In artist Sung Choi's concept art series ARK, an alien invasion drives humanity from Earth. Fortunately, we find a habitable planet to make our home after the horrors of war.
Before sending his characters to the new planet, Choi shows us the alien enemy we face back on Earth. Over email, he explained to us how he achieved the malevolent effect of "The Alien Base," which looms over the fiery wreckage of the planet:
For this piece, I wanted to show the grand view of earth where it has destroyed by aliens. I designed the alien base by having it as a simple silhouette but complex details inside to make it organic and gross. And I used low value key and uncomfortable color for this piece to support the story moment I wanted to present. On the other hand, there are more bright colors on my other paintings that show the new earth.
I also pushed sharp and jagged triangular shapes on the alien base and the city except the figure and mechanic suite on the foreground to emphasize the danger of the environment.
What's particularly interesting is to see how the final version of "The Alien Base" compares to his progress images. We can really see how Choi explored different shapes and colors, and how each combination creates a distinct effect, with different tones. The ultimate version is powerful, both in its composition and its narrative impact. He gave us a step-by-step overview of his process:
For the most of my works, I spend a lot of time to have a strong composition that can be read from even a small thumbnail. At the same time, I plan about the color and overall value key based of the story I want to tell through the piece. I also like to explore some different tools such as 3D softwares to have a better quality. When I need a detailed design process, I do rough line sketches to find out the dominant direction I want. After that, I model it in 3D and sometimes even texture it before I put it in to my painting. It helps the quality and the accuracy in lighting and scale.
His other ARK pieces are more optimistic, contrasting the technology that brings us to a distant planet with the the landscapes of the planet itself. Each illustration is its own piece of exploration, inviting us to imagine both humanity's capabilities and the strange wonders of this foreign world. Choi told us that artists like John Berkey, Roger Dean, Paul Lehr, and John Harris have been hugely influential on his work, especially in building his new planet.
Above: The Crash Site of ARK
Above: New Earth Vista
Above: Exploring New Earth
We first spotted "The Alien Base" on r/ImaginaryLandscapes.