I have become engaged in a King Kong fan film project called "The Revenge of Kong", where my job is to create a bunch of stop-motion dinosaurs. I started with a creature, that will hopefully look something like the above image in the finished retro-styled film. It's the grand Pteranodon, once in my childhood the greatest flying monster that ever lived, but now dwarfed by even bigger airborne reptiles that have been dug up from the fossil beds. I have to admit, I've hardly learned the names of these new paleonthological discoveries -to me the Pteranodon is still the king of the winged giants of prehistoria.
My main inspiration, in keeping with the retro feel, was Charles Knight's paleonthological artwork, which, by the way, was also the template for Marcel Delgado, who built the original Kong puppets.
The aluminum wires are left bare where the joints are, but covered with bits of thin metal rods where the bones -the hard parts- are in the real skeleton. Thermoplastic, also called Polymorph, is holding the whole thing together.
I wanted to be really careful with how the head turned out, so I sculpted the better part of it in Monster Clay medium grade, mainly using tiny loop tools.
This sculpture was encased in a dental plaster mold and a hollow latex copy of the sculpture was produced from this mold. The crest was cut from cardboard, the back card of a drawing pad, actually, and then coated with latex. The latex, by the way, is tinted with Monster Maker's latex tints. And I have, as you see, started to cover the armature with soft string and thin polyurethane foam.
Where my thumb is there is a wing nut buried in the thermoplastic, and this will function as a attachment point for a support arm, holding the puppet up when animating it.
Here we have the puppet covered up with string and foam, and I've also started to add a chest cage crest with cotton and latex. This crest is, as I understand it, where the strong muscles for the arms were attached on the real animal.
I covered parts of the puppet body with cast textured latex skins, and painted the whole thing with two layers of tinted latex; First a black, and then the traditional Pteranodon orange. Basically the last layer was dry brushed on using a foam sponge, leaving dark shadows from the black layer underneath peering through here and there.
Now, to create the leathery wing membranes between the outstretched arms and the body I've mixed up some plaster of Paris, basically cheap hobby plaster, and poured it into a cradle of clay (Soft Monster Clay). The Pteranodon puppet is then submerged halfway into this plaster mix, which (important) has the consistency of about whipped cream.
Using pipe cleaners and pointy tools I'm painting in the skin shapes using tinted latex, finishing off the job with a sponge dipped in the latex. I've applied two layers.
When the plaster has set up it's just about carefully prying the whole puppet out of its plaster cradle, washing it off, and adding details like airbrushed veins, and of course painting the eyes.
My flying rig support arm will be covered with greenscreen sticky tape, and become invisible when in front of my greenscreen background.