Here's What the Grievers Almost Looked Like in THE MAZE RUNNER Concept Art by Ken Barthelmey

The Maze Runner (2014) concept art by Ken Barthelmey

Check out The Maze Runner concept art by Ken Barthelmey!

The low-budget film The Maze Runner was the surprise winner this year thanks to thrills and terrifying creatures like the fierce "Grievers" who stalk the maze. One of the designers on the film recently shared his designs for the beasts along with some creatures that never made it into the film: Beetle Blades.

 Ken Barthelmey is a professional concept and storyboard artist who's worked on blockbuster films like The Maze Runner (2014) and the sequel The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials (2015).

Click on the images to enlarge.

The Maze Runner wiki describes the Grievers this way:

"It is described as being a bulbous, dark creature, with many appendages such as spikes, shears, and rods. A Griever can 'sting' Gladers, or prick them, which causes extreme pain for up to days or weeks. Stung Gladers who take the Grief Serum are able to regain some of their memories during 'The Changing.' If a Glader does not take the serum, they die."

This is what they looked like in the movie

Now here are the concept designs


"Designing the scary Grievers had many challenges. Slugs and coconut crabs were a huge influence for me in finding the overall body shape. The head was a bit tricky, since in the book they have no face, only a big ugly mouth. It's basically a mixture of caterpillars, bulldogs and even piranhas.

"Wes wanted some specific changes and attachments in the design, like this mechanical scorpion tail. That was a bit challenging because my first design couldn't work with a scorpion tail. Hence the body structure needed to be much lower on the ground." - Ken Barthelmey

Beetle Blade
The Maze Runner wiki describes the Beetle Blades this way:
"Beetle Blades are the property of WICKED. They are programmed to spy on the Gladers. The Gladers also believe the Beetle Blades alert the Grievers where they are. They are silver with a cylindrical body about 3 inches in diameter and 10 inches in length. They have 12 jointed legs running the length of their body. A bright, blinding red light is emitted through the beetle's eye. WICKED is 'smeared across the torso; as if they had been written in blood.' The Gladers mentioned to never touch them. They were common in the maze but also appeared in the WICKED headquarters."

"The Beetle Blades didn't [end] up in the film, but I had a blast working on them. At the very beginning we thought about to make them biomechanical, similar to the Grievers. Wes wanted something like a mutated sowbug and they needed to look scary. They ended up as centipede-robots, however I tried to give them a very organic look. They have a translucent shell from where you can see all the machinery inside its body. It's basically an observation camera, so I tried to make the design very functional." - Ken Barthelmey

The Maze Runner wiki describes the "Cranks" this way:
"A Crank is a slang term for someone who has been infected by the Flare virus. By the time they are referred to as cranks, they have generally begun to lose their sanity. A deep feeling of hatred is often felt by Cranks towards those who are healthy or immune to the Flare."

"This was originally my idea for the "Changing", but this design got used for the Cranks later on." - Ken Barthelmey

The Changing
The Maze Runner wiki describes the Changing:
"The Changing is a state of very painful unconsciousness that occurs immediately after a person is stung by a Griever. Gladers who go through the Changing are often prone to hallucinating and seizures. Their physical attributes often include greenish, prominent veins, a case of hives, and self-inflicted bruises and scratches. A particular attribute of interest is bloodshot eyes."

UPDATE: I've been told that the color contrast on Blogger is lousy, so here's an Imgur album

See more of Ken Barthelmey's wonderful portfolio at

Click on the links if you want to see more of Ken Barthelmey's work or The Maze Runner artwork on my blog.

Via Comic Book Movie (Nailbiter111)

What do you think of the concept art? If you've seen The Maze Runner what do you think of the creature designs?

Official The Maze Runner Summary
"When Thomas wakes up trapped in a massive maze with a group of other boys, he has no memory of the outside world other than strange dreams about a mysterious organization known as W.C.K.D. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape. Based upon the best-selling novel by James Dashner."
Directed by Wes Ball
Cinematography by Enrique Chediak
Production Design by Marc Fisichella
Starring: Will Poulter, Dylan O’Brien, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Aml Ameen, Patricia Clarkson, Ki Hong Lee, Jacob Latimore, Chris Sheffield, Blake Cooper, Joe Adler, Dexter Darden, Carl Greene, and Randall D. Cunningham
Release Date(s): September 19, 2014 (USA), October 10, 2014 (United Kingdom)
Official Site:
© Copyright 2014 Gotham Group, Temple Hill Entertainment, 20th Century Fox. All rights reserved

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  1. I really liked how the Grievers looked in the movie - a good mix of biomechanics and a bit of scare factor. For some reason, I pictured them like bloated cows with no heads and multiple appendages - not a very good image in many ways. These designs are much better. :)
    I did miss the beetle blades and wish they had used those in the movie. Unlike most books, I actually liked Maze Runner better as a film although my kids like the book better.

  2. That second picture is going to give me nightmares!

    Why did I miss the boat on this? I need to do some homework.


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