Recreating that 80s game poster feel for Starsceptre


Paper, pencil and pen are your friends

When you embark on making a computer game (I sound so old don’t I) the things I always remember for classic games were the amazing cover art. It had the power to take you to the game’s world and enhance even the most basic of in-game graphics.

And that’s been a key part of the fun of making my own game. Even though it’s a mobile device game I still want players to be transported the way we were when we were kids. If you haven’t seen it, I massively recommend the ‘Art of Atari’ book – so beautiful and detailed. That’s the power of game art in the real world.

So it was I embarked on Starsceptre’s poster using pencils and pen. There’s something magical when you lay the lines down on paper and use tracing paper over the top to start to refine the lines. To make them smoother, to reduce the strokes so that it starts to become graphical.

I’ve been lucky to have created comic art back in the days of school and college, and even though that was decades ago that skills has always come in handy for scamping ideas for ads or storyboard panels.

So it was I re-created the star fighter from my game and the lead character. Yes, Onalee is the lead character. She’s your rock in the world and helps you overcome the barriers of endless barrages of bad guys and bullets. 

The other character who represents the pilot is less important because you, the player, are in fact the pilot. And as you are a rookie in the game and as a real player you need someone strong to support you. 

But when I came to draw Onalee I struggled with the first pose. And so it was I reached out to an old friend, from school and college, who’s skills as a comic artist had jumped light years ahead of my own – David Stokes.

I remember in college, we would draw and collect comics together. David always thought that my style was better than his, but he had an amazing style that you could feel, not just see. 

So I asked David for his help with the lead illustration and he kindly drew over the top of my sketch what would really help the pose and adding a natural dynamic to her movement. And that helped me in ways you can’t imagine. 

David’s dynamic amendment to my original (above)

Going digital

Now I love working with digital tools, especially when colouring and adding light and shade. It’s really forgiving for me to work this way.

My initial approach (above) was to create an anime style colouring and shading. Whilst it looked good, it was missing an energy that 80s posters had.

So it was I decided to reorganise the layout and add the main villain. This creates a double layer of energy to the poster. The villain grabbing for Onalee and the Sceptre and Onalee grabbing for us, the audience.

I still wanted it to stay vibrant, but add the brush strokes that really made it come alive. It’s so cool to mix approaches for the poster art. I’ve had lots of great feedback from other artists and gamers. I’d love to know what you think too!

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