Friday, October 12, 2012

Being that this is my first entry, I should start off by saying that though the contents of this blog will revolve around the awesome, real-life, non-virtual scary monsters which we all grew up with and love, the posts will mostly focus on of my own personal monster creations. As a matter of fact, the reason I started this blog in the first place was to catalog my work, maybe receive a little constructive feedback and hopefully improve. But whenever I find something inspiring and monster-related I'll post it as well, which happens often.

The first monster I want to talk about exists in the Dungeons and Dragons realm. He is a primordial of great destructive power, who spawned the creation of two dragon deities when he slayed the dragon-god Io. However, shortly after Io's two halves transformed into new gods, Bahamut and Tiamat, they slayed this beast and thus avenged their father.

Erek-Hus, the King of Terror...

Back in 2010, I was asked to create a miniature scale model of this primordial elemental for a D&D campaign. The model needed to sit on a base roughly 5 inches x 5 inches, and could not exceed 7 inches in height. I did some rough concept sketches (some were rougher than others) and came up with the basic drawing you see below on the left. I think it sort of looks like a combination of Thing from Marvel Universe and a giant man-lizard.
From what I could gather from D&D mythology, all descriptions of Erek-Hus' appearance are  extremely vague.  Even on the internet, it is hard to find any pictures or info on what this guy is supposed to look like. I might have seen three pictures on Google image search, and two of them were bad fan illustrations. Besides having a general idea of what an elemental might sort of look like (first thoughts I had could be a woodland creature, it could be furry, it could have scales, it resembles something you would find in nature but of monstrous proportions, etc.), the rest of his physiology was derived from the story line. Personally, I'm a big fan of large, bulky forearms, power fists and arched, hunchback, top-heavy bodies.  It should be obvious that a dragon-god slayer would have these attributes, and probably a tail along with jagged teeth, a rough exterior and dermal plates.  So there you have it.  After this sketch was approved, I made a simple armature out of  wire I purchased at my local Utrecht and attached it to a sculpting post to begin roughing out the creature in Super Sculpey polymer clay.

Refining all of the musculature in Erek-Hus' arms and legs, as well as adding small tendons and stress lines I would probably say was the most entertaining part about the entire sculpting process. One advantage to monster anatomy is that even though it should resemble recognizable physiology found in nature, there is a lot of room to exaggerate forms and be creative.  If you have a difficult time getting a particular muscle group to look perfect, it will be a lot less noticeable and far more forgiving on a project like this. But just like everything else, it gets easier with practice. 

Once the sculpture reached a good stopping point, it was ready for baking and priming. I was quite surprised at how well the elemental stood on its own without support despite being so dense and top heavy. Even if that had been a problem, Erek-Hus' weight was supported later on by a large square base that I made in the final stage of the project.  

The King of Terror was my first ever attempt at sculpting a full creature that I had more or less invented. In hindsight, I wish that I had spent more time translating the texture that I sketched on to the actual piece and perhaps spent more time detailing his hands and feet. Up until that point, I had only made a bust of Mr. Wink from Hellboy II, and though it looked really cool, it didn't really resemble him.  Erek-Hus, on the other hand, took shape almost exactly the way I intended.  Later on, before his debut in the D&D universe, I changed his head slightly and repainted parts of his body. 

Phew! Blogs are hard.

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