Chapter Five Cover Art

The cover art will start soon, the artist is currently occupied with greeting family and giving them tourist guides about Australia where he lives. It’s now in the hands of the writer to figure out some concept art for it. What’s best to go with the Battle of Ustron, the fifth chapter for our intrepid heroes? Well…

I was contemplating something along the lines of the silhouettes of our soldiers against a blue-ish background of urban carnage. Tashy would be front and centre, following the theme of rotating through the ensemble cast, and that would complete the rotation for the main characters. Urban warfare, cigar smoking and a jingoistic splashy cover? Perfect for a military sci-fi work. The cover art is probably going to derive some inspiration from a few sources. One is the re-imagined X-Com. I played both the original, where everybody dies, and the newest one, where you lose if anybody dies. It’ll also get some inspiration from urban warfare scenes in the background like my friend War40k or stuff like Fallout. War40k gives it the right sort of “technobarbarians are invading my world” vibe and Fallout has a look that is good for “Team America rescued the shit out of my city”. (Side note, I think Fallout’s damage to the city looks more like indiscriminate shelling than a nuclear attack. Maybe it just bugs the engineer in me that “buildings don’t get damaged like that if it were a nuke”. C’est la vie?)

With so much awesome cover art out there these days, I’ve been thinking about what makes one better over another in my eyes beyond just the quality of the artwork. In my overthinking it moments, I see something like Dust Wind’s cover art and it’s got a band of post-apocalyptic warriors against a devastated urban background. Then you read the lore and you find that they’re actually a specific faction, the most heroic sounding one, and the Soviet propaganda style poster feels more relevant. Then, I look at Fallout 3’s cover art, it’s the helm to powered armour. Awesome… and then there’s no meaning to it. Powered armour is iconic to Fallout but it’s nothing special to the storyline of Fallout 3 but it’s an attempt to connect the game to the previous two that featured powered armour helmets. But, here’s the thing, Fallout 1 and 2 had zippo money because it was “back in the day”, so I’m not sure that just doing homage is good enough to me. It has no connection to anything in the game itself.

Turning away from other games to derive inspiration, there’s also a few reference images of various places in Poland to get a good feel for their architecture. Most of the meaty architecture exists in pictures of market squares. There’s the distinctive tiled roofs and square-ish buildings that speak of the architecture in Poland. I’ve also a preference for tightly packed buildings (in North America, the best example would be East Village, New York City).

Anyway, that’s where the cover art is at these days.

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