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Here's what the Ninja Turtles and Shredder almost looked like

Aug. 12, 2014by: Sean Wist

The first controversy to hit the latest TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES was the look of the turtles themselves. The designs never really won anyone over with the peak of positivity simply coming in the form of tolerance. That's probably strike one right there, but conceptual artist Kelton Cram had a few different designs he was instructed to flesh out, before director Jonathan Liebesman settled on what we see in the film.

In Kelton's words:

Jonathan Liebesman had a lot of the ideas in his head about the different personalities of each Turtle, and how that would determine the size, costume, and accessories. It was all based on the original TMNT, but with a more cinematic approach. Donnie, the brain with the gadgets, Mikey the surfer, Leo the traditional one, and of course Raph the rebel.

The process was very thought out and took about 6 months. I was fortunate enough to work with Liebesman very early on and help design the Turtles in 2D. once the basic silouettes and ideas were approved, we quickly moved into 3D, where we sculpted and resculpted the different Turtles multiple times. Liebesman loved being able to go into Zbrush with the artists and push and pull the anatomy. Ultimately he was able to achieve exactly what he wanted through this process.

Kelton on the design of Shredder:

Shredder had a lot of changes throughout the process. The script would have big rewrites, and we completely revisited Shredders look and function. I got to spend a lot of time making numerous versions for Shredder.

While the design for the Turtles wouldn't have affected the end result too much, I wonder what alterations (if any) will be applied to the sequel. Given that they're aiming for a 2016 release, I can't imagine too much will change. Here's hoping the studio and director Jonathan Liebesman listen to the fan's criticisms and take that into account when crafting the next Ninja Turtle venture.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES is now in theaters, if you dare.

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Extra Tidbit: Would the alternate designs have made a difference for you?

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8:28AM on 08/14/2014
Shredder looks way better here.
Shredder looks way better here.
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10:33PM on 08/13/2014
Still fuckin' horrible. The outcome was no better. Honestly you wanna give them that look- fine! But I could have definitely done without the outdated accessories. Who fuckin' wears durags anymore? With shades conveniently placed on their head. And mid 90s shades at that! At least make it more contemporary. It was like they had tacky 90s style in a modern world. Wtf.
Still fuckin' horrible. The outcome was no better. Honestly you wanna give them that look- fine! But I could have definitely done without the outdated accessories. Who fuckin' wears durags anymore? With shades conveniently placed on their head. And mid 90s shades at that! At least make it more contemporary. It was like they had tacky 90s style in a modern world. Wtf.
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4:36AM on 08/14/2014
OMG RIGHT?! I MEAN C'MON... TURTLES WEARING DURAGS?! WHAT KIND OF TURTLE WEARS DURAGS?! that is soo last season. i'm with ya girl!!!
OMG RIGHT?! I MEAN C'MON... TURTLES WEARING DURAGS?! WHAT KIND OF TURTLE WEARS DURAGS?! that is soo last season. i'm with ya girl!!!
8:46AM on 08/13/2014
***SPOILER ALERT*** ***SPOILER ALERT***

The new Turtles' design isn't bad actually but in the movie you can see baby turtles and they're really ugly.
***SPOILER ALERT*** ***SPOILER ALERT***

The new Turtles' design isn't bad actually but in the movie you can see baby turtles and they're really ugly.
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8:29PM on 08/13/2014
At first I thought the Baby Turtles were going to be cute, and they just turned out even worse than the teenage turtles.
At first I thought the Baby Turtles were going to be cute, and they just turned out even worse than the teenage turtles.
7:32AM on 08/14/2014
Yeah, I see your point. Those Baby Turtles make the Teenage Turtles look so much better.
Yeah, I see your point. Those Baby Turtles make the Teenage Turtles look so much better.
7:17AM on 08/13/2014

The clue is in the title...

