Monday, October 26, 2009


Each quarter I teach a class on Character & Environment Design for the Animation Department, and each time I try to do a demo maquette to show how to approach armature, base sculpting, detail sculpting & texture, painting, etc. This time around, seeing as Halloween is rapidly approaching, I thought I'd try my hand at H.P. Lovecraft's famous slumbering monster, Cthulhu, an ancient evil creature that waits patiently in a sunken Cyclopeon city deep beneath the sea for his chance to rise and destroy humanity.

Click on any of these to bring up a bigger version of the picture in a new window.

One of the things that always bugs me is that, with rare exception, he's always depicted exactly the same. Human body, tentacles coming out from where his mouth would be, humanish hands with pointy fingernails, etc. He never looks remotely as inhuman as I expect from the writing.

He's described as HAVING tentacles - a cephalopod-inspired head, I think the prose says - and "vaguely anthropoid shape," meaning, to me, that he walks upright and has four appendages, nothing more. I wanted to distance this design as much from human while keeping to that basic idea as possible.

He's described as having claws - flabby claws, actually - so rather than the human-hand-with-claws-on-it approach, I decided to go with more of a vaguely crab-based approach.

I saw a gaming miniature of the character once with a lot of eyes, which was one feature that I wanted to keep. Oh, standing next to the monster, which is, I guess you might say, a "waterline" model, seeing as he's half-submerged, is a little Corto Maltese figure for scale. He's about seven inches tall, I'd guess, and about ten inches wide.

I wanted to show a mouth, and I did my best to make it as gross as possible. I didn't have any balsa when I was doing the initial sculpt, so I crudely made the teeth from wooden coffee-stirrers that I cut into triangles with wire-cutters.

He's described as being green, which I decided to ignore - I thought that, given his crab-like tendencies, I'd go with an orange more invocative of crabs, at least the type one sees in restaurants. He also is supposed to have small, mebranous wings, but I liked his back so much as he was coming along that I decided to ignore that little fact, too. He's painted with an assortment of those 44-cent Apple Barrell craft acrylics.

I painted the base to look like water. I'd thought about scuplting bursting waves, but decided agaist it. If my imagination ca't conjure up a few ripples, then I've no business making stories.

Anyway, this was an in-class-only project, so it took longer than it otherwise might, but, as I made clear last time, all of my outside-of-class time is being spent finishing Crogan's March. I'm hoping to have the entire thing inked by Tuesday night, and to have all my touch-ups finished by Saturday.


Anonymous said...

enjoyed this!

Nate said...

It makes me think of the Chattur'gha monster from my favorite GameCube game, Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem. But then, it's a VERY Lovecraft-inspired game, so that's not terribly surprising.
Pretty awesome.
Also awesome is the fact that Lovecraft and I have the same birthday.

Roy said...

LOVED it! So are you going to make your inking deadline by today? Good luck.

EY said...


That thing's ugly, great work!

Sean McGowan said...

Wow! That's impressive.

B. Morris said...

*Eyes Bug, Jaw Drops* Marvelous!

Flipyap said...

Thank you for this.
I'm always bugged by the silly-green-fatass depictions of Cthulhu, it's very refreshing to see an original take on the "character".
It's a shame you didn't include the wings, I would really like to see how you'd handle the weakest, goofiest part of the creature's description.
Then again, I could see someone mistaking these massive claws for "rudimentary wings".

Yes, good job, fantastic work.