Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Dinorilla -A Swedish Kaiju

Last month I talked about the big muppet-like monster I made for Ola Paulakoski's Swedish b-movie epic "Hermit: Monster Killer", which is currently making the rounds at a number of European film festivals. Well, Mr Paulakoski is at it again, this time with a Swedish tribute to classic Kaiju films, or in non-nerd lingo: movies about giant monsters, which are often Japanese. The idea is to create a rubber monster suit, and have the actor in the suit stomp around models of well-known cityscapes. In other words, it'll be done the good old proper way. I might be involved in the making of that suit, but at this point in time everything is at the concept stage, and Ola is working hard at selling the project to potential investors. In order to make this easier I've built a model of the monster, the dreaded "Dinorilla", which can be positioned in various dramatic poses and photographed to create production illustrations in Photoshop. Something like this:

What I have built is one of my standard latex-skinned stop-motion puppets, but it may never be used as such. I might still do a bit of animation just for the heck of it.

To begin at the beginning, I made a few sketches of what the monster could look like. My only brief was that it had a gorilla-like scaly body, and a Triceratops-like head.

We ended up settling on this body for the creature, but the head was still not quite right.

 Ola picked the middle head in this sketch, and I placed it on the preferred body.

Other sketches followed, illustrating specific ideas for the film, including this landing party of counter strike troops. The Dinorilla is living off oils and gasoline the same way Godzilla needs his radiation. In Scandinavia the big Oil nation is Norway, and the monster strikes primarily at this country. A team similar to the G-Force in the Godzilla movies is put together by the Scandinavian countries to deal with the monster, and various scenes of conflict and destruction ensues, budget permitting, of course..

The next step was to make a clay sculpture of the head, which defined the creature more than any other aspect. When this was OKed by Ola I created a mold from dental plaster around it. The mouth was filled up with clay to make the casting easier and the teeth were removed.
The eyes are made by me by simply using plastic balls from a novelty necklace, printing out Photoshopped irises and gluing them to the balls, and covering the whole thing with Glossy Accents scrapbooking plastic. That's a very cheap way of making eyes and it looks great.

I cast the whole head in tinted latex as a thick rubber skin. The corners of the mouth were thinner in order to make the movements of the jaw as easy as possible.

The inside of this head skin was lined with Polymorph thermo plastic. This plastic is melted in small bits with my heat gun, and pressed into the skin cavities as soft blobs. When the plastic cools it becomes semi-hard, and creates a great support for the head. Aluminum wires were also inserted into the plastic at this point to create the jaw joint and the neck.

To create sockets for the eyes, and make the eyes swivel and easy to animate I placed the eyes on the inside of the eyelids, and pressed silicone clay (activated by a blue agent) used by dentists against them. This created eye sockets that allowed the plastic eye balls maximum movement due to the nature of the semi-rigid silicone, which doesn't stick to anything. This also means that the dental silicone wouldn't stick to the latex around the eye, but the layer of thermo plastic held it perfectly in place.

Here's the finished armature for the Dinorilla, made from bundles of aluminum wires and thermoplastic. The chest area is built out to create a stabilizing point on the puppet, a place I can grab hold of as well as a cavity where a bunch of fill-out material would've added unnecessary weight to the puppet.

One important note about the feet of this puppet. Since I knew that the puppet would be slightly bigger than my usual creations, a little over a foot tall, and therefore a bit heavier, I decided to forgo my usual wing nut foot tie-downs in favor of something even more stable. The two things in the photo above are t-nuts, where the threading would go longer into the feet than on a wing nut. I wrapped three 2 mm thick aluminum wires around the t-nuts and added a blob of thermo plastic to secure them there. However, this turned out to not be enough, since I added more stuff to the puppet after the legs were constructed, and I eventually added two more aluminum wires to the legs and feet to make them extra stable and strong.

This was going to be a bulky monster and to add extra lightweight mass to the limbs I hot-glued strips of dense foam seat cushions to parts of the armature. In order to smooth out the angular shapes of the foam I wrapped these bits in thick yarn. You can also see that the fingers have been wrapped with the same thick yarn.

Parts of the latex skin covering was sculpted and cast from dental plaster molds. The piece above is for the shoulders. This sculpture is made in medium grade Monster Clay.

This bit is the chest piece, sculpted in soft Monster Clay. I used a homemade texture stamp to quickly press details into the clay.

These little shell-like bits will become scales on the back of the monster, and they play a rather important part in the story. These are also very quickly made using the soft Monster Clay, which is much faster to work with than the medium grade variety, though it doesn't really lend itself to very detailed work using sculpting tools. Everything I cast with plaster I first give a brush over with a brush dipped in the dental plaster. This irons out (almost) all  air bubbles and air pockets. I clean the brush in water and it usually lasts for at least a year.

Each of these scales are attached with aluminum wires and thermo plastic. In the story of the film these scales open up and energy is released out of the monster. These three rows of scales, with metal wires and the plastic added, put on the extra weight that required adding more wires to the legs.

Time to pad the body with foam bits in imitation of muscles and fat. The bare joints are covered with strips of very soft polyurethane foam.

The chest was covered with equally soft foam, but under this foam sheet is a big bundle of cotton balls. They allow the waist joint to bend freely, which it couldn't if I had added a thick piece of foam instead.

Here's the finished padding for the Dinorilla, except for a little bit that went under the chin, where a joint allowed the monster to swallow visibly.

The specially sculpted parts with horns and peculiar bumps have gone on here, along with scaly skin cast in a skin texture plaster mold made some years ago for another project. Liquid latex is used as glue to fasten the skin pieces.

Here's the finished skin application. Time to paint it.

I used acrylic paints and ProsAide make-up glue to create the flexible so-called PAX paint, which was brushed on with a foam sponge.

Finishing touches were added with acrylic airbrush paints. I also stuck on old castings of various horns and teeth I have in my monster-bits-that-might-be-useful box (where left over cast latex pieces go).

We'll see what happens with the Dinorilla project. Right now I'm snapping photos of the puppet which will be used in those staged production illustrations, and who knows; they might impress the right people enough to actually have this project properly funded.