Garage Monsters 2 with FX wizard Shannon Shea

Learn low-budget, effective techniques for creating monster & creature special effects using easily accessible materials

Jul 20, 2012


Continuing with the Garage Monsters series, here comes special effects character creator Shannon Shea with Garage Monsters #2.  While the original Garage Monsters focused on making a rod puppet, this time he takes you through the process of making a latex hand puppet.  This one will act as an insert puppet to work along with the original from the first lesson.  As with many of the incredibly detailed videos here at the SWSCA, this lesson is quite a journey.  Here you’ll learn everything from the beginning, starting with the sculpting armature, all the way to the end, with putting the final touches of epoxy on the eye to make it shiny.  But there’s a lot that goes on in between.  Let’s take a look at some of the original processes along the way.


If you’ve seen any of the sculpting videos on this site, you’ve seen the creation of an armature before.  What makes this one different is that this armature has to be able to fit your hand inside of it for usage.  Shannon shows you his method of using chicken wire and a plaster bandage to achieve this result.

Next comes the sculpting.  Since this lesson is less about the sculpting and more about the rest of the creation, you’ll see a quick montage of Shannon sculpting the monster by a quick recap called the “Shan-Cam.”  During this though are some very informative tidbits about sculpting in oil clay vs. sculpting in water clay that are highly valuable for anyone with interest in this kind of creation.


Continuing on, is the molding.  Designing, creating, and casting in a plaster mold are all very informative scenarios that, even if you’ve seen them done before, are an invaluable refresher for everyone.  Once the “monster” is released from his mold, the next steps of trimming, seaming, and patching the extracted latex are more skills that are definitely necessary for brushing up on.


The next few steps are, in my opinion, the most fun.  These are some of the little bits that make this video stand apart from the rest.  These segments include creating the teeth of the monster, constructing the tongue from a plastic bag and an air tube, adding membranes to the corners of the mouth composed of spandex, and even creating a dewlap on the neck, complete with an air bladder. While creating all of these individual components on their own are a lot of fun to watch, seeing them all actually come together on the puppet itself is even cooler.  This is an area to just sit back and enjoy.


Once all the construction has taken place, the painting is the final piece of the puzzle.  Watching the differences between painting latex vs. plaster vs. fabric is always an interesting scenario.  Here, you’ll see different techniques in addition to learning how to paint scales, patterns, and a few other tidbits from Shannon’s vast array of knowledge.  The cherry on top is the final touch of putting epoxy on the eyes for that shine that seems to almost make the monster come alive.


Upon completion, seeing this monster puppet side-by-side with the rod puppet from the original Garage Monsters is quite a fun thing to see.  Shannon definitely loves his work.  His excitement and passion really comes through the entire time making it a pleasure to watch.  To see him and his monsters in action, check out www.phantomharbor.com.

-Jeff Dixon