If made today, the Raiders of the Lost Ark scene with Major Toht’s grisly demise would undoubtedly be created using a digital stunt double and complex CG fluid simulations. But in the early ‘80s, old-school practical effects were still a Hollywood staple, and using crayons, sculptor Steven Richter demonstrates just how simple it is to make someone look like they’re melting away.
Of course “simple” is a relative term in this case, as Richter is already a very talented sculptor and makes short work of recreating actor Ronald Lacey’s head using a mixture of melted crayons and clay so that the material can be shaped and moulded. You can certainly try it yourself, but the results might not end up looking quite as Hollywood-calibre.
The next step is much easier, however. To recreate the immense powers and awe of the Ark of the Covenant, Richter simply pointed a heat gun and a hair dryer at his completed crayon sculpture and waited. It’s a slow process, but the magic of timelapse footage immensely speeds up the final result, which doesn’t look that far off from what actually ended up in Raiders.