Karl Kopinski has lent his brush to many amazing projects, including many of CMON’s best-selling games. Now, he’s lending his talents to bring the classic Night of the Living Dead characters to your tabletops in Night of the Living Dead: A Zombicide Game. We asked him to describe his process in creating his art pieces and how it was to work on such a venerated movie. So please, take it away, Karl!
The process behind creating the game’s artwork was great. I always really enjoy working with the guys from CMON as I’m given so much freedom. This project was slightly different as, from the beginning, the idea was to work in black and white like in the film. I also looked at a lot of American illustrators from the 60s and 70s. I decided that I wanted to keep some brushwork in the figures in the hope that I could imbue the paintings with a little of the flavor of those amazing movie posters and advertising pieces of the period.
I approached this project as I usually do. I always start by making a series of the thumbnails to decide on the pose for the figures. I then speak with the art team to decide which pose we want to use for each piece.
After deciding on the poses, it was a matter of pausing the movie and trawling the internet for stills to get the references I needed to keep faithful to the actors’ facial features and clothing. Of course, it’s quite different from previous Zombicide pieces I’ve done, as those tend to be my own characters I’ve developed around a brief. Whereas for this project, I had to take a similar approach as I did on Narcos, but I gave the characters a little more of a feeling of horror and action.
Once we have all the individual poses decided, we gather them all in one place to evaluate how the cast looks together. Once I’d decided on the pose and gathered the references, it was really a matter of getting the paints out and getting to work. I work on watercolor paper so I can draw the figures in black pencil, fix them, and then prime the paper with a transparent acrylic medium. This means that once it’s dried, I can paint with oils while still keeping some of my pencil lines. It’s a pretty quick process. I could do maybe 2 figures a week this way. Also, creating the “Zombicide Mode” art for the characters was a lot of fun as I got to paint them in full color, but again keeping a realistic palette. I didn’t use anything too bright or garish, as I wanted them to still have the feel of color photos from the period.
Art being finalized, moving from line art, to color, and final piece. It really was a great project for me to work on. It was a lot of fun and being a fan of the movie meant I could really get into the characters.