Designing the mask of life was one of the coolest assignments in the many years of working with Bionicle. It is fantastic to work directly with the LEGO designers to bring real plastic elements to life. Especially when it is an element with that epic importance to the whole legend. It was great to be able to take the early Vitruvian robot logo and incorporate the idea into this mask. So the secret idea of resurrecting the giant robot Mata Nui was moulded straight into the plastic.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
These 2 sketches try to explain the planet system and evolution of the Bionicle universe at an early stage. It also shows the way the characteristic shape of the BB logo reflects the shape of the planet system. The rotation results in the symmetric shape that can also be seen in the shape of the island Mata Nui and the city of Metru Nui. The idea was that the reassembled Spherus Magna would have a compressed logo where the 2 “B”s were joined together.
Ever since the early 80ies I have been fascinated by photo realistic illustration. I tried airbrush but found that oil pastels gave the best and most flexible workflow. I tried to hit the exact detail, texture and lighting. Here is a very reflective chrome fire hydrant from Florida and a Danish fire hydrant from Copenhagen and a traditional danish mailbox on a wall in the city.
Saturday, April 28, 2012
This is probably the tallest concept drawing I have ever done. It depicts the entire year of 2008 in side view. It shows one of the many stalactites with the Matoran villages on top and the great swamp at the bottom where the Codrex would later be found. I know that a stalactite is supposed to hang from the ceiling and that was also the case with this piece of rock but it broke off from the ceiling and got stuck vertically in the deep swamp.
I had a 2-meter tall print of this drawing hanging behind me in the office for years.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
This is one of my favourite visuals of the whole legend. It is the moment when the first Bohrok hatches in the cave beneath Mata Nui. This moment holds all the mystery and epic action of Bionicle in one frame. It is biotech at its best in the middle between organic life and mechanic reflex. It also had one of the best taglines of the 9 years: “If you wake one – you wake them all”
Thursday, April 19, 2012
It’s been a while since the last post but here are some concept drawings showing the life forms on Mata Nui. It was the original intention that everything would have a bio-mec original design so no ordinary palm trees but only strange new species with new features.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Some of you asked for some newer stuff so here is a concept drawing from 2008 of the Glatorian arena close to Vulcanus village in the Iron Canyon. Giant lava plates have shifted and twisted into a surreal landscape. Everything is hot and sizzling and metallic fumes are in the air. A dusk training session is taking place at the arena and there are no spectators now but for a real match the different plateaus will be filled with villagers from Vulcanus.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
I have only one word, WOW! Over 20000 views in less than a week and I’m just getting started and have only put up 20 posts. This post is a tribute to all the Bionicle fans that have visited my blog. Especially to the BZPower community. You at BZP have all through the years been the simply the best. Your interest and energy has been an endless source of info and inspiration. I want you to know that BZPower always was the place where the property really came alive and the place to go when I needed reference and talkback on campaigns and ideas. For many years I wanted to join and add content and give you as much info as possible but I had to focus on the job and quietly follow your activities. It its great to finally be able to show the artwork now that all the big secrets have been revealed. It has been a fantastic journey thanks to LEGO and all the fans and it has shaped the way I work and think. It is a constant inspiration for the future and who knows what will appear on the horizon…
The illustration in this post gives the full overview of the Bionicle universe 2001-2008 (the names on the map are not final). For your eyes only:)
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Here are 6 sketches from 2000 of the villages of Mata Nui. Trying to depict how the Matoran are living in the different areas of the island. Ta-koro is lying under the crust of the lava by a river of floating lava, the huts have shape like small volcanoes. Po-koro has rounded cell shaped huts made out of sandstone. Ko-koro lies by a cliff splitting a giant glacier. Le-koro has giant hanging plant structures attached to a tall cliff. Onu-koro has giant sphere shaped caves. Ga-koro is a floating village in the northern bay.
Monday, April 9, 2012
These thumbnails were done early in 2000 and represent my vision of how the first Toa would come to life on the beach of Mata Nui. Imagine it on the big screen in the cinema. The canister drifts in the endless ocean, full of seaweed from its long journey. Washes up on the shore. Small mechanical part registers the location and automatically shoots of the hatch and all the parts of the Toa into the sand. The parts start assembling themselves ending up with the head being put into place. This newly build hero is like a baby at first, unsecure on his feet and aimless in his behaviour. He tries to pick up the sword but his joints are weak and snap off. Finally he finds the first mask lying in the sand. He puts it on and it gives him his first character information. He becomes strong and secure in his moves and picks up the sword again. The sword flames up. Now he knows he is a Toa of fire and he looks towards the volcano and begins his journey.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
It is very exciting to get to share these files. This is where it all began to my account. It was the summer of 1995 where I finally got time to tryout an idea. I gathered some LEGO Technic elements and some sculpting clay and mashed together some characters with moulded arms, legs and heads and the rest build out of LEGO. I wanted to test if it was possible to build an action figure. We agreed to take the concept further and I worked together with Jan Kjær, my former assistant to nail the concept. It was named CYBOTS and we presented to the development department at LEGO. They liked it. This resulted in a short project setup where I worked together with a designer (sadly I can’t rememberhis name, please write if you are out there. I would love to get your name into this blog) to try to turn my clay into actual useable LEGO elements. There was one major design issue and that was the joints connecting the body parts. We needed something flexible and easy and the closest solution was to look atnature: The ball joint. This invention is still to this day the most important to this whole category.
