The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner is a film adaptation based on James Dashner's best selling novel. My main involvement was to design the scary creatures called 'Grievers'. I also worked with director Wes Ball on several maze designs and other very interesting stuff.

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.

THE MAZE RUNNER - Griever Creature Designs!

In late 2012, director Wes Ball hired me to design the mechanical creatures called 'Grievers' for his science fiction action thriller THE MAZE RUNNER, based on James Dashner’s 2009 book of the same name.

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. We collaborated on a few changes and attachments afterwards in order to enhance the final Griever design. Slugs and coconut crabs were a huge influence for me in finding the overall body shape. The head was a bit tricky, since in the book they have no face, only a big ugly mouth. It's basically a mixture of caterpillars, bulldogs and even piranhas.

Griever Torso

In the novel, the Grievers are described as huge bulbous slugs. It was pretty challenging to turn a cute slug into a bloodthirsty beast. Additionally, I tried to come up with an interesting anatomy but which is still based on these animals.


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. The wizards from Method Studios enhanced the movements to perfection.

Mechanical tail

Wes already had many cool action scenes in his mind, therefore he asked me to add a mechanical scorpion tail into the Design. I also made the body structure much lower on the ground and adjusted the little arms along with some other details.

Final hero design

Here is the 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 had 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 some 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 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 Anatomy

3D Concept.

Closing mouth

3D Concept.

Open Mouth

3D Concept.

Final Beetle Blade design

They didn't end up in the film, but I had a blast working on them. There were a few cool scenes in the script. Wes described them as the 'observation cameras' from the maze. I attempted to make the design very functional.

Early Beetle Blade variations

I had much fun working on these. At the very beginning we was thinking about making them bio-mechanical, similar to the Grievers. Wes wanted something like a mutated and scary looking sowbug.

Beetle Blade sketches

They ended up as centipede-robots, however I tried to give them a scary organic look. They have a translucent shell from where we can see all the machinery inside its body.


Pencil Sketch.


This was originally my take on the 'Changing', based on the book descriptions. The design got used right away for the Cranks, which is basically the same in the film.


From left to right.


Random Maze Concept.


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 Hole Entrance

Pencil Sketch of the Griever Hole entrance.

Griever Hole

Pencil Sketch of the 'Griever Hole'.