Development Diary 7: Creating Cover Art

21 Nov Development Diary 7: Creating Cover Art

We’ve made a habit of releasing our Development Diary videos on a Monday, but this week we’re making an exception to that rule and sharing our new video with you a few days early. The reason for this being that the focus of the new video is on creating cover art, and in particular the cover art for the new issue of Official PlayStation Magazine UK which hits shelves today.

This diary tells the story of how the cover art was created and includes a time-lapse of the render paintover, which was completed in just a day:

Issue 104 of Official PlayStation Magazine has a full Hellblade feature inside and our leading lady Senua on the cover:


And if you’re an Official PlayStation Magazine UK subscriber you’ll be receiving a copy of the magazine with a limited edition cover, featuring bespoke Senua artwork created just for the magazine:


Thanks for reading and watching. We’re always thinking about new subject areas to cover in our Development Diaries, so if there is something that you’d love to see in a diary please do let us know in the comments.

Issue 104 of Official PlayStation Magazine is available here:

Or, alternatively, the digital version is available on the global iTunes Apple Newsstand and Google Play stores for iOS/Android devices

  • Maria Bucceri
    Posted at 14:37h, 21 November Reply

    Looking magnificent as always!!!! Is there anyway we could order the magazine exclusively without having to subscribe? Or what about to buy the Heavenly Sword, Enslaved magazines? I’d die to have them!!!!

  • GCH
    Posted at 14:54h, 21 November Reply

    I will kepp my eyes open to find it here in Berlin!!!
    Looks amazing and a 12 page special about Hellblade sounds awesome 😀

  • Brownie_USSR
    Posted at 14:58h, 21 November Reply

    Cover is cold, but at the same time attractive! But watch out for the project, I hardly got any new or interesting information … Or am I wrong? 😉
    I would like to know a little about the creatures that live in the world of games – many artifacts on this topic, but nothing as yet unknown. 🙂

  • André Vila Franca
    Posted at 15:08h, 21 November Reply

    Really beautiful art cover! I know it’s not the point but Senua is so attractive!
    I’m waiting for the next dev. diary, especially the fighting mechanism, i’m really anxious to look how it will work out. I’ve said in previous comments that you should focus on fast passed gory action, diversity and realism. We should be able to parry, counter, dodge, evade and of course attack, but since you posted that “What’s in a pose” update i realized how amazing it would be to have multiple poses and depending on wich you choose you’d have a different kind of moves of attack and defence (it’s just an idea) (^_^)’
    Keep it up the awesome work guys!!

  • GCH
    Posted at 15:24h, 21 November Reply

    Congretulations to you!!!
    For the awesome artwork and to be on the cover this early 😉
    I will keep my eyes open for thet issue, hope to find it here in Berlin.
    And the 12 pages special sounds amazig 😀
    With every post on this site I’am getting more hyped for the Game!
    Wish you the best of luck!
    Already a huge fan ^_^

  • Kevin Nguyen
    Posted at 16:27h, 21 November Reply

    Great covers! The amount of thought and time put into it really amazes me because when I see game covers in magazines I just say “oh that’s nice” but watching this really opened my eyes to the process you go through when creating a game and also a cover page for magazines. I can’t wait until the next video diary!

  • Zubin
    Posted at 16:38h, 21 November Reply

    Great diary guys. I think Senua’s arms need a little more muscle. (You see it in the clip where you’re posing her in Maya.) She’s a hardened warrior wielding a blade all day. Her arms look like a normal girl, or one that just picked up a sword. Or maybe it’s the scaling of her large shoulder pad like bear skin that’s making it look out so skinny.

    And seriously. That song. Ridiculous. I think you should change it to something else in the time being just so we don’t get sick of it. Beautifully haunting. Brilliant.

    • Niccelson
      Posted at 17:42h, 22 November Reply

      I second this notion entirely. Many times I see female characters in fantasy settings that are wielding weapons and wearing equipment that just looks several sizes too big for them; in my opinion this is designed specifically to give the character *some* agency but not to make her appear too “masculine” for the sake of retaining mass appeal as much as possible.

      Now, to throw the notion of designing characters to appeal to a wider audience and not to reinforce their own characteristics out the window, let’s be purely pragmatic here for a second. Senua is a warrior, not without experience (would a “fresh blood” warrior really take a willing journey into Hell itself?), and not without training (in Dev Diary 6 Tameem specifically says that “I feel that Senua needs to have a technical edge over the barbaric Vikings she is fighting. The pose helps emphasise that she has mastery over technique that the Vikings lack.”). Now this is all highly subjective, but when I looked at Senua’s pose in Maya (03:28) I didn’t see the upper arm of a trained, deadly swordswoman. A warrior who has been wielding their weapon for any real length of time uses their biceps, triceps and shoulders a LOT, something that should be apparent in the tone and definition of their muscles if not their sheer size. The final paint-over does do this somewhat better than the untextured model, but it’s a still picture and that doesn’t necessarily translate into how the actual gameplay ends up presenting itself.

      To any Ninjas reading this: I apologise if I came off as condescending. I just want this game to be a massive success so badly.

