Tuesday, January 6, 2015

"The Other Gods": The Gods Themselves Part 1

SPOILERS: If you don't want to have a peek at the monsters of "The Other Gods" before the film is finished, then go watch some funny cats on YouTube or something else. Or keep reading if you're not hyper sensitive to such things.
Since the "gods" of Lovecraft's short story aren't defined as any of the recognizable critters of the later Cthulhu Mythos, I felt that I didn't have to adhere too strictly to descriptions of any certain creature. I did, however, include the avatar of Nyarlathotep, also known as "The Howler In the Dark", "The God of the Bloody Tongue", etc, since I had already built that puppet. I made it for my Lovecraftian Alphabet film, but didn't include it in the end. 

You can find a complete description of how that puppet came to be HERE.

One of the puppets built specifically for "The Other Gods" is my version of Shub-Niggurath, “The Black Goat of the Woods with a Thousand Young”. This cosmic horror is, like most Lovecraftian beings, just too terrible to be described, so the puppet had to be something quite simple. I hope it'll still be spine-tingling enough.

This is a miniature skull I did years ago as a piece of LARP jewelry. I sculpted it in Chavant clay and made a Dragonskin silicone mould for it. I thought it might do as the naked skull of Shub-Niggurath.

It didn't have a lower jaw, though, so I made one in Monster Clay.

Testing it out against the plastic skull, so the teeth will overlap and interlock properly.

And here's the final plastic cast, joined to the skull with two bits of aluminum wire. I chose to tint the plastic a tan colour, since it would make a good base colour for the aged look I wanted for the finished skull.

Since she's supposed to have “a Thousand Young” I thought I'd better equip her properly. This sculpture was made in Chavant clay and will become a latex cast for the front of the puppet.

I decided to give her a "skirt" of tentacles, while her torso had two human-looking arms. These tentacles are aluminum wires wrapped in thick soft string, and then dipped in latex.

The tentacles are stuck to the rest of the wire armature with melted Friendly Plastic, and the middle is covered up with cotton and tinted latex. Before the cotton dries too much you can sculpt wrinkles into it using a thick needle.
The body is padded with bits of old cushion foam, and then covered with the cast latex skin of the chest and belly. In the center of the tentacles is a support rod with a wing nut for attaching the puppet to the animation stage.

More bits of cast textured latex skin cover the rest of the body, including the back. Small tentacles around the waist were created by mixing latex and Cabosil micro balloons into a butter-like paste, which I could roll between my thumb and index finger to make the shapes. The same technique was used for the outgrowths on the back.

Here's the finished puppet, with a base paint of PAX (acrylic paints and Prosaide glue), and then touched up with Liquitex acrylic airbrush paints.

I also gave her a long tongue made the same way as the skirt tentacles, so she can "kiss" the head tentacle of Nyarlathotep by wrapping them together. Isn't love beautiful??


Kelston Hubler said...

Fascinating puppett, never seen your take on that Geat Old One. Reminds me of the temple run Monkeys, with their weird exposed skulls.

Great to see a new project from you. Was John Hutch the narrator in Shadow out of Time?

Also, writing a novel! Sort of a lost-world idea. Speaking of such, your steampunk dinosaur film reminds me of Dark Earth, an indiegogo project I saw a while back.

Also, havre you heard of MAD GOD? It's a Phil Tippett project, where a bunch of different puppet artists have submitted freaky monsters for his film. Perhaps you would be interested.

Thank you for posting, hopefully I'll have something on my own blog soon, but Im rather busy at the moment.

Kelston Hubler

Richard Svensson said...

Hi Kelston!
Yes, John Hutch narrated "The Shadow Out of Time", as well as my "H P Lovecraft Alphabet" and "Nightgaunts".

I know the guys making "Dark Earth" through Facebook. I hope they get the money they need, so they can finish the project and market it properly (important, that last thing).

I also know quite a bit about "Mad God", though I'm not in any way involved in the project. It's nice to see Tippet going back to his roots, and collaborating with so many other talents.

Good luck with your novel, and all your other projects, of course. Are you planning on publishing digitally or in print? Maybe both?