People are getting too hung up on the designs. Frankly the 90's version, though blew my mind as a kid, now look really dated and cheesy. Essentially the same costume four times with different bandanas. We wouldn't accept that shiz now. They've always looked like frogs with shells, lips or no lips. Comic books aside, they haven't had beaks in a loooong time, so liberties have been taken since the mid 80's. So why all the hate? God forbid they should try and make them all distinct with individual
People are getting too hung up on the designs. Frankly the 90's version, though blew my mind as a kid, now look really dated and cheesy. Essentially the same costume four times with different bandanas. We wouldn't accept that shiz now. They've always looked like frogs with shells, lips or no lips. Comic books aside, they haven't had beaks in a loooong time, so liberties have been taken since the mid 80's. So why all the hate? God forbid they should try and make them all distinct with individual personalities. The success of the movie (agreed, there where few) was the characterisation and relationship between the turtles. I thought the designs exemplified this. It was the one thing they got right. Shredder should have looked closer to what is above (somewhere between militant badass and modern ninja) and then possibly moved closer to what we got this time around in the sequel. A sort of Shredder 2.0. What we got was a baffling miss-step. I found Shredder's look really lacked dynamism in his current incarnation. But I think rosy nostalgia is blinding a lot of the posts on this sight, look at the 1990 film with adult eyes and ask yourself what you'd change. Once you start asking basic questions you'd keep building towards something a lot closer to what we got. If you were a lab experiment that grew up in a sewer on a diet of pizza and Gwen Stefani, what would you look like? I agree the beer belly designs above are thankfully not what we got, but it showed a lot of thought went into how the turtles were evolved when bringing them into a post Nolan comic book movie world. I for one though the final design was badass. If you disagree so strongly, go enrol in film school, become a concept artist or designer and be part of the change. Or walk on by and protest with your pockets. Its the only way Hollywood will really listen.
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2:47AM on 08/13/2014

Designs

I agree. I had no desire to pay to see it at the theater after seeing them in the trailer. I thought it looked HORRIBLE!!! After the reviews I've seen, I'll definitely stay away. Hell, I'd rather them use the same 1990 costumes and stay away from that CGI crap they used.
I agree. I had no desire to pay to see it at the theater after seeing them in the trailer. I thought it looked HORRIBLE!!! After the reviews I've seen, I'll definitely stay away. Hell, I'd rather them use the same 1990 costumes and stay away from that CGI crap they used.
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1:34AM on 08/13/2014

Turtle designs

cant say its a bad idea... as the designs they went with are superior to these "MAN-TURTLES"
however I CAN say this, the Mirage Comic "Tales of the TMNT" had a few stories where the turtles looked NOTHING like their normal versions... and ther was actually a story that featured turtle designs very similar to what we got in the movie and what we're seeing above.... so it's definitely got president. I've seen stuff like this used in TMNT comics before.... its out here if you want to look for it.
cant say its a bad idea... as the designs they went with are superior to these "MAN-TURTLES"
however I CAN say this, the Mirage Comic "Tales of the TMNT" had a few stories where the turtles looked NOTHING like their normal versions... and ther was actually a story that featured turtle designs very similar to what we got in the movie and what we're seeing above.... so it's definitely got president. I've seen stuff like this used in TMNT comics before.... its out here if you want to look for it.
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9:41PM on 08/12/2014
Keeping the snouts and beaks, the facial features of the original turtles, would have gone a very long way. The steroid-pumped, accessory-laden, over-designed-ness of the rest of it would not have bothered me had that element been preserved. Now they look like something out of a fever dream or, as one critic put it, "a Terry Gilliam cartoon".
Keeping the snouts and beaks, the facial features of the original turtles, would have gone a very long way. The steroid-pumped, accessory-laden, over-designed-ness of the rest of it would not have bothered me had that element been preserved. Now they look like something out of a fever dream or, as one critic put it, "a Terry Gilliam cartoon".
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9:13PM on 08/12/2014

"The process was very thought out and took about 6 months"

maybe that was the problem. someone here once described them as "over-designed" which i couldn't have said better. but then judging by some of the unused designs, maybe they were doomed from the start.
maybe that was the problem. someone here once described them as "over-designed" which i couldn't have said better. but then judging by some of the unused designs, maybe they were doomed from the start.
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9:13PM on 08/12/2014

"The process was very thought out and took about 6 months"

maybe that was the problem. someone here once described them as "over-designed" which i couldn't have said better. but then judging by some of the unused designs, maybe they were doomed from the start.
maybe that was the problem. someone here once described them as "over-designed" which i couldn't have said better. but then judging by some of the unused designs, maybe they were doomed from the start.
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7:53PM on 08/12/2014

yikes...they maybe should have gone with that first draft sketch...

...the one they settled on look more like somebody hung all their laundry on them:( ...but its the LIPS that bug me the most. This isnt an end-of-the-world thing by any stretch--BUT it's keeping me from buying a ticket.
...the one they settled on look more like somebody hung all their laundry on them:( ...but its the LIPS that bug me the most. This isnt an end-of-the-world thing by any stretch--BUT it's keeping me from buying a ticket.
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7:20PM on 08/12/2014
All I know is I had a Batman toy in the 90s that had the exact same black-and-white camo that the far right Shredder is wearing.
All I know is I had a Batman toy in the 90s that had the exact same black-and-white camo that the far right Shredder is wearing.
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6:32PM on 08/12/2014
Doesn't look all that much worse than what they decided on, either way, no chance I pay to see this steamer.
Doesn't look all that much worse than what they decided on, either way, no chance I pay to see this steamer.
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6:18PM on 08/12/2014
"It was all based on the original TMNT, but with a more cinematic approach."
I always like when they say this kinda shit to make it look like they care about the source material but then you look at what they came up with and can immediately tell that they meant NONE of that quote.
"It was all based on the original TMNT, but with a more cinematic approach."
I always like when they say this kinda shit to make it look like they care about the source material but then you look at what they came up with and can immediately tell that they meant NONE of that quote.
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7:21PM on 08/12/2014
By "cinematic approach" they mean the kind of approach that throws out all the source material and makes shit up as it goes along.
By "cinematic approach" they mean the kind of approach that throws out all the source material and makes shit up as it goes along.
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5:28PM on 08/12/2014

