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

ImagineFX - - Issue 108 May 2014 -

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.

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