Ray Harryhausen’s original dinosaur drawings for One Million Years B.C.

Jurassic art: stunning sketches by Ray Harryhausen reveal the craft and detail that went into bringing dinosaurs back from extinction for the prehistoric adventure One Million Years B.C., starring Raquel Welch.

Ray Harryhausen’s sketch for the scene in which an allosaurus attacks the caveman villageCourtesy of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation

In these fantastic drawings, stop-motion animation master Ray Harryhausen plotted the prehistoric pandemonium that he would unleash in the classic 1966 fantasy adventure One Million Years B.C.

Made by Hammer Films for a princely £400,000, making it one of the studio’s most expensive productions, it’s remembered as the film that featured a statuesque Raquel Welch as the cavewoman Loana the Fair One, whose loinclothed image on the film’s iconic poster adorned many a teenager’s bedroom wall (not to mention Tim Robbins’ prison cell in the 1960s stretch of The Shawshank Redemption).

The iconic poster for One Million Years B.C. (1966)

Collapsing epochs of our planet’s history, One Million Years B.C. depicts a world in which cavemen and dinosaurs co-exist, pitting Loana and fellow members of the neanderthal Shell tribe against escalating attacks from a menagerie of fearsome creatures, including an allosaurus, a ceratosaurus, flying pteranodon and a giant sea turtle.

Such a plot gives full rein to Harryhausen’s creative imagination. He’d been inspired to venture into the world of stop-motion animation by seeing the various dinosaur attacks engineered by Willis H. O’Brien for the 1933 film King Kong, but despite several forays into the mythical past with the likes of Jason and the Argonauts (1963) he had not yet had his own feature-length canvas to let his passion for prehistory run riot.

With One Million Years B.C., he seized the opportunity, utilising a combination of stop-motion techniques and real creatures, including an iguana, a tarantula and a warthog. Harryhausen felt that including these real animals would help audiences find his models more convincing.

Now 50 years old, One Million Years B.C. remains a landmark of the time when stop-motion ruled the Earth. Made years before the advent of CGI, these preliminary sketches for the film reveal the loving attention to detail that Harryhausen put into his work, like a magician conjuring these primeval beasts back from extinction to roar and rampage again on screen.

Drawing for One Million Years B.C. (1966) by Ray HarryhausenCourtesy of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation
The allosaurus attack scene in the finished film
Harryhausen’s preliminary sketch for the film’s triceratopsCourtesy of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation
This sketch shows the triceratops model’s inner workingsCourtesy of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation
The triceratops in the finished film
Drawing showing the scale of the allosaurus against a caveman"Courtesy of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation
The allosaurus astride the film’s title, in lettering that would adorn the film’s classic poster, designed by Tom ChantrellCourtesy of The Ray and Diana Harryhausen Foundation
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