Hi everyone. To celebrate the launch of PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale this week, I’d like to introduce Robert Ball, an illustrator we’ve been working with on some awesome designs of the cast for the game’s special edition steelbook case.
We saw Robert’s work on his blog and thought it would be cool to apply his unique art style to the PlayStation All-Stars gang. Keep an eye on the PlayStation Blog in the coming weeks as we will be sharing some digital content using Robert’s designs.
Hi guys. My name is Robert Ball, and I’m a designer and illustrator. I work mostly in the design industry but have always drawn in my spare time.
I’ve been gaming for around 20 years – my first console was a Sega Megadrive and I was hooked as soon as I bought the first Sonic the Hedgehog. Throughout my college years I went through various PlayStations, Nintendos and Xboxes (boo!), I must have played hundreds of titles. I play a bit less these days, as all that spare time is spent drawing, but I still buy the occasional game.
The guys from Sony contacted me to tackle the All-Stars project after seeing a few prints I’d produced – mostly of film stars – that I’d posted on my blog. The brief was to draw the 20 characters that would appear in the game, so that they would have a consistent ‘look’. This was intended for a steelbook case of the game, for in-box artwork and supporting publicity.
I couldn’t believe my luck! I had to provide some samples (Parappa, Sweet Tooth and Kratos were the first three), then there were a few nerve-racking days before I found out I had the commission.
The brief was simple and tricky at the same time. The simple bit was drawing all the characters. The difficult part was making sure that all the characters look like who they are meant to be, whilst also looking like a set.
There was a bit of work determining how much detail was needed – how can the same style be appropriate for a flat cartoon character like Parappa, and a nearly photo-realistic character like Drake from Uncharted? A further complication was making sure that the illustrations didn’t look like in-game graphics or cut-scenes, so I had to tread carefully.
To create the illustrations I used Adobe Illustrator with a Wacom Intuos 4 drawing pad, which lets you draw with a pen. I would work on sets of four, to keep a consistent style and draw initially in tones of grey. I started off in grey because the first objective was to try and capture a likeness of the character – using colour is a waste of time at this point.
Capturing likenesses can be very tricky. Usually you have to leave them a day and come back, you’ll find that sometimes you’re convinced you’ve nailed it, only for your drawing to look like a different person the next day.
Once I was happy with the likeness I’d block in colours and then add layer of details and shading – usually shadows first and highlights at the end. All the drawings in this set are lit from the left, which helps them look like a group.
As a rule, the more cartoony characters were the easiest (Ratchet, for example), but for some reason Sly Cooper gave me the most trouble and I ended up having three or four goes at that character. I think it may be because I haven’t played that game and was unsure of his character – my first attempts looked like an evil ferret!
I think possibly my favourite to draw was Colonel Radec – I had a lot of fun with all the machinery and valves. For some reason the evil characters are the most fun to draw. I also enjoyed drawing Nariko – she has so much hair I had to work out how to fit it all in, so drew it in a loop behind her head.
I’ve created a video below (it’s sped up of course) to show you how I went about creating these illustrations, I hope you enjoy it.
If you guys have any questions or queries for me, the project or advice on how to get started in illustration or design, let me know in the comments below and I’ll try my best to answer.
Hey everyone, Phil again. I look forward to seeing you all online when All-Stars releases this week. Until then, if you haven’t already, do check out our facebook app, our TV commercial and our Card Battle game.