Cthulhu Idol Build

nick daring

Master Member
Many have been made before but this one will be mine...

Here's the famous passage from H.P. Lovecraft's 1928 story "The Call of Cthulhu" describing the world's Harbinger of Doom in statue form-

The figure, which was finally passed slowly from man to man for close and careful study, was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural malignancy, was of a somewhat bloated corpulence, and squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered with undecipherable characters. The tips of the wings touched the back edge of the block, the seat occupied the centre, whilst the long, curved claws of the doubled-up, crouching hind legs gripped the front edge and extended a quarter of the way down toward the bottom of the pedestal. The cephalopod head was bent forward, so that the ends of the facial feelers brushed the backs of huge fore paws which clasped the croucher’s elevated knees. The aspect of the whole was abnormally life-like, and the more subtly fearful because its source was so totally unknown. Its vast, awesome, and incalculable age was unmistakable; yet not one link did it shew with any known type of art belonging to civilisation’s youth—or indeed to any other time. Totally separate and apart, its very material was a mystery; for the soapy, greenish-black stone with its golden or iridescent flecks and striations resembled nothing familiar to geology or mineralogy. The characters along the base were equally baffling; and no member present, despite a representation of half the world’s expert learning in this field, could form the least notion of even their remotest linguistic kinship. They, like the subject and material, belonged to something horribly remote and distinct from mankind as we know it; something frightfully suggestive of old and unhallowed cycles of life in which our world and our conceptions have no part.

The passage is packed with details but open enough for tons of artistic interpretation which is where the fun and frustration begins. :)

I've been a Lovecraft super-fan for a long time but also being a visual artist I am frustrated by most artist's interpretations of Cthulhu and the rest of the Lovecraft pantheon of extra dimensional beasts.

So being a prop fan I knew I would one day finally break down and sculpt my own version of the famous idol.

First comes research. I first began with the Lovecraft source material. In addition to the above passage describing the Idol itself there are a handful of descriptions of Cthulhu throughout the story. Some pertaining to other artifacts and some during the story climax where our heroes finally come face to face with the ancient god.

Also in addition to written descriptions of the Idol from the story we also have a couple hand-drawn sketches by Lovecraft himself in letters sent to friends and fans.


This gives me a good idea of the feel and form Lovecraft had in mind but since he wasn't a talented visual artist we can assume that these sketches are only a rough approximation and allows me to put my own spin on it while straying "Accurate".

Next I needed to figure out the overall look and feel of my Elder God and found a bunch of real-life reference that had similar properties to the creature in question.

In the text of the story he is described Cthulhu as "[SIZE=-1]a scaly, rubbery-looking body", "a somewhat bloated corpulence" and having "flabby claws" and is just crazy enormous so the image of huge rotund sealife came to mind. Cthulhu has also been sleeping on the [/SIZE]bottom of the ocean for millenia so a fat, sedantary look seemed appropriate. I also wanted something very alien and unhuman so I referenced a bunch of insects and microbiology photography too.

Below are some samples of what's in my reference folder-





Tardigrades are creepy-


Fat caterpillars are also creepy-


And crustacean arms and joints have a creepy design-


Also because the description includes the phrase "vaguely anthropomorphic" stuff like this can be found in my reference folder-


So I then start making sketches and developed my own design of Cthulhu...




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nick daring

Master Member
Re: My Cthulhu Idol Replica

In the end this became the starting point for my sculpture-

I know I did a front view of the thing as well but can't find the drawing.

I really like the fact that Lovecraft included three eyes on the original sketches and made sure to include them on my version. Also I tried to add an extra joint in the arm to make the creature less human-like.
It's time to sculpt the thing but again wanted to do a bunch of research in the realm of ancient stone statues of this size and stone. The story describes the stone as a green and black stone with flecks of gold interspersed throughout.

After some searching online I found several real types of stone that fit the description fairly well but there is this stuff called labradorite that fit the bill really well.




