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

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

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!

Comments are closed.


  • I love those first 5 sketched versions! =)

  • nice

  • Cool. I’m liking the sketches

  • Nice artwork I would love to have an original sketch.

  • Hah! I asked @InsomniacGames on twitter if they were going to do anything with a reversible box art and they said “Just wait and see ;).” I honestly didn’t expect this, and it’s perfectly hilarious. While I understand why they were ultimately shelved, I really like the “ready for action” styles. And the sketched drawings? Awesome.

  • YES!!! Thank you for that box art!! lol Captain Quark FTW

  • Awesome post!

  • Will there be a downloadable psn copy of all 4 one eventually? also is Hardcore mode returning?

  • When is the Uncharted box art going to be reveled?

  • I played the demo. and this game is great .. I had very hard time figuring the little pzzlesout but it very fun to play.. I also love the box arts..

  • Great post!

    More detailed BTS stuff like this please :)

  • i have 1 question why is the camera not the same as Tools of Destruction or A Crack in Time ? thats the only thing i dont like , the camera

  • Can someone explain why there are no reversible box arts for the Canadian version of these games? I knew the US basically shunned us and gave us everything second rate, but ink on paper is now too good for us too? I really expect more from you guys (Sony and all of it’s first party developers).,

  • I LOVE Captain Qwark :D He should have his own PSN game? Like the mini game that was on one of the old R&C games;)


    with captain quark

    carl-g amazing idea thanks for sharing that hope sony and insomniac listens to that

    how about skrunch as his side kick? hehe

  • Will the reversible cover be for Canada too? I was thoroughly disappointed when I opened my Team Ico Collection to find the reverse of the cover blank…

  • I like the middle ones in Ready for Action and Team Smackdown, but I really just wanted a reversible cover that would say 4 Play.

  • I would also like to point out to the “Associate Product Marketing Manager”, that marketing a reversible cover for a game on the US Playstation Blog (that is the official blog for both the United States and Canada), is constructively false advertising if you don’t intend the same package to be released to both markets.

    If these reversible covers are for US only, an appropriate disclaimer should accompany any and all of these announcements.

  • nice work

  • Love! second poster “Static Heroes” !

  • I love Ratchet and Clank! so getting all for one and hopefully more Ratchet games to come out after

  • very informative!

  • I really love those artworks! My favorite in is in the Ready for Action-section, the middle one. I just love this art style and the vivid colors! It’s sad that one has to pick one cover, though.
    What would be really cool is if one could order a copy with a cover one can choose [against a small up-price]. I would totally dig this.

    As for the blog itself, it was really informative! It’s always interesting to get to know more about the production process in every area.

  • Dear PlayStation,

    Why hasn’t Canada been getting these awesome reversible covers?
    To date, I have only encountered two titles with double sided love: Resistance 1 and Batman Arkham Asylum.

    Just pointing out after the Ico kerfuffle that this isn’t helping much. Especially with the long live play commercials.

    -A concerned Canadian Gamer

  • First row, middle one, would have been the best choice!

  • I mean second row, middle.

  • Very cool overview of the creative process. I think we all take for granted how much work is involved, as if we think the final box art just magically “appeared” at retail. It was interesting to see what concepts you had and where you ended up. Thanks for the behind-the-scenes peek.

    As for our friends in the Great White North– is there nothing you won’t complain about? Seriously! I think we need to get you guys your own Blog– http://www.blog.can.playstation.com — because I am sick of reading your constant complaints on here. As if it is Sony’s fault that you live in a different country with DIFFERENT LAWS regarding contests, licensing, etc. (To name just a small example, product info needs to be written in English and French to be released in Canada, so Sony can’t simply release the US PS3 game box covers, right? Same with DVDs).

    I get the fact that you aren’t happy that Canadians don’t get the same experiences as the Americans do, but we don’t get the same experiences that they do in Japan or Europe either. How many times have we seen titles released in some territories and not others, or themes given away for free in one territory but charged for in another. Why do you expect global parity? Get over it!

