This articles is only based on the design of the creatures. If you want to read more about the creatures biology and place in the story.. click here.
Story about the design of the swamp creatures…
Fun fact, I am a huge Radiohead fan since forever, and also as huge fan of their designer Stanley Donwood. I had received the vinyl for their latest album in 2011, King Of Limbs.. an album I by the way liked… I was fascinated by the backside of their album with this freaky creature as the vinyl was on my desktop…
I thought it would be an interesting creature for another planet as I was writing the story. It looked very outlandish with its strange feet and haunting eyes. So I drew it right into my story.
It was quite a rip-off, I assume. I wasn’t sure if it mattered.. perhaps Stanley would have liked it. Perhaps I would have asked if I could use that design if it would have stayed that way.. For that time is was the first design in the first storyboard.
Here’s a picture from the first storyboard it when it runs into its cave.
I am not a very good artist though. Sometimes I do alright stuff, but at least it takes me a while to do anything decent. My background is varied, but I am most experienced in storytelling and directing… so it made sense to find someone who was better and was focused on design.
Frode Munkhaugen joined the production as a designer, and it was his challenge to develop the creature into something else.
First though. In earlier drafts there was a question of having a very rich fauna of animals on the planet. Which would have been fun, but for various reasons I won’t go into here I had to cut back on that idea, so there’s mainly just a couple of types of creatures.
Frode did a palette with creatures, some of them perhaps meant for the swamp creatures, some others. Some of these drawings I think is stuff he did even before joining the movie.
Click on it for a bigger picture.
None of these really went anywhere I think, but thats okay… There usually is a lot of trial and error and moving around in the dark before finding what you’re looking for, and some of the other designs had a much more bumpy ride.
As for the swamp creatures it was when he was re-doing the storyboard where the swamp creatures really started to take form into what they look like today. Here’s some pictures from the storyboard.
The new design still have some similarities with the original ones, but are more complex in detail.. and they’re probably for the better.. and I won’t fear being sued by Stanley Donwood either now, which is a plus (although that would have been interesting in a way too, I suppose).
I wanted to keep the haunting look in their eyes and the little odd combination of being a bit creepy and alienlike but still quite a cute-looking creature, and I think thats all still there.
Here’s a drawing with colors, which is a “fake production still”, as that was requested at the time.
Here’s another set of sketches. This one also has a draft of the cavesystem the creatures live in.
This one was the sketch the final draft drew out of.
Here is an early version of putting colors and details on it.
It looked a bit too much like a crab with its stomach and claws. Too much details, and a bit too skull-like too. Some stuff was removed and changed.
This one is the latest version, and is looking good so far.
(This is still in work, but will soon be completed.)