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Godzilla: Side View

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By filbarlow   |   
Published: June 27, 2011
© 2011 - 2020 filbarlow
Here is my design of Godzilla that was used in the production of the 1998 animated show.
I included a human and car for scale.

Prior to the movie coming out I worked in secret, designing Godzilla ahead of the rest of the crew.
I didn't use any photographs to create the Godzilla model sheets, relying only on sketches I had done from a maquette kept under security at the Sony lot and from a 3 story high working animatronic head at Patrick Tatopoulos' hangar workshop in Culver City that I saw once. I deliberately refused photographs of Godzilla to protect myself against blame should any images be leaked.

In 1998 when production began on the animated show the movie still had not been released, so the code name we used was Heatseekers. The storyboards had to be kept at the rough stage and were based off a false model sheet that I had prepared. I did this version with no detail, just a similar body proportion and an incorrectly shaped head. Once the movie was released so was the correct model sheet and the storyboards could be put on model and cleaned up.
Image size
1000x696px 274.82 KB
IMAGE DETAILS
Software
Adobe Photoshop CS4 Windows
Comments123
anonymous's avatar
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Pyrus-Leonidas's avatar
I still love the animated series, I wish they would do a remastered series.
gojirason's avatar
I always did love this show growing up. And now that I'm older I appreciate it even more. The look and feel to the style is not something I feel like I've seen really anywhere else. Plus, a lot of the dialogue went over me head as a 5-8 year-old. XD
Even now I'm sad they never actually came out with toys for it!

The scale in this image has me interested, but also a bit confused, since the car and the person don't really seem to be in scale with each other, if you'll forgive me for saying so. Plus he's drawn rather inconsistently in the show; sometimes he's over 600 feet tall! Then in the next shot he'll be a fraction of that size.

Since the production is generally fascinating to me, I can't help but ask; were you given any strict guidelines by Sony/anybody else on how large he was supposed to be, specifically? I know the movie had this big campaign where they would advertise how big he was supposed to be ("his foot is as long as this bus", "he's as long as five train cars", so on and so forth). Were you asked to preserve those, and/or given some basic stats, left to yourself to figure it out? Was he supposed to be the same as the one from the movie in concept, or were you specifically asked to change his size to something else? I know you said you were allowed some freedom (you did a great job on pushing his design, by the way. More than just improve his appearance from Tatopoulos's design, you really captured something appropriate for his character and role in the show) so I was just curious if that was part of it.
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
In animation there is a lot of poetic license, it's just drawings after all. So one Director's team might make the monsters appear larger or smaller than another team. We're just figuring all out as we go along, there's no exact science and back then I was the only Lead Designer with a computer. The one constant was that Richard Raynis, the brains behind the show, told the Directors to always keep the camera angles low on the creatures, avoid high angles. Richard directed the Opening Titles and I helped him with storyboards.

They gave me a measurement, I saw some sculptures, For example in an old aircraft hanger (that used to belong to Howard Hughs) a three story high Godzilla torso that pneumatically ate an actual car. So I had a pretty good idea. Then I was left to figure it out. All of my Godzilla (the creature) designs were approved by Centropolis and initially Patrick, all the sizing on my model sheets were approved by them. Once I had Patrick's confidence I never had to show him another model. Once the movie bombed, I never had to run anything by Centropolis again. So any size inconsistencies in the creature design are largely my fault. Any size discrepancies in the animation have nothing to do with me.
gojirason's avatar
Ah, back when computers weren't everywhere and digital art wasn't such a huge thing. I'm just old enough to understand that. Kids these days will never know what that was like.

Do you remember what the measurement(s) was? I assume it was for the movie creature, yes? Were you aiming at that with any kind of intent? Aside from poetic license, of course. I also imagine you yourself never stuck numbers on your model sheets? I assume you were more after the look of massiveness rather than depicting a certain specific size literally.
Do you have any other scaled images or roughs of Godzilla and/or other monsters from the series? I'm a huge geeky sucker for that sort of thing, so I'd be really interested in seeing them, if you have them and are willing to share.

Man, that animatronic must have been so cool. That was the 1/6th scale model right? There was a 1/24 scale suit too, I think, right? Did you get to see that? I always feel a little sad to see production photos of these great looking miniature sets and suits and animatronics, and see the movie and how so very little of that came through. It probably would have aged a bit better, since old CGI becomes dated very quickly. Not that I'm a rubber suit purist or anything like that, I'm really not. But I really do appreciate practical effects and the craftsmanship behind them when they work well.