  • I can’t wait to play this game :) I also really like this kind of post, very informative and interesting stuff.

  • Oops, forgot to mention which sketches I like. The “Ready for Action” ones are definitely my favourite. They look really nice, not too cluttered and just right (the final box art looks awesome too).

    By the way, I hope the RYNO VI appears in this game. I alway loves destroying enemies with that gun.

  • I DO WANT this game, but before geting it i’m going to play the R&C Future Trilogy, I got R&C Quest for Booty in the Welcome Back in my U.K. account, but there are any news of a “Ratchet & Clank Greatest Hits Dual Pack”, like Uncharted and Resistance, including A Crack in Time & Tools of Destruction? Europe received this pack in July in the same day of Uncharted and Resistance, here only Resistance was released, then Uncharted, but nothing was sayd about a R&C pack, hope it comes soon =D

  • First, Thank you very much for adding the April’s Fool cover! but will it have the PS3 logo and everything to make it look like an actual cover, or it will it be just the art?

    Also, why is it that American covers ALWAYS have to have the characters in the cover posing? That is what RUINED Heavy Rain US cover, that RUINED Ico US cover, and there are a lot of examples in which the cover is ruined because of this.

    Not saying that the cover looks bad, it is just very generic and overused in the states. (Although in some cases looks HORRIBLE, like the games I stated above).

    I complain, because there are a lot of things the artist can do for a cover. Sometimes we see a lot of artwork for the game that could have worked very well as the box art, but Marketing people decided to go with the boring, generic, character-posing cover.

    What I am saying, is that Marketing people from US (either from Sony or other gaming company) should change their mindset about covers. Europe and Japan have had games with beautiful covers, because their are not close-minded into the “character-posing” style.

  • Awesome, I’ll be getting this game day one =D

  • awesome just awesome….this was the best post I’ve ever seen in this blog…amazing I love Ratchet since PS2 and make sure guys that you already have my money for this game.

  • 4 play, that would have been the best one since up your arsenal!

  • I forgot sorry…I liked the second one of Ready for Action…I also saw this picture in 3D visuals and its awesome should have been the FOB…and I liked the first on Team Smackdown.

  • will canadians get the reversible cover art? we got it for resistance 3 but not the ico/soc collection.

  • In case you guys didn’t know, All 4 One will retail at 39.99. I work at a video game store and that is what it is listed at….just another reason to grab this amazing title!

  • can we get bigger version of the box art? they look great…

  • As an artist myself I know how difficult it can be to compose an interesting image. Lots of trial and error. Its great to see behind the scenes stuff from the pros. Thanks for the insight. Keep up the good work.

  • I loved the first 1 can you have them available for download??

  • Most of those pics would make EPIC avatars. MAKE IT SO!… Please…

  • Love the sketched ones. Would’ve made great limited edition/preorder whatever covers. Very nice overall.

  • Personally, I like a couple of the “Team Smackdown” and “Ready for Action” designs better than the dramatic group portrait we have as the final art. But, I’m still getting this game because I started playing R&C games last year and I’m hooked.

  • Ratchet never looked evil! He looked bad ass. >:3

  • thank for keeping idea # 20675 on the playstation share blog alive : >

  • I LOVE all the artwork designs especially the design where Ratchet looks evil. It shows a badass version of Ratchet that I havent seen! Great job you guys keep up the good work cant wait till the game comes out! (:

  • The sketches for “Ready for action” and “Team smackdown” are amazing. I’m a sucker for sketch art. (Wallpapers for those would be awesome by the way).

  • The final packfront looks really awesome and the reversible cover-art looks really cute! lol, and maybe you guys could make the sketches into posters for people that pre-order the game or something as a bonus? ^__^

  • nice game cases

  • i per order it at gamestop whos getting it add me on psn thank you

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