PlayStation.Blog
Driveclub

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One – Behind the Box Art

Cristian Cardona's Avatar + Posted by Cristian Cardona on Oct 06, 2011 // Associate Product Marketing Manager, Software Marketing

With the clock ticking down to the release of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One (October 18th!), I wanted to share some insight into an arcane corner of the video game industry: How the box art is made. But first, I’m happy to confirm that the final version of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One will mark the continuation of a recent PlayStation tradition started with Insomniac’s Resistance 3 — reversible box art! The piece — illustrated by Insomniac’s Greg Baldwin, with back cover concept art from Dave Guertin, began its life as an April Fool’s Day PlayStation.Blog post from Captain Qwark. Behold the secret inner box art that we’ve been chuckling over for the last few weeks.

Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One (Behind the Box Art)

Finally: Captain Qwark gets his moment of glory! Flip over the cover art of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One on October 18th and you’ll find this sweet surprise.

Now back to the making of the box art. Believe it or not, there’s a lot that goes into that rectangular piece of art that sits on store shelves (although I’m sure many colorful commentators would beg to differ). Before we kicked off packfront exploration, we collaborated with Insomniac Games to set our goals. The goals? Make something that not only popped on shelves, but spoke to the core principles of the game:

  • Cooperative gameplay
  • Unique characters
  • Things that goes boom

We also wanted to make sure that something was designed with new audience members in mind: If you’ve never played a Ratchet & Clank game, what would you need to see to understand the characters? With our goals set, we began work on the various pieces of art that would start representing the game.

The tale begins in May of 2010, well before we revealed Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One at gamescom. As we worked on the reveal art, we pondered a direction for the game’s cover art (which is called the “packfront, “front of box” or FOB in biz-speak). At the time, we were noticing that a lot of recent game covers were looking very minimalist with clean, high-contrast colors — all-white or stark black backgrounds showing the hero in a dramatic pose. Ratchet & Clank is a colorful series, so we wanted to try this contemporary style while highlighting the bright color palette that makes All 4 One so visually appealing and unique.

From the start, we decided that it would be important for us to continue our tradition of working directly with Insomniac for the art; we didn’t want to go through some vendor and have them try to awkwardly emulate Insomniac’s style. This was especially important because Insomniac was making some minor tweaks to the character designs with All 4 One. So, after our initial discussions with Insomniac, we agreed to explore three basic directions for the cover artwork, which you can see below.

Ratchet & Clank All 4 One pre-release box art: Static Heroes

“Static Heroes.” This is the traditional, iconic movie-poster-style where you focus strongly on the characters’ faces. When it works, it’s because you know who they are. Note the game’s working title of “Ratchet & Clank: 4 Play,” which didn’t pass final approval for obvious reasons.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One pre-release box art: Ready for Action

“Ready for Action.” This is your classic hero shot where the team is armed, ready for battle, and up against stiff odds. In these early comps, marvel at Qwark’s huge body and (understandably) tiny head — it was a constant design challenge to fit him into frame.

Ratchet & Clank All 4 One pre-release box art: Team Smackdown

“Team Smackdown.” This is an approach often seen gracing comic book covers – say, part three of a five-part series. The heroes are in the throes of combat, in the middle of the destruction. For this to work, we have to show them working together: jumping into battle, rushing towards the screen, or firing their weapons.

Based on our early compositions, we quickly determined that the Team Smackdown approach looked too busy to be effective: it showed lot of weapon effects, enemies getting shredded, tons of motion, with some characters looking too small or disappearing in the chaos. Qwark alone took up to a third of the entire image in some of comps! The Static Heroes approach was tempting, and we’d used it for Tools of Destruction, but we walked away from it because you had to know who these characters are for the effect to work. And with All 4 One, we wanted to introduce the characters to a new generation of gamers in addition to longtime series fans.

We took a step back and thought it might be smart to use the art more consistently, to try to communicate who the characters were through the art and then show it again and again. After kicking ideas back and forth, we settled into the next phase of the art design. We ultimately opted to focus on the Ready For Action theme, with a dash of Static Heroes by pulling the camera in close so you could identify the characters. From there it was a back-and-forth process of tweaking the thumbnail sketches until we got the effect we wanted.

Ratchet & Clank All 4 One pre-release box art: Phase II

As we made progress towards the final version, we gradually learned that it was best to show the characters from the waist up. Throughout this process, you have to consider so much: weapons can add a lot of clutter, but at the same time if we had left the characters empty-handed, people who saw the art might think it was a game where four guys punched everyone in the face — not what we wanted!

Throughout the entire process, our collaboration with Insomniac was an excellent experience. Insomniac Principle Artist Dave Guertin, took our suggestions and reworked the image until we hit the design goals of both teams. Our creative collaboration with Insomniac wasn’t just nodding and smiling – we were on the same page and we gave each other what we wanted.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One pre-release box art: Near final

This version is getting close, but we wanted Ratchet to sport a mischievous grin and instead he looks kind of… evil. We asked Dave to raise his head a bit and subtly brighten his eyes. We wanted him to look like he’s ready to kick butt, not like he’s going to kill you in your sleep!

