How to create a movie monster
Daren Horley reveals how he cherry-picked elements from real-world animals to create his Kirin forest creature design for the film 47 Ronin
Daren Horley on his 47 Ronin creation.
Universal Studios asked Framestore to do the VFX for the film 47 Ronin. It also wanted design for many of the film’s elements, including the two main creatures: a dragon and a forestdwelling Kirin.
I was part of the Framestore art department team who brainstormed looks for the creatures. The brief for Kirin was to create a mythological horned beast in the style of Hayao Miyazaki, incorporating a chimera-like mixture of animals, a stag and a reptile being the main elements.
The design veered from a stocky, rhinolike, squat animal, to a more graceful, yet still muscular, stag. Along the way it adopted a lion’s face, (later abandoned) and crocodile skin.
The creature entered asset development after a design was agreed upon, but the head carried on being refined. I followed the Kirin from concept design to model development, painting the skin textures and redesigning the head, and in this workshop I’ll detail that creative process.