We did a full concept description and a universe where the CYBOTS was robots sent deep below the surface of the earth to areas where humans couldn’t enter to hunt for energy crystals. Some CYBOTS had malfunctioned and rebelled against their human inventors and had claimed the depths of the planet as their own.
This project and the ball joint disappeared for some years in the development department at LEGO but it was great to see the first prototypes ofthe Slizer robots with full functional ball joints that were brought to Advance in 1998 when we got briefed on this new project.
The CYBOTS underground setting also appeared later both in Rock Raiders(1999) and Power Miners (2009).
It is great that stuff that works always seems to surface at some point in time, so there is only one rule when working with LEGO: “It’s an amazing brand so you better do amazing things, nothing less is acceptable”
This was the first map of Mata Nui where the different elements had been placed. Lava for Tahu, jungle (air) for Lewa, Water for Gali, Ice for Kopaka, desert for Pohatu and rock for Onua.
The shape of the face had to be obscured so it wouldn't give away the secret but you can still recognize the volcano mouth, chin with jungle, forehead with desert, nose as mountains and one of the eyes as Gali's bay
Saturday, April 7, 2012
This is a sketch of the faces and name ideas of some of the villagers on Mata Nui. I tried to combine robotic design with organic shapes and primitive native masks. The idea was that all the islanders were different in design and character shaped by their age and the tough life on the island.
In the early concept stages two main villages were planed on the island. One village to the south and one to the north. The southern village was in a jungle setting close to the volcano. The villagers carried the canister to the village and used it as their main building. The inhabitants of this village were superstitious and frightened of the towering volcano. They were convinced that an evil monster lived in the volcano and decided their bad fate. The northern tribe and their village where in a more rocky and rough setting further from the volcano. This tribe was more practical and at a higher technical state. They were not afraid of the volcano.
The first colored view of Mata Nui sketched in ’99. A bit cartoony and compressed but if you look close it has the shape of a face with the mouth as the volcano the snowcapped mountain as the nose and the lake as the eye. It even has a vortex indicating that the robot underneath is taking in water.
These 2 sketches depict the Amphi Seed or canister landed on the beach. In the early concept phase the seed would be raised into a vertical position by a back leg so it could open the hatch towards land. If you watch to the right in the distance you can see the 3-finger island that was first intended to break the surface indicating the robot lying beneath. Oh yes, the robot was there from the very beginning back in 99.
This is the first sketch I did back in 99 of the canister in the open sea. The design was originally seed shaped. The coconut was used as inspiration where the nut floats from island to island in the south pacific to colonize new land. In the same way the canister (originally named the “Amphi Seed”) would settle on the beach and at one point it would burst open to release the “bionicle bones”. The Toa would later assembly itself on the beach.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
It's safe to say that Bionicle and the philosophy behind it has been a big part of my life for over 10 years. This logo concept was done before the concept was named. It plays on the word B4 or "before" which was one of the name ideas for the concept. The shape of the B later became Half of the Bionicle "Ying/Yang" icon. I wanted the design to be both organic and high-tech so it would fit both the primitive island and the robot beneath. "Bionic Recur Unit" refers to the canisters carrying the Toa, the recur system that would fight the virus and resurrect the giant robot.
I know that a lot has been said and written about how Bionicle came to be and who were involved. Many people have worked and given their talent to bringing this intellectual property to life but that said I also think that it is time to clear up the mistakes and get the facts right. I believe I’m able to do that as objectively as possible. I put the first sketches on the paper, named the property Bionicle and worked on it all the way from 1999 to 2011 and for me the journey started already in 1995 but I will get back to that later.
In 1998 I made this illustration of the Slizer/Throwbot planet. A concept made for LEGO where 7 tribes of robotic creatures fought to gain land on the planet. It was quickly nicknamed "Pizza planet". It was done using some basic shapes and textures from the 3D program Bryce and a whole lot of Photoshop Wacom drawing. The whole idea of a constructible action figure in an elemental setting (Lava, Jungle, Mountain, Cloud, Urban, Ice and water) was born with Slizer but first came to its full potential 2 years later with BIONICLE.