In the descriptions for my Codename Saricroft pics
I've been making like the game was real, but I don't think I'll be bursting anyone's bubble by saying that it's not - which is a darned shame of course. Those box photos were actually of Tomb Raider Legend, and then I replaced most of the cover area with my own designs, built from separately produced game art. Now that I've got my main pics out, I thought I'd make a journal entry about the project; and then I'll be showing some 'before and after' pics, where I'll talk more about the creation of the four bits of art.Getting started
I think this all goes back to last year when I jotted a few notes. Sari's perched climbing pose in her Legend montage Other adventures of Lara Croft 2
(above) is reminiscent of Lara's on the back of the Legend box, and maybe that's what gave me the idea of putting her onto an Xbox cover via photomanipulation, and I could be holding the box. I thought that would make an amusing picture and give Sari a nice surprise. Took me a long time to actually do
anything about it, but when I recently saw mruottin's swan-dive manipulation
it reminded me about the game box idea, and I decided it was finally time for action!
First thing I did was take shots of the Legend box, holding it against various backgrounds and also just having it on a surface. I liked the surface shots especially, and picked out two in which the box was angled a bit, which I thought would make for a nice composition, more informal than having the box straight. Initially I was working directly in those box photos, but I soon switched to a better way of doing things, creating my cover designs separately and vertically. So, my bits of game art would get pasted into the cover designs, and then those could get pasted into any box photo via rotation and scaling, as long as the photo didn't have too much distortion in it.Front cover design and art
For the front cover I knew I was going to use my earlier editing for Interrupted ascent
, but I applied some effects to try and make it look like artwork, suitable for a game cover. A similar process was later used for the other bits of art too, to get a consistent style. I also made changes to the picture content, partly to get a more dramatic look. In particular I removed the distracting tree which was arching in across Sari's head, and replaced the sky with something prettier.
The title design involved a long process of trying different things until I started getting some results I thought looked professional enough - because I really wanted this cover to look convincing. I finally went with the idea of having 'codename' nestling close above 'SARICROFT' with a big S. Looked nice and compact. The blue and white colouring stemmed from the colours of the Finnish flag, but the texturing arose by a happy accident. When photoshopping I happened to move my cover art into the wrong place, which caused the texture of the cliff face to show up within the lettering. Looked good so I went with that and refined it a bit.
The jumping mini-Sari got added later, made from the photo seen in Lara Croft jump
. Initially I'd been thinking of some type of silhouette design, but when I tried a more normal photographic look, it was just too darned cute, and I had to have that. I made the figure quite small though, so it wouldn't be too distracting compared to the main one, nor dominate the lettering beneath.
I named the game company after a Finnish word Sari used in the description for The new adventure
. Takatalvi means "back in Winter" (talvi = Winter). Nice word! The snowflake logo derives from a Zapf Dingbat character. I thought about designing something more unique, but eventually I stuck with the simple snowflake. I figure that the people at Takatalvi were too keen to get busy making games, rather than spending time on their logo. They were like "Ok, can anybody draw a snowflake? Great, that'll do. Now let's make a game!"Back cover design and main art
For the back cover I needed a main picture plus a few smaller inset pictures. The Legend box has four insets down the right, but I settled on just having two larger ones for better visibility - and less work! For the main picture I soon decided on using the figure I'd edited in Swing time
. By rotating Sari a bit, it allowed me to neatly fit in the two insets on the right without obscuring the figure. Plus, it's a good action pose of course, and I wanted to stick with Sari's Legend outfit, consistent with the front cover.
I used a new background though. It comes from a picture I took locally. I'll say more about that when I show a 'before and after' pic, but for now I'll just mention that the area shown was really only about waist high or something like that. Works well enough though I think, and I like the diagonal look.
Another element of the back cover design is the teaser text. I made sure to leave enough room for some, and I just made something up - though I tried to make it sound believable. Don't ask me for more details of the game plot or events, because I couldn't tell you! However, I figure that agent Saricroft could be portrayed within the game as a girl inspired by the fictional character Lara Croft - which also explains her crofty appearance of course! And her crofty name. Ok I've gotta stop saying crofty now - but it is
one of the best adjectives on the planet, you have to admit.