Oh, I know the animation inconsistencies are not on you. XD
I don't actually have anything up on DeviantArt, personally, but I'm working on art for a video game startup, and after a lot of trial and error we've decided on traditional hand-drawn animations for the main character. I could tell you some silly stories about the creation of the player character's model sheet, and off-model animations and corrections. C'est la vie, eh? I can only imagine what that's like with the sheer quantity of content producing a show like that entails.

(Of course, we do everything on computers, so everything's easier. :P)
MechanicOrga's avatar
MechanicOrgaHobbyist General Artist
I got a big confused at first, especially when looking at this image for size: orig12.deviantart.net/4c6c/f/2…

I guess he was a bit younger in this scene, right?
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
What confused you? Yeah he/she did grow up in the first episode.
Pinkyycerebroful's avatar
Zilla1998plz That's a lot of fish
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
Yes.
Reptek's avatar
ReptekStudent General Artist
Woah, he's that big?! I think I've fainted. 

But he still looks awesome, and that's a nice job of drawing him (even for just a reference)! :D (Big Grin) 
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
Yeah the storyboard artists were freaking out at the beginning of production, how could they show Godzilla in the same frame as the human characters.
Reptek's avatar
ReptekStudent General Artist
I can see why! Just out of curiosity, is this one of your favorite characters that you designed?  :o (Eek) 
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
Honestly I don't feel that I designed Godzilla, Patrick Tatopoulos designed this Godzilla, I just modified it for animation. :)

Godzilla was a bit of a chore to draw, challenging when a deadline is looming, which is why I never managed to ink in those expressions.

Reptek's avatar
ReptekStudent General Artist
Yet, you did it, and people around here still like what you drew, myself included. But from the sound of it, you wouldn't do this again anytime soon. 
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
Well, I have creatures in 8House: Yorris that are equally complex, I have more time and I'm probably a glutton for punishment, and these creatures are completely my own design.

Now that I've had a think about it, I realize why the Godzilla design was such a chore, it was the first creature I did in the new style that I was developing for the show. As I got more practiced, the creatures became slightly easier to do. However Cybergodzilla was also a pain in the neck. I can draw creatures much easier now because after Godzilla I did some for Heavy Gear, a few for Max Steel and much more complex ones for Roughnecks.

I was wondering why the creatures in Yorris were such a breeze to do, no approval process and the experience paid off. Interesting.
Thank you for helping figure that out! :D
Reptek's avatar
ReptekStudent General Artist
You're welcome, and I hope to see more of your drawings in the future (they're really cool)! :D (Big Grin) 
MechanicOrga's avatar
MechanicOrgaHobbyist General Artist
Hello mr Barlow! I just wanted to say that I really admire your artwork and art style, especially the work you did on Godzilla: The Series! There's something about the style which resonates with me a lot. I watched the series non-stop when I was a lil' kid, and I still love it! It must be the factor of nostalgia, haha.

Also I was snooping around in the comments section of this artwork; I completely understand why you wouldn't attempt drawing the Japanese version of Godzilla, especially with so many whiny elitist fans, haha. I'm actually tempted to have a go at drawing one of the incarnations whilst applying your style, so that you don't get flamed for it. What do you think? :D

P.S. I've seen some other people around DA actually recreate Toho monsters through that of your art stylee, and I  have to say that they look very spiffy, and I think they' relate to your style very much! ouo
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
Much appreciated, and I'm glad that you still enjoy the animation. We really did try to make shows that had some lasting value.

Well, I've done my time with Hollywood, and I've moved on. So it feels like going back over old ground for me.
However, I've made a concession, a surprise in my new comic for Image called 8house: Yorris which will be available in June of this year.

Please, feel free to draw whatever you want, it won't bother me.
Play, reinvent have some fun, that's what art is for! :)
280077s's avatar
I have to give you major props for the work you did, and for putting up with the completely unwarranted and hateful comments by Godzilla fans. All the hate the 1998 movie and the series gets depresses the crap out of me honestly. Its like these haters don't have anything better to do than just spout negativity and try to ruin ( intentionally or unintentionally, I don't know) the love people have for the 1998 movie and animated series.
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. It has been an education posting my Godzilla work on DA. On one hand I never knew that there was any community for, or against, the TV show. I didn't like the movie when it came out, in fact I don't know anyone on the animation production who did, but we saw our role as taking a franchise that Sony saw as a failure and making something of value from it, a noble cause. Keep in mind that when we began, the movie hadn't come out and Sony had unrealistically high hopes for the films success. Had the film performed well we might be having a completely different conversation.

