Simes aka Simon Phipps has been a friend of ours for sometime now, with Bitmap Soft’s recent entry into publishing retro homebrew games for the past twelve months, they have produced some stunning looking games, one of those is Unhallowed from Blerkotron
Bitmap Soft approached Simon ‘Simes’ Phipps to design the art for this amazing text adventure, here Simon talks us through how he created this fabulous art for this recently released Unhallowed for the ZX Spectrum 128.
This cover had a super-fast turnaround on it – the art needed to be done quick to get the game mastered and out as fast as possible.
Fortunately Jamie sent me a series of inspirational images and we discussed the kind of house that might feature in the game. I had a fairly good idea of one that was local to me so one rainy evening I ran out with a camera to snap a few pics to get an idea of possible lighting and mood.
I wanted a more extreme perspective on the house for the final piece so went over to Sketchup and quickly pulled together a scene to get the angles and major shadows blocked out.
Then it was a matter of getting the cat in – the right combination of body, curl of the tail and evil looking-down-the-camera stare with a quick bit of photobashing.
After that it was over into Clip Studio Paint (my favourite drawing and painting package by far – it’s not a subscription like Photoshop and it has an amazing brush engine that’s really easy to work with.) Since the piece wasn’t going to be super-colourful and I needed to work quickly I decided to work in greyscale tones first and add colour later.
Working in shades of grey means its very very quick to paint and it’s really easy to keep an eye on the amount of contrast in an image – ideally every painting should have a broad range – deep contrasting blacks to give an image punch and some nice bright highlights. (It’s trickier working in full colour and often when I’m working in colour from the start I’ll often drop in an adjustment layer that desaturates the image so I can stop the image from becoming too tonal and muddied.)
With the greyscale complete I then dropped in a Gradient Map layer – this allows you to assign a colour gradient to your image – in this case the blacks and dark greys map to dark blues, midtones to greens and the brightest colours to a sickly yellow – the ideal base to work off for something haunting and spooky.
Then it was time to get all mid-90s serial killer on the piece – throwing in lots of additional textures, splaytters, scratehes and overlaying a gradient that went from a bright orange at the bottom of the image to a deep black at the top. The final layer of the piece was a copy of the image laid back on top of it with some of its red blue and green colour channels scaled and offest to create a bizarre chromatic afterimage that’s most noticeable at the top of the roof.
Finally, came the logo. This is a standard font, but to make it feel a part of the finished art I duplicated the lettering multiple times, scaled, positioned and recoloured it to give it that edgy, jittering feeling that those 90s horror movies like ‘Se7en’ used to great effect.
We hope you agree that the final design looks amazing, you can follow Simon Phipps on Twitter