Some of the non-pictorial elements are the same as for Legend, but there were a few I changed. I made the barcode thinner and adjusted the numbering, and the Dolby element was moved and change to white. I also modified the small text in the black strip. I didn't have the same font as the one on Legend, and couldn't even identify it, so I used another which looked roughly similar when vertically stretched a bit.
The Legend box had a lot
of small text in that black strip along the bottom, and for a long while I was using the same geometry, thus limiting myself to the same picture area. However, my game didn't have so much text, so eventually I shortened the black strip a bit, allowing me to extend the picture area and show a slightly larger agent Saricroft.Broadening scope
Early in the work, I was just thinking of having the front and back views of the game box, using those two shots I'd chosen. However, the scope of the project eventually grew a lot broader. For one thing, I decided to also have a shot where I'm holding the box, as per my original idea:
I thought that would make a nice opener, to then lead into those two other shots. But also I started thinking of showing the individual bits of game art, nice and large. I was already working on the main two pics at a large size and they looked good enough to show at that scale, which is what had given me the idea. Thought it would be a shame not to make the most of their potential.
With the two inset pics though, originally I'd been thinking to do them quite quickly at a small size, because that's really all the box photos would need. But now I'd need to do them large, which meant far more care and work. The extra delay involved was frustrating, but I'm definitely glad I did them large because they ended up looking quite pleasing. Besides, for a long time I'd been wanting to do some manipulations, putting Sari into new scenery - and now I've got four
I opted to put 'TAKATALVI GAME CO.' on these art versions rather than my own signature, to keep true to the make-believe.Back inset art
For the upper inset on the back cover, I'd been planning to use an excellent jumping pose of Sari's. But when I later used that pose for the mini-Sari on the front, I had to figure out an alternative for the inset. That was problematic because Sari doesn't have all that many pics in her Legend style, but I thought I'd try using the central pose seen in the Legend montage mentioned earlier. Trouble was, Sari didn't have the original photo any more, so I had to make do with the actual montage jpg she'd uploaded, in which she was partly cut off by the other pics. Synthesizing the rest of her - the part I needed - was quite a job, and I only hope I did ok!
The main background came from a shot I took locally, and I'll say more on that when I show a 'before and after' pic. The orange sky came from a separate shot, but was adjusted and stylized for dramatic effect.
For the lower inset I used the pose seen in my edit Night action
- a snowy night-time shot. I placed it into a snippet of background taken from the photo Sari used for Like water would stop me
. You can see part of the relevant area in the top left of that deviation. Then came a lot of adjustments, especially to the lighting on the figure so it fit the brighter new setting better. Added a shadow, water splashes under her feet, and a few flowers. The end result was meant to look like some sort of jungle environment; maybe the jungle she was gazing at in the upper inset.Cross-art consistency and more
In doing my four bits of art, I made an effort to get Sari's top looking quite similarly coloured across the images, because that's what you'd expect in game art, if it's representing a modelled character. Likewise I tried to make her shorts a fairly consistent colour; a brown with less red in it than the top. In the source material I was using, appearances varied quite a bit so I had to do some tweaking.
The back cover mentions unlockable outfits, so I considered giving Sari a different outfit in one of the pics. However, eventually I didn't, partly because it could've been a tough job, and partly because I was happy representing her actual
outfit, as cosplayed.Box pictures
Having done the artwork and built my replacement covers (or more accurately, partial
covers), those covers got pasted into my box pictures. It's not quite as straightforward as it sounds though. If you want to make something like this look convincing, you have to pay careful attention to various details, such as applying shadows or reflection effects. In my opening shot where I'm holding the box for example, there's quite a bit of glare coming off the shiny film, reducing the contrast in the cover. Deliberately added over the pictorial area, for realism.More to come?
Coming up next, I've got a series of 'before and after' pics relating to the game art. And after that… well, I'm not sure I'm finished with Codename Saricroft yet. There may be some more stuff to come - and perhaps I might even track down a sequel game sometime, who knows?
Anyway, thanks a lot to Sari for letting me use the various sources involved in the project. For all the pics, check out my Codename Saricroft folder