Alien Covenant: Return to Necronom IV

 leading from  

Necronom IV, acrylic on paper on wood, 150x100cm, 1976
See also: The Development of Necronom IV

a) Return 

Conor Sullivan went back to Giger's Necronom IV and saw it as having the silhouette of the xenomorph. 

As far as he thought this painting had an entirely organic approach. 

However if one looks at it, the painting has a biomechanical approach with plenty of mechanical elements integrated in with the biological, such as the pipes connecting with the neck, the head and the back and it's as if the arms are prosthetic limbs had become organic and were decomposing with the rest of the creature's bodily mass.

b) A Natural Beast

This Necronom was very stylised, it didn't exactly fit into what Conor wanted perceive as anatomically correct. 

Who knows what sort of anatomy the beast was supposed to conform to? 

For whatever reason, he thought that it looked very natural, and he was sure that it meant that Ridley wanted the alien to be a natural entity that had been created though nature rather than actually through David's hand.

c) Comparison to Giger's Alien

However at least one could say that the entity in the painting didn't quite have the level of intricacy that the final creature suit in Alien. 

Giger's creation looked much more elaborate with piping over the shoulders and the arm as well as down the legs, and covered with many intricate forms. 

For all that Conor could say about of Giger's painting, he might as well have been talking about a printout of a low resolution JPEG or he simply saw it on his iPhone

But this was his personal understanding of the piece even though it went against what a lot of people with decent eye sight might say about it

  1. Neal Scanlan n'avait pas eu beaucoup de chance dans ce domaine pendant la production de Prometheus. Et je dois dire que nous avons eu aussi un peu de mal à comprendre ce que Ridley souhaitait, au début. Nous nous sommes bien évidemment inspirés des oeuvres de Giger et de leurs formes biomechaniques, et plus particulièrement de sa peinture Necronom  4 qui faisait partie des références mises en avant par Ridley. Paradoxalement, si l'on observe bien Necronom 4, les textures de la créature sont essentiellement organiques, et très peu biomechaniques. Ridley avait aussi sélectionné des images de figures de cire anatomiques italiennes et françaises fabriquées au 18e siècle pour servir à l'enseignement de la médicine. Il y avait des vues d'écorchés en cire, des images d'oisseux venant de naître, etc.

    Neal Scanlan had not had much luck in this area during the production of Prometheus. And I have to say that we also had a bit of trouble understanding what Ridley wanted in the beginning. We obviously took inspiration from Giger's works and their biomechanical forms, and more particularly from his painting Necronom 4 which was part of the references put forward by Ridley. Paradoxically, if one observes Necronom 4, the textures of the creature are essentially organic, and very little biomechanical. (L'Ecran fantastique) 
  2. Conor O'Sullivan:We er, I think everybody's idea of the alien, certainly everybody who works with me in my workshop, is is a biomechanical creature, you know from the er, the original and all the other films since have been variations of that thing and but erm, Ridley was referencing const, constantly referencing er, piece of artwork by Giger which was Necronom IV.

    Den of Geek: Yeah

    Conor O'Sullivan: Which had no mechanical features in it at all, it was very organic. It was done in that kind of slightly very stylised that Giger has, so it wasn't exactly anatomically correct or anything like that but it was er, it was very very natural, and er, I think for this film Ridley really wanted it to be a natural thing, a natural entity that that has been created through through nature rather than actually through, er, you know.. obviously by David's hand as

    Den of Geek:

    Conor O'Sullivan: As you'll understand, as a natural, natural object, it's not er mechanical in any way, okay (Den of Geek Interview at Madame Tussauds)
  3. Adam Johansen: There were loads of Covenant Xenomorph designs produced by many, many brilliant artists. At the time of preproduction, Ridley had not decided on a definitive design though. Our creature dept combined elements of previous designs Ridley liked, references of flayed waxworks Ridley liked and some of our own designs (Maquettes, ZBrush and Photoshop) to come up with a creature look Ridley liked. Bradley Simmons sculpted the head, Dominic Hailstone and myself sculpted the body, Colin Shulver did some ZBrush designs and Conor O’Sullivan did some photoshopping. Upon first viewing, Ridley didn’t love the face and Conor and I eventually made the call to redesign it, to give it more of the original look (more skull like with stretched tendons etc) and Damian Martin, Colin Ware, Rob Trenton, Julian Ledger and myself did the final artworking. The final designs of the creatures were all realised in the creature dept, which was a great honour for our team.
  4. Monster Legacy: Looking at behind-the-scenes pictures of the Alien animatronic head, I noticed the skull underneath the dome has distinctly-shaped eye sockets and no nose hole. Was this design choice inspired by H.R. Giger’s Necronom IV and/or his early concept art for the Alien with the black bug-like eyes?
    Adam Johansen: H.R. Giger was most definitely the primary source of inspiration for the Xenomorph. Even though it predates Giger’s Alien, it obviously needs to be in the same world and part of the evolution. (
  5. Conor O'Sullivan: There was pressure from all the people that were working with us, they all had their agendas. It was quite stressful from that point of view. (
  6. Conor O'Sullivan: You move the thing around the workshop and everyone starts to impose their agenda on it. There's been fights.
  7. Conor O'Sullivan: It's more of an organism rather than bio-mechanical. Where you had pipes and wires and things like that, it tends to be more tubes and organic veins. It could be a real creature rather than this stylised, unworldly unreal thing. (
  8. SFX: Comment s'est passé ce processus de design "en accéléré" ?
    SFX: How was this design process "accelerated"?

    Conor O'Sullivan: (Rires)  On peut le dire... J'ai découvert qu'ils avaient déjà des centaines de designs pour le néomorphe et le xénomorphe. Certains concepts remontaient même à dix ans! Mais Ridley n'avait rien trouvé qui lui convienne.  Pour le xénomorphe, son idée était de revenir à la peinture originale de Giger qui avait tout déclenché pour Alien, une oevre intitulée Necromon IV. Dans ce design, one retrouve la silhouette de xénomorphe, mais avec un approche entièrement organique. Pour Alien, Giger avait repris ce design en développan le côté bioméchanique, et Ridley pensait que ce serait une bonn idée de revenir aux sources. L'idée n'a pas canvaincu tout le monde au studio, je dois dire, car chacun a sa version préferée du xénomorphe, mais Ridley a eu gain de cause.(SFX May/June 2017)

    Conor O'Sullivan: (laughs) You can say ... I discovered they already had hundreds of designs for the neomorph and the xenomorph. Some concepts dated back ten years! But Ridley had not found anything to suit him. For the xenomorph, his idea was to go back to Giger's original painting, which had triggered everything for Alien, a work entitled Necronon IV. In this design, one finds the silhouette of xenomorph, but with an entirely organic approach. For Alien, Giger had taken up this design in developing the biomechanical side, and Ridley thought it would be a good idea to return to the sources. The idea did not convince everyone in the studio, I must say, because everyone has his favorite version of the xenomorph, but Ridley has won. 

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