Photos courtesy of Spectral Motion/Universal Pictures Wink (Brian Steele)

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!

If you need evidence that animatronics trump digital technology, look no further than Wink, Prince Nuada’s bad-tempered troll lieutenant in Hellboy 2. Played by actor Brian Steele, the character was a huge achievement for the Spectral Motion team, which was able to provide a fully mobile animatronic-suit character for work on set every day.

Character conpcept

“Guillermo wanted this big ogre-y creature that was massive and really tall,” explained Mario Torres, who oversaw the character’s build. “He actually came in and chose patterns for Wink’s costume as well as the skin textures he wanted for the character, which had very elephant-like skin, so Guillermo had a lot of input in the final look. Because it also had to fit into the Hellboy world, he has a huge arm like Hellboy does, so you can tell that he comes from the world that Hellboy comes from.”

One of the most striking aspects of the character is a metal hand that can be deployed as a weapon and retracted on a long chain. “Because the character was so enormous,” Torres said, “it gave us a lot of freedom to put in the servos and movement that we wanted so it didn’t necessarily have to be done in CG. It could be a practical effect, so Wink could be there interacting with other actors and most of all, Guillermo could actually see it in front of him and see exactly what he wanted it to do and what he visualized, such as when Wink gets into a fight with Hellboy, for example. That’s the advantage of having an actual practical effect: the actor doesn’t have to pretend he’s fighting something that’s going to be put in there later in CG.”

Character concepts and film still

Wink’s hand was supervised by Spectral Motion’s mechanical department chief Mark Setrakian, who also built the character’s animatronic head. “I put a lot of work into that head, as [did] Bud McGrew, who came up with an interesting jaw-hinging mechanism which allowed the jaw to swing from side to side. The real challenge with the head was its unusual shape. It’s got a long upper lip and tusks that are close to the corners of his mouth. With a creature like that, you want to be able to open its mouth into a big roar, so you need some skin to be able to stretch and open up into that big expression. So having those tusks so close to the corner of his mouth made it really challenging to come up with something that would open to a big expressive shape but not tear the foam in that area.”

For Torres, there was one sure sign of his character’s popularity. “I was on set when it was getting close to the scene when Wink had to die, and one of the Hungarian crew put a sign around his neck that said ‘Save Wink!’ A lot of people said, ‘We don’t want him to go; he’s so cool,’ so that was nice to hear.”

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