Combining sci-fi noir and fantasy
Alyssa Menold works with an art director for the Shadowrun RPG, working up concept iterations and going from client brief to final painting
When Catalyst Game Labs approached me about doing the cover for Shadowrun’s Court of Shadows rulebook, I was beyond excited.
I’ve always had a ton of fun with Shadowrun’s gritty, urban settings. But I was psyched at the opportunity to change things up and bring my love of traditional fantasy to the role-playing game.
When I got it, the art brief described a faerie queen walking through forested ruins. However, Catalyst’s art director, Brent Evans, also had a couple of key points that the cover needed to hit. He was looking for a strong, central figure, one who appeared to be both fascinating and ominous too.
As well as that, the painting needed to have a sense of movement, and the colours couldn’t get too bright and fluffy. Even though it was a fantasy painting of a faerie, it needed to be consistent with Shadowrun’s noir atmosphere.
The most exciting part of this painting was getting to be more surreal than normal. Creating a dress that was made of ravens, for example, was quite unusual – and also a total blast.
Throughout the process, Brent worked closely with me, encouraging me to push this picture even further than I knew I could. A lot of my favourite elements in the painting – for example, the misty magic from her fingers, the blurring of reality at the edges of the painting – came from that collaboration.
Anyway, stay with me and I’ll talk you through what I did and why.