page. Not very dramatic or scary. The Solution: Please extend the shadowy zombie crowd at the top by three inches and pull the bottom by figures up three inches, closer to the woman. You might also want to one or two of the bottom zombies as side views similar to the screaming one to the woman's left in the center of the sketch. We will send you a modified version of the sketch to give you a clear idea of what I mean. 2. Please make some of the zombies "different races" -- Black, White, Mexican, Asian as well as white. 3. Make at a few zombies "female." 4. Please vary the ages of the zombies a little from teen to elderly. 5. The human male's arm should be a little thicker and the female's fingers would not be as visible/large; e.g. you probably wouldn't see her thumb, or if you did, you would only see her other finger tips on the lower arm -- perhaps the fingertips even digging/cutting in to the man's flesh she is pulling and holding on so hard. I LOVE the bottom center zombie looking at the reader (it also looks like it looks it could be a rotting female which is excellent). I love ALL the zombies reaching for the woman and the idea of the woman and man being pulled apart. You have no idea how perfect the multitude of zombies converging on the couple is for this book. Excellent.
and I did this revision
I then projected my sketch onto a 24 x 31 piece of smooth gessoed hardboard
blocked in the painting with a simple two value burnt umber
added a third value (ivory black and transparent red ochre) to establish my full value range
began blocking in colors (keeping it a little on the light side to allow for glazing)
and the "finished" painting
I was unhappy with the human characters and was given a bit of an extension so went back and reworked them a bit
the end product