Thursday, May 30, 2013

Frank's Final Resting Place

Though a bit overwhelmed by the Gill Man, he looks like he fits in fine... If you can even find him!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Revel Frankenstein-- Better Pics

The iPhone might be a technological wonder, but sometimes it doesn't take the best pics, so here's a couple of better ones!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Frankenstein Lives!

Well, okay.  After a couple of months have passed since I first got that kernel of an idea rattling around in my spacious head, the customized Monogram Frankenstein Monster kit has been realized.  I can say that this experience taught me all kinds of neat things; there was more than once when, after doing something almost by accident, I told myself, "Hey remember that for later!"

For instance, I now know that if I mix burn umber, crimson, and a bright cartoony green together (but not too well mixed), it will mimic a tarnished bronze finish.

I learned that if you apply 3m Bondo red putty to form foam, the putty will eat a bit at the foam, and make it slightly workable, and you can mimic striations in rock that way.

And most importantly of all, I took my first toddler steps with using lights (in this case, one light).

So, the end product is very satisfactory, and I learned along the way, so this was truly a worthwhile experience! Enjoy the gratuitous pics!
I used color home movie footage shot during the making of "Son of Frankenstein" for my color reference.  I'm really happy with the swirling look of the soil all around the base.

The 9v is behind the wooden gate, and of course, the switch is built into the fallen brick.  Next time, I'll better plan the placement of my switches before I build.

I'm happy with how tattered his clothing looks, as if he did just climb out of the sulfur pit!

I ended up placing the boy's "Fairie Tales" book at the bottom step, as if Frankenstein had just dropped it, as he became more intent upon violent revenge for Eygor's death...

The camera can't show it, but in total darkness, the green light faintly lights the raised arm and the wall sections.

The speckled mushrooms are a known poisonous variety!  I had to add about four different colors to the back walls to get them right.  There's red, brown, grey, you name it.

The shapes really show their stuff in this silhouetted image.  Even in darkness, you can read the image.

In this image, you can better see the various hues in the stones.

I love the burned-wool vest, and the varying values in it.

 The green light showcases all of the detail in the vest.   

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Paint Phase Underway...

Working on getting a smooth blend between where the steps transform into the the bulge of mud/earth.  The steps themseelves (and the walls behind) still aren't quite right.  But I do like the skulls!

I knew I liked the vest more than the one featured in the actual film, but I was really surprised once I started painting it! All of the random swirls and zags came to life!

I'm really looking forward to getting his green face in place.  This kit has come a LONG WAY from where it was, when I got it on Ebay years ago.  I'd almost forgotten that I had it!

The back of the vest.  It does kind of look like what his wool vest would've been like after temporarily falling into that burning pit of sulfur.

At last, Krogh's arm! Phew! This little thing was probably the biggest challenge of the entire build.  Anyways, there's the torn sleeve from his uniform, his leather glove, the metal top of the arm showing, the shoulder cup, and the two straps (with a buckle).  But it looks WICKED when Frankenstein is holding it, as you'll see!

I did a little research on early 20th century prosthetic arms, and saw one that most resemble Krogh's.  I replicated the shoulder cup, and though you can't tell, I even did this little trick with the Sculpey in order to make a faux leather texture-- just take the piece in your hand (pre-bake), and VERY lightly, apply your finger prints, in criss-crossing directions.  It'll be just enough ridges to make it look like rough leather.  Anyways, I'm going to gloss up the glove later on.

Accessories for the base

Here's the miniature movie poster that will conceal the green light, as well as tiny  recreation of the children's book that the little boy gave Frankenstein (remember?).

Krogh's Arm Complete!

My friend Mark came up with the great idea of using a twisty tie from a loaf of bread for the shoulder straps. This gives the option for pose ability once the whole thing is together.

Light test for base

In a dark room, sans figure.


Testing the light...added rock base for switch, and have glued in place. I'm about to fill in the gaps and start painting.

I've also just about gotten the fake arm done.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Krogh's Arm

Bit by bit. The form is starting to arrive! Hope to be done with the arm by Thursday.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Krogh's Arm and the Paint-ready Base!

So I cut the wooden club/stick that the monster was holding into to pieces.  Then I heated some metal wire and stabbed it into each end of the severed club. This will create a shape that can be posed until I like the angle. At that point, I'll begin to fix the shape into position with putty and a hand that most likely will be constructed from Sculpey.

Meanwhile, the base is primed and ready for paint...

Thursday, May 16, 2013

LED done

One 9v battery
One snap connector
One 1/2w 470 resistor
One 3mm green LED
One on/off switch
...and a little bit of soldering, and we have our green light!  The materials were all very cheap, and it looks like I'll be doing lights on things a lot from now on.

Tonight, I'll make Krogh's prosthetic arm, and finish up the accommodations for the wiring. We're almost to the point when it's all primer gray and ready for paint!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Slowly I Work... Step by step... Inch by Inch...