Posting on DA has taught me about the nature of "fandom". Personally I don't like the work "fan", because I don't like any association with loosing control of one's senses, as in "fanatic" which is the origin of the word. After years of thinking about the responses that I have been getting on DA I have reached a decision to downplay the word "fan" and prefer to see you all as "friends of my art".

What I have also discovered, to my surprise, is that "fans" are very selective, they seem to like ONLY the thing that they bonded to as children to the exclusion of everything else. I liken this to a baby bird "imprinting" on the first thing it sees. Ironically like Godzilla does to Dr. Nick Tatopoulos in the movie and in our animated series. Children "imprint" and whatever they fall in love with stays with them as something of wonder for the rest of their lives. In this strange age the imprinted adults now label themselves as "fanatics" of their childhood love.

I have learned that fanatics are a double edged sword. As long as they see things that please them they will support the creator, or for that matter Hollywood actor, but once the person steps out of the defined parameters, fanatics will, like Godzilla, rampage, rage and destroy what they don't like. How many Hollywood actors are currently being ripped to shreds right now simply for being human. Heaven forbid if a female star has Photoshop enhanced cellulite! What a ridiculous age we live in.

We all have likes and dislikes, we can't all be the same, and that is a good thing. I would hate to live in a world where everyone liked the same thing. I have always stood for diversity, my main project Zooniverse is all about diversity, embraces it. Here's the interesting thing, very few of my animation fanatics have seen, or cared to look at my personal project that caught the eye of Hollywood. Even though the links are always under my comments, how few of you have bothered to follow the links?

The most interesting thing that I have learned about fanatics, is that they wear blinkers, there are people who only look at my work for Godzilla, and not XGB, or Tutenstein. There are Tutenstein fans who are disinterested in any other work that I have done. Even though the same hand was behind it all, I find that my work has been compartmentalized and I am expected to divide myself between projects when I comment and post. How can I have favorites when I am proud of all my work.  

Lastly I am not a "fan" of the shows that I have worked on, this seems inconceivable to fanatics who forget that when I began work on all of these shows there were no fans! No one knew, and I worked in a vacuum, pulling designs out of a blank page. It was a job, I was a hired hand. If I'd been given a choice I would never have worked on these shows, I didn't even think animation was capable of being faithful to my designs. I certainly didn't work on these shows solely for money. The only reason I worked in animation was the empty promise that my personal project Zooniverse might be produced next. I'm stupid and it took decades for me to figure out that Hollywood had no interest in my personal work, so I returned home to Australia to dedicate the remainder of my life to Zooniverse.

Please don't worry about the hateful and hurtful things that people write, they are only words. I'm 51 years old, and at my age I couldn't give a crap about what kids say in the schoolyard. That's the nice thing about getting older, you care less about all the things that lather up the youth. I can enjoy projects, films and TV shows just as much as anyone else, but I'm not going to be bothered if someone doesn't like the same films as I do.

Oh and if you'll notice I will never use the term "Zilla" to describe my work on Godzilla, that was the legitimate name of the show, sanctioned and approved by Toho, people need to grow up, you're adults now!
Durendal5150's avatar
Durendal5150Hobbyist Writer
With any piece of work based on an existing idea, and especially one like this based on an existing IP, it's depressingly common for people's criticisms to fall, not on the merits or quality of the work, but just on the basis of, "This isn't precisely like the one I liked best."

Your point about just straight up disliking the word "Fan" is a thought provoking one as well. ^^
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
I agree completely.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my post. :)
280077s's avatar
Thanks very much for your in-depth reply, it means a lot. Thanks for giving me the courage to call Godzilla Godzilla, that also means a lot, because when you think about it, Zilla was the name given to a parody version of the 1998 movie for the film Godzilla:final wars, and the film makers hardly gave that creature a chance against their Godzilla. Anyway, thank you for taking the time to speak with me, a friend of your work.
filbarlow's avatar
filbarlowProfessional Filmographer
Thank you for being so supportive :)
280077s's avatar
You are most welcome, a friend in art is always a friend of mine :)
anonymous's avatar
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