Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Sinbad Cyclops: A recreation

Here's a record for me: The longest I've ever taken to finish a puppet! And one made for a client to boot. I started building this puppet in 2011 and just finished it a couple of weeks ago.
Any die hard stop-motion fan can see that this is a recreation of Ray Harryhausen's perhaps most famous puppet character; the cyclops from "7th Voyage of Sinbad". Making accurate recreations is NOT my best talent, but I hope I got most of the details right. This will be the last job I undertake of this sort. I much more enjoy creating original, if derivative, characters.

I've already made two posts about this project some years earlier, but I'll try to summarise what I've talked about before. The cyclops started life as a chavant clay bust. This was the part of the puppet I felt I needed to have the biggest control over, while the rest could be built up using my preferred construction techniques.

This puppet, like most of my puppets, is built up using layers of soft polyurethane foam covered with bits of latex skin. The hooves are cast in SmoothCast plastic from a silicone mould of a clay sculpture. Apparently I never took a photo of the armature, but it's my usual aluminum/Friendly Plastic concoction. The eye is a plastic ball with a Photoshopped iris printed on paper and glued to the ball. The eyeball was dipped in Crystal Clear casting resin and hung upside down to set, and create a transparent lens over the iris.

The finished cyclops, with fake fur for its legs, latex teeth and claws, and a latex/cotton club built up over a piece of wooden dowel. The horn is built up with melted white Friendly Plastic. A light paint job of drybrushed PAX paint guilds the lily. The plan is to send the cyclops off to his new master before Christmas.


Kelston Hubler said...

Looks very accurate. Good job on the puppet, Harryhausen wiould be proud!

Have you ever considered doing THE DOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH as a video? It's my favorite Lovecraft story, and it would be amazing to see onscreen.

On my blog, I discuss a mini-project. I'm having trouble animating the giant bug. It has trouble standing up. Can you give me advice on how if should walk?

Can't wait to see the WITCH HOUSE project be finished. The puppets are superb. Also, are you ever going to do another dinosaur themed story?

Good luck on the projects!

Kelston Hubler

Richard Svensson said...

Hi Kelston!
"The Doom That Came to Sarnath" is actually in my plans. I just don't know right now when I'll get to it.

Is your bug the one with what looks like a support stand sticking out of its behind? My first suggestion would actually be to have it attached firmly to a support of some kind, and paint that support chroma green. I've done that with a few insect/spider/bug puppets, and it does take care of the support problem. You'll just have to move the whole contraption along when you animate.

When bugs and spiders walk they alternate the movement of their legs. So, when animating you'll move the left 1st leg forward, the right 1st leg backwards, the left 2nd leg backwards, the right 2nd leg forwards, and so on.
In this link animator Richard Williams demonstrates how to animate a spider walk. I'm sure you can modify this for your bugs:

I'm actually working with fellow YouTuber and animator John Hankins on a steampunk-dinosaur adventure film. We'll seriously get going on that one in the spring.

Kelston Hubler said...

Thank you for the support!

My giant bug does need better support, probably a thicker wire as well. Might need to touch him up a bit as well, not really satisfied with the way he functions.

I find it hard to get chroma key paint. Mostly, it's shadowed over by its underside and the computer recognizes it as part of the creature. Need better lighting.

I can't wait yo see all your new projects! They look cool. I actually did a face sculpt of Bokrug in monster clay. It was just for fun, but it looked really good.

Also, art request: can you draw Mbwun from relic?Everyone has their own interpretation of the creature. That would be cool to see.

Thank you for the support,

Kelston Hubler

Richard Svensson said...

Make the support wire as sturdy as you can. Get the thickest aluminum wire you can find, and use that.

I dabbled with all sorts of green paint until I finally coughed up the money to buy proper chroma key paint, and I haven't regretted it at all. I'll tell you what; I have an almost full paint bucket of green chroma paint -email me your address at, and I'll send you a jar you can experiment with. Also (as you say) the better light equipment you have, the better the results. Save up some money to buy two soft box lights. They will give you an even light with very few, and if any, soft shadows. Start Googling for a couple of those. I'm sure you can find a pair that won't cost you an arm and a leg.

Did you save that Bokrug sculpture or take any photos of it? I'm afraid my take on "Sarnath" will be a mix of costume/biblical epic disaster movie couple with a bit of Kaiju action, so I'm sure it'll piss off most Lovecraft fans :)

I think you've mentioned the Relic monster before, right? It nothing I'm itching to do, but I might give it a go, eventually.

Jani Sourander said...

Where do you buy your Friendly Plastic? I can't find it and Amazon UK's resellers won't post to Finland.

Or are there other brands for the same stuff?

Richard Svensson said...

Hi Jani,
If you can find what the Americans call "plumber's epoxy" that'll work almost just as well. It's heavier than the plastic, but just as sturdy. It's an epoxy putty used to quickly fix breakes in pipes and such.

I buy my Friendly Plastic from the shop Pysseltagen here in Sweden:

They ship to Finland. It's a bit expensive, but I love the material. I've made all sorts of things with friendly plastic, including big sword handles. They usually say that you should melt the plastic strips in hot water, but I use a heat gun instead. That's much easier to handle, and you can melt just a small bit of the plastic strip instead of the whole thing.

Jani Sourander said...

Thank you!

I'll check some Finnish shops, but if I don't find, I'll order it from there. I read that also a stuff called Polymorph Plastic would also work. It also melts at around 60 degrees Celsius and can be remelted.

I have milliputty which is nice, but heated stuff would be better in many situations.. I think.

Btw. since you have a heat gun, have you ever used heat shrink on the aluminium wires? I've heard it could make them a bit more durable.

Also: if you're interested, my blog can be found here:

Richard Svensson said...

I like Friendly Plastic because you can get it in those long strips. It's easy to hold the strip in one hand and the heat gun in the other (I sometimes use s oldering iron for melting very small globs of plastic). Most other thermo plastics I've seen come as pellets. You have to drop a whole batch of them in a water pot and melt them as one big chunk.

I haven't used heat shrink as applied to bare wires, but I am using bought wires with heat shrink around them, especially very thin wires. It does seem to add strength and durability.

I looked at your blog and web page yesterday :) Very nice stuff and detailed descriptions of your projects!

Kelston Hubler said...

Richard Svebsson,

Thank you for the generous offer, but Christmas is coming, I'll probably just ask for it. Thank you anyway.

I do, in fact, still have the sculpt. I'm not entirely happy with it, but I do have a piece of digital art. If I can, I could send you.

If you are looking for a better script for DOOM THAT CAME TO SARNATH, I highly recommend a comic artist called Mockman. He created a comic adaption of the story that is seriously disturbing.

Thank you for the advice.

Kelston Hubler

Anim8Angus95 said...

Fantastic recreation of the original puppet! Did you put a piece of wire in the brow and mouth?

Fantastic work!

Angus Lamont