The team at The Magic Brush were commissioned to design, sculpt mold and complete a Creature Suit for  The New Zealand Film and Television School in Wellington in May 2017. We were given a brief, the script and descriptions, along with images of what the director wanted this ‘creature’ to look like…

The creature was described to us as lanky, with long fingered hands that dropped down past it’s knees. The director and writer were insistent on having a non-human face with a vertical mouth, with rows of teeth and gleaming eyes. The creature was to embody the character of “a thousand hateful relationships”. A rudimentary sketch is shown above. The director and DoP were planning to use shadows and clever shots to their advantage. The creature’s face will be shown in two major scenes: when Emily (main character) is stuck in the wardrobe, and when the axe is embedded into the skull. We were told that during the rest of the film, the Creature would only be silhouetted or only show small/quick shots of the features.

With this and other images provided for inspiration, we could get straight to work on sculpting the face for this Creature in WED clay. Since time was of the essence, we sculpted the face in roughly 4-5 hours. The sculpture had to be molded the same day in order for us to meet our deadline on delivery with this and other projects in the mix.

This mask was molded in Ultra-Cal 30 and took roughly 4-5 hours also. If you would like to read about the molding process here is a link to our Life Casting Blog where we run through the molding process with step by step instructions including tips and hints from our talented artists.

Once the mold was cold, it was time to open this bad boy up and clean out the WED clay.

TIP: Use a wooden sculpting tool or a tongue depressor that has been twisted and snapped in half to remove the clay. Anything metal will put scratch marks in your mold.

Any left over WED clay in the mold can be cleaned out using water or alcohol, alcohol is better and it will evaporate leaving your mold dry. Water can be absorbed into the mold, causing a longer drying time before you can get started with running your mask.

This mask was run in Liquid Latex which was mixed with grey acrylic paint and was just poured into the mold as there wasn’t too much detail to be captured, we did two pulls of latex, the first pull tends to remove any remaining clay left in the mold whilst the second was much cleaner and nicer.

HINT: Liquid Latex dries darker so keep that in mind when pre-coloring your latex.

TIP: By not completely mixing the acrylic color into the latex your already giving your costume highlights and shadows.

The latex is left in the mold to dry and the hardest part is done (or so we thought!) which meant we can get started on the body suit!
We used a grey morph suit as the base of the costume, this allowed us to have something to stick the rest of the creature suit onto. This also allowed us to have a base to make the costume easy to get on and off the actor with the zip down the back.

For the suit, first-up we need to give the creature some body & silhouette by making the chest and abs. This was done by cutting some some upholstery foam to size, to make the shapes of the male abdomen muscles. Once all the muscles were cut out, we glued them onto the morph suit using Ados Glue and Ados contact adhesive. We then shaped and covered them in a 1 mm foam to hold it all together. Liquid latex was stippled all over the foams to bind them together into place and into shape.

HINT: Anything that is called “contact adhesive” means that both sides require gluing and must be dry as it will only stick to itself.

To keep the abdomen secure but movable with the body, we stippled liquid latex over the muscle piece and out over the edges of where the piece was glued down.

From previous experience, we decided that the best skin texture to use on the rest of the suit was with a similar technique we use to create ‘zombie skin’. The ripped, textured effect was made by stippling Liquid Latex (in the same color as the mask) onto various flat surfaces around the studio (on the mirror, and on the sides of the fridge where it could easily be peeled off). The stippled Latex will dry in sheets and once dry we ran our hands down the latexed surfaces to make holes and ripped looking textures, (which is also a great way to make some pretty cool zombies!!) the now ripped latex sheets are then pulled off the surface by baby powdering the whole sheet so that it doesn’t stick to itself and then powdering the other side as you pull it off.

TIP: During any drying time there are always other jobs that can be done to fill the time and squeeze the most into your day!

The brief was very specific about the eyes, teeth and nails.
Eyes: Were half molds made out of plastic and we pre-purchased. They were filled with Epoxy Glass, which had a setting time of 24 hours.
Teeth: Were false acrylic nails that had been spray painted to look like teeth
Nails/Hands: Were individually made nails using EVA foam cut into long triangular shapes with angled cut edges so that they can get rolled into pointed cylinders and glued together with a hot glue gun. We then trimmed the excess glue and attached this to pre-made Halloween gloves. To make sure the nails were secure we cut holes in the fingertips of the glove, poked the nails through the holes and superglued into place and covered in liquid latex for extra strength and to bond the two, and painted with acrylic paint.

Creature suit

Once all our bits were made, the costume was put together and the face was stuck on using super glue (with a hole cut out of the morph suit). The creature suit required additional painting and we added extra highlights and shadows with an airbrush to both the mask and the body. We then used the dry brush technique to make our white highlights really stand out on the body.

We did some testing on a model of a similar size and build to the actor to make sure the creature suit would fit him properly and he wouldn’t have issues getting it on or off. Once happy with the outcome, the creature suit was then carefully wrapped, put into a box and shipped off to Wellington. Below is a photo of the creature suit test.

There we have it! A Creature is born!

Want more?
Check out our Behind the Scenes video