arrival alien designs

The aliens in Denis Villeneuve‘s adaptation of Ted Chiang‘s Arrival are remarkably simple. Besides not sharing any glaringly obvious resemblances to any other aliens we’ve seen lately on film, there’s a gracefulness to how they move, communicate, and interact with their ship’s environment. Unsurprisingly, the final designs we saw don’t share a whole lot in common with some original designs concept artist Peter Konig made for the emotional sci-fi drama.

Below, see some of the alternative Arrival alien designs. 

Konig was a part of Arrival during the project’s early days. Little of the artist’s work is in the finished film, so he felt comfortable sharing some of the very first alien designs made for Arrival on his official site. The one to the left is the design Villeneuve was initially drawn to, but he ended up going in a different direction.

Alternate Arrival Alien Designs

After posting his designs online, Konig described the experience of working on Arrival to Cinemablend:

For the creatures, when they brought me on, they were in a stage where (Denis) Villeneuve just wanted ideas, lots of ideas. He didn’t want to stick to the short story or the script in terms of what they should look like. He wanted variety, and to just try stuff. He sent me photo (references) of stuff he liked, real things he thought had elements that he thought were important – pictures of cuttle fish, squids, microscopic organisms, stuff like that. He also like horses eyes for their very soft and thoughtful qualities and because although they looked familiar they had this other quality of being slightly “other” and alien. They had a sympathetic look, but were a little spooky. He also wanted to try designs that had no back and no front, confusing to look at, yet still with an intelligent feel. I started with quick pencil sketches, which didn’t go anywhere. When I started kitbashing in Zbrush, I hit upon that purplish one with the tentacles and he really responded to that one and seemed really excited about it. I kinda thought that that was the one that would end up in the movie, but a lot of time went by and things changed.

There are certain qualities Konig lists that Villeneuve was looking for that you can see in the movie. The director achieves that “sympathetic” but “a little spooky” appearance he was going for with the aliens. Artist Carlos Huante designed The Heptapod aliens we see in the movie, but Konig came up with some unique designs. He even made some concept art for the alien’s ship, which you can see more of at his official site:

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