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The Angel of Death

 

It is all the same to me, my heart is filled with dust and sand.

As with many other key characters of Hellboy II, the Angel of Death was first envisioned by Guillermo Del Toro as a notebook sketch. From there, the character went through different iterations at the hands of concept artists like Wayne Barlowe, and ended up being art-directed by Norman Cabrera at Spectral Motion.

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The Last Elemental

It is an elemental. A giver of life and a destroyer. A forest god.

Mister Wink’s demise enrages Prince Nuada — who unleashes a Forest Elemental to kill Hellboy. The creature first appears in a small, bean-like shape; upon contact with water, it grows into an immense, 100-foot tall tentacular plant-like monster.

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Wonders of the Troll Market and Beyond – Part 2

A Hungarian mine cave housed the gigantic Troll Market set, one of the biggest built for Hellboy II — a vibrant, busy environment filled with practical and digital creatures — which Del Toro wanted to deviate from usual design standards. “Each artist was free to bring forth as many sketches of creatures as they wanted,” Del Toro explained. “The only condition was to veer away from ‘movie monsters’ and make the creatures more surreal and exotic, reference things other than film: engravings from the middle ages, Hieronymus Bosch, the arabian tales, etc, etc. Barlowe had the best batting average… 8 out of 10 of his designs made it to the screen. But we treated these creatures like extras. We seldom, if ever showcased them — I felt this was crucial to treat the market like you would any other location… to make it real.”

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Mister Wink

Mister Wink — Prince Nuada’s musclebound henchman troll — was born as a drawing in one of director Guillermo Del Toro’s notebooks: an ape-like humanoid with a large prosthetic mechanical hand that could be deployed from the arm through a chain and then retracted. As defined by concept artist Wayne Barlowe, “his huge artificial arm and hand seem like a direct counterpoint to Hellboy’s Right Hand of Doom.” The mechanical arm and hand also served the purpose of making Mr. Wink visually belong to Hellboy’s world.

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Wonders of the Troll Market and Beyond – Part 1

 

 

Although the first Hellboy film was rich in creature effects — both practical and digital — its sequel increased the workload with an ambitious roster of monstrous characters. To design the creatures and bring them to the screen, work was split between Spectral Motion, Solution Studios, Creature FX and DDT Efectos Speciales. Creature designs started from sketches by director Guillermo del Toro or Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, and then passed over at the companies for further refinement and selection of effects methods that could portray them effectively. Certain creatures were entirely practical or digital, whereas others employed both effects systems. Certain expedients used in Pan’s Labyrinth — such as the use of green screen creature suit portions that would be erased in post-production — were also recycled for the project.

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Monster Gallery: Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

Las Criaturas del Laberinto del Fauno

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El Laberinto del Fauno (inappropriately translated overseas as Pan’s Labyrinth) was independently written, produced and directed by Guillermo del Toro, with a budget of approximately 16 million dollars. The film’s effects were created by Everett Burrell’s CafeFX — which animated the digital effects — and David Marti’s DDT Efectos Speciales — which built the extensive practical effects. Since the beginning of the project, Del Toro established Victorian Illustrator Arthur Rackham’s art pieces — which represent fantasy characters in dark and seemingly emotionless atmospheres — as the main visual inspiration for the film. In its conceptual stage, the film featured a greater number of creatures compared to its final incarnation. Several characters were excised from the script, including a Nerve Ghost (Fantasma de Nervios) and a Goat Monster (Monstruo Cabrion).

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Monster Gallery: Don’t be Afraid of the Dark (2011)

Exclusive: Art of Darkness

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Magazine Journalist Joe Nazzaro had composed an article regarding the design and realization of the homunculi from the 2010 remake of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. Written for Monsterpalooza Magazine — which eventually went no further than its first issue — it was left unused. As an Exclusive to Monster Legacy, Joe Nazzaro was kind enough to pass it over and make it available here. Read on!

Art of Darkness

Troy Nixey and Guillermo del Toro

lead a team of artists on Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark

By Joe Nazzaro

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Abraham Sapien

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Abraham Sapien (holotype of the species Icthyo sapien) was named after Abraham Lincoln, as he was found in a basement in Washington DC, inside a water capsule with a note reporting the very date of the president’s death. The character first appeared in the Seed of Destruction arc of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy comics — and was featured in Guillermo del Toro’s film adaptations. Abe is, in fact, the director’s favourite character from the comic series. As per the other creature effects of the film, he was brought to life by Spectral Motion.

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