  • Arijon
    Posted at 18:27h, 21 November Reply

    I wanted to know how do you built an open world, and keep it from being empty. For example the open world in the new Tomb Raider reboot (regrettably an awful game) was useless, it had side quests so that you could gain points, they added nothing to the game experience. However the world in The Last of Us and also DmC felt much more alive and interesting. I know The Last of Us is a completely different game but still it never felt boring or repetitive, the environment itself did tell a part of the story, it wasn’t there to just look nice.
    I also think the game would gain if it didn’t have “the usual suspects” on screen the whole time, that is the mini map, what weapon you are carrying, how many points have you gathered or how many points did you just gain with this hit or combo, or what do you have to do now and especially to have no trophies, so that it doesn’t feel like you’re playing to get them. In DmC the D to SSS rating is very nice, but anything else under it isn’t. I agree with this guy:
    Anyway these are just my thoughts. Keep up the good work, I’m sure it will be your best work. Enjoy the weekend.

  • Zura
    Posted at 19:37h, 21 November Reply

    Wow! That is a nice cover! Amazing work!

  • Joana Ramiro
    Posted at 23:38h, 21 November Reply

    I love the colder cover – absolutely stunning. And I love how you’re making Senua so realistic. She’s not ugly but she’s not beautiful either, yet she’s got this air that makes her stunning.

    About a topic I would like to see in a future Dev Diary… well, it is a bit biased but I would love to know more about the story. I know how much a story can change until it reaches its final stages but there are always those ideas we decide very early on that will make it to the end. Those are the ones I’m curious about.

    As always, thank you for giving us the opportunity to witness a game in the making.

  • Vova Vdovichenko
    Posted at 00:16h, 22 November Reply

    Awesome cover ! I want to buy that issue, but sadly I’m not in the UK. Thanks for providing such deep and informative insight into the development of the game and everything around it. I’m happy you were so open to providing in-engine gameplay bits in previous diaries. I’d love to see something about the performance capture next. Cheers!
    P.S. I really love that song you keep using that was in the first trailer. LOVE IT! Hope it’s in the game too!

  • everything about this game feels so's gonna be freakin' crazy. love the passion that's being embedded with this project.
    Posted at 06:19h, 22 November Reply

    everything about this game feels so right….it’s gonna be freakin’ crazy. love the passion that’s being embedded with this project.

  • Ivan
    Posted at 10:06h, 22 November Reply

    Hey Ninjas!

    Just wanted to drop by and say that I just spent like an entire hour watching all of your videos and reading about your ‘indie AAA’ (or AA) and everything about it sounds (and feels) ambitious, interesting and exciting! It must be a daunting task – 13 people! Frankly, I was a bit scared about production values with such a small team but then as I went through all of the videos and realized it’s Unreal 4 and team is made out of dedicated artists and professionals – my hope was regained. As a gamer that likes to play both indies and triple As and as a fan of ‘new things’, and especially Ninja Theory games, I’m now entirely focused on this website and development process of this hopefully amazing game.

    It’s all about the protagonist and female protagonists, strong ones, are unfortunately a rare sight. So thank you on that front as well. Senua is now on my desktop.

    Keep up the good work everyone! When will we get to see the gameplay from Hellblade? If it’s possible to get answer to that I’d appreciate it… we all selfishly would. And one more question, even though I’m sure this isn’t exactly Q&A section (sorry about that) – is there a chance for retail version of Hellblade sometimes in future, post-launch? I know it’s expensive to release ‘indie AAA’ on your budget, on a blu-ray, but there’s a chance right? Cause I’d definitely buy both digital and disc version – if the game ends up being as good as everything I’ve seen so far – just to support the effort.

    Cheers from Croatia! 🙂

  • Joshua Fullerton
    Posted at 21:52h, 22 November Reply

    Both of these covers look amazing. I think I may have mentioned it before but the more I see of the work that’s being done on Hellblade the more excited I get. Keep up the good work guys. Can’t wait to see what comes next!

  • Bernhard Zorn
    Posted at 19:18h, 23 November Reply

    My god this is fantastic guys. I’m following your work since the teaser trailer.
    If there’s any way to be supportive to the project I’d be glad to.

    Keep the diaries coming.

  • Daniel Prem
    Posted at 20:41h, 23 November Reply

    Nice work guys. I cannt wait to play this game – wait…. I can wait. Take as much time as you need to develop a fantastic game that will become a legend. Keep on doing this Ninja Theory.

  • Mark Griffin
    Posted at 20:15h, 25 November Reply

    Anything about the art (process) is the most interesting & fascinating to me. I am also very curious about who will be creating the music (Nitihn Sawhney??), as I absolutely love all of your game scores & I think it is a very important / crucial aspect. Love you guys & gals!!!

  • Sérgio Nehama
    Posted at 18:42h, 26 November Reply

    I want this game so bad..i feel like i’m also making it, just by witnessing these moments!. I would like to see more of your team dynamics, the discussions and to be truly open and to convey the sentiment to us, show us some of the moments when things aren’t going that great

    Props to you guys 🙂 i would buy these diaries if possible to help you out. Question: how far along development you guys need to be to setup preorders? or is it a different matter entirely?

  • RodyHW
    Posted at 17:41h, 27 November Reply

    Wow, this is just beautiful.

    This game caught my attention since I’ve watched the trailer. I was so sick with theses AAA games with only shouts and explosions no messages and no real identity, However, it’s the opposite for Hellblade I feel like this game is way different from what we’ve now. This is exactly the kind of game I’m looking for.

    I do enjoy watching the Making-of and I’d love to know how you guys are creating an ennemy/the combat system/the background of the game…

  • Frans W
    Posted at 21:18h, 31 May Reply

    Good day, I require the right contribution about this. Make sure you contact me straight away:

  • Tony B
    Posted at 22:48h, 11 August Reply

    The covers gave me chills! Awesome!

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