My latest fake video game cover, Chris Chameleon, was made for my friend’s 32nd birthday. It’s the first straight homage cover I’ve done as the others have all been done without pulling inspiration from a single game or referencing a particular game with the art.
To be honest, I wasn’t thinking about my friend Chris when the idea came to me. My friend Brandon is about to welcome his first child into the world and I was itching to make another video game cover. My mind was actually mulling over ideas for Brandon. Brandon’s name, however, doesn’t lend itself to a pun — which has been my primary title/game inspiration that gets the ball rolling — so I was considering an inside joke as I did for Pop-Gun Underground. This led me to considering making a game titled The Charlie Chaplin Midnight Society which would feature three playable characters: Brandon, Chris, and myself.
Admittedly, I’m not good with likenesses. My first idea on how to differentiate three white guys on the cover was to put us in different costumes, but that led to mostly Halloween costumes and then it wouldn’t convey the idea/joke of the title. However, it did remind me of something I had said about Chris. I tried searching for the Facebook post to share here, but to paraphrase, it was about not having to wait for “the other shoe to drop” since his wife was already familiar with his many shoes: Converse, Roller Skate, Scuba Flipper…
So that’s where the idea of having multiple Chris’ came from. Which lent itself naturally to Kid Chameleon — both in name and theme. Here’s the box art to the inspiration:
So then I had to decide on the different “faces” of my friend Chris. Here’s a sampling of the list: scientist, roller derby referee, scuba diver, Hooter’s girl, Czech, Willy Wonka, naked cowboy, lobster, juggler, Clarence the ninja, cheese head, disc golfer. Below is my first sketch on scratch paper.
The problem then became finding a balance between these faces. Several were Halloween costumes. Some lent themselves to costumes more readily than others. Did I know which facets Chris considered more central to his persona? How much did that matter? Below is the first Photoshop sketch with 8 Chris’ chosen: Chris in traditional Czech garb, Scuba Chris, Cowboy Chris, Derby Chris, Laser Scientist Chris, Willy Wonka Chris, Lobster Chris, and (in the middle) normal Chris. Monica liked normal Chris best (more on that later).
I want to take a quick moment to mention Ctrl+Paint, an amazing resource on digital painting. I was looking for some sort of instruction series to improve my art, and Matt Kohr’s instruction is informative, easy to digest, and is the right teaching style for the type of learner that I am.
In my last game cover, Game Overman, I agonized over the colors and primarily employed cell-shading. I still would say that the style of this game art is more cell-shaded than painted, but I’m getting more comfortable and will keep pushing into a painterly style.
I also typically find backgrounds arduous, but luckily the background to the inspiration was white with bursts of light/energy. I couldn’t replicate it, so I just emulated it as best I could. The logo was a simple vector (because I knew I wanted hard edges, especially in the outside “stroke”), but it cut off the roller-skate. I couldn’t do much about that and I wasn’t sure how much it really mattered, but decided to make the logo semi-transparent so that it was at least somewhat visible.
The Finished Product
So here it is. A 32X game for my friend’s 32nd birthday. I didn’t end up rendering “normal” Chris, but I did end up putting that sketch in the bottom left where the Sega seal of authenticity usually is — to try and keep the composition balanced. I hope you like it, Chris!