Kelston Hubler said...

Not sure yet, my main goal is getting it done in the first place, but I'm very busy most of the day, and need to wrap up atomic and get some plaster for my fantasy film.

Tippett is great animator. My personal favorite is Prehistoric Beast, which is one of the best dinosaur films in history. The monoclonius feels like a real animal. If only he was able to make a whole series, like originally planned! Stop motion history has so many great unfinished projects!

Great to hear your support. My novel is more in chrichton mold than a traditional monster story, but I think it will be a fun read.

Good luck on your projects.

Kelstom Hubler

1999MrLegoman said...

Wow- that is one freaky looking puppet! Very nice work.
Just wondering, how is your book going? It looks quite interesting.
Also, I am currently making a video in which a dinosaur attacks a model boat. I have built a water tank for the boat, but I am wondering if I should animate the dinosaur in front of a blue screen first, and then combine it with the footage of the boat in the water, or shoot them both at the same time.

Kelston Hubler said...

It's going rather well, currently I'm several chapters in.

I was very much inspired by the book ALL YESTERDAYS by Darren Naish, John Conway, and CM Kosemen. Basically a speculate book on dinosaur biology, it presents tons of fun and strange new views about dinosaur biology. Really cool book. Most of my dinosaurs are based off hard biology, and most carnivores have feathers.

I don't know when it will come out. Depends on when it's finished. I prefer quality over quantity.

Thanks for the feedback.

Kelston Hubler

Kelston Hubler said...

On your dinosaur, I advise the green screen approach. However, you really need to keep the boat in sync, so don't make it too stormy ;)

Kelston Hubler

Richard Svensson said...

Mr Legoman:
Thanks for your nice comment :)
My book has now split into two books, one about general puppets, and one solely dedicated to Lovecraftian monsters (because I have so many of them).
I'd suggest that you animate both the dino and the ship, and do it seperately at first. When they start to interact you'll animate them together. When you animate against a green screen you might as well split up the different components in a shot, if you can. That'll give you the luxury of putting your full attention to every component.
There are several stock footage seas you can find on the internet, some of them digital and looking good. It's very tricky to use a water tank. You'll have to have a pretty big one for the effect to look convincing. When animating Cthulhu walking in the ocean I used a digital sea, and the puppet animated against (in this case) a blue screen. In After Effects I could then create a matte along the legs of the puppet and keyframing the matte in a wavy undulating way. If you don't want to do it that way, you can put a piece of green screen cloth in front of your puppet and animate that gently billowing up and down to simulate wave movement.
If you need help to find stock footage oceans you can email me at loneanimator@gmail.com

Richard Svensson said...

Your book sounds like a great project! And you'e doing it the right way; don't rush just to finish it. Enjoy the creative process.
Have you read Dougal Dixon's "The New Dinosaurs"? It's sort of in the same genre. And if you haven't already checked them out I warmly recommend anything by Wayne Barlowe, especially his mind-boggling "Expedition".

Kelston Hubler said...

Yup, and After man, as well. Looking back, Dougal Dixon's creatures look really weird, with fatty necks and strange, fleshy skin, with some downright bizarre choices, like giving dinosaurs fur instead of feathers, even though he accepts dinosaurs were related to birds. Still, I liked the book, my favorite passage being the end, where he debunks lost worlds not researching their biology. I still adhere to his words.

Once, I even tried to make a biological catalogue, about what the world be like if the asteroid missed. I completed North America, but stopped there. I still have the pages in my art bin somewhere.

Nice to know you're enthusiastic for the project! It's going quite well, and I think it will be very fun.

Kelston Hubler

1999MrLegoman said...

Speaking of Dougal Dixon, have you seen the Japanese adaptations of his book After Man? It features some great stop motion work on the different creatures. You can see it on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMxIFZNx1YY

Kelston Hubler said...

Yes, I've seen that. It was really surreal. Dougal Dixon has some bizarre anatomies for many of his creatures, but none as weird as the sentient turkey from the movie. Even though, while they were strange and not from the book, I was always disappointed After Man never attempted to speculate what kind of creature would likely succeed us.