Monday, November 30, 2020

Out of the Old Land


I've been asked many times on YouTube: When will you make a video based on the work of Robert E Howard? This pulp author pal of H P Lovecraft certainly has plentiful tales that I'd love to adapt -he is the creator of Conan and generally what we today call the sword & sorcery genre. But Howard is also still very copyrighted, which is a big matter to consider today, as the copyright rules seem to get more and more energetically enforced. There are, however, public domain R E Howard works and I'm casting my eyes at some of them. The video above is adapted from a poem written by mad poet Justin Geoffreys; in reality, it is of course written by Howard. It's a moody piece that opens the short story "The Thing On the Roof", a tale that hints at what manner of creatures the poem is talking about. The second verse is by me, so I've actually committed that blasphemy that August Derleth, L Sprague de Camp, and others have been criticized for: I've made a posthumous "collaboration".

Let's start with discussing the puppet as per usual. This creature is inspired by the Kaiju variety of great lumbering monsters, but also has features borrowed from the common garden slug. So I named the puppet "Slugzilla."

The armature for the puppet is very simple. I only used a few clipped bits of metal rod lashed with yarn to the neck to make animation easier (with a less wobbly neck). However, all other limbs were just lengths of aluminum wires without any additional support. I wanted to try and achieve a sort of boneless undulating quality to the puppet (which I probably didn't.)

Only two parts of the puppet were original sculpt, the rest was a simple build-up job. One part was the hooves, which were created from a single clay sculpture. Over that, I applied dental silicone to create a mold, into which I could then cast two hooves from Polymorph thermoplastic. The other sculpted part was the insides of the trumpet-like mouths growing out of the head.

Here's pretty much the big job on the puppet finished. I've glued bits of very soft polyurethane foam to the armature. The wings are created from latex skins cast in wrinkly plaster skin texture molds.

The skin is a patchwork of other thin latex castings from older skin molds I have lying around. I wanted to imitate the knobbly skin of the garden slug. The spiky bits growing out of the head are made from cotton dipped in latex. I've applied a unifying layer of tinted latex using a foam sponge.

The finished puppet was dry brushed with a sponge using more tinted latex. I should also mention the back which was covered with a bit of skin texture first sculpted for the hammerhead monster in "Xorg the Conqueror."

The city where the monster invasion takes place is a mix of Prague and the Old Town section of my native Stockholm. I found the photos at and removed the skies in Photoshop.

Our protagonist, for lack of a better word, the guy in the bed, was a stock video clip I found at

As I usually do, I heaped on various layered digital effects in After Effects to create a weird and colorful look. I believe in going all-in on the visual effects when doing these no-budget projects. No reason to hold back, if you have the know-how of how to create interesting visuals.

So that's basically "Out of the Old Land". I'm hoping to successfully navigate the somewhat nebulous copyright rules surrounding the works of R E Howard, and find some more stuff that I can adapt for my YouTube channel.

Friday, October 16, 2020


"Advice" was published on YouTube in July 2020. It's adapted from a very short poem written by pulp author and H P Lovecraft buddy Frank Belknap Long Jr. I became interested in it simply because it's subtly funny and atmospheric, and it offered me a chance to do some folkloric creatures. You could say that "Advice" is a bit of urban fantasy since it seems to be set in our contemporary world.

There are four different creatures described in the poems. The goblins are a fairly straightforward thing, or they were to me, at least. I simply made the most goblin-like sculpture I could come up with, with a crooked nose and big ears. Medium grade Monster clay was used. In these photos, I've also added the clay containment wall that will keep the plaster from spilling out around the sculpture.

The goblin has a super simple aluminum wire armature and a quite small one as you can see. Soft yarn was wrapped around parts of the armature to create basic padding. 

Soft polyurethane foam (yellow) and denser foam (green) was used to pad the torso. Cotton dipped in latex eas used to shape muscles on the arms and legs.

The torso and head were cast in latex and patches of latex skin covered up the rest of the body. The toes are made from latex and cotton. Latex tinted a bluish-green (using Monster Maker's latex dyes) was stippled over the puppet to create a dark base paint.

The finished goblin was dry brushed with lighter tinted latex. Teeth and nails were made from latex and toilet paper. The eyes are plastic domes covered with a metallic red bought from a scrapbooking shop. The loincloth is made from latex and tissue paper. The belt is another piece of latex cast in a plaster mold I did many years ago, where I had sculpted various belt, ornaments, and other bits that could be cast quickly and added as pieces of clothing to a puppet.  Around its wrists, the puppet has another cast latex bit and a piece of string dabbed with tinted latex. The tongue is made from clay. The earrings are just bits of thin steel wire bent into a loop.

