Meet the “Pacific Rim’s” Creature Designers – Part 2

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  • July 20, 2013
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 Interview with Simon Lee (Spiderzero)

01Meathead Kaiju   Designed by Simon Lee and Guy Davis (Sculpture by Simon Lee). 


Sculpting the Creatures for “PACIFIC RIM”

Part 2 Of  – “The Sculptors and Artists who brought “Pacific Rim’s“, Amazing Kaiju to life!”

Dynamic and packed full of life are trademarks of the sculptures of Simon Lee. They often draw upon legends and favorite topics of Simon’s.  Lee’s sculptures always manage to capture that ethereal moment in time that all artists strive for and are always drawing the viewer ever closer into the story that his unique sculptures evoke.

It’s no surprise, in the film industry realms that cater to creature design, that “Pacific Rim’s” Director, Guillermo del Toro chose  to enlist the capable design and sculpting skills of Simon Lee.

In a recent interview with SculptClub,  Lee shares some behind the scenes on how “Pacific Rim’s” cinematic creatures are born.


Q: Hi Simon and thank you joining us at

A: Thank you for inviting me.

Q: Tell us a little bit about how you came aboard the creature design team on Pacific Rim.?

A: I got the invitation from the director Guillermo del Toro himself.

Q: How did you first meet del Toro?

A: I met Guillermo for the first time a few years ago at a local trade show. He was walking around like any other comic book fan, and he was very nice and approachable.

Q: When did you start on Pacific Rim? And was their a working title or secret name under which the project was shrouded under?

A: I started back in February of 2011.  At the time it was called Pacific Rim

Q: Where did you do your sculptures, at home or at another place? What was it like there?

A: I worked mostly at Guillermo del Toro’s famed Bleak House, along with 7 other concept artists. It’s Guillermo’s personal studio and office. It’s like a personal art gallery / museum.

A: I have heard about it. That must have been nice. Lucky you.

Q: How would you describe the design process working with del Toro?

A: When I worked on the project, it was still early in the concept design process, and we were mostly exploring different design directions. Guillermo gave us a lot of creative freedom. The creature designers would come up with different ideas, and Guillermo would give his notes and comments, and have a different artist to take the design further, so it was really a very collaborative design process.

Q: That sounds like a great time to be involved. So early on. How many Kaiju did you design overall, and how many are their in the final film?

A: Again, it was a collaborative design process, but I took part in the designs of 5 different Kaijus. There’s one that ended up in the film, one ended up on the cover of the comic book, one ended up on the Kaiju signage in the film, and I believe another one ended up in the game.

Q: How long were you given to design each Kaiju, and what was your work-flow like while designing?

A: I was not given a specific time frame to design the kaijus, but the first two I spent about 2 weeks each, and I would design my creatures directly in clay. Much like 2-D concepts, I would do the gestural silhouettes first, and based on the director’s review and feedback, make progressive changes toward the final detailed stage.

Q: Did you just do a lot of designs and were they later pared down to favorites and developed from there?

A: I went through a little bit of both. Sometimes I would work on my own designs and sometimes I would continue exploring ideas (usually rough sketches) started by another artist.

Q: We always ask, so I hope you don’t mind.  What kind of clay did  you use,  and why you prefer to work with it?

A: I use mainly Chavant NSP medium. It’s soft enough to allow me to work fast, and it’s hard enough for me to an adequate amount of detailing.

It was an absolute blast. Guillermo is very knowledgeable when it comes to creatures, and he treats everyone with respect.


Q: Can you describe the experience for you, working for Guillermo, and being on the project?

A: It was an absolute blast. Guillermo is very knowledgeable when it comes to creatures, and he treats everyone with respect. Working on Pacific Rim for Guillermo del Toro was probably the most satisfying experience I’ve had as an artist.

03(Simon Lee, Guillermo del Toro, and the talented “Pacific Rim” design team)

Thank you for you time Simon. Your work is always inspiring and original.

You can see more of Simon Lee’s work on his website here;



By Brian Wade


One Comment

  • Rex Pierce says:

    Melodrama aside (much of which is rather fitting), some of this might be true if “Pacific Rim” were actually original and not just a large-scale pastiche of different pop culture references including Japanese manga/anime (“Voltron,” “Robotetch,” etc.), video games (“Half Life”) and “Godzilla”-esque monster movies where creatures rise from the deep and try and destroy Tokyo (or in this case, the Pacific rim of Earth, which you bet, includes Japan). Not that there’s anything wrong with pastiches of any kind, but it’s a little glib to cling to the idea ‘Rim’ is a wholly singular work. Some of this might matter if original ideas were exclusive to good movies. Point being, Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” is being touted, by some, as the make or break film to champion, lest original, true, honest and authentic cinema be burned to the ground for all time. Much of this partisan lobbying is conveniently blind to the fact that “Pacific Rim” is rather generic, familiar and cliche-ridden; ambitious ideas and spectacular designs wrapped up in a banal and tediously told story that’s as clamorous, loud and disorienting as any Michael Bay movie (though thankfully, not as vulgar).

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