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Are Zombies really green?


Samedi
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My first zombie horde waits to be painted sometime in the foreseeable future . They will be used in the opening scenario of RoSD.

 

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Now, in most tutorials I've seen so far, zombies end up having a pale green skin. But is that really how a zombie would look? Does dead skin turn green?

 

I must confess that I've never seen dead people so far. I am very thankful for this. Also, I'm not comfortable with searching for reference pictures on the web of how dead people look. I find that lacking in taste and respect. But when I search specifically for Zombies, they usually have this green tint.

 

What would you suggest as a recipe for a somewhat "realistic" zombie skin?

Thanks for your ideas!

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I've painted a few, and honestly the ones with green hue were not my favorite.  I think of the skin as a very pale, dirty, grubby color.  They have no blood.  They've been exposed to the elements.  I think of the skin like a yellowish- brown washed color.  Also makes highlights fun. 

 

The eyes are really what i have the most difficulty with on zombies. Dead black just isn't fun, but if you're going for realism, they probably just have sockets more than eyes.

 

Here's some examples.  My better ones are at the top, with the ones i like less meat the bottom. Again, the green hues are just not doing it for me.  Could be my skill level and not grasping the color with flesh as well, but i really feel the pale grimey ones came out better. 

 

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Yah, I tend to paint mine a light grey or a parchment color. Thou it also depends on the species, if a red skinned tiefling is a zombie, he's not going to look like a human zombie. The lack of flowing blood factors into my colors. Now a goblin or orc, depending on you skintone for those races might be green, just a paler shade.

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While I don't have many zombies finished (yet), I am thinking about pale white, shades of grey, and slightly lighter human shades. Green might be used here and there but I only have one that I want to do green. Otherwise, it doesn't really make sense to make them green. I mean, given what happens to the human body, after death.

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1 hour ago, Samedi said:

 

Now, in most tutorials I've seen so far, zombies end up having a pale green skin. But is that really how a zombie would look? Does dead skin turn green?

 

 

I have never seen a green zombie in real life. Most are normal looking, shuffling along slowly with cell phone clutched in both hands.  Humor aside, after death the human complexion takes on a bluish grey-green cast as oxygen leaves the body and blood stops circulating.  Later, it will appear bruised in places as the blood starts to settle, depending on the position in which the person was sitting or laying at the time. 

 

As for painting, try to avoid warm colors.  I use the Ghoul Skin triad, because I have it, but the Vampiric set would also be a good starting place.  I see the Flesh of the Damned palette combines the two.  I also suggest Bruised Purple, maybe even Dark Elf Skin as good colors for shading.  Overall, try to keep it very very pale, not pink, but not green either. 

 

 

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Thanks for the suggestions, great ideas so far! I'm happy that i?m not alone in my dislike of green zombies!

 

@R2ED: Thanks for posting your examples! I was, in fact, looking for your monochromatic zombie, which I liked very much. I couldn't find it, but now it is here in this thread waiting for me!

 

@haldirI'll start with just human zombies, so light grey/parchment sounds good to me. Especially since this version hasn't spent time in the earth if I'm not mistaken.

 

@CaptainPete: The idea with the slightly lighter human shade makes a lot of sense for a "fresh" zombie. Those sculpts look a bit like they are in different stages of the rotting process. I could definitely try a fresher one.

 

@Inarah: Thanks for your in-depth explanation. That definitely sounds like pictures I don't want to google! 😇 I have both triads at home and just ordered a bottle of bruised purple for curiosity. I'll give that a try!

 

I like how this turns into a project of "etudes in undead skin"! Probably that will eat a lot of time (if not brains...), but also: For science!

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Since I'm a big fan of forensics, and I imagine I'm a writer, I've seen a lot of that stuff. While I've only had to deal with one dead body directly, they were fresh and I can tell you that, aside from being pale, you could imagine that they would just get up and walk away.

Now, the other one I had to deal with indirectly, I can tell you what zombies will smell like. It isn't pleasant.

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42 minutes ago, Glitterwolf said:

Would it matter if the person who became a zombie, drowned?

Or was buried alive under debris or earth?

Just a few things that might alter the colour of the skin maybe?

 

*cracks knuckles* Okay, here we go... This is mostly from memory but I'll see if I can reach my books if I get stuck.

