Monday, 30 January 2012

EFFECTive - D'Israeli

A brilliant, brilliant comic book artist, who's stunning work on Judge Dredd, Stickleback, Leviathan, Lazarus Churchyard, Low Life and, especially to me, THE definitive artist to date for all things "The War Of The Worlds" what with the Dark Horse adaptation and the "Scarlet Traces" sequel to boot, gentleman, top bloke and Dalek fan to boot, i'm VERY pleased to see him on here:

"Gerry Anderson's Thunderbirds occupied a huge chunk of my childhood imagination - one of my earliest memories is of using Lego and Dinky toys to recreate scenes from the show. My all-time favourite is the episode Path of Destruction, with the enormous automated logging machine the Crab Logger crashing through a small town and finally plunging over a cliff. I must have spent weeks of my childhood building various versions of The Crab Logger out of Lego - in fact I still do if there's any to hand ;-)
There are I don't know how many other things I can pick, but that's really my "first love" as far as effects go - the thing that taught me to take delight in beautifully constructed miniature worlds (and their destruction!)"

Zombie Dragon - Tamiya Clear Red & Green, how i love thee

Yup, my gore effect of choice - mix them together and water the nmix down and you get a luvverly wash to put over any open wound.
In this pic here you can on the ankle that it's the basic bone and flesh affair. Far took stark and far too clean looking for me, so in i go with the afore-mentioned mix, which you can see i've put on the thigh wound here.
By mixing the ratios of Red and Green, you can get all sorts of effects, especially by varying the amount you've thinned it down by water. So, want bloody gore? Use more red. Want diseased, poxy muck? Use more green.
For most of the areas i'm doing on this beastie, i'm going with quite a strong mix as i don't want anything too light, which i'd figure would distract from the main skin areas.
Something i'll do on this ankle though, and will show you when done, is to use a watery mix, splosh it on, then dab at it with a finger, which'll remove quite a bit and leave a sort of red glaze.
As i say, it'd be too bright over all of the fella, so i'm gonna just use it the once.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Doctor Who - Invasion Of The Dinosaurs

With this story finally out on DVD, i was thinking about the effects work on the tale.
Of course, they've been universally derided since the first transmission and its not a surprise - its the era of zero budgets and early day CSO done not very well but, crucially here, the main problem lay with who actually created the models.
Producer Barry Letts decided to commission a dinosaur story after being told by freelance effects bods Westbury Design that could come up with the goods.
When the goods were produced and turned out to be a bunch of rod and cable controlled puppets, it was far too late in the day to back out and get someone else in.
So off they went, filming these "interesting" creatures against some okay model sets but an awful lot of two dimensional sets made from photographic blow-ups or against yellow backgrounds to be inserted vis CSO.
So that's how i remember them - buttock-cletchingly awful dinos, clumsily shot and put into the live action that even the creators at the time rubbished.
But, looking back on it them now, they do have a charm and, in some places they're not half bad. This shot is worthy of Derek Meddings' crew on Captain Scarlet:

Biggest trouble though is still the T Rex:

a wobbly, chubby cartoon of a dinosaur who, when he appears, i can't help thinking of the Chewits monster:

Friday, 27 January 2012

EFFECTive - Don Bies

Very pleased to have Don Bies featured here today. Don started in special effects working on "The Fly" with Chris Walas, before moving on to ILM and working on some of THE effects films of the 80's and 90's.
Too many to list here, but taking a look at his Wookiepedia entry will give you some idea of the incredible work he's done:

I'm doubly pleased that Don's here as he was often a minature model maker on the films, producing work that i can only aspire to.
Don, great to have you here and please take the floor:

"I have quite a number of favorites—it’s hard to choose. Each has their own place, due to their technical effectiveness, emotional connection within the context of the film, or just plain fun…but since I’m pressed to choose, I’d have to go with the AT-AT sequence in “Empire Strikes Back”. The novelization of that film came out about a month before the film opened, and I vowed not to read it, then I vowed only to read the first page, and then only the first chapter…until I read the entire book. As I read it, I imagined each sequence playing out, and when I got to the AT-AT battle, I knew that it could never be as good as the images my mind conjured up. I knew (even though I was not in the film business at that time) about the problems with blue screen photography, matte issues, miniature photography, etcetera…

When I finally sat in the theatre watching the movie, I knew the sequence was approaching—I dared them to impress me…and they did it. I knew it was stop motion, but it was the first time I felt the craft was used to its advantage. I recognized the implementation of miniature snow plains and painted backdrops, but they all worked. And the editing and sound pulled it all together, using all the disciplines of film making to create a memorable scene.

