The Empty Man

Back in 2016, I was honored to be recommended by Alec Gillis, which led to my collaboration with director David Prior in bringing the Empty Man to life. Guided by David's notes, I assumed the role of designing and sculpting the cave skeleton and making contributions to the ''manifestation'' creature. The Empty Man is based on a comic book series created by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Vanesa R. Del Rey, published by Boom! Studios.


On the trail of a missing girl, an ex-cop comes across a secretive group attempting to summon a terrifying supernatural entity.

The Empty Man | Trailer

“The Empty Man” is a supernatural horror film based on a popular series of Boom! Studios graphic novels.

My design work for The Empty Man

A video showing the work I did for The Empty Man.

Cave Skeleton V01

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 mentioned some of his paintings for reference. He also mentioned the Space Jockey in Alien. I used those inspirations and added my own spin to it.  

Skeleton 3D Concept

Within a relatively short period of time I designed and sculpted a 3D model in ZBrush. I rendered a few render passes in Modo and composited them in Photoshop. 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 refined the sculpt closer to my concept.

3D Print

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.

KeyShot Rendering

KeyShot Rendering

KeyShot Rendering

Manifestation V01

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.

Manifestation 3D Concept

I came up with the idea of a shape shifting being that mimics a human form. I made the clothing very organic looking and tried to blend it with the body. Like an organism that mimics the silhouette of a human being, gathered with bits from various victims over the years.

Manifestation V02

David explained to me, I should think about The Empty Man himself as the physical manifestation of the main character’s guilt and grief. He suggested to add elements of the character’s wife into the design, and also elements that harken to death and sadness.

Manifestation V03

Manifestation V04

Manifestation V05

Final Confrontation

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.