Cover Art Spotlight: Unhallowed – Simon Phipps

Unhallowed

Unhallowed is perhaps one of the most widely regarded text adventures to hit the ZX Spectrum, Blerkotron, the programmer made such a fantastic game that needed a fantastic cover art to accompany a physical release. After a brief discussion both Blerk and ourselves decided to ask Simon Phipps if he would be interested in doing some designs for us and below is what he created.

We wanted to share the process that Simon went through to create this amazing piece of art and one that we are very proud of.  So Simon can you briefly share how you created this amazing covert art for us at Bitmap Soft?

Simon

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.

So there you have a brief idea how this amazing cover art was created, we hope you enjoyed this new feature we have started and please keep visiting the site for more articles like this in the near future.

Visit Simon’s website to see more of his amazing work.

Thank you Simon from us at Bitmap Soft.