Saturday, February 14, 2009
Creature Feature # 4: Alex Ries
Speculative creature design is different than "regular" creature design. In most creature designs, the aim is simply to create a creature that looks good and appears at least somewhat plausibly functional. Speculative creature design, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on scientifically sound biology and the evolutionary history of the creature. Speculative creature design is often based on an initial concept or scenario. What if dinosaurs never went extinct, for example? How would creatures evolve on a world with much lower gravity and a thicker atmosphere? Or, as in the example above, by Alex Ries, what if creatures evolved in an environment with no gravity at all?
Alex Ries, known as Abiogenisis on DeviantArt, is, in my opinion, one of the greatest speculative creature designers today. His creatures are unique, highly plausible, and have a sense of unearthly naturalism that is rare in creature design.
The above sketches are creatures from one of Alex Ries' more ambitious projects. He is designing the inhabitants of another world, exploring how evolutionary forces would alter his basic alien body plan. The examples above, showing an intelligent species, a large herbivore, and a whale-like filter feeder, are all descended from a common ancestor, and show interesting variations of the same basic traits, such as the quadruple jaws and six locomotor limbs. As the leftmost example shows, he is also designing the technology the intelligent inhabitants of this world would invent. It is a fascinating and wonderful project, rich with possibility.
The images below show some of my favorites of his creature designs. See how he combines plausible biology with visually appealing shapes and patterns.
Much more of Alex Ries' work can be viewed at the following links:
His website: http://www.alexries.com/
His DeviantArt gallery: http://abiogenisis.deviantart.com/
His blog (apparently abandoned, but still viewable): http://exozoo.blogspot.com/
All images in this post are (c) Alex Ries.