A Pokemon World

I don’t think that I could be doing a project involving designing creatures without mentioning my undying love for the Pokemon franchise.

I have had this strange fascination with fantastical creatures and drawing them ever since I was a child and I really owe this in part to Pokemon.

At a superficial glance, Pokemon are just these little creatures that 10 year olds collect and battle with. And whilst I won’t deny the collecting and battling aspect, there are a lot of deeper, sometimes very dark things running in the background whether this be the in game Pokemon encyclopaedia (the Pokedex), the various creepy locations throughout the series (most notably Lavender Town which was said to be responsible for several child suicides) or strange character backstories (or sometimes the lack of). Yes, like most Nintendo games, Pokemon is no exception to being subjected to some very dark undertones whilst, on the surface, being a vibrant and wonderful land filled with adventure and friendship.

There’s a lot of Pokemon that are directly influenced by people’s existence in that world. There’s even some Pokemon that were artificially created such as Mewtwo and Porygon.

Porygon, a Pokemon created with computer code and was also the star Pokemon of the banned Pokemon episode that caused children to have seizures.
Mewtwo – ‘It was created by a scientist after years of horrific gene-splicing and DNA-engineering experiments.’ Pokemon X and Y Poked.
This cute little blob is Ditto and it is able to take on the form of any Pokemon. It is unknown whether or not it is an artificial Pokemon.


Aside from the three Pokemon listed above, there are couple of Pokemon that relate more closely to my project thematically speaking.

The first two being Trubbish and Garbodor.

Trubbish (right) and Garbodor (left) are a pair of Pokemon found in a Pokemon region inspired by the real life America. As you can probably tell, these two Pokemon are based on trash found in the big city. In fact the Pokedex says ‘the combination of garbage bags and industrial waste caused the chemical reaction that created this Pokémon.’ They are also said to follow people who litter around to eat their trash. 
‘Born from sludge, these Pokémon now gather in polluted places and increase the bacteria in their bodies.’ This is Grimer’s entry in the Pokedex, just like Trubbish and Garbodor, this Pokemon is influenced by the way that the inhabitants of the Pokemon world live. 

I hope that by showing you these examples as to why I am so interested in them. What they show is how you can use the creatures in a game or a story to convey even more story or world building. Whilst my characters aren’t existing in the same way that the Pokemon exist in theirs, they are creatures that are being used to develop a narrative about the wider world, just like Pokemon like Muk and Ditto develop a narrative about theirs wether it be pollution or controversial genetic mutations.


‘Plastic In Our Ocean’

‘Plastic In Our Ocean’ is a t-shirt design by a street artist called Mau Mau. It is all about plastic pollution in the sea.

I found his work in a copy of The Big Issue and I was really interested to see how someone else had looked at this topic.

I think that Mau Mau’s piece is very effective because it is really easy to understand which is very important since it is on a t-shirt. I think some t-shirt designs can be a bit confusing to work out. This one on the other hand is very clear and has an inviting illustrative aesthetic that conveys a serious topic without it being overly grim and I think that can be the difference between people getting on board with something like this or not. I think if you present the problem you’re trying to raise awareness of in an overly serious, or catastrophic way, people might lose hope in trying to solve the problem and stay ‘well I guess there’s no point trying if it’s already that bad’.


The Last Clay Creature

Ideated that I wanted to have one last attempt at making a creature out of clay. I didn’t want it to be as big as the last one and I really wanted to make the face look more alive.

I think I managed to give my fish more expression and facial muscles this time which I was happy with. I wanted it to look angry and I think it does. 
I was making some limbs for the fish.
I realised after making these limbs that they were way too long and so I had to scrap them.
My finished fish. This one is definitely my best yet and it was encouraging to see the result because even though I have a long way to go, I feel like I’m getting there slowly. 

The Kaiju

Kaiju is the Japanese word for ‘strange creature’ or, as we would more commonly say in English, ‘monster’.

Godzilla is probably the thing we might first think of when we think of ‘kaiju’. He the king of monsters and is the manifestation of the sheer destruction and terror brought on by the atomic bombs that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It represents the mindless big scale destruction that humans are capable of unleashing on one another.

Above is the original ‘man in the suit’ Godzilla. It’s easy to laugh at especially these days at the costuming here, but try to bare in mind that this was made in Japan less than 20s years after the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.Godzilla-1954-III_2898601b

Above is the original ‘man in the suit’ Godzilla. It’s easy to laugh at especially these days at the costuming here, but try to bare in mind that this was made in Japan less than 20s years after the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Scenes from the film involve cramped hospitals, irradiated children and burning buildings. Burning buildings may well be par for the course when it comes to a kaiju/monster/disaster movie but there’s something about knowing the background to this particular rendition that makes it a little uncomfortable.

