Saturday, 12 December 2015

Cover artwork for Triple Ace Games

This blog has been on a bit of a hiatus this year, especially so over the past 3 or 4 months - hopefully 2016 will be more active! This most recent gap in blog updates is due mostly to my working on a pretty big project for Triple Ace Games (TAG). TAG have run quite a few successful Kickstarter campaigns, both for their RPG product line and several card games. I was tasked primarily with creating cover art and interior illustrations for the Black Magic Guide for their 'Leagues of Gothic Horror' Kickstarter. This uses the Ubiquity RPG system as its core. Previews of the interior art haven't been released just yet, but TAG have showed some of the new covers here. In total, I was asked to create 30 small black and white spot illustrations for the interior on a variety of subjects, as well as the full-colour cover. This has been no easy task!

The cover itself evolved out of various ideas, but from the outset I wanted to depict a scene involving summoning or an entity being summoned. Different sorts of creatures sprung to mind, but given the subject matter I chose to go for something that was devilish or diabolic. Having grown up watching various Hammer films, not least of which in this case being The Devil Rides Out, I envisaged something nasty being summoned up at night by cloaked worshippers. I wasn't so keen on showing the summoned thing as being solid as a living creature - rather, I wanted to show it as some sort of powerful energy or presence. From there I sketched up various ideas on paper and then moved things into digital for the final piece. 

This image shows how that process evolved:


Picture 1 shows the original pencil and paper sketch. As I started working digitally (pictures 2-4) I began to correct the composition and improve on various aspects. Of course, working on the thing being summoned drew most of the initial work as it proved to be the most fun. Once that was mostly blocked in, the challenge was to make everything else in the scene fit with in terms of light and shadow. I hadn't planned on showing a full moon with clouds originally, but added it to throw in some interesting colours and light as a counterpoint. By the time I had the piece finished it had taken around 30 hours of work, although 8-10 of those hours involved my going back over and fussing about various small details. That particular version looked like this:

This image is © Triple Ace Games 2015

However, once I saw the artwork mixed with the final cover layout I realised that I would have to expand the viewpoint of the scene so that the main focus worked within that layout. In short, I didn't want anything to be lost in translation there, and luckily I had some time left before my deadline. I reworked the image so that it's scope was wider and suggested a bigger scene, and would still work within the cover's layout. The final piece ended up looking like this:

This image is © Triple Ace Games 2015

Once this and the interior illustrations were all handed over to TAG, I was asked if I could create some cover artwork for another of their Kickstarter projects, 'The Globetrotters Guide to London' (part of their Leagues of Adventure line). This project had raised the required funds and unlocked some extras, one of which is a reference work 'The Guide to Mummies'. My brief in this case was very open so, again, I tapped into the Hammer films vein and mixed in various other ideas to create this final piece:

This image is © Triple Ace Games 2015

This was just as much fun to create as the other cover, although it was somewhat quicker to do - despite even more fussing over small details once everything else was done. Still, I'm very happy with this also and I hope it sets the scene well for what's inside the covers.

You can see larger versions of these pieces over at my DeviantArt gallery.

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