The weirdest character in the poem, and my video, is probably the "the bloated thing(s)". There's no description of this being, so I just went on instinct and sculpted something fat and nasty-looking. A rule of thumb is that, generally, the more human elements you add to an otherwise strange-looking creature, the creepier it'll look.

Since this puppet wasn't required to do much the armature was simple but sufficient. Soft yarn covered with latex was added to a few parts. I mostly use this method for limbs that are tentacular or snake-like. Using a yarn wrapping removed most of the fake-looking wrinkling that will occur when you bend a snaky limb covered with only foam.

The head and torso were cast in tinted latex. I went with a reddish-brown as a base color to help create a fleshy look when the other layers of color were added. The gut was filled with cotton balls to make it soft but also sturdy.

The body was padded with only soft bits of foam. The t-nut used as a tie-down on the underside was left open.

Using liquid latex as a glue, the latex torso skin was added over the padded body, and patches of latex cast from texture molds helped cover the rest of the body.

The finished puppet was dry brushed with greyish tinted latex. The eyes were white plastic domes from the aforementioned scrapbooking shop, and the two claws are cotton dipped in latex. I used Glossy accents scrapbooking plastic to add drops of sweat to the latex skin.

In the poem the "Fears" are as diffuse entities as they can get. Apparently, they can float. I resorted to using a couple of puppets I actually built a few years ago for the film "In the Court of the Yellow King", but which were never used. Over super-simple aluminum wire armatures, I added a yarn wrapping, cotton, and latex. Scrapbooking pearls were super-glued into the latex faces. The robes were made from tissue paper dabbed with tinted latex. The belts were cast in latex from the same plaster mold from which the goblin's belt was pulled.

The kobold is another old puppet -really old, in fact. I made it for a super 8 version of Sleeping Beauty way back in 1998. I made a bunch of puppets portraying various fairies, and this was one of them. The latex skin covering the arms is now so brittle that small flakes came off when I started animating.

All backgrounds in this film were HD photos downloaded from Most of them didn't require any tampering at all.

The staircase which the kobold runs down wac cut out from the rest of the image in Photoshop. This allowed me to add a wallpaper background and sandwich the footage of the running kobold puppet between these layers.

Weird Tales and other old pulp magazines have quite a few poems (and stories) that are now public domain works. I continue to plunder this source for more film content, but I'm also happy to be able to share and spread these writings, which are almost forgotten nowadays.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020


The subject for this little film had been on my mind for many years, namely to use a woodcut describing "imps", witches' familiars, as a template for stop-motion puppets.

I am, of course, thinking about the famous woodcut featuring witchfinder general Matthew Hopkins and two of his victims-to-be. The presumed witches are parading a pretty impressive lineup of servitor demons in various animal shapes, some more bizarre than others. The names of these imps were pretty cool too.

Lets' start with Sacke & Sugar, which is actually just the one creature. In the woodcut, it's apparently a black rabbit of some kind. I went with a zombie rabbit kind of thing instead. This little monster has an exposed skull, which I sculpted in medium grade Monster Clay. The skull and the jaw are separate.

Both parts of the skull were replicated in Rhino casting plastic from two DragonSkin FX silicone molds (after cleaning out the clay).

The aluminum wire skeleton has a pair of t-nuts in its feet, with bits of harder wire lashed to the aluminum wires using yarn, creating the "bones" of the skeleton. An aluminum wire also goes into the jaw.

Since most of the puppet would be covered by fake fur I didn't have to spend too much time on shaping the foam padding into exact muscle replicas. General shapes were quite adequate. A latex cast of a mummified-looking chest sculpted for another puppet was re-used. To create bits of shredded, dried tissue I simply rolled up thin skins of tinted latex sponged out over a plastic tray, the so-called "chunks-o-flesh" method. The insides of the ears were simply made by carving negative shapes into clay with the end of a paintbrush and then adding tinted latex into those shapes. The eyes are German-made taxidermist's glass eyes (don't know what animal they're supposed to be used for.

The fur I used was also used for the puppets in Empire of the Robot Monsters and is a short-haired synthetic fur attached to a slightly elastic fabric, which means that it will stretch slightly when animating the puppet.

