The Maze Runner

In late 2012, director Wes Ball hired me to design the mechanical creatures called Grievers for the film. Besides the Grievers, I also worked on several Maze, Beetle Blade and Crank designs. Later Method Studios came on board and used my designs for the VFX.  

The Maze Runner

Thomas is deposited in a community of boys after his memory is erased, soon learning they're all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow "runners" for a shot at escape.

The Maze Runner | Trailer

The mysteries of the Maze hold them hostage. Watch the official trailer for The Maze Runner.

My design work for The Maze Runner

A video showing the Griever concept designs I did for The Maze Runner.

First Test Design

At the very beginning it was planned to make the Grievers as big robotic machines. However I had already created this Test Design, before I got the job, which showed the hybrid creature idea from the novel. I presented the design to Wes and he loved it. I pretty much completed the design in this first concept, we only added a few attachments afterwards in order to make them more threatening. Slugs and coconut crabs were big influences for me in finding the overall body shape. The head is a mixture of caterpillars, bulldogs and piranhas.

Griever Torso

In the novel, the Grievers are described as big bulbous slugs. The challenge was to turn a slug into a bloodthirsty beast. Additionally I tried to come up with an interesting anatomy.

Sensors

Some pencil sketches of the Griever head with sensors.

Pose Sketches

I did plenty of these different pose sketches, which illustrated how the creature could move.

Mechanical tail

Wes already had many action scenes in his mind and asked me to add a mechanical scorpion tail into the Design. That meant I had to change the body structure. I made the body lower on the ground and adjusted the little arms.

Final hero design

Final colored hero design, after some changes.

Mechanical spine

Unused Concept.

Light Dots

Since we see the Grievers mostly in the dark, Wes wanted to find a way to illuminate them with some kind of 'light dots' and sensors. This is one of a few options that I sent to him. One idea was to put these lights underneath the slightly translucent skin which would constantly move in one direction.

Mechanical tail

Pencil Concept.

Lurking Griever

After the design was almost done, Wes asked me to create an illustration showing a Griever inside the maze. I drew various different ideas, it was at the same time my first maze concept.

Early Griever Scribbles

Some of my rough pen and copic scribbles.

Climbing up

This keyframe shows Thomas trying to escape a Griever by climbing up a wall.

Griever Thumbnails

Some fast color thumbnails, showing a Griever inside the Maze.

Griever Blueprint

Pencil drawing of the mechanical legs with the correct proportions, used to create the 3D Griever model.

Griever Anatomy

3D Concept.

Closing mouth

3D Concept.

Open Mouth

3D Concept.

Griever Chase

Concept painting I did for Wes when he pitched the Griever Design at the studio.

Early Beetle Blade variations

The Beetle Blades didn't end up in the film, but I had a blast working on them. There were a few fun scenes in the script. Wes described them as the 'observation cameras' from the maze, therefore I attempted to make the design very functional. At the very beginning we thought about making them bio-mechanical, similar to the Grievers. Wes wanted something like a mutated and scary looking sowbug.

Beetle Blade sketches

Although we later decided to make them robotic, I tried to give them a scary organic look. I gave them a translucent shell to show the mechanics inside its body.

Final Beetle Blade design

Final design of the Beetle Blades. (All painted in Photoshop.)

Cranks

This was originally my take on the 'Changing', based on the book descriptions. The design got used for the Cranks later on.

Storyboard

From left to right.

Maze

Random Maze Concept.

Courtyard

The challenge was to come up with an hiding place in the maze...

Moving Walls

Thomas kills the Griever.

Squashed Griever

Squashed Griever Concept.

Griever Key

The kids find this 'Black Box' device in the squashed Griever body, so my idea here was to put it into a soft organic shell. It's nice to see this little detail in the film.

Griever Hole Entrance

Pencil Sketch of the Griever Hole entrance.

Griever Hole

Pencil Sketch of the 'Griever Hole'.