Crafting a cover for Shadowrun goes rarely the same way twice. Sometimes the magic happens organically, sometimes its the a wonderful recipe combining a variety of ingredients, and sometimes you just need to hit it with napalm. When it came to crafting the title image for Stolen Souls the recipe included all three.
It all started with a plan…
I had an idea in mind that I finally wanted to have the legendary Raven Mimura bring the characters to life. Raven crafted some of my all time favorite character images from the Fourth Edition era, and his amazing character images infuse a range of intensity and storytelling that is among the very best in the industry. I’d long wanted to put him on a cover and as a huge fan of Shadowrun, he was glad for his shot at it.
Next we needed the details, so I tasked Jason Hardy with designing a set of notes that would allow Raven to really work his magic. Jason is a huge fan of Raven’s so he worked up a description for a character wizard to sink his teeth into, which in this case were the frayed ends of forced insanity caused by the dangers in Stolen Souls. Here were the original art notes:
Setting: Interior hallway of a corporate office. Should be a nice place, with dark wood doors, brass wall sconces, beige walls, padded carpet, that sort of thing. As we get farther in the background, some of the walls look like they have been slashed with an axe…because they have been.
The focus of the scene is on an executive running down the hallway (toward the viewer) at a full tilt. He is wearing a business suit and tie. His tie is slightly loosened. He is carrying a fire axe. It looks like some of his swings with the axe have been somewhat wild and have cut into his pants, so the lower part of them is looking a bit shredded. His facial expression should be very crazed, to a scary extent—like, say, Jack Nicholson in The Shining.
Behind him is a runner team. They have been sent to extract him, but they had no idea just how far gone his mind is. They are supposed to take him alive, so they cannot just take him down. They are running after him—we should be able to see a female ork street samurai with a large stun baton, a male dwarf mage getting ready to throw a spell down the hallway, and a female elf shooter lining up a shot with a dart rifle. This team should look like the type you would trust to do a corporate run—not too crazy looking, professional and all, but still looking like shadowrunners.
Raven’s characterizations were right on target from the get go and he did an amazing job bringing these to life.
With those characters in place I then handed off the image to Victor Moreno to build the corporate setting around these characters. Victor has delivered some over-the-top amazing work for Shadowrun settings (like the upcoming Shadowrun: Crossfire box cover) so I tasked him with designing a background which showcased the scene and reinforced Raven’s storytelling. The heavily tilted ‘ground’ reinforced the unbalanced state of the foreground character’s state of mind, and wood panel color palette really sets off the characters nicely.
All told the collaborative result just goes to show how great a team we have here on Shadowrun, and the awesomeness of letting specialists play to their strengths. It’s a great image and does an excellent job illustrating the state of mind one risks in the Sixth World.