Creating a Star Wars Creature on Face Off

Rod Maxwell | August 27, 2012

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When Roy and I were asked to write a guest blog to be featured on StarWars.com, we were given the option to write it together or on our own. We decided to write something up on our own, then e-mail it to each other and see what we could come up with together. Well, Roy just e-mailed me his draft, and it cracked me up because we both basically said the same thing about our experience working with each other. It’s that synchronicity that worked so well for us as a team.

I too was amazed that when we teamed up and shared ideas on the Star Wars challenge, our concepts fit so well together. Neither of us had ever worked with each other before, we had no idea what the other was capable of. When he presented his exoskeleton idea, I was like, ‘you can do that?’ But it didn’t take long before it became clear that Roy was not only an extremely talented artist but he was also a master fabricator.

I am glad that Roy and I got to work together on this challenge. We are both from the same generation and saw the films when they were originally released. It was very nostalgic for the both of us. I remember being in junior high, recreating Yoda with slush latex, wooden balls painted like eyes, and mechanics made from dowels, springs and string. And although Yoda’s slush latex skin has long since deteriorated, I still have that makeshift ventriloquist-like controller on my shelf at home.

As a character designer, I love it when you can look at the creature or person and get a sense of who they are immediately. You not only know if they are good, bad, mischievous, or conniving… but somehow, as if magically, you know who they are, as if you personally know them and their life struggles. The more I know about a character’s background, the freer I am to come up with a design that has a full life of its own. It’s my childhood connection to Star Wars that gave me a lot of research material to pull from. Jabba the Hut’s personality had a strong influence on me for our character’s design, as well as the look and feel of the Cantina and its other patrons.

To be honest, I was shocked that we were able to pull it off. I had never worked so hard and so fast in such a short amount of time in my life. My biggest fear coming onto the show was the seemingly impossible timeframe contestants had to create full makeup designs. I like to take time to develop character concepts fully. I research, sketch, plan, and like experimenting with new ideas. Sculpting is usually a relaxing zen-like experience. That’s why when that timer went off, I literally hit the ground running. I wasn’t going to waste a single moment strolling to get clay. I treated every minute as if it was our last.

The challenge itself was a thrill on its own; Roy and I actually winning the challenge, incredible. The question now is, will Roy build me a mechno-arm to assist me in the next challenge? On Face Off, anything is possible.

On an all-new episode of Syfy’s Face Off Tuesday, August 28 at 9 p.m. ET/PT, the artists create original pirate makeups. In a Face Off first, the artist compete to win their very own pirate’s booty — $5,000.

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