Cave Skeleton V01
When David asked me to design the cave skeleton, it was sort of a last minute call as he was close to shooting the cave sequence and he hadn't a design yet. The main qualities David was looking for were ''ancient age, authority, menace, and subtly more than human''. In my first pencil sketch, I drew the skeleton in a strange sitting position with its hands on the ground. I also added unusual long toes and strange bony structures that grew out of its rip cage, merging with the rock.
Cave Skeleton V02
David loved my first sketch but wondered if there was a way to justify the arms being in such a position that it might have been holding, and even playing, a flute. David is a fan of Polish painter Zdzislaw Beksinski and sent me some of his paintings for reference. He also mentioned the Space Jockey in Alien. I used those inspirations and tried to add my own spin to it.
My initial 3D model was very rough, I mainly used it as a base that I overpainted in Photoshop. Once it was decided that my 3D model was going to be printed, I had to refine the sculpt closer to my concept. Near the end it was decided to remove the flute, to make it look more like a praying position. My 3D model got then 3D printed and built on set by production designer Craig Lathrop and his team.
It was important to David that the ominous figure of the Empty Man feels sinister, but also not too sinister so that reasonable people would flee if it showed up on the street. In brief, I had to come up with a menacing figure that could pass as a vagrant but is actually a supernatural entity comprised of guilt, grief and death, all wrapped up in a silhouette that has iconic power and archetypal weight. It had to be truly frightening that feels at once familiar yet unique.
David liked the asymmetry and bony structure that I put into the designs and wondered if there’s something it could do in the final confrontation, some kind of gag. I made another 3D concept showing the rib-like bones, that cover the chest cavity, uncurl like spider legs and reach toward the hero.