Photos courtesy of Spectral Motion/Universal Pictures Angel of Death (Doug Jones)

We had a great response to our story about the make-up work on Hellboy 2: The Golden Army in Issue 73 of Make-Up Artist magazine. So we have added Joe Nazzaro’s additional stories and photos from the film and labs where the film’s many characters were created. Make-up artists working in three different countries collaborated on these creatures—see for yourself!

One of the most unforgettable creatures in Hellboy 2 is the Angel of Death, a towering monstrosity (played by Doug Jones) whose eyes are embedded in a pair of wings. The character was created by concept artist Wayne Barlowe and designed and built by Norman Cabrera, with input from director Guillermo del Toro.

As Cabrera recalled, “Guillermo had a meeting with some of the key people at Spectral Motion, myself included, where he said, ‘I want you to come with some wild stuff. I don’t want to see familiar things I’ve seen in other movies.’ For this character, he basically said, ‘Think of every angel of death you’ve ever seen and don’t do that! Do something really out there and bizarre.’

Norman Cabrera paints eyes for the wings

“Once we decided on a direction, I sculpted a maquette of the Angel. Right off the bat, I did this ornamental-looking stuff on his chest that sort of looked like faces and Guillermo was sold on that, but the face was more of a challenge because he didn’t want any eyes. I started with stuff that had more bone shape to it and Guillermo didn’t even want empty sockets; he just wanted it to be blank. I did one version of the head and he said, ‘Do you mind if I mess around with this a little bit?’ and smushed the eyes down into a really weird flattened-out shape. At first, I couldn’t totally wrap my head around it, but after I started playing with it, it all came together.”

The task of creating the complex dual set of wings was overseen by electronic wizard Mark Setrakian. “I got the ball rolling, but when I left for Budapest, the people who finished it were Bud McGrew, Scott Millenbaugh and Fred Frehley who really made it happen. When I saw the design I thought, ‘This is going to require an interesting joint mechanism!’ so I came up with a series of what I call ‘gear hinges,’ which are similar to the way a human knee works. That allowed me to fold these wings up very tight, but it was a fairly complicated arrangement.

Rob Capwell working on the wings

“The other problem was all these eyes, because they were in the middle of where the structure of the wing should be, so the structure itself had to be open in the center for the eyes to lay in, and that’s a lot of mechanisms. And finally, the orientation of the eyes actually changed as the wings opened and closed, so when the wings are folded, we’ve got some eyes that are looking left and right. When the wings open, the ones on the lower part of the wing have now turned completely upside down but they still needed to look left and right in synch with the rest of them.”

Looking back at his work on the character, Cabrera is delighted with the response. “One of the things Guillermo said when the Angel was all designed was, ‘Cabrera, the Angel of Death will be in Hellboy 3!’ so I hope that’s true.”

Hellboy 2: The Art of the Movie by Dark Horse Books is now on sale.