Copyright 2019 Howard Gardner
In February 2016 I was commissioned to build a 3D model head resembling the alien creatures from John Carpenter's 1988 science fiction thriller They Live; being a huge fan of Carpenter's work this appealed to me greatly!
I worked on this commission alone over a period of approximately one week, initially starting with a generic human head polygonal template in Autodesk Mudbox and sculpting it with the various modelling tools. I used a number of stills from the movie for reference, as well as images of various replica props I found on the internet. I used a number of real-world textures to add realism to the surfaces, such as photographs of muscles, meat and animal skin. The eyes and teeth were modelled separately and later combined as a group.
After importing the models into Maya, I added realistic looking n-Hair, styled to the client's specification and the head was rigged to allow a limited range of eye and jaw movements - at least more facial movements than the original latex mask would have been capable of!
Another part of the brief was to recreate in 3D the 'special sunglasses' famously worn in the film by 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper. I researched exactly what kind of shades he'd worn but this seems to be the subject of a lot of mystery and debate among fans; my best guess is that the props team gave him a generic pair of cheap plastic shades from a thrift shop and the exact type is now lost with time.
Using stills from the movie and some of the aforementioned internet arguments, I constructed this model for my client using polygonal modelling within Maya. It is rigged to allow repositioning of the arms.