Bethany Straker – How I draw an Evolving Character: Zombie Cat
Zombie Cat: The Tale of A Decomposing Kitty was published in 2012. It was my first book, and I’ve enjoyed looking back on it this week to talk about how I came up with the character and how it evolved through the book.
Initial sketches of Zombie Cat were what I thought of when I imagined zombies. Thin, scrawny and falling apart, I drew many versions of a disgusting looking cat in my sketch book. As you can see, my first sketches lacked warmth: I wanted the character to be friendlier and cuddlier. As I sketched, he filled out and started to transform into the character.
Once he was established, I used blue pencil and black pen to sketch out scenes that would end up in the book, starting with a ‘normal’ looking cat, Tiddles, that would transform later into the oozing, bleeding thing in later pages. I would then scan and colour using my graphics tablet.
When ZC was bitten, this scene required a hint of what was to come, so I added a popping ‘vein’ on his neck and red around the eyes, as if the poison was already taking hold.
My favourite page of the book is the ‘reveal’ image, where ZC looks at himself if horror, with a real attention to detail focusing on the slime, blood, skin and general gore.
Once he arrives at his owner’s house, he is in his most desperate state, and I wanted this drawing to be at its most ridiculous. I wanted him to look so incredibly gory that the image would fall into comedy.
So one final incarnation of ZC was to come: him in his ‘fixed up’ state. This needed a ‘DIY’ look about it, so I added sewing lines, a missing ear and a yellow eye. He seems happy enough with his final makeover!
Bethany Straker Website, Twitter
BETHANY STRAKER is an illustrator and designer working in Kent and London. She is currently working on 6 picture books for Skyhorse publishing and currently has a book out written by Isabel Atherton, called ‘Zombie Cat: The Tale of a Decomposing Kitty’. Her new books include a book she wrote called ‘The Funny Bunny Fly’, ‘A Curious Robot on Mars!’ written by James Duffett-Smith and ‘Smelly Ghost’ by Isabel Atherton. Previously, Bethany has illustrated for magazines for Disney, CMP Information, Bliss magazine, the National Magazine Company and GoGo’s Crazy Bones. You can see some examples of her work on her website, www.bethanystraker.com