How PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale’s special edition art was created

Lead image AllStars_02

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.

8 Author replies

Hi, I’m the illustrator who created the artwork for the All-Stars special edition. 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 and I’ll try my best to answer.

Carnivius_Prime 19 November, 2012 @ 16:11

They’re pretty slick and would make nice PSN avatars. :)


Hi Carnivius,

Glad you like them!

Keep an eye on the blog, as we’ll be releasing this artwork as digital content in the coming weeks (hopefully including Avatars).

If you or anyone else on the thread have suggestions for other pieces digital content. I’m all ears.

CoolRichy008UK 19 November, 2012 @ 16:15

im gonna sooo save all them images :D thanx

‘Keep an eye on the PlayStation Blog in the coming weeks as we will be sharing some digital content using Robert’s designs.’

Care to expand ? In what form of digital content are we talking i.e. Avatars ? Themes ?

Also Phil, three things:
– Will the online pass of the PS3 version be cross compatible with the digital Vita version provided by Cross-buy ?
– Could we please get a bundle of avatars that have more then one character in them (if possible) ?
-Is there any chance of downloadable costumes, and if so could they please be affordable ?


Hi S-o-h-a-i-l,

Way to ruin the surprise! Kidding, we’re looking various items, some of which you mentioned above. If you have any other ideas for ways we could use Robert’s awesome work (digitally), let me know.

To answer your other questions;

– Yes, the cross-buy entitlement on the PS3 disk gives you the PS VITA version + PS VITA Online Pass
– Will look into is, but as avatars are so small, might look a bit messy
– The game allows you to unlock various different colour options for the characters and of course there are the pre-order costumes. However, I’ve not heard specific plans for DLC costumes, yet.

Hope that answers your post S-o-h-a-i-l.

Thanks for the positive reaction so far guys, it was a ton of fun to work on!

Absolutely beautiful and utterly inspiring art work Rob (do you mind if I call you Rob). Give yourself a pat on the back from me, ok? Was there any character you found particularly difficult/ easy to capture in your art style?

Also, how have I not head of the special edition. Please tell me we’ll be getting this in Ireland. I want Rob’s amazing artwork among my games collection.

Katana_Strikes 19 November, 2012 @ 16:27

Nice work Robert. Reminds me of avatars I designed for a forum I worked on. Brought back some memories!


Wow, that’s a really cool set. Looks very street-art inspired. Would make great stickers/t-shirts!


Awesome Katana,

To quote CoolRochy above “im gonna sooo save all them images”

Thanks for sharing!

Hi Skelly,

Everyone calls me Rob so that’s cool. Do you mind if I call you Skelly? And thanks so much for the kind words – you never quite know how people are going to react to versions of such beloved characters. The trickiest thing overall was having a style that could deal with a very detailed character (Radec) but also Toro who has no ‘form’ at all.

Nariko was difficult because I had to work out where to put all her hair!

The easiest characters were the more cartoony (Ratchet and Clank, Parappa) but the hardest was probably Sackboy – there was no simple way of doing the crochet texture, so i had to go in and draw every stitch!

Thanks again!


as much as i like the art on this blog post i think i like the 8bit style of your’s even more.

kudos to you mate :)

Hi Phil,
Not that it bother me either way but more out of curiosity, is the Vita version that comes with the PS3 game included on the PS3 disc or do you get a code to download it off the store?


Thanks a lot for the answers Phil :)

Also, one very unrelated question that I’ve been hoping to get an answer to for a while (if you can answer it at all) – will we be getting Assassins Crees 3 avatars anytime soon here on the UK Store ?

They are GREAT!


Thank you :D

Really cool to see how they were made!
Makes me feel sad I wont be getting this, I’d prefer the extra costumes over the case I’m afraid, but I’ll definately be keeping an eye out on the avatars!

@Katana, Your designs are awesome too!

CoolRichy008UK 19 November, 2012 @ 17:54

Phil Lynch its ok and btw its coolrichy not rochy LMAO

Look cool, you’ve made me buy it now!

Off topic – but thanks for the t@g PSV download code whoever is responsible!!

I was wondering about the steelbook art, and now I know. Love the work Rob. Your Frankenstein (horror) is brilliant.

It would be my dream to get a commission like this.

I’ve been trying to contact (I’m guessing all the wrong) people about doing some avatars for Playstation. With the hope of some free ones & some for charity.


Thanks so much – it’s the kind of commission that doesn’t come round very often that’s for sure!

you are super cool but the special edition isnt avalable on Turkey . what a blameful thing :( anyway im just wondering how did you get your PSN avatar which is looking super cool and can you give me free :D because in Turkish store there is no content about PSallStars

November 20 !
Add me on PSN will be play with Raiden and SackGir/Boy


fantastic work, can’t wait for the full game this week. Your artwork is truly great, Katana’s is sweet aswel. Really hoping there are more characters, please market the heck out of this title!


good job I want it to avatar !!!!

I really wanted the special steelbook case but sadly it didn’t come with the pre-order dlc, you did a really great job on it though.


This is the first time I’ve heard of a steelbook edition. Is it only for the U.K.? And only for the PS3 version? Any special editions for Spain?

CoolRichy008UK 19 November, 2012 @ 20:21

message for hayzink

more sleeping dogs DLC on the way one of the dlc is a island with fighting challenges ;) and wooooo coool art

I can’t believe i missed getting your prints out at thoughtbubble this weekend!
Will console myself with getting this steelbook and hopefully a signature from you in the future!


Hi James – I have plenty of prints in my online shop… I’ll be at some cons next year, then there’s always Thought Bubble again, be sure to come over and say hi. Cheers!

CoolRicky008UK 19 November, 2012 @ 20:58


CoolRicky008UK 19 November, 2012 @ 20:59

STUPID IDEA. PS ALSTARS BUT IM saving the images thxx :)

Carnivius_Prime 19 November, 2012 @ 22:07

No idea why ‘coolricky008uk’ felt the need to spam this thread and send me a similar message to my PSN… strange person.

Some fantastic designs here and on your site man.

Quick question. Do you start on paper and then use photoshop and illustrator?

Lovely stuff and you’ve a really unique style.
Keep up the great work.


Hi there,

For this work I went straight onto the computer – into illustrator first and then overlay textures in photoshop. I used to do graphics for computer games when I was 17/18 so it’s always felt a natural way to work.

Thank you so much,


It took me a while to find it but the steelbook as referred to in this post is available at Amazon in the UK. Amazon doesn’t often get exclusive deals like these which is probably why not many knew there was a steelbook available.

I’ve no idea whether the steelbook is available outside of the UK as I’ve not looked too much into it but for the sake of my fellow European gamers over the pond hopefully someone is offering it.



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