oh my

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
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3:56PM on 08/12/2014
It's a kids movie, get over it already.
It's a kids movie, get over it already.
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4:34PM on 08/12/2014
Some people don't care for shitty movies. Get over it.
Some people don't care for shitty movies. Get over it.
6:06PM on 08/12/2014
Guardians is a kids movie and it's excellent. So are most Pixar movies. Have better standards for kids.
Guardians is a kids movie and it's excellent. So are most Pixar movies. Have better standards for kids.
6:35PM on 08/12/2014
Guardians isn't a kids movie.
Guardians isn't a kids movie.
7:24PM on 08/12/2014
A kids movie that exploits OUR generation of kids entertainment. Don't pretend we don't have a stake in this. Nobody here gives a damn that "How to Train Your Dragon" completely changed the book's ending. Nobody here cares about kids movies. What they care about is when the movies THEY grew up with are dragged back into the money machine without anyone to vouch for them. That's a big friggin' difference.
A kids movie that exploits OUR generation of kids entertainment. Don't pretend we don't have a stake in this. Nobody here gives a damn that "How to Train Your Dragon" completely changed the book's ending. Nobody here cares about kids movies. What they care about is when the movies THEY grew up with are dragged back into the money machine without anyone to vouch for them. That's a big friggin' difference.
4:41AM on 08/14/2014
Grand_Marquis... we should band together and bring back our generation of KIDS ENTERTAINMENT!!! i mean... we can make a big friggin' difference in the world.
Grand_Marquis... we should band together and bring back our generation of KIDS ENTERTAINMENT!!! i mean... we can make a big friggin' difference in the world.
3:36PM on 08/12/2014
They all look like they're from some post-apocalyptic movie, like a modern "gritty" remake of 'Steel Dawn' or some shit. And they're not the good guys; they're the rapey cannibal mutant guys who lurk underground.
They all look like they're from some post-apocalyptic movie, like a modern "gritty" remake of 'Steel Dawn' or some shit. And they're not the good guys; they're the rapey cannibal mutant guys who lurk underground.
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4:44AM on 08/14/2014
i know right... someone PLEASE give Leonardo a gift card to Old Navy. turtles need to dress to impress these days!
i know right... someone PLEASE give Leonardo a gift card to Old Navy. turtles need to dress to impress these days!
2:58PM on 08/12/2014
Shit. Just absolute shit.
Shit. Just absolute shit.
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2:48PM on 08/12/2014
I've said it before and I will say it again, whoever did the concept and design work on this film should be ashamed of themselves.
I've said it before and I will say it again, whoever did the concept and design work on this film should be ashamed of themselves.
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6:12PM on 08/12/2014
You're pointing the blame gun at the wrong people, Mr Kurtz. It's not the concept artist's fault. Sure, I'll agree with you in saying the designs are not what a lot of us would have liked to have seen in a big budget version of TMNT but technically, the images are pretty damn good! IN fact, the designers probably started with something a lot closer to the source material. But in the end they have hardly any control over what finally makes it to the screen. What appears in the final film is
You're pointing the blame gun at the wrong people, Mr Kurtz. It's not the concept artist's fault. Sure, I'll agree with you in saying the designs are not what a lot of us would have liked to have seen in a big budget version of TMNT but technically, the images are pretty damn good! IN fact, the designers probably started with something a lot closer to the source material. But in the end they have hardly any control over what finally makes it to the screen. What appears in the final film is thanks to the director, the producers and the studio. The concept artist is just a gun for hire that needs to work for a living just like yourself. Sure, the artist can suggest ideas to the boss but if they want more work in the future, they have no choice but to do EXACTLY what the director wants. If they don't, they lose their job and the studios find some other poor, desperate-for-work shmuck to take their place.
+1
2:28PM on 08/12/2014

Typical...

Over-thinking the concept in order to arrogantly put their own stamp on everything.
Over-thinking the concept in order to arrogantly put their own stamp on everything.
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