(This is the fifth part, be sure to read the intro to this project in this blog).

Taking a break from writing the summary, it felt like time to get some visual concept art done for the aliens. This is in preparation for some backstory development that we will need for all the characters in our story, but the aliens more than any other. So below is our raw progress on this, ideas spewing out on paper and in instant messager, preserved as is (warts and all) for you to enjoy:

Dani Calero took on the role of creating this concept art using the work so far - the idea and the summary chapters 1-3. Then we went back and forth a bit to refine this as you can see. Dani happens to have a biology background, so his contributions to this phase are truly amazing and you can see his thoughts below.

Boneeaters - First Concept Art

Andrew email reaction

Genius work! Really loved the thoughts too – keep it raw, we will post as we go. People get an inside track to our process.

My absolute fav shot is the side profile – that’s really awesome. And the feeding shot is brilliant – that’s a keeper for sure – perfect!

Feels like these aliens should be like 4 foot tall, doesn’t it? I think I have to adjust that – the only reason I didn’t want small was to avoid people thinking they are children. But we have avoided that in the art. They are speaking to me, saying 4 foot is better. Makes them seem like monkeys not humans, and that’s good.

Pretty much love everything in this breakdown except the second mouth. Lets try another take on it, something like this:

Our teeth have molars in the back for chewing – but the aliens would have them in the front as that is their primary eating method from the soil. Then where our molars are would be the flesh ripping teeth. As such they would have some jowls visible on their face (and you may have to alter the jaw structure a little. Also the lips don’t have to look that human per-se, more circular and then off to the sides would be a track on their skin that looks like train tracks? The trick is that what we would think of as lips are just a portion of their actual mouth… But what they are is just where the skin peels back in their flesh eating mode – they can open their mouths incredibly wide to get to those teeth. One thing that may work is that the back teeth are for ripping, but they eat the bones with the front ones they use for the soil? Does that make more sense that the heavy, duty teeth for soil would be able to do the bone?

I don’t want to invoke a genetic engineering angle – keep it evolutionary.

Instant message exchange

Dani: hey man, morning
Andrew: concept art was truly amazing stuff - did any of my comments make sense back? lol
Dani: Thanks haha, and yes! I'm tring to picture a mouth that works with all the elements. It's great that what we have can be considered a solid base already
Dani: trying
Andrew: so for the mouth to stretch that much the skin would have to really be flexible; so when closed (as we see them most often) i was thinking it looks almost like a tatoo that extends back
Andrew: and that could work - Nate and team could wonder if they are tatoos and thus point to an intelligence hehe
Andrew: the problem is - don't want it to look like an evil smile - lol!
Dani: I see. At some point you mentioned something that resembles rail/train tracks at both sides aka on their cheeks. So I guess that part is the extremely flexible one, almost gelatin flexible, and that looks like a tattoo/scarification of some sort when closed
Andrew: and maybe just thinking too hard - who's to say their skin just ins't that flexible so we don't worry about seeing it when closed
Andrew: so their jaw can just open wide like a snake - and we only really see the tip of it most of hte time
Dani: probaby. I somehow imagined their texture amphibious/frog like. Soft and moist and flexible)
Dani: something that is nice to touch
Andrew: so perhaps just work on the lips - they need not not look like they are connected in the middle edges? something that makes sense when she opens wide? hehe
Dani: sounds good, I'll give it a go

Instant message exchange

Dani: just sent you the new tweaked concept
Andrew: amazing!
Andrew: for the top right shot, add the lines - really like them
Andrew: and you have nailed it!
Andrew: and acid too - great idea
Andrew: could they spit up that acid? could be another cool battle tactic
Dani: Sure thing. It melts flesh and softens bones so it's a great anti-human weapon
Andrew: i'd love to see the bottom left shot in color - would be an amazing draw to this work in progress
Andrew: and it's something that can post anywhere (not even r-rated) and be used to promote the project
Andrew: also - because they are thin, they have to feed daily - works well for the story
Andrew: they can't just sit around and chill too long
Andrew: because of how the plant's soil works, they never had to develop large fat storage
Dani: the go bone hunting specially by night maybe? I contemplated that by giving them multi pupil eyes to see in the dark almost as well as in the daylight
Andrew: and when they kill the animal, maybe then they can chill a couple of days?
Dani: they* go
Andrew: its more rare, but more efficient food
Dani: yeah plus the digestion of bones can be pretty taxing metabollically
Andrew: i'm wondering if the planet doesn't have a night?
Andrew: so they don't have day/night cycles
Dani: but they could need it for minerals they can't get otherwise
Andrew: yeah - bingo
Andrew: they have to do a big kill like once a month
Andrew: and after the kill, they have a small belly for a few days haha
Dani: could work. That would enforce the idea that the temperature is really constant (and they don't need to take shelter necessarily or get covered with clothes
Dani: haha yeah!
Andrew: good developments
Dani: no night or day cycles could insinuate that they lives in the poles, that are hot, like tropical hot. The equador zone of the planet is hellish hot, though, so they actually live in the "cold" area
Andrew: does the concept change the eye design? or still work for all daylight? AND something the humans can use - inside they turn out the lights and the aliens would be blind
Dani: gotta love speculative biology
Andrew: now that's juicy - during the battle the aliens could be fretty about how dark it is inside
Dani: Sure, the eyes concept isn't fully deveoped and was merely aesthetic, so it can work in any direction at this point
Dani: yeah, for them darknes is total, abysmal darkness and it's something they fear
Dani: their pods could be transparent
Dani: not sure about how to develop such pods, or if they are really necessary at this point. Maybe as community/village/families/clan purposes
Dani: guilds
Andrew: yep - guilds is exactly what i was thinking
Andrew: a way their society manages itself
Andrew: v2 is a massive upgrade when you look at them together - those tweaks were huge

Instant messages

Andrew: now i'm thinking 3 feet tall? they feel like they should really be small hehe
Dani: yeah something like one meter tall's how I pictured them
Dani: agreed
Dani: really small framed guys
Andrew: that's settled then, 3 foot tall, feels like a pack of monkeys; cute, but not necessarily human looking (which is good)
Andrew: looking great - ok so we know it's constantly sunny; and i like the yellow angle - maybe their skin gets a little yellow in the direction the sun is shining down on? give them a bit of a magical flavor of glistening/glowing?
Andrew: try me orange instead of the purple for the eye/highlight tail color?
Dani: sure thing, that sounds good
Dani: I also though the eyes could be a visual way of communication, expressing basic emotions by arranging pupils in shapes only they can understand, to replace facial expression (since they can't use their mouths, cheeks or eyebrows for that, a new use has been given to all that or they simply disappeared). That's part of why humans think they're no more intelligent than chimps.
Andrew: great idea!
Dani: the spots and marks on their head shell help them identify and differentiate each other and can give info about age and status within the colony
Dani: (also those hold the bio "radio antennas" for thought transmission)
Dani: it's the only hardened part of their bodies

Meet Nal, the elder pod leader

Next?

Hope you are enjoying our progress. More soon!

Andrew Zar
July 13, 2017

[NEXT: Boneeaters - backstory (alien)]


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