Half-Life was the game that's responsible for turning me into a hardcore gamer. The first time I took that tram ride down into the Black Mesa facility, was the moment I fell in love with immserive, narrative-driven games. So it's understandable that when I found out a MOD team was trying to remake Half-Life with the Source engine, and the project was called Black Mesa, I just had to get involved. I contacted the Black Mesa team and they were happy to have me join. Initially I had wanted to compose the soundtrack, but they already had someone (Joel Nielson, who did a great job on the music), so I contributed concept art instead. I was busy working as a studio art director at iWin at the time, so I only contributed the concept art for the alien grunt's armor.
This is my take on the alien grunt armor, based on the descriptions given to me by the Black Mesa team (they provided me with a render of the nude alien grunt, and I painted my concept of the armor on top of it):
The rotted/pitted flesh around the armor is used to convey the armor has been grafted onto the flesh, so the alien grunt is like a bio-mechanical hybrid.
Those of you who still remember Half-Life well, might remember this is what the alien grunt looked like in the original game:
A couple of more variations to the design:
Some of these variations were deemed to look too much like they are for sports, and the team wanted a simpler, more chunky look.
Here's how the finalized 3D model of the alien grunt looks: