Denis Villeneuve’s new philosophical thriller Arrival derives much of its power and mystery from the design of its aliens and their inexplicable, sliver-shaped starships. Squid-like, elephantine, and usually seen only in deftly rationed glimpses, the Heptapods and their ships were the work of artist Carlos Huante, expanding on notes from the original source story, Ted Chiang’s “Story Of Your Life”. But Huante wasn’t the only designer consulted on the project: artist Peter Konig, who’s lent designs to movies like Jurassic Park, Cloverfield, and Splice, also submitted several ideas for the alien’s ultimate designs.
Konig’s Heptapods tend toward the ethereal, reinforcing the idea of the aliens as inherently aquatic beasts. According to an interview the artist recently gave to CinemaBlend, he was also influenced by the alien warmth of horses’ eyes, a choice reflected in the second of these designs:
You can see more of Konig’s designs—including his spherical take on the aliens’ ship, and a design for a first contact room that looks very much like the one Villeneuve ultimately chose—on the artist’s personal gallery.