The creation of the Scorpion, part 3

David Alvarez' initial Scorpion model
Model by David Alvarez

Our Scorpion was finally in 3D form, and it looked pretty neat. But something didn’t feel right. This was supposed to be an unholy offspring of a scorpion and a motorcycle, only it looked more like some sort of mobile vending machine. With a tail.

The art director and I determined that there were three areas of improvement we needed to tackle.

Problem 1: The cockpit

One of the signature aspects of a motorcycle is the riding position. Our current cockpit looked more like it came from a mini-submarine, or an autogyro.

The original Scorpion cockpit looked like an autogyro's.
Model by David Alvarez

To fix it, we pulled the seat out of the cockpit to work on it in isolation. We studied a ton of motorcycle reference photos, especially the low-rider chopper style popularized by Easy Rider, and after about a dozen rounds of trial-and-error revisions, settled on the design below. We knew we’d have to rebuild a new cockpit shell around it, but the seat was perfect.

The seat design went through at least ten revisions.
Model by David Alvarez

Problem 2: The segments

Insects have a very recognizable body shape and locomotion style. Our current Scorpion model had none of the segmentation that we associate with real-world scorpions, and would probably not scuttle across the ground in an insect-like way.

We needed to break the cockpit apart from the main engine/body, and connect the two pieces with a flexible shock-absorbing junction. This would allow the two sections to move independently of each other, allowing the animators to create a more unsettling, scorpion-like walking style.

It was a daunting task, creating a junction design that was both powerful enough to support the cockpit and its oversized claws, but with a wide enough range of motion to allow for both lateral and axial movement. It ended up being one of the last pieces of the Scorpion to be built, due to its complexity.

Twin rotating forks, double shock absorbers, triple socket actuators
Artwork by David Ward

Even now, we’re not entirely sure how we’re going to rig it.

Problem 3: The tail

The plated tail design had been introduced in the earliest concept sketches, but over all the revisions it had gotten increasingly slender. By the time it was in 3D form we’d taken to calling it “the watchband.” The art director felt it wasn’t compatible with the heavy, brutal look he was after. So, he went back to his workshop and came back with the most brutal-looking tail design imaginable.

Matt Evans created a massive plated tail.
Sculpture by Matt Evans

The Scorpion design was complete. All that was left was the remodeling.

Continued in part 4…