Meet the brains behind “Wētā Labs” and its new range of MICRO EPICS
Christian Pearce is a senior concept artist at Wētā Workshop whose clumsy alter-ego, Professor Elbows, often causes happy little accidents in the lab.
The following Q&A offers readers some insights into Christian’s curious mind…
Where did you find inspiration for Micro Epics & the world of Wētā Labs?
So much of it comes from the actual factual Wētā Workshop that I’ve barely had to make up anything at all. When I’m filling out my timesheet each week I need to pretend I sat there sweatin’ away for hours coming up with characters and incidents but really I was just looking around the ‘shop. There’s all kinds of fascinating characters and projects here, I just needed to mix it all in with a disregard for workplace safety, invent some powerful experimental machinery and add a healthy misunderstanding of basic science and there you go: Wētā Labs!
Micro Epics sure pack a punch; how do you condense larger than life characters into itty-bitty collectibles?
Making the Micros properly itty-bitty is important but I wanted to be sure not to lose any of what makes Wētā Workshop Collectibles so great. The craftsmanship, artistry, inventiveness and intricate detail all needed to be there, just with a tiny footprint. I don’t wanna throw shade on that big ol’ Masters Collection Treebeard but the Micros sure take up a lot less space on your desk. You don’t have to spend every autumn sweeping up the fallen leaves and shooing nesting birds out of them either, just sayin’...
Physically, I really wanted these little tykes to feel tactile and nice to hold. They do feel good in the hand! Sure, they’re lumpy and rounded but there’s plenty of details. Nothing too spiky and hardly any slimy residue.
What’s your creative process? Pick a character and talk us through it.
I like to find something unique about each character and then try to figure out a way to represent it in a fun new way. I think the shrinking process has more than just an effect on the scale of the Micro Epics. The reconstituted molecular structure is so tightly packed that there’s no room for any maliciousness and cynicism that the character may have once possessed.
With the Alien Queen I liked the idea of her second mouth being her little pal, a helpful sidekick that could offer dietary advice maybe: “You know uncooked Marines give you acid reflux” or “those colonists will go straight to your hips!” Hopefully the Queen will get a non-mouth-based friend to reminisce with soon…
Do you start with a hand-drawn sketch, or is it straight to the computer to work your wizardry?
With most other concept art I like to start with a pencil drawing but because Micro Epics are so small I need the full power of a modern, highly specced computer to zoom in to workable levels. I use a special microscope-enabled version of Photoshop to illustrate the concepts and I also yell ‘ENHANCE!’ at the screen every few minutes, which I think helps.
If you were a Micro Epic, who would you be?
Gotta be Chappie, right? You get to wear gold chains, watch Masters of the Universe, throw ninja stars around the house and beat up Hugh Jackman. That really is my entire retirement plan.
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