Art & Sculpture
The Making Of ‘Lord of the Rings’ inspired ‘Fellbeast’ Head

I believe millions were never the same again after watching the lord of the rigs trilogy. The creatures especially inspired the imagination. One creature that stands out for me is the Fellbeast. The witch king riding the Fellbeast; this goliath predator, is surely a moving image in cinema history that stays with you long after the viewing.

I decided upon creating a good likeness of the head of this beast. I was not sure of the scale of my intended piece; rather that the size would evoke some of the impact of the full scale Fellbeast.

I began looking firstly for reference. Strangely enough, there is not much to go on on the internet in regards to the actual physical ‘Deathmask’ filming piece used in conjunction with the CGI modelled head. 

I finally found only one image that showed clear enough detail to begin a clay sculpt.

Issues were that I needed various perspectives on this beast so looked at models fans had made in virtual softwares alongside the physical model miniatures available online.

The Sculpt

I decided to create a ‘deep relief’ sculpture which is sculpted on one side and flat one the other.

I had thirty kilograms of clay. I ended up using about twenty five!

I ‘blocked out’ the main form of the beast. Then I sculpted in the main detail, constantly referring to about twenty different perspectives and angles from my pictorial reference. I spent much time on the scales, sculpting them deeper than the reference to give an armoured look and feel. I sculpted the gum-holes to later provide a cavity to plant the teeth.

With all main detail completed, I began the ‘skin texturing’ process to the scales. I refined the eye lid and mouth details.

Next, I went over the skin detail with a small artists brush; blending in skin lines and further refining the fish-like scales so in effect everything flowed visually. 

As with all my clay sculpts, I always spray the sculpt with water after each day finishing up, and cover with a bin liner so all moistened clay is sealed with the plastic covering. This is essential to avoid cracking as cracks are easily created by certain areas of clay drying before others.

Now that the sculpt was finished, I had to create teeth. There was conflicting images of the Fellbeast teeth on the internet so I brought both reference styles together. 

I decided on using synthetic modelling material for oven baking which I found ideal for teeth. I could have used dental supplies, but the time and extra expense outweighed the other.

I fashioned the lumps of modelling material into all the types of teeth which was quite a task in itself; this is one tooth-filled beast! 

I superglued the teeth one by one into the gum-holes.

Moulding/Casting

I decided to make a two piece mould; one mould of the tongue and another for the main head piece, otherwise the cast would be trapped inside the mould!

I managed to find enough silicone at a ‘not break the bank price’. I buy my materials far in advance, just incase; especially through these tough times. 

I applied the silicone layer by layer; this method just works for me. I wholly understand and respect others have their own way; so whatever the individual feels confident with, generally seems to work.

I always apply a ‘runny’ unthickened primary layer of silicone to preserve the sculpt detail. 

So I applied the ‘detail coat’. Next I applied a thixotropic layer by brush. I painted consecutive layers until I felt the silicone to be thick enough. 

In this instance I was making a skin-mould so half centimetre thick or less in my view is okay. 

I applied the same method with the second part of the mould; the tongue. I created little cubes of silicone to hold the fibreglass support in place when moving to the casting process. 

These cubes lock into the fibreglass outer supporting shell, thus preventing the skin-mould from lagging/falling, which will may result in deforming the cast.

The laminated fibreglass was thickened to two layers; enough to prevent warping of the mould and to give some shock protection incase of a drop, which occasionally happens to the best of us!

The casting process was essentially executed with the use of filler/thickening powder used to bring resin to a thixotropic state, thus being able to apply it horizontally onto the mould. In effect, I applied two coats of thickened resin for a reasonably strong shell. After, I backed the resin with light glass matt. 

I left the resin to cure overnight. however winter temperature can effect the curing time so keep checking to test the resin shell hardness or increase catalyst to resin ratio on extra cold days. You can have an electric heater nearby to accelerate drying time, but may well increase electric bill!

To support the cured resin shell, I backed it with an expanding foam. Firstly, this made sure all areas of the shell were further supported and secondly to lighten the cast. 

After I filled any little unwanted holes with P38 car body filler. This is easy to sand.

All ready for the Paint job!

The Paint Job

This was particularly an issue as its hard to find any clear reference at all on the internet specifying the exact colors on the Fellbeast face’.  However I managed to find one image which indicated accurately around half of the specific colours and tones on the head; the rest I imagined what would be the likely colors/tones.

I began base coating in black acrylic, reason being that the majority of the head was silvery blue and green tones with only some yellow patches here and there. 

After I sprayed silver onto the black. Then blue and green thinned acrylic tones were airbrushed onto the scales. 

This method was to create fish scale-like tones that would give off a slippery feel to the skin. 

I painted in the eye with a fine artists brush; the eye colours being altered for artist licence.

Yellow acrylic was added to detail the skin on the underside of the head and added to form a perimeter around the eye, teeth and nose areas. The mouth area was airbrushed in three tones of reddish and orangey pinks. 

Lastly the teeth were airbrushed in white, then brown and yellow glazes. 

The final procedure was to seal the teeth and eyes. Then create glossy sections of scales.

To bring life to the eyes, I applied this epoxy resin. I find it brings depth and simply makes eyes more visually credible.

This piece is for sale. You can find it and all of the other work at http://www.all-original-art.com/.

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Robert Stannage

I have worked in the film industry as an artist for the last nineteen years, across several creative departments contracted out by major motion picture studios.

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