It was just over five years later when I entered the film business and worked on my first film, “The Fly” at Chris Walas, Inc. in Northern California. It was there that I met Jon Berg, the animator and key creative of that sequence. At first, I was star struck—it took a while to tell him how much that sequence impressed me. Jon became my mentor and we forged a close friendship that continues to this day…and that sequence still holds up."

Blade Runner Spinner - that's better

Sun's come out today, so i can prime and basecoat the lower section. And, now the blue is on a much larger area, i'm pretty happy with the shade i've chosen.
Looking at the instructions, it seems that i can build top and lower parts seperately and join them at the very end.
Which is just as well, as getting under the wheel arches to do the wheels and tyres would be a right bastige.
Next up here is to remove the masking tape over the clear windows, put in all the coloured lenses for the light fittings, pick out various sections in other colours, then paint the wheels and plop them back on.

EFFECTive - James McKay

Next up, i'm very pleased to see James here. Illustrator and comic book artist, his beautiful painted depictions of dinosaurs made him a natch for the return of "Flesh" in 2000AD and, boy, he sure didn't disapoint.
Over to James:

"My favourite ever sequence was 'Clash of the Titans' (the Harryhausen one): the scene with Medusa approaching Perseus in the underground chamber. I saw it when about 8 or 9, and nearly wet myself in terror! All of Harryhausen's films have inspired me, but Clash of the Titans is the greatest."

Alas, i can't find this terrific scene anywhere that'll enable me to embed it here, but follow the link below to thrill at the brilliance of Mr Harryhausen's swansong:

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Blade Runner - canopy on

That's frustrating - got a morning to meself, and the weathers too manky to put a coat of Primer on, let alone top coat.
So, all i've done is put on the canopy here.
Bit apprehensive about two things:
(1) I've got to do some real intricate masking up of the canopy, to allow for the the two struts running either side from front to back, to be blue. Not only that, but those bubble shapes at the back either side have a blue line too.
(2) I've used White Glue to stick the canopy on as its the only glue that won't fog up the clear plastic. But it doesn't exactly create the strongest of joins. And, to do the masking up, i'll be handling it a LOT.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

EFFECTive - Boo Cook

Next up to the plate is Book Cook artist extraordinair, producing stunning work on the likes of "Judge Anderson" in the Megazine and lovely stuff for the highly recommended "Elephantmen."
Boo's come up trumps here and i agree with everything he's said and i'm SO pleased he's finally gone with what he has. I was going to go with the final scene to illustrate his choice, but this is a new keyboard and i don't want to blub all over it. Over to you Boo:

"I'm gonna leave Star Wars out of the equation as it is clearly one of the all-time best examples of fx work from start to finish, but i'd prefer to talk about something slightly more obscure.
With the ancient and continuing evolution of humankind being one of my favourite subjects i would have to mention the incredible 2001 a Space Odyssey. it is laden with some of the most believable and un-dated special fx of all time. from the incredible proto-human acting at the start, through the desperate silences of deep space to my favourite section, the mind blowing coup de grace end sequence. stylistically and technically, the psychedelic ending of 2001 would be pretty hard to recreate even with today's cgi methods, and as a child who had just sat through 2 hours of cold hard space, seeing this for the first time was a real head flipper! of course it took me a few years to even begin to understand what the heck was going on. it's worth noting at this point, that equally as impressive is Jack Kirby's giant sized Marvel treasury edition adaptation of the film where Kirby uses 5 splash pages in a row to re-enact the the final trip sequence of the film. truly mind blowing. i can also recommend Kirby's 10 issue run of 2001 Tales which followed, where he takes the idea of the monolith and runs with it big time - among my favourite all-time comic runs. fans of psychedelic special effects would do well to watch recent film Enter the Void - like taking an intensely strong hallucinogenic drug with none of the law breaking issues...
Back to sci-fi; as a child i was always heavily into space and Close Encounters of the Third Kind had a massive impact on me at that 'crawling out the catflap' age. the incredible special effects involved lead me into a lifelong passion for extra terrestrial life and the world of U.F.O's. there was however a film that had even more emotional impact on me as a child, and still brings a tear to my eye to this very day: the Silent Running. sniff....obviously, the film has an amazing script and some choice acting from Bruce Dern, but the real stars of the show are 3 very special effects - Huey, Louie, and Dewey, the 3 small robots that aid Dern on his quest to save the last remnants of Mother Earth. the robots themselves went on to influence George Lucas who having seen the Silent Running realised that model making and special effects were at a standard that could support his ideas for Star Wars. the 3 small robots, although without faces were capable of conveying heaps of emotion, and aside from the very end of the film, the bit that always gets me is in the med-lab where Huey gives Bruce Dern a mournful squeeze with his robo pincer - a scene echoed in Duncan Jones' recent film Moon.
Sso there we have it - i could bang on about sci-fi special effects and their effect on me all day, but i'll settle for the robots of Silent Running as my favourite example. weep...."

