Suit Concept

So I did a bit of work going into this to figure out what I wanted the monster to look like and collect reference images. I'll break it down into parts.

Prologue: Matriarch Concept

The original monster I built during the Kaiju class (Matriarch) was a two person monstrosity based on the Gorilla Wolf Mother****ers from Attack The Block.  I chose this not remotely subtle inspiration for a few reasons:

1.) I was making it for a local LARP and nobody was going to mind the obvious influence / complete rip off, since most of our monster stuff was lovecraftian anyway. Those who had seen Attack the Block were enthusiastic, those who hadn't wouldn't know the difference.
2.) The design goals were similar - I wanted to use the fur to avoid having to make complex latex skin textures, but it had to still be scary (which the glowing teeth achieve very nicely), and cheap to produce a bunch of them and have them still look good.

So I already had a few reference images, both stationary and with movement for this type of creature:

Prologue 2: Matriarch Construction / Post Mortem

The actual monster we created for "Glimmerjaw Queen 1: Matriarch" was a lot of fun and a big hit, but a nightmare to use.

Glowing jaws changed color, opened (with cable mechanism)
100% contact safe
Huge and terrifying

Very difficult to break down and set up
Required 2-4 people to operate
Really tough for the guy in back to control the arms, impossible to hit players
PVC frame bent easily
Glued joints in frame broke off, had to be screwed in

As a result, the monster died in-game due to the design flaws of the costume. It couldn't move fast enough to survive in large groups of people. Also I tripped over a low wall and some vital parts shattered. Time for a new costume!

Prologue 3: Drones

Before Matriarch died, we created smaller drones to fight alongside the queen of the nest, based on the one person version of the suit but with much lower production quality.  I mean look at these guys, it was a bit of a mess. This clearly needs work (though these were test shots, they looked better when we got the armor plates attached properly): 

These costumes were smaller and faster than the big one, and were totally super useful in building encounters. But they had problems too.


1 person
Easy to attack
100% contact safe!


Look like hell in daylight
Terrible visibility - the lights blind the actors. Fixed with tape on the back of the teeth.
The monster's head doesn't stay on the actor's head - I should have watched the part of the kaiju course where they attach things to helmets. Oops!
Because we didn't make the whole suit out of fur, the leggings and arm covers tend to slide down. Really not ok.
Shorter than players = less threatening

Because of the frustrations with wearing the suit, we had a lot of problems that contributed to Matriarch's death in the game. 

Part 1: Oscar

One of these smaller characters was actually a "male" named Oscar. He started out looking the same as the drones and as he grew to adulthood we have been improving his costume, adding bigger arms, more teeth, fiber optic whiskers, etc.

The purpose of my project with this course is to build the final costume for Oscar. Ideally design changes for Oscar's costume will help teach us how to make the drones look better - but more importantly we want to use them to help build a better queen costume.

Our design goals for Oscar:

1 person suit
Slightly improved height
Big hands + arms
Articulated Fingers
Tail (fine if it doesn't move at all)
Holds up well in daylight (complete fur coverage, better teeth)
Muscley, but we don't want to use muscles to add too much bulk or height because the next one-person queen (Huntress) needs to be bigger and more intimidating than he is. 

Part 2: Oscar Suit Concept

I started off trying to figure out what the monster's skeleton ought to look like. I combined parts of a chimp and a sabertooth tiger to create a mock up skeleton (the added photoshop / instagram filters were so we could print it out and use it in-game as an old timey photograph).

This was a composite built from pictures of animal skeletons I found online. I chopped them up, manipulated them into the places I needed them, re-colored them and then added the filters.

Next, I started taking one of the basic drawing courses on Stan Winston to learn how to sketch monsters. I had to look around to find a monster that most closely mirrored the musculature that we wanted to achieve with Oscar. Note that his arms don't bend the same way as the Drones. We found something that looked like a good fit in Hellboy's Sammael, the Hound of Resurrection (interestingly both this and the gorilla wolf mother****ers were made by Spectral Motion, a complete coincidence):  

So I attempted to sketch a version of Oscar based on some of the reference images:

My next step with this is going to be to get some human references and do what Twd did in class - drawing the muscles and suit form around the image of a human actor.

In the meantime I have begun construction of the Mannequin, once again using a Stan Winston webcourse! I use a lot of those. Here is the upper torso of the mold:

And here is a video  of early tests for locomotion (pre-muscle suit). You can see I've built some digitigrade stilts (very simple version, I've heard it called "truncated" by one of my cosplay friends). We're using Oscar's old arms in this video, which will need to be rebuilt.


  • edited February 2016
    Also, these monsters need to be able to roar! 

    I did some research on the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park and how those sounds were made, and tried to make one that sounds like a t-rex. The following is made from an elephant and a lion, stretched out and mixed together in Audacity.

    There are some problems with it - the sound clips I used did not have high sample rates, so you can actually hear the individual samples in this. I also did not use pro-tools even though I have access to it, so I only had really simple free tools available to me. It also has a blown out kind of sound, but that's because the speakers we're going to be using are pretty bad and I wanted to get as much volume out of it as I could. Welcome to feedback or suggestions (this is probably not going to be Oscar's voice, I may base his more on velociraptor sounds instead of the t-rex, but it was a good experiment)

    Strictly speaking this is not related to the class. Just good fun.
  • Great character concept and research.   Looking forward to see how Oscar takes shape!

  • edited February 2016
    Work on the mannequin continues. I've done the cast of the legs, now I just have to mix and pour the foam. I've watched the tutorial, so I think I've got it. I may need to do some creative re-posing of the arms and legs, but we'll see how it goes!

    I have pictures on my phone but it's giving me trouble so I'll post them up when I have more to report. There's a lot more to do with the mannequin than I anticipated, and I had to order some thicker sheets of foam, so I'm worried I will only just have started cutting foam when class starts. In the meantime I'm planning on doing some real muscle planning. And maybe some pushups. I am not in proper shape for suit performance.

    I also did a motion test with running in the setup I wore in the previous video, and fell over on the driveway. So that needs some work as well.
  • I'll say one thing that you hit on that is so important. As far as suit performing, get in shape! :) way too many people think wearing a suit is easy business. It's not. It takes a lot of physical strength as well as mental to perform. I truly appreciate the amount of planning you're putting in to your project.
  • Thanks Ted!

    So, the foam I needed took a bit longer than I thought to ship, so I'm a bit behind schedule. But I completed both casts.

    I've now got both halves of the mannequin filled with foam. 

    I covered the cast in duct tape first so I could preserve the original body cast and stuff it with plastic bags to make a soft dummy.

    It worked, I managed to get the whole cast off in one piece!

    Now it is stuffed, and I'm getting to work on sanding down the foam body. Glad I used that duct tape! The masking tape would have ripped. 

    It took a lot longer to get all this done on top of other weekly commitments, so I'm probably not going to have it well articulated for a while. I have to push on with the muscles anyway! I can always re-do them if it turns out they aren't working the way I planned.

    I've begun sketching out the muscles after several false starts. It turns out I am terrible at drawing people so I just photographed the mannequin (while my twin held it up) and made the image mostly transparent. Then I sketched on top of it. Not a lot of detail here on the arms or the chest, but I'll be working on that during this class and trying to get some muscles started by the end of the day. Some of the polyfoam I ordered took a while to come in as well, so it's been a bit of a wait. But I think things are really going to pick up this week.

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