artist. writer. designer. problem solver.

Half Life Alyx - The Northern Star Spore Cafe

I am a big Half Life fan. Playing Half Life Alyx was an incredible experience for me. The game came out in 2020, so I had airborne illnesses on the brain. Half Life Alyx is a game with plenty of corpses with alien mushrooms growing out of them, and plenty of spores. At one point Alyx says “I really don’t think I should be breathing this stuff,” and gets the unsure reply of “Mmm...probably not. Maybe breathe less?”
I decided to explore what such a potential alien spore infection might look like.

A final for a close headcrab bite - fertile ground for alien zoobiotics to take root.

A preliminary stab at overgrowth. I needed to push it farther - I spent a few hours just sort of painting aimlessly, which was a nice activity, but I had my design brain turned off.

I was unhappy with the silhouette and drew out a little orthographic turnaround to get a better sense of what i was working with. I did a lot of these and ended up liking B the best.

I did research into the places an alien infestation might grow into naturally in a face. The sinuses seemed like a good fit, being warm, well-ventilated, and moist cavities in the skull. What's not to love?

Farther infestation. I knew I wanted it to extend under the skin, so I began to bring the "invisible growth" blue across the back of the neck.

Bonus tiger mask

I toyed with the visual of having a couple little growths that had visible blood running through them.

Alyx in the Distillery.

Excision scars, clean. I experimented with some more organic lines and asymmetry, which felt distinctly more Combine in nature, before I settled on this unnatural grid pattern.

Headcrab bites overlaid on the Vault scars.

BONUS - early ideation from December 2020, about 2 months before I got to play HLA. I initially toyed with Alyx wearing a mask to keep other people safe. I thought it would be nice to give her a bioluminescent infestation, so she would never be completely in the dark.