Concept artist Peter Konig has posted some of the concept artwork he created for Arrival, directed by Denis Villeneuve. His concepts feature preliminary design work for both the alien creatures and the spaceship. Konig was working on concept drawings during the early stages of the film that looks much different from what was finally used in the movie.
The aliens of Arrival do not share any obvious resemblances to any other aliens we’ve seen lately on film, with a gracefulness to how they move, communicate, and interact with their ship’s environment. They resemble cephalopods, with their bilateral body symmetry, a prominent head, and a set of arms or tentacles. However, the final designs we see in the movie do not share a whole lot with some of the original designs that concept artist Peter Konig made for the emotional sci-fi drama.
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.