Chapter 3. – Behind the Scenes

Did you enjoy reading chapter three of A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters, A Mechanical Mummy, for free online? If so, then you may enjoy reading this post about how the photos were made!


Costumes – The Mechanical Mummy

Alisa Kester made herself a steampunk Mummy costume which mixes Egyptian styles with Victorian styles, and includes a corset and bustle. This is one of the costumes she provided for the book.

Dragonfly Designs by Alisa's Mummy costume.
Dragonfly Designs by Alisa’s Mummy costume.

Alisa first wore this outfit to steamcon, and wanted it to look more like a rejuvenated mummy when she wore it. But when it was featured in “A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters” I modified the look to suit a scary monster rather than a lady.
I sketched a steampunked version of her costume by adding various mechanical bits. Below you will see the concept art for this character by Tyson and Alisa. After these drawings were finished, I had to bring my ideas to life!

Mummy Sketch by Tyson and Mummy concept by Alisa.
Mummy Sketch by Tyson and Mummy concept by Alisa.

I gathered various steampunk-y bits and mushed them together to make a mechanical brain for the mummy. In the ancient world, Egyptians threw away the brain first, believing it to be the only truly useless part of the body… which is strangely hilarious. Our mummy uses this steampunk brain to think!

Mechanical Mummy Brain.
Mechanical Mummy Brain.

In the photos below you can see some of the early process as I try to figure out how the mechanical brain will fit in the hat.

Mechanical Mummy Brain before painting effects.
Mechanical Mummy Brain before painting effects.

For the mummy face, I took a foam latex prosthetic and decorated it with mummy wrappings, make-up and paint.

Here I am with the blank prosthetic and then with mummy wrappings added.
Here I am with the blank prosthetic and then with mummy wrappings added.

I finished building my mummy hat by painting the mechanical pieces. I made a Nefertiti style hat for my Mozart Project and I decided to re-use it by cutting a hole in it and filling it with a mechanical mummy brain.

Mechanical Mummy Brain.
Mechanical Mummy Brain.

I painted/dyed the hat and continued working on the mask for two or three days.

Mummy hat and mask during construction.
Mummy hat and mask during construction.

The hat and the mask were painted to match Alisa’s costume.

Mummy hat completed and displayed on mask.
Mummy hat completed and displayed on mask.

Not only did the mummy need a brain, but she also needed a inner portion to hold her canopic jar organs.

I started with a spool and some plastic containers.
I started with a spool and some plastic containers.

This “stomach” is supposed to look unnaturally skinny and contain various organs the mummy steals.

I added some light up bits and tubing.
I added some light up bits and tubing.

The piece is phtographed separately and added in post.

Here are all the bits painted.
Here are all the bits painted.

I also built a sarcophagus out of cardboard and drywall.

Beginning of sarcophagus prop.
Beginning of sarcophagus prop.

I also made creepy mummy fingers. All the best monsters have long fingers, and because our mummy wears fingerless gloves, I thought they would be a nice addition! I bought some novelty witch fingers that you can get for Halloween parties, and then using liquid latex and toilet paper, I made them look all gross. Then, I painted them mummy color, added some blood and fingernail varnish to the nails, and came up with some delightfully unpleasant props!

The mummy fingers were made out of novelty witch fingers, covered in liquid latex and painted.
The mummy fingers were made out of novelty witch fingers, covered in liquid latex and painted.

In the image below you will see the finished mummy fingers! They are very fun to wear!

Finished Mummy Fingers.
Finished Mummy Fingers.

Photographing the Mummy

After all the little details were ready, the model who portrayed our Victorian Ghost, Kat, returned to portray the Mummy!

Kat portrays the Mummy in A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters!
Kat portrays the Mummy in A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters!

Wearing the costume created by Alisa Kester and my hat, make-up and mechanical effects, the mummy came to life!

I did the creature FX on Kat myself, and used a foam latex appliance as a base. I would like to thank Kat for putting herself through this process, because the latex hurt her when we took it off. We covered so much of her chest, neck and arms! Kat is a fantastic performance artist and great at expressive movements. She is just wonderful at bringing these monsters to life!

You will also notice that she is wearing the Mummy Fingers that I mentioned!

Kat getting her costume and creature effects put on, then in full costume.
Kat getting her costume and creature effects put on, then in full costume.

Catey also came to help assist with the photos. It is absolutely essential to have an assistant to help when working with composite photos, so I’d also like to thank Catey for her help on this project! She always finds herself doing weird little tasks like rotating mechanical innards!

Catey holds up a mechanical piece that will be photoshopped into the photo.
Catey holds up a mechanical piece that will be photoshopped into the photo.

I photographed these monster elements separate from the heroes and addedthe mummy to the photo I took of Brin and Jeremy!


Costumes – Philomena Dashwood

Philomena’s costume is a unique creature. It is one I designed in a sketch and that Alisa built in her studio to be used in the book.

Alisa created the Egyptian costume based on my design sketch.
Alisa created the Egyptian costume based on my design sketch.

The costume is model Brin’s favorite costume that she wore.

A side view of Philomena's costume.
A side view of Philomena’s costume.
A close up of the corset created by Alisa.
A close up of the corset created by Alisa.