Blade Runner - coloured bits

Been a bit of a delay on this build as i've had to nail down an accurate colour because things need painting now before carrying on.
In the end i stumped for "Fiat Capri Blue" and these are the first bits done.
The two at the back are the front wheel covers and, when i've tidied up the white bits, they'll get clear covers over them.
The small triangular piece is a bit of a let-down as the instructions say to paint the sides white, while on the model and full-size Spinner, its actually a clear piece.
Lastly we have one of the two light bars that sit up top. What a lot of faffing that was - real fiddly to glue the seperate lamps on then, when sprayed blue and i put the red and blue lenses in it turns out you can't see the red one's at all. So i prised them all out and painted the inside of the holders white then glued them back in. That showed up the fact that the red lenses are actually pink - so i've had to give them a coat of Clear Red.

The Devourer - bit of a tweak

Looking at what i've done so far, comparing it with Leigh's sketch, its obvious i've made the body too high and the open area not low enough into the belly.
So it was out with the scissors and sidecutters to hack it into a more accurate shape.

Zombie Dragon - meat and teeth

Here we are then, the open fleshy bits done and the teeth base-coated. Next up, gor the wounds and start picking out poxy details - and stop the teeth looking so crap.

Monday, 23 January 2012

EFFECTive - Michael Penick

The start now of a new feature for this here Blog, where i ask creators, be they model makers, artists, writers, sculptors, anyone who uses their imaginations, what is their favourite ever single effect sequence in a film or TV show.
Could be that they saw it when young and it had a huge impact, or got them in to the career they're in, or that its the best ever piece of SPFX that they've ever seen.
Doesn't matter - if they can narrow it down to just one, i'll feature it here.
First up, Michael Penick, comic book artist and illustrator, coming up with the goods big-time recently with his excellent work on Strip Magazine's "Recovery Inc".
Glad to have you here Michael, over to you:

"I'll go with the movie sequence that shaped my life. It's a no-brainer. The opening sequence in the original Star Wars. I was 7 years old and my jaw was on the floor. Watching that Star Destroyer crawl overhead changed my world. It was the first time I actually thought "That's what I want to do for a living". It didn't pan out that way, but it still shaped my life significantly. I knew right then that I wanted to tell amazing stories. I wanted to create worlds that people could believe in. And while other things came and went, that has always remained."

Thursday, 19 January 2012

The Devourer - unexpected advancement

So there i am, building up the bulk then sealing everything with a glue gun for more stability:

and my minds turning to the next step.
That was to have a layer of cheap air-drying clay like Das Pronto or Plastiroc and over that put on a detail layer with Magic Sculpt.
Off i go to my local art shop for the el cheapo stuff and i find that Fimo now do an air drying product too.
As i like the consistancy of their oven-bake stuff, i thought i'd give it a go.
And today tried it out on the legs.
Nice surprise to find its much better than the Das end of the range, sort of half-way between that and Magic Sculpt.
So i've decided to try it out on the whole build, and here you can see i've done the legs and started on bulking out the belly.