It may seem strange to talk about the kaiju here but it actually holds a lot of relevance to my cited project. The idea behind my project is to create these creatures/characters that might represent the problems of the real world. They may look cartoonish or even cute depending on my final designs but they are quite serious in nature. I think the challenge can be to make sure that behind the appearance people can see the issues being addressed because it’s easy to watch something like the Godzilla films (especially the latest ones from the West) and view it as mindless entertainment because the real values and ideas being upheld by the original has been lost somewhere in the mix.

I want my creatures to look approachable and not too gruesome on the outside but for the implications to be a bit unsettling and like the 1954 Godzilla film, for people to understand their impact on the world around them.

Making a Monster

I decided that I wanted try making something in clay to start getting an idea of how my characters/creatures might look in 3D.

I started making it by using a coiling technique and then pinched bits of clay and blending them together. Once I had the overall shape, I added details like the scales and fins.

The idea behind this creature was that it could be this giant bipedal creature that could just walk out the ocean and wreak havoc. I’m not sure if this would make it to my final piece because I’m worried it might be seen to be too similar to Godzilla, I’m also not as fond of the design as some of my other characters that I think look more fun and quirky whilst holding the weight of what I’m saying.


Overall, I’m happy with how it turned out considering I really haven’t done that much modelling before. There are definitely improvements that I need to make such as adding more character to the features. I also think I need to work on the way I’ve added some of the details such as the lines of the fins because I don’t really like how I did that.

Making Miniatures

One of the ideas I had for my project was to make miniatures that could be assembled by people and then painted.

I have had a lot of exposure to this kind of thing in my life because my dad has always been into miniatures and I have always admired how well done the models are. I knew I wasn’t going to manage anything on that level but I thought that I could give it a try anyway.

I thought that the simple nature of the creatures I had designed might lend themselves well to being rendered like this because I do not have much experience with this kind of things and have never been very confident with it.

The plan was I could use some white oven bake clay to make the ‘master’ copy of the model and I could then cast lots of them.

I started by making them out of the clay. I found this bit difficult because I have never been good and sculpting with modelling clay.

Here are some of the pieces for the crab. I tried to make it so that they might fit together but this didn’t really go too well.

I wasn’t really sure how I felt about the models after I had baked them so I decided not to continue with it. Admittedly I probably should have continued doing them and seen what they were like once they were painted, but I wasn’t really happy with the design or how they looked so I decided I wouldn’t pursue it any further.

A photo of all the different parts for the models I made. 

Photocopier Experiments

Whilst I was trying to figure out how do go about designing some of my creatures, I decided to experiment with the photocopier I have at home.

I wanted it to be sea themed so that I would be able to use it as a reference or base for something but I started off by playing around with my beetle necklace.

I tried a couple of different materials. I used tracing paper which worked extremely well although my printer hated printing onto it and I of course used normal paper and I also tried acetate but that didn’t work at all because the ink just wouldn’t dry on the surface.

The way I did it was by putting my necklace onto the photocopying bed and then dragging the charm along the scanner part (I don’t know the name for that part). In doing so the print came out looking all distorted and weird.

My first attempt at messing around with the photocopier. 
On this print I was able to make my beetle necklace look like a centipede or something weird by dragging it along the photocopier bed. 
Second attempt with crumpled tracing paper. The necklace looks kind of creepy in this one. 

Once I had finished figuring out what I could do with the photocopier by playing around with the necklace. I decided I would have a go with some spiced octopus I bought from a deli counter. They were pretty slimy so I put a layer of acetate down in order to protect the copier. I then repeated the steps I used with the beetle.

I was able to create more interesting things with the octopus because I had more of them.

This was my favourite print. It got a little jammed in the printer but it was worth it because the way the octopus goes from clearly an octopus to something barely recognisable was really fun to play around it with. 
This one was done with a layer of tracing paper. The slime from the octopus made the tracing paper go transparent in places creating this feeling of steamed up glass and a the distorted nature of it looks like something H. P. Lovecraft might have cooked up. 
This was again with crumpled tracing paper. 
This was one I printed on tracing paper, you can probably see how my printer hated me for that. 
I didn’t try to do anything special with this one, I just wanted to test how the octopus would photocopy and how best to do it. What I found was it looked better when I left the lid up although it did mean I needed to wear sunglasses to protect my eyes. 
This was my first attempt. On this one I put the lid down and it made the background too light for my liking so I learned that I needed to leave it in order to create that slightly strange, unnerving feel. 

Overall I was really happy with these and I actually found it a lot of fun to do. I would like to see what other kinds of prints and weird things I can do with the photocopier.