ILM Creature Design Challenge Showcase

Nia M - Liverpool College Year 9

Cephalamari design has clear anatomy with great proportions for the upper human body with an indepth explaination to the reasons behind the design choices made and its further adaptations.

Awesome use of colour to highlight areas of interest (suckers, back membrane and spikes) also how a similar colour pallete has been used from the main reference of a jellyfish.

Amazing use of shapes for the octopus/jellyfish legs and how you mimicked this to the upper body to creature a scary silouette and shows key features for survial underwater.

Mark D - Liverpool College Year 8

Crocrabhale has incredible development from an inital 2D sketch and how reference was used to develop this into the fuctional 3D creature which feels believeable and has key features for survival.

The various renders of the creature in 3D help to understand the designs size, proportions and realise the fuctionality of the features discussed. Using the Gold matcap material and editing it to be green, enables the model to react with virtual lighting in the scene which is great to understand the forms and shapes used.

The strong silhouette and use of angular shapes for the teeth and claws work well to create a fearious predator that match referanced creatures extremely well.

Finn S - Liverpool College


“I love the research and visual inspiration that has been presented here. It helps provide back story and context for the design, which is fantastic to see. The design is really creepy and effective, but also feels believable within the story being told. The 3D model really shows how spooky the creature will be.

Ted M W - Liverpool College Reception

Your creature has so much colour and amazing use of shapes similar to that seen in corals so can definatly camouflarge itself from predators and sneak up on pray easily.

Awesome use of adding extra eyes to enable to see in mutliple directions so it can stay alert and attack prey with its shooter. Great to see other animals added into your design like the crab hand to pinch animals and scare them away.

Charlie T - Crosthwaite CE Primary Year 5

Octoder uses lots of bright colours, similarly seen in octopus! Great use of referance for attention to detail.

The spikes are an awesome method for catching pray.

The flat face reminds me of a stingray body, this would work incredibly well to help it glide across the sea bed and disguise itself.


It’s amazing that through Steam School we can reach all corners of the nation! Getting involved in interactive projects like ‘Mission to Mars’ means that we can inspire young people from all different backgrounds, some which may have never known a career in VFX is something that is possible. The vehicle designs that the students created were simply incredible and showed a huge amount of technical skill and imagination! We had real trouble choosing our favourites! Our collaboration with Steam School has been totally seamless and we’ve been really impressed by how organised the team are. They endeavour to achieve quality and level of finesse in every step of the process from branding and video content all the way through to the events platform and professionalism of the staff. Jon was also an exceptional host and elevated the event to a whole new height with his level of energy and enthusiasm. Of course, none of this would be possible without Jade who has been a spectacular Project Manager and a joy to work with! Thank you Steam School for providing the opportunity to help inspire and educate the next generation!

– Amy Blackwell – Industrial Light and Magic.

Just wanted to say a massive thank you to you, the Steam School team and the ILM team for an excellent broadcast. The kids were delighted to see some of their designs on the shortlist.  So impressed with the level of feedback the team gave for the entries – I think it will inspire many of them to go on and try the 3d modelling software.

The class really enjoyed the challenge and it was great that they were able to do it remotely – it gave them some sense of normality in very unusual times.

Shirley King, Teacher, Crosthwaite Primary

It’s been really enlightening to see how the Creators at ILM think, and how they create their artwork, and look forward to having the links to go further with art and design in the future.

Jane G, parent

Just to let you know the kids are loving this competition. 

We have launched it whole school and even some KS3. Downloaded that software and have been giving some lessons on computer modelling with some groups also – something we have never done before.

Sarah Doran, Careers Lead, Liverpool College

It has been such an incredible opportunity for all the students. To learn directly from such accomplished and high profile industry experts in special effects has just been invaluable. It was so motivating to the students.

Liverpool College

Blog Entries

The Atheneyay! - Norah F, Crosthwaite CE Primary Year 6

Hey everyone, my Name is Norah, and I would like to introduce you to a very scary, very stealthy, Ocean predator and guess what; it’s a Star Wars alien, but don’t worry; it won’t bite!

So how can they be these super scary ocean creatures then if they don’t even bite and they’re only about 20cm long? Well let me tell you more to find out:

Six Super weird facts about the Atheneyay:

1) They have feathery gills around their head like a lion’s mane (see axolotls heads for a similar thing) under their arms and on the backs of their legs!!

2) You would think by looking at one that its reddish feathery gills ( in nature red often means DANGER – DANGER I am poisonous) secreted the poison but really it’s two small parallel bulges on its belly called poison glands!!

3) The skin on its belly where the poison glands are is see-through so you can see all the poison bubbling inside it, yuck!!

4) Female Atheneyay’s have more concentrated poison than males meaning they are more dangerous. The cute little baby Atheneyay’s though, only have one poison gland so they aren’t dangerous at all!!

