May 062011

[Edit 11/13/11: Some five months after opening my game image section, Art Gallery, this post still gets a very large number of hits from Google searches, so I am removing the images from it. If you found this page from a Google image search, please head to the link above to find the art in question..]

Lately I’ve been on a poster-making kick. It came about as the result of several stimuli, kind of like when the first person poured rum and coke in a glass to see what would happen (answer: only one of the best mixed drinks ever.) In this case, it was listening to good artist friend Amy Mebberson talk about poster prints she makes for conventions, combined with the realization that today’s world offers easy access to things like 11×14 poster prints from Snapfish.

Oh, there’s also the part where I have kicked myself for more than 20 years for not picking up the Konami Game Posters offered way back in the day. (That said, I actually feel pretty relieved now that I see this ad that Life Force and Metal Gear, the posters I would have wanted the most, aren’t in the set.)

Now, with the help of the internet, Photoshop and hours of work, I can have all the posters I want–and I intend to do just that. When I started this I only planned on making four posters — Wasteland, Zak McKracken, Final Fight and Salamander, representing four of the games I enjoyed the most as a kid, each with some nifty art. I’ve since made a few other posters and gathered the art for potentially dozens more. I’ve no illusions about ever having so many posters hung up or even possibly printed, but it’s a very relaxing pasttime. Since I’ve been unable to find sufficiently good quality scans of the proper Wasteland art, I moved ahead to Zak. And now, on to that poster.

Zak McKracken is an awesome classic game from Lucasarts, released in the 80s. I don’t think it had the same level of sales as Maniac Mansion, but I believe it was a better game, personally. You can read more about it elsewhere and you should find a way to play it. For the poster, I knew that finding art wouldn’t be difficult because I had months earlier discovered a site where someone took the original art from Zak, blew it up and painstakingly touched it up piece-by-piece to make it look great with none of the speckling and other artifacts one often finds when they scan a game’s box to 4000×6000 pixels.

I decided to make the poster look like the game’s box, which isn’t unheard of for games (see the Konami posters referenced above.) I found other medium-res scans of various editions of the game with which to get the text that overlays the picture and the “Lucasarts” logo in the box at the bottom. I decided to keep the “LucasArts Presents” at the top as well as the description blurb at the bottom as they didn’t interfere with the image that much. I then used Photoshop’s pattern generator to create a unique marbled border in the same vein as what had appeared on the original box. Overlay all that, make sure everything is resized appropriate to a 300dpi 11×14 print and we’re in business.

Zak’s poster is an example of great cover art. Whether you like the actual style being used or not, it fits the “feel” of the game and ties in many elements of the game (Zak and Annie on the cover, items from the game such as the fishbowl, power crystals, french bread, crayons, nose glasses, etc., and of course the aliens underneath, with the Mayan temple portrayed in the background) presented with a colorful flair–as if they actually communicated to the cover artist about what the game would be like; what a concept! And there’s still has room for not only the logo, but descriptive text and a border.

Note that neither Zak nor Annie are presented as glamorous or even above-average (unlike the characters on the Maniac Mansion cover, for instance.) Like later game characters such as Nathan Drake (of the Uncharted series), our heroes here are ordinary people, albeit ones placed in extraordinary situations, and to boldly display that on the cover is pretty awesome.

And that’s about all there is to it. Keep an eye out for future poster exploits and if you need a copy of this for your own printing interests, let me know.

  One Response to “Game Art Poster: Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders”

Comments (1)
  1. Hi there, great poster!! Could you pls send it to me via e-mail? The others as well? want to decorate my room. Thank you very much and greetings from Germany

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