View Full Version : HARDCORE MODELLING: Ray Harryhausen Tribute:The Harpies - Diorama

01 January 2007, 02:02 PM
I'll model the two Harpies clutching onto a free standing column, as seen in the first time they are featured in Jason and the Argonauts.

I plan on completing the model to a greater level of detail than the original models. By Harryhausen standards they were fairly crude. I'll probably lean on some of his other work to fill in some details, such as Medusa for the head.

First reference I'll be using is this nifty little chess piece figure I bought some time ago. Not especially accurate but it's a start.

It's only 4 inches tall but this company did a whole bunch of sculpts based on Harryhausen monsters. They're only really available on ebay now...

X-Plus Harryhausen Collection (

01 January 2007, 09:29 AM
Interesting choice Matt. Do you not fancy modelling the harpy straight up and rigging it? That way you could still do the seated pose on the pillar if you like, but you could also experiment with some more dynamic poses as well. Will follow the thread closely to see how you get on!

01 January 2007, 11:43 AM
Cool concept. I think this one will turn out cool. I think you are on the right track for taking it to the next level. (usign soem of his other existing works and suppliment it) take a look at hsi drawings if you can they are excellent.

01 January 2007, 02:58 PM
Cameo: It'll be rigged - I have to do two (I think there was 3 in the original tale... Harryhausen slacking as usual ;)

I've got an extension to that simple concept that should push it a bit further that I hope to have the time for - depends if any jobs show up to spoil the fun like last time. The idea is to also model Phineas clutching his food at the table in anticipation of them showing up. I've got a quick sketch I'll post later.

Dann-O: I've got the Animated Life book, it doesn't have many drawings in and the coverage of these creatures is limited. Can you think of anything specifically that might be useful?

01 January 2007, 12:04 AM
I have the DVD 7th voyage of sinbad and on it is the Harryhausen chronicles they show off a sopem of his drawings maybe do a screengrab. I don't think they showed the harpies though.

01 January 2007, 04:02 PM
Yeah, they don't get much coverage in general. I've got a few DVDs and they've all pretty much got the same documentaries on - nothing Harpy related Thanks anyway.

01 January 2007, 08:53 PM
A quicky concept sketch (my visual equivalent of quick notes, I'd be surprised if anyone can make anything of it... but I know what I mean :)
And a WIP. Most of the detail will be done with displacements, just need to get all the moving parts done such as the jaw, tongue and eyes.

01 January 2007, 10:03 AM
Yea nice start Matt. You should be able to get some nice scaley/warty skin effects with the displacements. Keep it up.

01 January 2007, 07:20 PM
Doooh, I knew I forgot something - I was taking photos at a movie museum and they have an actual harpy there, but I didn't get a photo. Are you going to use zBrush or sculpt the rest in your software package - mmm harpies. :)


02 February 2007, 06:44 PM
Looks like my broadband is back for keeps so I'm going to attempt to update with some WIPs.

Here's the rough layout as it stands - it's all there just to block it out, the textures are on just to give me scale. Harpies are just standins and Phineas is just the base mesh. If I have time I might open up the right hand side of the composition for some distant scenery...

Rod Seffen
02 February 2007, 07:10 PM
Wow, that's a really nice background. It looks like you used a plate from the movie)

02 February 2007, 08:22 PM
Cheers Odd. Not much there though, just one light set really high. Just to set the key light direction. Hopefully use colour and other lights to draw the viewers eye for the final piece.

Here's some grabs from Mudbox. I've stopped myself from going much further. I'm not sure what finish I want yet so I'm working on Phineas at the moment. I'm thiking of going really reptilian, like an Iguana. Some of those have got that blueish hue, I might go for that.

Rod Seffen
02 February 2007, 04:20 PM
Nice sculpting, I love the shot from the back, but I think you have a problem where you can't decide how much detail to put in, so you're ending up with more anatomy details in some places and less in others, which gives it a disjointed feel.
The arms and legs for example look very plain.

02 February 2007, 04:49 PM
Yeah, there's some disparity. I'm trying to keep with Ray's original vision, that of a beautiful womans bone structure and physique but reptilian skin and menacing aspect. Also in keeping with the period she's meant to be no skinny waif, so there's no visible ribs etc. I'm not sure I've quite got the hour-glass figure though, I might bulk her out a little more.

Problem is, I'm not sure the areas dealing with wings read well without the detail I've added.

Some of the definition is a little too sharp though, suggesting thinner skin than the rest of her, which isn't right, so I might smooth over some of that, hopefully it'll help.

02 February 2007, 09:31 AM
its really tricky keeping to the original designs, expecially when you think things would look so much better another way. i really like the back shot you have done, it looks well sculpted and true to how the muscle would work in that situation.

I guess thats whys its a harcore modelling challenge, keeping to the original design is a really hard thing to do.

02 February 2007, 05:29 PM
This is really starting to take shape Matt. Her hips, belly and bum have some nice volumes and I think the hour glass body shape is very fitting for these creatures, you could probably push it even more by adding weight to her neck, arms and legs.

02 February 2007, 02:02 PM
I thought I'd post some of the reference I've been using. I should point out I'm not changing anything about the design, merely adding detail that Ray couldn't provide due to the nature of the materials in use and of course the tiny size these things must have been. I've followed the proportions as best I can.

You can see Ray's concept sketch for the Harpies sequence below. They are quite well defined. The models are lacking in a lot of this detail, but he also changed the designs slightly, most notably giving them the strange long necks and more feminine figure. Sadly the faces on the final models are suggested at only, there's not a lot of detail there. ( ( (

02 February 2007, 11:45 PM
Quick update, largely prompted by everyone seemingly finishing theirs. Took some time away from Phineas to do the hair on the Harpies.

It'll be a close call for me as usual - bit off more than I could chew within the time available, but I'll get there eventually. (

02 February 2007, 01:34 AM
Very nice. I love the take on it. A bit more evil than Ray's.

02 February 2007, 12:01 PM
Hey Matt you've made some great progress while I've been away. Love the facial detail you added in Mudbox and the hair from the last wip looks great. Hope you can get it finished in time.

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