5) In mating season the Males gills glow to attract females, the male deposits the reproductive material on a really smooth pebble and the female absorbs it , then when the babies are born the new mums and dads look after and hunt for the babies for 2 years until they reach maturity!!

6) Their other name is the SHELL STEALER because they hunt snails and when they have poisoned them and eaten the slimy body, they steal the shells as camouflage!!

So after reading that I think you would agree that they are pretty crazy creatures but let’s see the other side of them and learn about the cute, sweet Atheneyay, but never be fooled after that you’ll be finding out about the murderous shell stealer….

These creatures are not always so bad though, when they are born they look like little wet and fluffy seals with only tiny cute gills. At this stage they can only eat very tiny sea snails and they just fit the shells over their heads. Atheneyay’s stay together in a big group called a cloud, they are called this because they all swim and weave as one like a big cloud and when the poison from their bodies seeps into the water it can often turn it a cloudy colour.

Now for the Vicious side!

Atheneyay’s are virtually blind and so they use their gills and small webbed hands to feel along the sand for snails, when they do find one they rub their poison on it to kill it and after slurping up the body they grab the shell and make a break for it!

They have small sharp teeth and a body mostly covered with fur, in fact their face looks a bit like a seal!

Now after reading this I hope that you will appreciate this wonderful and WACKY creature as a true deep sea alien that could be worthy of STAR WARS!!!

The Serpentine Leviathan - Gabriel C, Liverpool College Year 9

Adaptations to water environment:

4 large tentacles around head helping it with many functions, much like hands. Whether that be swimming; grabbing; pulling; pushing; digging; and many more functions, including even handling delicate things. Strangely, they have been found dancing during the mating season.

Huge snake like body encircling larger prey, then squeezing. It has bumps on its side to act like thorns in a creature’s side while doing this kind of hunting. It moves very fast with a slow slithering motion, with each thrust to the side, its body moves tons of water, it does so, so incredibly smoothly, it seems as if though it is gliding. However, it can move much faster, extremely similarly to a snake, and can use its skull tentacles to propel itself further.

It has an unimaginably powerful mouth, being able to bite open boulders, and helps with digging by jabbing its nose into the ground, then opening its mouth, displacing tons of ground.

It lives alone, or with a partner, having sustainable relationships, and are very intelligent.

How it breathes:

It uses 3 huge lungs, able to inhale water, and air, and strong enough for many toxic gases to have no effect. They are also its hydration system.

How it attacks prey:

As mentioned before, it can curl around them in rings, then choking like an anaconda.

Its fast speed means it can chase, and bite, or it can fight using its tentacles.


Smaller creatures freeze in shock when seeing it, but usually, for convenience’s sake, its scales make it nearly impossible to spot. It shoots up from the sea bottom and bites its prey’s underbelly, when preying on larger creatures.

These leviathans can cross species and fight, usually just resulting in intimidation, they may kill and eat each other. They are hostile to even those of their own species, when not in their family.

They seem to spare ecosystems, knowing it is better to let them thrive and use them as a food source. They are friendly towards parasite removing fish, and usually have several groups of these at any one time. This is presumably because it is hard to clean such huge bodies.

Their tentacles, may feed it during its sleep on some nearby fish, It needs extriemly large amounts of food to maintain these massive bodies.

Alex E, Crosthwaite CE Primary Year 5

Hi, my name is Alex E. I’m here today to tell you about my design for an underwater alien creature. It’s very exciting and I am looking forward to explaining my ideas and design for a brand new futuristic creature.

One of the most important things I had to think about was how my creature would swim and breathe underwater. I did a lot of research and found that some underwater creatures have gills and other creatures can swim underwater for a long time and just come up to the surface to breathe. I decided that as my creature lived and ate in the sunlight layer that it would just break the surface to breathe. It can swim underwater for 2 hours before it needs to come up for a breath.

It’s not able to go deep down in the water as it wouldn’t be able to survive and even though it is a predator, it also has predators of its own. The shell would crack if it goes deep. It likes warmth and eating fishes.

My creature is designed to live in a world underwater because it has flippers to swim around and has its shell. It can swim 30 – 40 miles per hour. It is bigger than normal turtles. It is about 1 metre long, its shell protects it and it only eats fish from the top of the ocean.

I don’t like scary creatures that have weird faces that are disgusting and horrible how they eat people and have sharp teeth. I wanted my creature to be kinder than that and not as horrible with sharp teeth and a tendency to eat people.

“I loved these!! How creative!!! What I loved about all of them, was their chatty and informal style of blog whilst using descriptive language. I can see all these blogs being turned into mini vlog scripts. I thought Norah’s was really creative because she framed her description of the creature as ‘ six weird facts’ very clever and great for social media, in particular Youtube.”

– Jade Parkinson-Hill