Friday, May 1, 2015

Hellboy's Right Hand of Doom

This entry is updated from it's original form.  I'm including my original photos and steps, with the most recent revise towards the end.

My friend Phil showed me a website called "Blind Squirrel Props" where they made Hellboy's Right Hand of Doom.  It is very cool!  As soon as I saw it I knew I wanted to make one of my own.  They made theirs out of MDF wood.  At the time I originally started making this I did not have the tools or knowledge for working with MDF, so I opted to make mine out of Insulation foam.  

I also originally tried to make this animatronic.  I'm sorry to spoil any surprises here, but that did not work.

When I started getting the material and drawing up the plans for my creation I decided to practice a little with animatronics before I dived into this project.  You can see my blog entry about animatronics here.  I believe I learned enough to get underway with this enormous hand.

The first step was to draw out some plans, using Blind Squirrel's images as reference.  These drawings were made to scale, so I apologize if it's hard to see the image below.

Once I had my plans done I printed them out and used them as templates.  I wanted to tackle the animatronics before anything else, so I had to make some fingers.  They started as sheets of insulation foam glued together to form small blocks.  I then traced the shape of each finger segment onto the foam blocks.

And then I cut them out.

After they were all cut I began to sand them to smooth out the rough cuts.

After a short while I had all my fingers!

Each segment of each finger were cut at an angle to allow the fingers to bend.  Unfortunately because of it's size and thickness, this is as far as each finger will bend.

With the fingers done for now, I began working on the animatronics for each finger.  For this step I decided to used some thin wire tubing....

...but this tubing had 2 problems.  1 - it was too thin.  2 - the tubing was split and the string used to pull the finger segments would get caught in the split.  I was very satisfied with the tubing I used in my animatronic study that I decided to gut that hand and use the tubing for this hand.

So once I disassembled the old hand I drilled holes in my new fingers so the tubing would fit.  After much drilling and dremmel use, the tubing fit.

Next I attached the string and glued the finger segments to the tube.

The finger worked reasonably well, but not as well as I would have liked. But it will do for now.

Then I repeated this for the other fingers.

With that done, I started work on the forearm.
I used my paper templates to trace the rounded shapes onto pieces of insulation foam.

Then I cut down the foam into smaller pieces.

And then one by one cut out each shape.

After quite a while and quite a hand ache, I finished cutting everything.

And then I glued the many layers together and let dry overnight.

I put a piece of cardboard that was the whole length of the tube, plus the width of the inside so that the layers wouldn't shift at all while the glue dried.

While that dried I used my templates to start making the hand.

The 3 circles are where the animatronics will travel through the hand and wrist.  When everything was cut, I glued it together.

Then I did the same steps for the thumb.

And then added the palm.

Next I attached the fingers to the rest of the hand.  The thumb did not work properly where it was supposed to go, so I had to move it onto the side.  But it still works.

Then I attached the hand to the rest of the arm.  It is not glued on yet.

Then I attached the knuckles.

Below is a picture showing how large this thing is. It is almost the height of a window!

And below are a few shots of me wearing it.

Here it is holding the Samaritan.

At this point I made little progress, and eventually it broke.  I posted this entry as-is for a while, but eventually I unpublished it since I didn't like have an incomplete project on display.

Fast forward 2 years later and I think it's about time I revisit this project.  The thing that really killed it was the animatronics - so I'm not going to make my new one move.  To start I went back to my old templates and reprinted them.  I then traced them on insulation foam.

I didn't buy new foam at this point.  I used what I had on hand.

I started with the fingers first since I had plenty of small pieces of foam available.  I was able to get a lot of the larger pieces traced, but then ran out of foam.

Once the pieces were glued together I then drew out the templates for each finger shape.

I thought I would have an easy time shaping these on my belt sander, but I was wrong.  Since the foam is so light, the belt sander shoots the pieces from my hand, and across the workshop.

So I wound up shaping them with various grits of sandpaper.

Once everything was shaped, I glued the individual fingers together. 

 I also used toothpicks in all the joints to hold the pieces until the glue dried.

Next I made the hand shapes, then glued the fingers to the hand.

I also attached the knuckles...

...and then the palm & thumb.

Next I added a little Alex Ultra 230 to some of the finger joints to fill in some of the gaps.

While the filler was frying I started cutting out the large circles.

Then I cut out the inner circles.

Then I glued all the circles together and sanded it with my mouse sander.

Next I glued the hand to the rest of it.

Before I begin filling I need to add brushable primer to the surface.  This will seal the foam and protect it before spraying on any other primer or spray paint.

This hand took a few coats of brushable primer.

When the primer dried I had planned on spraying on more primer, but instead I decided to add some wood filler and seal the piece better.

While the filler dried I realized I had forgotten an important step.  While my hand is inside, I need something to grip onto in order to keep the piece on.  So I cut a dowel which will run through the insides.

When the filler dried I cut a hole on both sides for the dowel.

The dowel fits, coming almost to the edge.

With the dowel in, I can hold it thus keeping the entire right hand of doom from falling off my arm.

Then I made a foam plug for the holes I drilled and glued it in.

Then I covered it with wood filler.

Next I needed to make the inside a little more comfortable, so I inserted 2 pieces of cardboard which I rounded to fit inside.

Then I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the bottom and glued it on.

I cleaned up all the edges with wood filler.

Now that all the filler has dried it's time for sanding!  At first I had trouble sanding around the fingers and then I thought that I could do a better job if I remove the fingers...

I was actually happy that I removed them - I needed to do a better job on them anyway.

Once all the sanding was done I added a little more filler to spots that needed it.

When the filler dried I sanded, then gave it it's first coat of spray on primer.

Then I added more filler to a few spots...

...followed by sanding.  Then I reglued the fingers on.  

And then gave it a new coat of primer.

When the primer dried I used a marker to draw in all the swirls that appear on the hand in the movies.

Then, using my dremel, I carved out those lines.

Next I decided to use a multi-textured spray paint I had...

...and I coated the whole arm.

This texture gives the feel of rock.  Eventually this will be painted over in red, but the texture should show through.

When that dried I added the red paint.

After a few coats of red, I broke out the air compressor and airbrush.

I added black to the joints, cracks and swirls.

Now I think this thing looks awesome!

Once all the paint had dried I applied some clear coat and I'm finally done!

It was not easy photographing myself wearing this thing...

...nor could I make a normal face with it on.

Despite not being totally screen accurate, it's still obvious that this is Hellboy's hand, and I think it turned out very well.

Thanks for reading!


  1. I'm really glad you finally got to complete this project, I always thought it was a shame you didn't finish it (with animatronics it would have been even more awesome though)

    1. Thanks! I'm glad it's finally done as well. Perhaps in the future I'll find a better way to do it, complete with animatronics. Thanks again!