I am an artist who works at Weta Workshop Design Studio doing mainly creature and character design for film and occasionally for games. I've always been inspired by fantasy and myth. I wanted this character's face to tell a story; not necessarily a story that I've made up, but one the viewer can sense for themselves.
He was essentially my take on a Pan-type character and Tao came from the abbreviation of the original title of the piece, The Ancient One. I thought Tao suited him so the name stuck. I wanted to make him look quite fragile, but counter that with a knowing and wise face. An example of this is the cataract eyes, which add to his fragility but still allow the feeling that he is looking at the viewer to come across. I've always loved how Yoda seemed so frail and yet was probably the most powerful of all the Jedi. It was this kind of feeling I wanted to portray with this character (Fig.01).
Generally the types of imagery I make for work are ones that highlight and show a design in the most photorealistic or cinematic way possible, frequently making the images feel very studio lit. For this piece I wanted to use the same tools but create a more moody and atmospheric portrait. I decided that for this particular illustration it would be all about the final framed render. In fact, it was to be printed out for an exhibition held here in Wellington so it was less about the sculpting and more about the overall piece (Fig.02).