Update - 2 Apr 2021
Enter the Fray
From the start I decided that my concept would be primarily informed by a central intelligent lifeform, and express that species' history and reign over this planet, while presenting our adrift explorers a vast unknown. I am an environment artist and prop modeler, and want to use this contest to delve deep into those skills, so I limited myself to avoid humanoid, anthropomorphic, or complex creature shapes for the alien life.
"Frays" are an intelligent living network, often found twisting into tree-like shapes, extending mysterious nodes into the sky. Many of their strands, however, meet incomplete tangly ends. I imagine that the stranded travelers would bestow the name upon these strange tendrils.
I was inspired by the interlocking and wayward paths of rope and wire. Wire specifically is able to carry pulses and data, which led me to concept Frays combining into nervous systems which at first glance appear to be the tallest trees around.
There's more to the Frays' story, and subsequently, the context of this world, that I'll share in future posts.
A Total Block-out
As I experimented with some compositions and camera angles, I noticed that I began boxing myself in to an almost extreme focus on the main Frays "tree" and the surrounding ruins. This left little room to express a feeling of vastness. Taking a step back and pulling the camera further out allowed me to start getting closer to the image in my head:
While the central blocked tree is intended to be a Frays system, the remaining trees will likely become types of flora, and are used for size reference.
Somebody Call The Ref
Concurrent to my block-out and concept sketches, I started compiling my reference board, with entries ranging from direct object images, to games and artists that I wanted to pull from stylistically. I'm still adding more each day.