Movie legend's sketchbook unearthed

A cult hero and an inspiration, it's time to drool over the sketchbook of Ray Harryhausen…

Ray Harryhausen's sketchbook unearthed

The stop motion animating legend with Medusa

If you wanted to bring a skeleton army to life or have a Greek colossus stomp your heroes into mush in the days before digital, you called the one man who could make it happen: Ray Harryhausen.

As one of the most highly acclaimed stop-motion animators of the pre-digital era, Ray worked on some all-time classic movies, including War of the Worlds, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, and the epic Clash of the Titans.

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The creatures Ray animated would always steal the scenes from the human actors – he managed to make them gruesome but also emotive. To achieve this Ray would immerse himself in the movie project, creating rough sketches before drawing a scene and then preparing the sequence's storyboards.

Only then would he construct the models and begin the task of animating the titanic battle that would ensue. Working in clay to create his models, Ray would then painstakingly design the creature's moveable skeleton before covering the armature in latex and the days of animation could begin.

Inspired by traditional painters John Martin, Gustave Doré, Charles Knight, and Joseph Michael Gandy, whose painting Jupiter Pluvius depicted an enormous statue of Jupiter, that statue would form the inspiration for Ray's version of Olympus as seen in Clash of the Titans.

Medusa

Ray Harryhausen's sketchbook unearthed

Ray has been an inspiration for an army of filmmakers from George Lucas to Peter Jackson, who all credit him as an influence.

Two charcoal and pencil sketches for the Medusa sequence in Clash of the Titans, these were created in 1977 and were used as a presentation piece to sell the film to MGM.

Ray Harryhausen's sketchbook unearthed

The Kraken

Ray Harryhausen's sketchbook unearthed

This 1978 sketch for Clash of the Titans was created as a comparison piece to demonstrate the sheer size of the Kraken.

Tiger, tiger

Ray Harryhausen's sketchbook unearthed

The end sequence of Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, sketched in 1974. Here a frozen sabretooth tiger is defrosted to kill Sinbad.

The cut

Ray Harryhausen's sketchbook unearthed

This sketch shows the sabre-tooth tiger battling Sinbad's companion, a troglodyte man. The original 'Trog' was a Neanderthal man, but was removed from the final cut, as were a valley of vipers, a prehistoric rhino and a giant worm.

Skeleton hordes

Ray Harryhausen's sketchbook unearthed

Skeleton's feature heavily in Ray's work. These scenes are from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and were sketched in 1962 to illustrate the film's finale.

Next page: more of Ray's cult classic sketches...