I even played with a chunk of it at a mineral shop nearby and the stuff is so weird and cool. The final product will be resin and paint most likely but it's nice to take the research to it's ideal place.

Looking into the styles of sculpting I wanted to avoid the look of modern "garage kit" style sculpting and something that a looked a little more "ancient artifact" with old jade statues being a primary reference.

I've got folders of this stuff on my computer. The research is half the fun, right?




The heiroglyphics around the base are an important part of the story since they appear in various locations around the world during assorted time periods revealing the weirdness of Cthulhu's influence on various people all over the world.

I tried to design my own original style of writing but was unsatisfied with the results-

Instead I found an ancient Tibetan set of characters and slightly altered those to create believable text that felt old. It's a bit of a cheat but it sure does look the part.

I didn't take many pics of the sculpting process but here is the sculpture after it had been cooked and primered once and sanded and before the wings were attached.






More to come...

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The 48th Ronin

Master Member
Wow, that's fantastic! Great design, and I really dig your sketches too.

I'm kinda' bummed that it's a one-off, though (I'd love to have a copy).


Master Member
LOVE this. Man, I have coveted that Deco Idol on the HPLHS site for ages... your take is absolutely epic!!!

nick daring

Master Member
Thanks for the kind words everybody. It's good to know that all the weird obsessing is connecting with others. Makes me feel slightly less crazy.

Yeah that HPHS Deco Idol is a way cool design. In the story a second Cthulhu statuette is briefly mentioned later on that is bigger than the first and I assume of a different design. That'd be a fun one to do next since there are absolutely no "limits" on what it's supposed to look like. I've got a good Elder Thing sculpt going on too, but first things first. :)

Nailing all the details simultaneously has actually been a really difficult challenge while maintaining the style I want to achieve. Some details are a slightly contradictory. Making something "rubbery" and "scaley" as per the book's descriptions is difficult.

To give the impression of "scales" I made a little textured stamp out of sculpey and tapped it along the surface in various spots to give him the hint of texture while maintaining the slick jade look.


The slight texture will also catch the antiquing finish I'll use later.

Something like this statue has but a subtler-

Also, here are some quick camera phone photos of where the sculpt is at with wings attached-







I was originally going to try and cast the wings separately but couldn't figure out how to do it properly and just attached the wings permanently with Apoxie sculpt to fill in the gaps since I had already coated the thing in primer. Those garage kits guys make it look so easy.

I'm still trying to figure out how the mold the thing though. Will those wings require a 3 part mold?

I'm also very curious about using translucent resin mixes to get a slightly deeper faux jade-like feel to it. Uncharted territory for me. Lots of tests ahead.

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nick daring

Master Member
Oh yeah, I would be remiss to not mention the influence of HR Giger's work. His Alien and Space Jockey are the stuff of nightmare's.



Well-Known Member
well if you mold it in dragonskin, you won't have to worry about the wings or three parts.

you did a really great job on this. i like your style. it's very unique but def looks like it was carved.


New Member
Outstanding work! It sends shivers down my spine. I hope you have taken precautions to preserve your sanity with such a detailled likeness of a great old one sitting on your desk :-D


New Member
This is really cool. Looking through your sketches, the one you're working from is the one that caught my eye right away. Mentally, it matched the idol from the story perfectly.


Well-Known Member
DUDE....VERY FREAK'N COOL!!!!!! I love that you are a fan and are trying to create what is discribed with your personal touch of brilliance. Great job. Looking forward to how you cast and finish this piece.


Sr Member
I'd be up for a copy as well. That's a really original and well thought out take on this statue. Beautiful in its horrifyingly inhuman physiology!

nick daring

Master Member
Thanks for the kind words.

Silicon and resin has been ordered.

Also, I found another developmental drawing-



New Member
Epic, i really like that you can see a lot of the reference images in the actual sculpt, the "crustation fingers" for example. i would also be interested if you were to do a run, it would be the perfect gift for a friend or two.
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