Here is the english version of my last article about my work with Mattel. Thanks to Jim fr the Help :)
After several overloaded months of work followed by two short weeks of not especially deserved but very welcomed vacations, I’m back on my Wacom and on my computer!
But, before I get back to work I can finally speak about a job I’ve done on which I spent a lot of time and which was supposed to stay secret. But, here we are, so let’s unveil the “thing” starting with something you’ve ever see anywhere else!
First of all, let me explain to you how the project came about. In 2008, Ghost Stories was released and to celebrate it, Antoine Bauza (the game’s designer) and myself decided to do a big signing session at Essen. In the middle of signing 300 signatures, we met Brian Yu who became a big fan of the game. We met again for the third time when we signed the second expansion of the game 3 years later, and we started to know each other and become friends, Brian asked if I would draw him and his wife as characters of Ghost Stories (heroes, not monsters :)) to celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary. The was fortunate to have a lot of time to make him this present, and I took great pleasure doing this illustration for him.
He seemed to enjoy his gift and told me hat he would like very much to work with me one day. Thinking he was trying to be “polite,” I asked him where he was working (Yes, Illustrators are not useful in every situation) and He answered me: “I’m working at Mattel.”
....MATTEL!!!!!!!!! Yes! You heard it right (or read it) - Mattel! For the ladies, Mattel will remind you of your Barbie Dolls! And for the Hairy Ones, you will, of course, remember “The masters of the universe”!!! YEAAaaaAAahh !! He-Man is my friend! (Hmm… For me, it reminds me of my sister’s Barbie Dolls which where taller than my Big Jim action figures. It was such a trauma that I Pulled out a He-Man action figure (he was shorter than Big Jim, but at least he has a green tiger!).So, of course, being a big professional, I managed to hide my joy and my excitement and my answer was: “Brian!!! Are you kidding me?? Do I have to pay you for it? When do you want it?! I’m here! I’m ready! I’m good for drawing gigantic blond women!”
I would like to make this short but I’m not capable of that…. So, to continue, I must admit I didn’t really believe in this opportunity to work with Mattel. It’s a huge company which doesn’t really need a small French illustrator, but the idea was beautiful and the proposal was so nice. In September 2012, Brian contacted me to tell me that we had the OK to start the project, and if I accept he would be pleased to work with me. I will spare you my loss of consciousness, my totally naked belly dance in my parent-in-law’s garden but yeaaAAahh!! It happened! I am working with Mattel!
The game is designed for the children and I won’t spoil it but it’s a haunted mansion theme with some kids who have to cooperate to loot some treasure before ghosts catch them. Now, at this point in the story, things will go faster. Mattel introduced me to David Tucker who will become my only liaison with Brian, he is a senior packaging designer and we had a very good relationship. To be honest, I was terrified to work with such a big company from a different culture than mine. I was thinking that I will be working with a lot of anonymous people behind a screen doing a very anonymous work being an anonymous illustrator. And it was just the opposite. I worked most of the time with Brian and Dave and they were expecting me to do what I do usually – some “Piero” with my ideas, my choices – it was just perfect.
So, after a very detailed brief from Dave, we started to work on the cover and, as usual, I’ve done 4-5 proposals.
We will keep the idea of the kids running to the haunted mansion.
We wanted to give life to the house, as in the movie “monster house,” and my friend Simon helped me a lot with the composition of the image (the trees-hands – that’s Simon’s idea).
The idea was accepted very fast so I started the final draw.
Dave knows the color tone he wanted to give to the cover and, as I totally agree with him, we start a first colored rough.
But, we realize quickly that the idea was better than the result. We used a green counter light to try and avoid a monochromatic feeling, but it did not look good in the final rendering so we tried it again in blue.
And because we’re not as stubborn as donkeys, we agreed on the fact that the orange was the problem. It looked too much like Halloween and will be a problem when printed. So, instead of doing a counter light in blue, we decided to do everything in blue: a beautiful night… and it’s cool… I will have the opportunity to draw a moon… (it’s always cool to draw a moon).
Everybody working with Dave and myself agreed: way better! We tried the moon on left and it’s better position for future titles. So, I started to finish my illustration. I put all the lights, the special FX, and I put the foreground in the dark to put light on the house and I maximized the ghosts.
Two problems appeared when we were done. The first came from Dave who realize that kids seemed to young, so we have to age them a little and it was such a challenge! We tried many different ways (I will spare you all the images) but once again, Dave helped me so much because he’s very professional and his experience when he was working for Disney was very helpful! The second problem came from my side. I’m working in a workshop full of illustrators, comics artists and comics writers… and they had a big problem with my image. One very innocent question came out (innocent but full of dramatic consequences): “what is that on the tree? My answer was quite simple: ‘Uh… it’s a owl…” After a never-ending debate, half a dozen participants, a lot of beers and a lot of tears… I “decided” to re-draw my owl. And off the record, I will keep saying until my last breath: “It was a nice Owl I’ve made.”(Normally, there is a lame joke playing with words, but it doesn't work at all, in english ;))
So, here is the final one!
But, finally, not so “final” because you will see it only on this blog… I think we have a nice cover, a nice composition, and we worked very fast not forgetting any small detail. The game will be released in Germany, at least, at the beginning… and the German team’s answer was very simple:
“HmMMMm… In Germany, we don’t have haunted mansions…. We have haunted castles… »
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