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Dev Diaries V: The birth of an illustration

You may have had the chance to admire the illustrations on our EFS19 cards, or perhaps even on the SCP wiki, where several of them are being used! So surely you’re curious to hear how we imagine, source, design, and edit these pictures? And who better to tell you all about that than Karolína, the illustrator and magician behind almost every one of them? We deeply appreciate her input and trust that you will too! So without further ado, welcome to the fifth edition of our Dev Diaries! The following text has been translated from the Czech original written by Karolína.

“Creating every illustration for EFS19 is an adventure. Sometimes it goes smoothly: right from the start it’s clear what we want to portray and how we want to portray it, we have good assets, and the illustration just appears naturally. Sometimes the illustration is partially edited and finished thanks to the know-how of other people on the team. But there are also cases when the image has to be redone several times, or even discarded and created completely from scratch. Luckily, this is not very common.

In all cases, however, there are steps that I always have to follow as an illustrator.

  1. I start by reading the assets: the story and task on the card, and the article in question on the SCP wiki. After that, we (as a team) consider any potential problems, and then plan the layout and design of the picture so it fits both the task on the card and the original SCP file.
  2. I prepare a sketch of the proposed illustration, sometimes even with several variants. Mostly, it is a quick pencil sketch on paper, capturing the main parts of the image.
  3. After the sketch is approved, I start looking for materials to create the illustration. Almost all illustrations on the EFS19 cards are created as photo collages or photo manipulations, i.e. they consist of many different photos, combined to make a new image. It is therefore important to find the right reference materials and then process them.
    In some cases, a special photo shooting session is arranged and the necessary materials are photographed directly for the needs of a specific illustration. We usually spend a whole day working with actors, make-up artists, and props just to pull off one picture on a card to perfection.

  4. I process all my assets in various apps, but mainly in Adobe Photoshop and Affinity Photo. But if I have been unable to find a suitable asset for a card, I have to draw the illustration as realistically as possible on the computer.
  5. The finished image is then run past several of my colleagues and, based on their feedback, the illustration is fine-tuned to perfection.

It is then ready for use on the card!”