Ignore the roll of electrical tape!
Today I did some touch-up on the base, as well as on the stone walls. I've added some blocky forms around the skulls, since round shapes look soft and pleasant. Not too sure what else I might add.

Resistors for the LEDs should arrive this Monday, and I'll be placing the green light about 3 inches or so up a pole that will be covered by a "Son of Frankenstein" poster, scaled down to about 3 inches. One light should be enough.

It's starting to get interesting...

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

More Development on Frankenbase

Tonight I added more clay and set the two skulls and femur into the "soil." I'll probably be adding some moss or something to add color.

Tomorrow, it's off to radio shack get some resistors and wire for the green LED!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Monogram Frankie Basework Cont'd...

Here the little wood section that will conceal the 9v battery... Made to look wet and mildewy!

Ray Harryhausen: RIP

Something happened today that seemed unlikely, despite the laws of nature-- Ray Harryhausen died.  Yes, he was in his 90s, and had lived a life filled with artistic accomplishments, and had lived long enough to see that ship come back to shore in the form of thousands of fans heaping adoration and appreciation upon him.  Still, death is just one of those things that always startles us; it's as if we weren't meant to ever end, and for someone who contributed so much to fantasy, Harryhausen should've been one of those guys to be granted exemption from such an inevitable, human end.

Now, you can read a bio about the man just about anywhere, and you'll no doubt get a recap in numerous AP articles.  Since this is my blog, all I want to do is give you my own personal memories of his work, and how it became part of my life.  If you'd like to contribute your own story, feel free to do so in the comments.

I can remember it being 1977, and I was about 5 years old.  I was in a kiddie pool with my brother, right outside the house, on a Saturday.  My father walked out and said to us that a monster movie was coming on tv in a little while.  This is in the old days, before VHS or DVD or DVR or any other abbreviations.  So that meant, in order to see the movie, we'd have to come inside at that set time to start watching it.  It was a Godzilla movie, and I remember even at the age of  5 being VERY disappointed with what I saw.  I gave up on it and went to play something else.

The reason I'm telling you this story is that Ray Harryhausen was the reason for my reaction to Godzilla that day.  I'd already seen "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" on tv a short while before, and so seeing what was obviously a guy in a lizard suit jumping around a model town seemed like a massive cheat to me.  It was too bound to reality, screaming to anyone watching not to forget that it was fake.  Ray made no qualms about stop-motion looking slightly unreal;  he said that it contributed to the feel of fantasy, and that CG was too real, as much so as a guy in a rubber suit was too phony.

I grew up pretty special effects savy.  When I watched the Bugs Bunny-Roadrunner Show every Saturday morning, I knew they weren't real characters, I knew that they were a series of drawings, and that one guy did almost all of the voices.  When Star Wars came along, I devoured every scrap of  behind-the-scenes info.  I knew what "mattes" and optical printers were when I was a teenager, and I mean NO ONE around me knew what I was talking about!

I remember the early '80s, when HBO started showing "Clash of the Titans."  Again, I knew how the effects had been acheived (basically), but it made it more of an invite into the dream-like fantasy realm of that film.  The daring, surreal aesthetic of the film demanded that you let loose and enjoy it all (unless you were a total snob).  By the way, back in those days, HBO would feature a movie for about a month very heavily, and show it about two times a day every other day.  You better believe that I watched it almost EVERY time it aired during that period!

Later, as go-motion came along, as CG came along, I still found a fondness in me for the hand-crafted nature of stop-motion.  Yes, CG looks sort of more real, but just like when I read a comic book, being aware of the medium through which you're being told a story isn't always a big handi-cap.  In fantasy and scifi, it's "suspension of disbelief."  "The Twilight Zone" has proven that, even with a low budget and unconvincing special effects, if the characters are realized and are interesting, and the situation in which they're existing is enthralling enough, then the viewer won't worry about whether or not that third eyeball on that guy's forehead looks convincing.

Think about it: movies haven't been around that long.  Before that, we had books.  And before that, we had old folks around fires, recounting stories (some true and the rest total fantasy).  And before that, we had people gathering in caves, pointing to paintings of hunters and their prey, with firelight dancing across the cave walls.  If the children tried hard enough, and they probably did, they'd look at those images and the flicker of the firelight would almost make those painted images move.

And that was enough for them.

What I'm trying to say is this:  modern technology has bullied "archaic" forms of storytelling, such as stop-motion and hand-drawn animation, back into the shadows of the past.  BUT, the work of Ray Harryhausen will always be there, and it will always work, if the audience is willing to let the firelight do its trick.


P.S.-- and if you want to make fun of stop-motion and say it looks crummy, just watch Jim Danforth's  "Jack the Giant Killer," and then you'll realize what a "Rolls Royce" of animation was the work of Ray Harryhausen.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Working on Frank's Accessories

Super Sculpey jawless skull now painted, complete with wet eye... Plus "dry" submerged skull from the original base and femur! These will all be sunken into the earth section at the front of the base.