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The contestants wander up a wooded hill, dappled with sunlight, dreaming of what the next challenge will be. Do the surrounding trees hint at fantasy and lightness, or horror and madness? They crest the hill to find McKenzie, who tells them it’s a little bit of both. With a stunning forest as their inspiration, the artists will create the beautiful dryad warrior that protects it. They step forward to choose their forests (Avenue of the Baobabs, Painted Forest, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, or the Dragon’s Blood Forest) and in doing so, choose their battle partners.
Before they get to sketching their concepts, it’s time to introduce Matt’s secret weapon (you’ll remember he won last week’s challenge, and now gets the help of an industry professional). Jordu Schell, industry legend and creator on such works as Hellboy and Avatar, will join Matt’s side to get him started on his dryad.
When they reach the lab, Derek sees Jordu in action and starts to get a little intimidated – he is Matt’s battle partner this time, and as Jordu sculpts a cowl piece standing almost three feet high, Derek feels defeated already. But, when he returns to his source material, he finds almost Spartan shapes, and lets that influence the armor for his warrior.
Mel, who chose the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, is super pumped to have a badass fantasy challenge. She incorporates the bark into her character’s anatomy, while keeping an elegant profile. Damien, meanwhile, is using the bark as his dryad’s armor. Though Mr. Westmore cautions him against covering two thirds of his model’s face, he feels it’s essential for his concept – a move that puts him in bottom looks on the reveal stage.
Those perhaps most deviled by time and concept are Graham and Walter, who chose the Painted Forest, a range of eucalyptus trees whose bark sloughs off to reveal vibrant reds, greens, and yellows. Both artists incorporate the idea of one layer peeling away to reveal something unexpected, but Walter, who is a top look, focused on a complex paint scheme while Graham, a bottom look, ran out of time. Going into last looks, his face piece is very well applied – but that’s all he has.
Jordu’s help on Matt’s makeup made for an impressive cowl, but Derek’s simplicity and elegance made him the winner of their battle, and a top look. Simplicity also won the day in the Avenue of the Baobabs, where Jordan focused on clean lines and Greco-Roman armor, and Kevon chose asymmetry and massive shields that suggested the dryad removing the façade of her own tree to reveal the hidden warrior. It’s a powerful concept, but as in previous challenges, the judges felt he took on too much, and didn’t focus enough on the face and head – the most emotive aspect of almost any character.
This is a double elimination week, so Damien, Kevon, and Graham all face the consequences. Each look had its strengths and weaknesses, but in the end the judges bid farewell to Graham, who happens to agree with the judges’ decision, and Kevon, who is proud, as he says, to “go out on a Kevon makeup.”
But wait! There’s also a winner! Walter, who’s been dutifully taking the judges’ notes all season, captures the win! He goes into the semifinals with an extra boost of pride.