Sunday, February 8, 2015

"The Other Gods": The Gods Themselves Part 2

I addition to building and animating puppets I've used other techniques to depict the more abstract Lovecraftian horrors. There's only so much you can do with a practical puppet when it comes to creating truly mind-boggling creatures; then you'll have to use other tricks. "Digital 3D animations" you may think. Nay, my friend - a lot can be achieved with old-school 2D animations using Photoshopped images and simpler puppet animations.


Let's start with this "god". The background is a time lapse stock film clip downloaded from Videoblocks, as is the organic-looking rotating ball in the center. The other parts are bits of illustrations made by Ernst Haeckel depicting corals and oceanic micro life.

Haeckel's beautiful and sometimes curiously disturbing art was collected as "Art Forms in Nature" in 1904. I use this book frequently as inspiration when sculpting Lovecraftian monsters. The clean crisp details are both inspiring and informing.


Ten bits of Haeckel illustrations make up the various parts of the abstract "god". They were imported in a number of layers in After Effects and made to rotate in various directions by key framing their movements in the timeline.  If this all sounds like Greek to you, then do what all civilised people do; look up "key framing in AE" on YouTube. When this animation was rendered out it was imported again and a softening filter from Rampant Color FX was added over the clip.

This creature was created by using Photoshopped 2D images and a little piece of stock CGI animation, but I find that the best composite monsters are made up with moving sculpted parts, in other words puppet animated bits. So let's take another example.


This critter slowly spins around in the air and opens a mouth in its flower-like head to attack one of the protagonists. If this monster seems familiar it's because I re-used a mould of a sculpture for a worm monster created a few years back for a Lovecraftian game created by Rolando Guiterrez. I'm using that monster's head here with his permission.



This time the head was mounted on a wooden support painted in the chroma key green I use for most of my backgrounds nowadays. The latex head has aluminum wires in the four flaps that open up into a mouth when pulled back, and each "petal" along the fringe also has a bit of wire in it. This allowed me to animate an undulating motion in the fringe.


New for this project was this larger fairly detailed tentacle. I animated it moving as slowly as I could.


Also added were three layers of this collection of smaller tentacles animated for my previous "Lovecraft Alphabet". When put together in After Effects, the finished composite created a quite lively squirming monstrosity, looking something like this:


I might've been able to build and animate a whole puppet like this, but the resulting headache was something I didn't want to take on. Doing it this way, with composite elements is a better solution, and it allows me to keep check of each part of the monster, making adjustments as work progresses.

I have been busy for most of 2014 with my day job activities, which mostly include making films with people having various handicaps. Very little free time has been made available to me, but I'm changing that. I can't let me own projects linger for months on end, so I've changed my duties at work, and I hope that 2015 will turn out to be one of my most productive years yet.

6 comments:

Brian O'Connell said...

Just as good as the puppets!

Kelston Hubler said...

That's a cool elder God. Speaking of the lovecraft computer game, do you know where I can see it?

I've learned recently that simple apps like photo booth can create freaky maws, especially the ones that mirror and fracture an image. Perhaps you can engineer a puppet for this.

Also, I have some creature art posted on my blog for Ararankha. I'm really satisfied with the story, though it is a big gory.

Always cools to see your work.

Richard Svensson said...

Kelston: As far as I know that video game is not finished yet. I just recently made another puppet for it. When it comes out I'll mention it here on my blog.

Kelston Hubler said...

Thanks for that.

Have you read ALL TOMORROWS by CM Kosemen? It's online, basically a modern take on Dixon's MAN AFTER MAN, only less disgusting. Pits really inspiring and ambitious, if really sad.

Do you have any advice for writing paleofiction? I've finished Ararankha's first draft, I was just wondering if you had any advice. I also got new drawing on my blog of the creatures.

Thanks for the support.

Kelston Hubler

Richard Svensson said...

I've seen images from "All Tomorrows" but I haven't read it. I'm afraid I'm probably not qualified to offer any advice about Paleofiction or speculative zoology. I guess having enough facts at your fingertips makes it easier to create plausible creatures.

TulipCraze said...

Thank you for explaining your craft. Truly generous and inspirational.