Being in water causes a "floater" or "bloater" and there's a lot of changes that happen. One of the big ones is that the upper layer of skin can come off pretty quick. The main factor for rot is temperature and I have a loose formula for this: Y = 1285/X. Y equals days until skeletonization and X equals the temperature in C. I bring this up as water is usually much colder than the ground around it, so bodies stick around longer but will suffer a lot of damage. Debris, rocks, animal predation, etc. We actually have a thing I've heard the Sheriff's (they handle bodies in the water) called "Bloat Season." It's in the Spring, as the water starts to pop up. Literally. It's because the river can drop below freezing (moving water may not freeze if it's below freezing, just like it can suddenly boil, physics is fun) There's a thing used by coroners called Casper's Dictum. One week in air = two weeks in water = eight weeks in soil.

Coloring would also be affected by livor mortis (I think), where the blood pools. The higher parts of the body would appear pale or marbled, as the blood would pool in the lower portions of the body would appear bruised or reddish. So, if you want to have more "colorful" zombies, you could say that they died face down. And you could have then be colorful on one side and pale on the other, as they died on their side. As for green coloration, do we really see that in human rot? I honestly don't know but I don't think so. According to my sources, the skin does come off and would be pink underneath, but would dry out and turn a yellowish leather. Oddly enough, it does say that the skin turns green and then black as decomp moves forward. Interesting. However, it doesn't mention when you turn green. I might have to dig into another book but it's going to take a bit.

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On 2/21/2022 at 8:41 AM, Samedi said:

I must confess that I've never seen dead people so far. I am very thankful for this. Also, I'm not comfortable with searching for reference pictures on the web of how dead people look. I find that lacking in taste and respect.

 

Yeah, it can be uncomfortable looking at the deceased. I've been around cadavers in anatomy courses, and it is uncomfortable though we were always respectful of the people who donated their bodies so that others may learn.

 

That said, building off what @Glitterwolf and @CaptainPete said, thinking about how the zombie originally died can be helpful as to how you will want to paint them. If they've been in water for a long time the skin will look different. Similarly, if they bled out/exsanguinated you won't get the blood pooling/bruising as might happen from someone who passed from blunt force trauma. And environment can play a factor. Severe frostbite on the fingers and feet can add character to a zombie in a cold environment, and such an environment might not have the livor mortis/lividity that CP was talking about..

 

You could always look at some crime/police dramas or zombie movies to get feel for what looks right vs what seems odd to your eye. Makeup departments have done the work for you and you avoid having to look at actual corpses. And you can get an idea of what different skin tones may look like.

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Thinking of it, in the Netherlands we have an area with Peat Soil, we even excavated a mummy from that area some thousands years old.

Suppose it was zombified it would have been a reddish brown.

 

Drowning in sweet water or salt water could make a difference for a zombie.

Is there vegetation? Algea? Was the zombie buried in sand/dirt/wet or dry ground?

Insects? For how long?

Etc etc..

 

 

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15 minutes ago, Glitterwolf said:

Thinking of it, in the Netherlands we have an area with Peat Soil, we even excavated a mummy from that area some thousands years old.

Suppose it was zombified it would have been a reddish brown.

 

Drowning in sweet water or salt water could make a difference for a zombie.

Is there vegetation? Algea? Was the zombie buried in sand/dirt/wet or dry ground?

Insects? For how long?

Etc etc..

 

 

In the original Deadlands system, they had variant Walkin' Dead for various environments where the bodies ended up before getting "inhabited."

Insects do interesting things to bodies, post mortem, but the basics (that can be discussed on a full stomach) are that they will get rid of soft bits. It's not uncommon or unheard of for people in the forensics business to use beetles and others to remove the meaty bits to get to the skeletons.

One of the more weird things that have happened was a skeleton that was left somewhere with a heavy mineral count and ended up with a skull-geode. I have a picture *sighs* somewhere...

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Pork is similar to human flesh, also known as "long pig". I have had pork chops spoil and literaly turn green. Hence, I believe green is to be expected at some point of decomposition.
But spoiled meat if left alone will continue to change colour as it decomposes, so any colour from pallid to pitch black should be OK for a zombie.

Also, the green could be mould growth.

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This has turned out to be a three with a lot of fascinating contributions! Thank you to all participants so far!

 

I've since started with painting my first batch of zombies. I use the recipe by @Inarah (Ghoul Flesh Triad, Bruised Purple for additional shading), so they'll end up being green after all 😊. But then again, if a pork chop can do it, a "long pig" should be able to as well. 😁

 

I'm planning to use some of your other inputs for more zombies to come - and those won't be green, I promise. I'll post some WIPs sporadically over in my RoSD thread.

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