-By Dan dos Santos

Here is a new piece that was recently released. This is for the 6th book in Diana Rowland’s White Trash Zombie series.

This cover needed to be completed for the Publisher’s Sales Catalog before the book had actually been written. Which means I didn’t have a lot of info to work from. But the Author did know 2 things about the story… The title would be ‘White Trash Zombie Unchained’, and that it would have zombie alligators.

Weirdly, this was all I needed.

The word ‘Unchained’ and the notion of alligators brought to mind images I’d seen of people walking tigers and hyenas on leashes. Why not alligators then? The image of a zombie walking a pair of zombie alligators on leashes seemed just the right amount of campy/bad ass that this series calls for.

Time was short, and there wasn’t a manuscript to pull from, so I just offered up the first idea I had (with some color variations), and we rolled with it.

After sketch approval, I set about painting the final art. First I hired a local model for some reference…

And combined that with some toy alligators and crocodiles…

I then jumped into the final painting. I start with a detailed underdrawing on illustration board. This painting is about 20×30 inches.

I sealed the drawing, and toned the background with a quick wash of black acrylic. After that was dry, I went right into it with oil paints.

I got pretty far into the piece, like REALLY far, and decided I just wasn’t happy with the overall palette. The client wasn’t either.

The monochromatic scheme worked well in the sketch phase, but as things took shape, it just didn’t look right any more. The was an energy in the sketch that wasn’t coming across.

We decided to ramp it up and make the whole thing a lot more playful and colorful. This piece underwent quite a few revisions, both digitally and traditionally.

I also did the type design for the cover. This gave me a chance to plan accordingly and use the type as a means of introducing certain colors that the illustration really needed. Below is the final cover with type treatment.