Greedigutt isn't pictured in the woodcut but Imagined it as a dwarfish Hieronymus Bosh kind of creature. The head and feet were sculpted in clay, and then cast in latex from a dental plaster mold.

This little fellow was built in one day, having a very simple body padded with foam. The tail was built up over an aluminum wire using soft yarn.

Patches of latex cast in old skin texture molds covered the puppet. It was given a base paint of reddish-brown using tinted latex applied thinly with a sponge.

 A lighter coat of tinted latex was then dry brushed on. White latex pigments helped create a pale skin tone. The white eyes were just painted on, but the lower lip could be animated via an aluminum wire.

Another quickly built puppet (though not in one day) was Jarmara, the caterpillar dog. Actually, in the woodcut, he most resembles a creepy version of Dougal from The Magic Roundabout. It doesn't look like he's got any legs, so I decided that he probably walked like a caterpillar. The only thing I sculpted in clay was his head.

A latex cast of the head, reinforced with a cotton/latex mix, was attached to the aluminum wire skeleton. Aluminum wires were also used for the ears, which were covered with more latex and cotton. More padding with that soft yarn.

Jarmara's head and feet were dabbed with tinted latex and his buggy eyes were another pair of German taxidermy work. Strips of soft foam helped to further pad out the body.

Finally, fake fur from an old had was used to cover up the body. The aluminum wire torso could be contracted and extended to ape the movement of a kind of caterpillar.

The idea for Pyewacket (another imp not shown in the woodcut) was inspired by dancers and contortionists who can bend their hips and legs over their shoulders. It's a fairly impractical way of walking, but it sure looks strange. Another simple aluminum wire armature provided the skeleton. The dark grey blob at the bottom is a bit of dense foam from a camping seat cushion, filling up the chest area, without adding any real weight. 

The head was sculpted in Monster Clay..

..While the rest of the body was built up using foam shapes of various densities.

Patches of latex cast in texture molds then covered the foam.

The finished Pyewacket was painted with tinted latex, and detailed with acrylic airbrush paints spattered onto the puppet using a toothbrush. Fake fur from an old jacket collar was glued on here and there using the very strong and transparent Telesis silicone glue.

The best-remembered critter from this woodcut is doubtless Vinegar Tom, the strange cow-whippet-thing. The head was another Monster Clay sculpture, using plastic pearls for the eyes.

The horns were cast in latex from an old plaster mold. Small aluminum wires help move the ears and the jaw. The tie-downs I use are usually M4 t-nuts, but for this puppet, I used M3 to make the feet really small.

For Vinegar Tom, I did a pretty intricate foam muscle build-up. I based this on both cow and dog muscle diagrams.

The pearl eyes were used so I could move them around, BUT looking at the woodcut I realized the eyes were simply too small. I simply glued a pair of bigger glass taxidermy eyes over the original pearl eyes, and built up eye sockets around the eyes using cotton dipped in latex. A finely detailed latex skin was added over the foam padding.

More fake fur was used to add a short mane to Tom's neck. Teeth were made from cotton and latex, as were the toes. This puppet was painted with PAX paint (Prosaide glue + acrylic paint) using a sponge, with acrylic airbrush paints adding a bit of subtle detailing.

Grizzle, our last little critter, was basically a scary pig standing on his hind legs. He only appears for a short bit at the end, so I decided to make him something recognizable. There are examples of demonic pigs in religion, folklore, and pop culture, so it seemed a suitable choice. I sculpted and cast both head and torso in latex from a dental plaster mold.

Again, a very simple aluminum wire armature did the job. It's still strong enough and versatile enough to allow the puppet to be used for more projects.

The latex skin was partially padded with thin bits of polyurethane foam. Aluminum wires go into the ears and the jaw. Also, reflective pearls were glued into the eye sockets.

The foam muscle padding was quite detailed, though most of the focus would be on the latex torso, which was attached to the padded body using liquid latex as a bonding material.

Reddish tinted latex was applied as a base paint, with a purple-greyish latex paint dry brushed over that, with strands of fake for added as bristles to the neck, and cotton/latex tusks stuck into the mouth. Saliva and snot were created with Glossy Accents scrapbooking plastic.

That's all about the imps, but what about their mistress. Well, I don't know who she is, because she's just a bunch of stock footage clips from, but I'm glad I found her. 

All of the film was treated with a couple of filters in After Effects to make the image a bit fuzzy and dream-like. Libby Grant delivered another excellent narration (our previous collaboration was Baba Yaga's Hut). Almost all of the backgrounds were found on, where I have a monthly subscription.