As that belly hangs down low over the loin cloth, i've decided to put that in now too.
All this took me by surprise, so much so that i'd not had chance to make a texture stamp for the scales yet.
But, as Leigh doesn't seem to have put any on the legs, i can live with that

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The Devourer - building up

Even with the legs filled with Plaster as they are, there's no way they'd support a body that bulky made out of solid clay.
Would be real expensive too.
So, i need to bulk out the form first.
To begin with i attached a piece of card that roughly gives me the height i need to build to, and an idea of where the open area will be:

After that, i'm adding balls of rolled up Bacofoil, holding them in place with various tapes:

Zombie Dragon - basing

Well, that wasn't too bad getting into the intricate bits after all. Here he is based in GW "Gretchin Green" and a sloppy, heavy wash of "Catachan Green" has managed to get to the bits i couldn't reach.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

AB36 Wrecker Droid - all done.

You may remember this build, which started out as a 70's-style robot but then mutated into an Ork Titan type thing so, hopefully i might find a gamer on eBay that might want to buy it.
Well, here he is all done, finished in just Grey Primer as i know the GW folk like to paint their armies in their own individual colour schemes.
You can i did detail up the back and the main tank there is actually a Kinda Egg yellow toy container that i nicked while my daughter wasn't looking.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Zombie Dragon - primed

Here he is then, reposed, base textured and primed.
Now he's like this, Gawd knows how i'm going to get paint into all the detailed areas.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

The Devourer

The whopping size, end of year Prog of 2000AD has just been and gone and highlight, by a very great distance, was the prologue of "Aquila" by Gordon Rennie and Leigh Gallagher, which is being touted in some places as a very loose reboot of "Black Hawk" from Tornado of the early 80's.
Like i say, for sure the best thing in the Prog, and Leigh's 2 page, widescreen shot of the Roman's landing in England is jaw-droppingly fantastic.
Shame its a taster and the actual tale won't start for a while.
Anyway, Leigh's just put up a fascinating script to finished piece on his Blog:

Which includes various design options for a Eygptian demon baddie for the tale, which are all great, but i really like his final version, which seems to be able to open up a la Rob Bottin's "Thing" designs.
Liked it so much that i thought i'd have a go at making the final, opened up version.
Looking at it, the body and whatever the heck that is coming out look okay to do, but i'm pretty rubbish at sculpting hands and feet.
So i thought i'd cheat and use a donor figure for them.
At first i considered something by Games Workshop or those nifty, well designed and painted European toy figures in my local toyshop, but they were all too small.
But then i came across this old vinyl figure from the Guyver Anime, that's literally been sitting in a box for the past 20 years:

His arms and legs looked a close match so i snapped them off - easy to break 20 year-old Superglue. And it was a nice surprise to find that the arms could be put into almost exactly the same pose that Leigh had them in. You can see here also that i've made a start on cutting off the thickest of the hair detail. The rest will be covered up by a layer of clay. And i've also removed the elbow and knee spikes:

Here's the legs standing up and by themselves. I'm happy with the feet and toes, but both sections of leg are far too long. I can get round the upper part by simply imbedding a portion of them into the body, but the lower part needed a section cutting out, which i've done here, then glueing the stump onto the knee:

Below you can see i've covered up the join with Milliput. The body i'm guessing will be pretty heavy and the legs, being vinyl and hollow, will collapse either straight away or over time.
To get round that, i've first plugged the holes in the knees with Blu Tac, then filled each leg with Plaster Of Paris. Before it set, i moved the legs to what i thought would be the right distance apart, then put in this piece of wire, which is the first step in building up the body:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Star Wars Bounty Hunters - finished

With Boba's metal flaky bits done and the base finished in Gunmetal, that's this project put to bed.
Had a lot of fun with it, especially as i get two of my favourite Bounty Hunters.

Zombie Dragon - getting him to stand up

Well, that plan to alter his head so he'd be looking up more worked TOO well - once plonked on his base he was looking right up at the sky.
To get round that, i have to tilt the whole body down so he'd be looking straight forwards.
But to do that meant he's standing on tiptoes, which looks daft and doesn't afford any sort of decent bond between his feet and the base.
To get round that, you can see here i've backed up his feet with lumps of Milliput. They and a few more scattered around will eventually make for rocky terrian.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Blade Runner Spinner - colour query

Not much in the way of progress on this build as the rest of the parts need attaching to other parts that must be painted first.
But the question there is - what colour?
Looking at pics, they seem to be done ina whole hosts of shades of blue, with the actual size props shown in daylight in the excellent "Dangerous Days" documentary being a dark grey.
I was going with a nice glossy Royal Blue as seen on the box art, but am thinking it'd be better to go more of the shade seen here with original designer, Syd Mead.