Meanwhile, as we worked towards the final version, there were so many factors to keep in mind. You need to make room for the game’s logo to stand out (and it’s a big one!), so you have to be very economical and make smart design decisions. We also wanted to showcase the game’s weaponry — a key gameplay feature for the series since day one — so we slapped a Combuster into Ratchet’s hot little hands.

Once we were homing in on our final designs, we conducted an experiment to see how the art options would hold up in the real world. We headed down to our retail staging area, which has shelf mockups that mimic the ones you see various retailers. We smacked the artwork onto the shelf, and we immediately saw that a bar covered up both Ratchet and Clank’s faces. D’oh! So we had to creep the logo and artwork higher to keep them above that bar. It’s the little things…

Between concept, direction, approvals, renders, tests and internal reviews, the packfront design process lasted between seven and eight months of constant iteration and refinement. Dave painted the final image in February of 2011, just in time to debut it on the PlayStation.Blog a few weeks later.

Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One final box art

And there you have it, our journey towards a final packfront. As you can see above, it can take a lot of time, effort, trial, error and discussion to get to the final piece that we reveal our gaming audience. It may seem easy when you take a glance, but it’s anything but.

We hope you enjoyed the read and found it educational. Let us know what some of your alternate favorites are below and be sure to pick up a copy of Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One when it releases this October 18th!

//Add Your Own

63 Comments

PAGE 1 2

51

+ TUSTIN1 on October 6th, 2011 at 9:52 pm said:

Insomniac answered me on the Canadian cover question on their Facebook page.

Apparently the Canadian edition will NOT have the reversible cover but they suggested contacting customer support to possibly have one mailed out.

@Android66 – we Canadians are well aware that we don’t always get the same things which is why we always like to ask when it is not specified otherwise. I’m not sure how that’s something we need to get over…


52

+ ima_crash_u on October 6th, 2011 at 10:22 pm said:

that is sick the cartoon version 4 sure an i didn’t even know that ratchet was gonna bee 3D this year i want i want!!!! hope multiplay will bee as well


53

+ kpac511 on October 7th, 2011 at 12:29 am said:

This was a nifty little feature! I think about cover art a lot, but I never thought of it to the point that there’s a retail staging area to see how the cover looks strategically on a shelf. Very cool.


54

+ Virtuous_Villain on October 7th, 2011 at 12:40 am said:

When are those new controllers going to come out? Are the related to “all for one”?


55

+ CapJackSparrow on October 7th, 2011 at 7:39 am said:

This game is going to be soooo awesome! I love Insomniac!


56

+ sonicman97 on October 7th, 2011 at 6:45 pm said:

I like those new box arts!


57

+ BIG12HOLD on October 8th, 2011 at 6:22 am said:

@Tustin. It’s one thing to ask for consistency on a global scale, albeit an impossible task given the various restrictions and differences in laws, regulations, and requirements. You, on the other hand, decided to make a reference to “false advertising” for reversible box art because Canadians are reading the “US PS Blog”. That, in my opinion, is simply whining and not constructive. And, despite your accusatory message, Insomniac seems to be interested in helping your get your hands on a US version of the box art. Please, know the facts, and consider the possibility that someone at PS didn’t raise their hand and say, “I know, let’s not give Canadians OUR box art, hahaha!”. Engage brain first, mouth (or fingers) next. Just saying.


58

+ nemesis3255 on October 8th, 2011 at 7:12 am said:

@TUSTIN1 – thats weird cause they did it for R3 you’d think coming from the same company and same publisher they’d be able to do it again…


59

+ Kaiboy12 on October 9th, 2011 at 12:54 pm said:

hahaha I like how the original title was “4play” lol


60

+ yin69yang on October 10th, 2011 at 8:23 am said:

Any plans for a HD remake of the PS2/PSP Ratchet & Clank games. It would be awesome especially with trophy support.

Who agrees with me?


61

+ EPRaider08 on October 11th, 2011 at 8:03 am said:

@60

I have been wanting that for a while. Hopefully all 4 PS2 Ratchet and Clank games (R&C, Going Commando, Up Your Arsenal, and Deadlocked) get the HD treatment and trophy support. It would probably have to be 2 separate collections, one with R&C and Going Commando, and the other with Up Your Arsenal and Deadlocked.


62

+ OmegaJirachi on October 11th, 2011 at 8:52 pm said:

Aw. You should’ve stuck with “4Play” as the subtitle for this game. At least, that’s what my mom said, she thinks the past games were funny, what with the naughty subtitles (like Up Your Arsenal, Size Matters, Quest For Booty, A Crack in Time).


63

+ superswag926 on October 15th, 2011 at 5:30 pm said:

I must say that these box art “ideas” are
amazingly cool


PAGE 1 2
Comments are closed. We close the comments for posts after 30 days