Man of Steel concepts

Wed 24th Jul 2013, by Paul Hellard | Productfocus

CGSociety :: Production Focus

 24 July 2013, by Maurice Mitchell

One of the most talked about features of Man of Steel is the updated costume for the Superman character. Warren Manser is a professional concept artist who's worked on blockbuster films like The Dark Knight Rises, A.I. Artificial Intelligence and the Transformers films and he helped design Superman's controversial costume.


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Warren Manser was contacted by Jim Acheson at the end of 2010 about a project he was certain would interest him. "We'd worked together on Spider-Man one and three, and Daredevil," Manser says. "Jim knew that I was a fan of the superhero genre and could contribute not only with character concept art, but with a working knowledge of how to help fabricate a supersuit."

"Within a few days, I was on board."

Manser worked exclusively on Superman's suit. The other Kryptonian undersuits were variations of that design, so those were included as well. "I've never had an experience quite like it, and to say that I was excited is an understatement. I created numerous concepts of the Man of Steel, which eventually evolved into the final design."

Zack Snyder was 'hands on' in the process and provided everyone with great direction. They all discussed the specifications and manufacturing techniques needed to accomplish, and Manser even created some visual diagrams to aid in communicating the plan.




"From there I worked with vendors, costumers, 3D artists, and fabricators to help realize the final product. What I really like about the approach was that we employed both traditional and modern fabrication methods. Incredible hand crafted quality merged with digitally created costume elements, and I was right there in the middle of it," says Manser. "I couldn't have been happier."

"The Kryptonian council was antiquated and part of a dying culture, and I think their costumes reflected exactly that. Costume designer Michael Wilkinson's 'Neo-Medieval' description is very accurate. Phillip Boutte Jr. created many concepts for those characters, so I'd refer to him for a more detailed analysis. In general, I thought the Kryptonians had very elegant and organic lines," says Manser.

"My inspiration was to use those types of lines to create a feeling of movement without distracting from the overall strength of Superman's posture or form. I also had the best research, actually 75 years of Superman artwork," Manser adds.

Zack Snyder said he looked at 1,500 versions of the costume before giving up on the costume with the red briefs. "I recall hearing the term 'due diligence' in reference to the Superman suit and specifically to the red briefs. It was extremely important that we created a costume that would respect the Man of Steel's origins while taking him to a new level. I don't even want to venture a guess at the number of variations, but he may not be too far off. I had so many photoshop layers that I lost count," he quips. "Unfortunately, I cannot recall a timeframe, but when our director was satisfied that we exhausted all plausible avenues, he made the call. We said goodbye to the red briefs!"




Warren Manser has posted numerous Man of Steel costume concept images and personal projects on his website. "After I wrapped on Man of Steel pre-production, I worked with Warner Bros. Consumer Products on their style guide. I created many high resolution renderings of Superman, and even a General Zod," adds Manser.


"The first briefs we got were directly from Zack," says Christian Lorenz Scheurer. "He was referencing a lot of African imagery; mud house architecture; epic skies and Art Nouveau architecture. The main idea was that Krypton society was technologically highly advanced but steeped in archaic and highly ritualistic tradition. Feudal Japan with its city state castles was a main inspiration as well."

"Alex McDowell is a unique Production Designer and true humanist," says Scheurer. "Under his guidance we thoroughly developed the Kryptonian technology, architecture, fauna and flora. Alex has the gift and ambition to bring a unique vision to every show he approaches. He supplies the concept artists with wisely selected reference material but then gives them the freedom to run with this initial impetus and create their own designs."

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Christian spent the most time on the Council Chamber and also on the Genesis Chambers. The council chamber went through a rather long 'elliptical' design process. He was also constantly inspired by the photography of Karl Blosfeldt and high-res photography of seeds. An interesting fact was that the Art Department was located in the back village of Warner Bros in an all-American house which was used for the TV show 'The Gilmore Girls'. Right behind it was the swamp area where early Tarzan movies were shot and more recently the TV show 'True Blood'.




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