Little green men

A render of an alien planet. It looks amazing!

Aliens within films are typically represented in one of several ways.

Hostile: Aliens coming to Earth to strip the planet bare, enslaving humans or simply because they want to “cleanse” the universe of humanity.

An example of the hostile alien - Independence Day

Crashed and trying to get home: A typical reason for aliens visiting Earth is a crash landing, followed by a struggle to escape to their home planet.

ET - the lost Alien that wants to go home

Investigative: An Alien comes to Earth to investigate something, whether it be a cure for their home planet’s ills or to hunt down an alien vigilante.

An example of the Investigative Alien - My Stepmother is an Alien

Symbiotic: An alien that latches onto a human in order to survive, mostly walking among people disguised.

An example of the symbiotic alien - The Faculty

Colonisation: We go out into space in order to expand a human empire and inadvertently meet aliens (usually hostile).

An example of colonisation in space - Avatar

Rarely do aliens actually differ from these archetypes. And why would they. But the designs of the aliens are usually based upon a modification of humans – to an extent. Mostly due to the cost and manpower involved in creating a non-humanoid alien (i.e either with puppetry, CGI or some other similar means). Especially in television, the costs of making a truly non-humanoid alien are possibly too much.

Of course, if you’re doing something entirely in CGI (say for example, a computer game such as Mass Effect), then you can change things up a bit. But what makes sense for an alien? Well, that could be just about anything.

Mass Effect's Hanar - quite an interesting race

Obviously not everything will be the same: The distance from the sun may mean that aliens eyes should be larger or smaller, the composition of the home planet can effect which pigment is in the skin of an alien, the gravitational pull may be larger or smaller, meaning the body would have to be larger or smaller. Perhaps the alien is gigantic compared to us; image a planet bigger than Jupiter, you could imagine the size of the creature could be up to 30 times the size of a human or more.

There’s just so much that can be done with the concept of aliens. Why? When? How? Where? Just make sure that when you write about aliens, you don’t fall into the regular traps – Roswell, little green/grey men, flying saucers, etc…

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