Alien Covenant: Xenomorph - A stripped down killing machine : Towards the wax anatomical model

leading from


a) Towards the wax anatomical model

Going back to the source didn't convince everyone in the studio, and so Ridley went a different direction, taking the alien head and using a wax model of a skinless human with all the muscles showing.

Ridley had also selected images from Italian and French anatomical figures made in the 18th Century for the use of medical education found in the the Museo della Specola in Florence, Italy, 

He loved the anatomical ‘écorché’ wax sculptures from there (Conor O'Sullivan appears to have mentioned Spinoza but that doesn't seem to make sense) and this brought a slimmer frame and fleshier look to the creature.
He also selected images of newborn birds and then also focused on wax anatomical models from the Specola Anatomical Collection 
For those who would believe that the original alien had some sort of armour on, perhaps this new beast was another earlier form of the Alien life form but without its armour.




b) Conor assumed that this was what he wanted instead of the biomechanical look.  

He even had a drawing that Ridley had drawn over with reference to the wax work. 

It was as if Ridley wanted what seemed to be a naturalized version and that's what the creature creators did. 

Conor came to realise that ultimately it turned out that the designer of the alien beast was Ridley himself.

He also realise how artists found themselves associating with Giger's original Alien design so much in their lives that it proved complicated to forget it, and artists integrated biomechanics into their work almost without realising it.

With that, Charles Henley noticed how Ridley studied reference of muscles of the body without skin, which might have connected with the wax models, so while there were part of the body that were more exoskeletal, there was also flesh muscle

Ridley was also asking for meat stock gelatin running across the structureof the cranium.


Source :


  1. Conor O'Sullivan: Ridley's constantly drawing - storyboards, ideas, designs, etcetera. He would draw over any photo you gave him - correcting it to what he wanted. He did this with a photo of a Giger painting called 'Necronom IV' and an image of an anatomical waxwork from Italy. This was the referenced for the next Xenomorph look (Makeup Artist #126, p82)
  2. Like the neomorphs, the chestburster grows rapidly into adulthood. The result is an agile xenomorph driven by an insatiable bloodlust. The latest iteration of the classic alien predator has long attenuated limbs and stands nearly nine feet tall. Gone are the biomechanical textures from HR Giger's original concept, lost in favor of a more organic aesthetic. The Museo della Specola in Florence, Italy, supplied an important visual touchstone with its display of  wax 'echorché" anatomical sculptures (Cinefex 153, p28)
  3. Conor O'Sullivan: If you look at the original Giger, it’s much more organic than the classic alien, Ridley was interested in a wax figure in the Spinoza museum. I think this is what he wanted, not the biomechanical look. I’ve got a drawing he’s drawn over with reference to the wax work. Ridley wanted a naturalized version, and that’s what we did. Ultimately, the designer was Ridley himself. (
  4.  Charley Henley, the production VFX supervisor from MPC : Ridley studied reference of muscles of the body without skin. You had the pipes that come out of the back, parts of the body that are more exoskeleton, and then there’s the fleshy muscle. And then for the cranium he wanted meat stock gelatin running across the structure.(

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  1. "Alien Covenant: Xenomorph - A stripped down killing machine : Towards the wax anatomical model" was posted on July 31st 2021