The costumes are complimented by a backdrop that I created with my aunt. Using a projector, we enlarged a map of Egypt. I traced the borders, then painted the shading.

The backdrop before location names.
The backdrop before location names.

After taking the map off the wall, I added all the location names.

The backdrop after location names.
The backdrop after location names.

Photographing the Heroes

Brin and Jeremy were photographed in front of a greenscreen for the mummy attack.

Brin as Philomena with me lurking behind.
Brin as Philomena with me lurking behind.

The two models made broad gestures and had to pretend a mummy was approaching while Philomena was trying to figure out how the amulet worked.

Brin and Jeremy with the Mummy amulet.
Brin and Jeremy with the Mummy amulet.

The models were also photographed inside in front of the hand painted Egyptian map.

The two models play with their cell phones while waiting for me.
The two models play with their cell phones while waiting for me.

We shot indoors for the portraits.

Here I am putting up the lights.
Here I am putting up the lights.

In the photo below you can see the the image uses natural and studio lighting.

I photograph Brin in the Egyptian costume.
I photograph Brin in the Egyptian costume.
The finished portrait of Brin featured in the book.
The finished portrait of Brin featured in the book.

After all the photos were taken, I took to photoshop to do a mock-up of my favorite images.

This is the mock-up I did to map out where I wanted my final picture to go.
This is the mock-up I did to map out where I wanted my final picture to go.

Below you can see the final image.

The final image created for the book.
The final image created for the book.

Costumes – Hargrave the Archaeologist

Hargrave, the steampunk Archaeologist, is a handsome rich kid who wants to make a name for himself by discovering a cursed Mummy in Egypt!

Mark Austin models as Hargrave, the steampunk Archaeologist for A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters.
Mark Austin models as Hargrave, the steampunk Archaeologist for A Steampunk Guide to Hunting Monsters.

Mark Austin models as Hargrave, the steampunk Archaeologist. The costume is almost entirely purchased, which is unusual for this project, but it was designed by myself.

The riding pants are vintage and were purchased at the Antique Store.
The riding pants are vintage and were purchased at the Antique Store.

I bought fabric to make numerous articles for this costume, but after realizing I could purchase certain items that I liked better, I went that route instead. I never got around to photographing the pieces, except really briefly, as seen above, where my robot head displayed the turban, to show the model what he’d be wearing. However, I do have images from the pages where I purchased them to share below.

The turban is an authentic costume from the film “The Scorpion King”. I purchased it propstore.com because I thought it looked really cool.

The turban comes from the film The Scorpion King.
The turban comes from the film The Scorpion King.

I also dropped a lot of cash on some authentic horse riding boots, since there’s just no way to fake horse riding boots. Nothing really looks like them. I got them in 10.5, since numerous models have told me their foot is between 10 and 11. I have used them in numerous fashion shoots ever since.

I purchased Hargrave’s vest/waistcoat online as well. I loved all the pockets and the pocket watch chain. I was pleased with how it fit Mark, because it seemed a bit big on me and the mannequin, but Mark is really quite burly in the chest.

The boots and vest were purchased online.
The boots and vest were purchased online.

I also found some really cool leather covered binoculars while out shopping at antique stores, like I do. These ones came with a case which you can see on Mark’s belt in the pictures.

These lovely binoculars come from the antique store as well.
These lovely binoculars come from the antique store as well.

The pocket watch is a gunmetal grey watch which comes straight from my Final Fantasy 13, Part 3: Lighting Returns Collector’s set. I liked the color and how it went with the costume. It also matched the chain that was built into the vest.

The knife was a purchase I made for my Mozart Project, but the store actually sent me the wrong one. The one I wanted had Isis, not this vaguely Osiris lookin’ fella. Anyway, I never sent it back, and so it finally shows up in a picture that I took. I’ve tried to work it into quite a few, but it always ends up just out of frame.

His pocket watch is from the Final Fantasy 13-3: Lighting Returns collector's set, and the knife was purchased online.
His pocket watch is from the Final Fantasy 13-3: Lighting Returns collector’s set, and the knife was purchased online.

The shirt was purchased at Ross, because for some reason Ross has everything that I want that I don’t have time to make. I’ve had a 100% success rate. So, yeah Ross!

Mark also wears wire rimmed glasses, bringing the total number of pieces of eyewear on this costume to three. I also got an antique cigarette holder for him.
Mark also wears wire rimmed glasses, bringing the total number of pieces of eyewear on this costume to three. I also got an antique cigarette holder for him.

The leather bracers are the only items I made specifically for the archaeologist.


Photographing Hargrave

The photos of the archaeologist were shot in Seattle with Sam Kuster on hair and make-up.

Mark in make-up, waiting for some adjustments.
Mark (left) in make-up, waiting for touch-ups from Sam (right), both making silly faces.

The glasses made Mark look a little bit like Harry Potter!

Mark in full costume, waiting for some adjustments.
Mark in full costume, waiting for some adjustments.

And, as you know from reading the book, Hargrave gets a shirtless scene as well. So, we’ll end on an outtake of Mark flexing.

Mark and his bicep.
Mark and his bicep.

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