Friday, May 14, 2021

Blast From the Past - Concept Design for Harv the Barbarian (2004)

In 2004, when I still lived and worked in Los Angeles designing and making monsters for TV and movies, I did some design work for the never-made movie Harv the Barbarian. What is Harv the Barbarian, you might ask? Well, it was an unmade epic starring Rob Schneider and was co-written by SNL legend Jack Handey. You don't believe me? In digging through my archives and doing a little searching on the net, I found an article from 2014 regarding the script. In the article, it even mentions the "Mystery Worm of Atlantis, a sixty-foot-long, five-foot-thick worm that uses its ability to projectile vomit as a weapon, in the gladiator arena," which is the same monster that I did design work on. 

I am getting a little ahead of myself. By late 2004 I had worked in LA for some time and had produced a great deal of work for the shop I was exclusively working at. In all that time, I never received so much as a bonus or pay increase of any kind. If I wanted more, I worked more hours. Once again, I found myself asking my boss for some sort of raise to make the lean times out there more manageable. Again I was turned down for a straightforward pay increase, but I was allowed to work for free on my own time on concept designs involving a pitch for a new movie. If the shop got the movie, then I would get my raise. To be clear, I was asked to make unpaid spec work for my boss to get a job with no guarantee of composition for me. I was desperate and agreed. I did a great deal of work on a giant monster called the Mystery Worm of Atlantis that would fight Rob Schneider in a gladiator stadium. On the surface, it sounds fun and a great opportunity, except for that not getting paid part and being taken advantage of.

Long story short, I did a lot of work, like, a LOT of work. I produced a series of concepts for the Worm that I can no longer find and a final painting of the design that the boss picked. After all that work, nothing happened, the movie was never made, the shop never got the work, and I never got a raise. In early 2005 I left LA. This project was just one of the many reasons that led me to the decision. Here is the end result of all that work.

Mystery Worm of Atlantis Concept
Digital - 2004

Looking back now, all I can see is a bad painting of an almost interesting monster design that was executed poorly. I hardly knew anything about painting, let alone digital painting, in 2004. I had so much to learn, and thankfully, I learned a lot in the coming decade. I was in way over my head with this project, but I was desperate, and desperation sometimes provides the drive to break through your comfort zone and try new things. Sometimes desperation has you making poor choices like accepting spec work. There is no point in spending time breaking down everything wrong with this piece. I was much younger than I am now and knew a lot less. I can do much better now. That is hopefully how things should work. Let us look at this as a snapshot from September 2004 and the work I was doing in LA in the film industry. Here are a series of process images that I found in my archives.

I will be honest; this thumbnail is my favorite part of the entire process and the work I did on it. There is better handling of the anatomy and composition here. There is a lot more movement over all that was lost as I worked on it.

Final pencil drawing
I might have this somewhere, but I have not seen this drawing since 2004, so it is likely lost.

The painting taking shape
I actually learned a fair deal working on this piece. A keen eye can see how the image changed and how different aspects evolved as I found better ways to work and improve what I was doing. I have no time or reason to do so, but I wonder how I would approach this monster and this painting today if I had to do it as the artist I am today.

That is all for another exciting week on the blog. I will be taking next week off on the blog, so don't expect anything new until the following week. Until then...

For more samples of my work or to contact me regarding my availability, head over to my website:

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