Community art competition kicks off today – find out how to get involved
Hi everyone, I’m Matt Taylor – a professional illustrator and a huge Shadow of the Colossus fan. Last month, the team at PlayStation approached me to help them kick off an exciting community art competition to mark the upcoming launch of Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 and celebrate the game’s iconic visual design.
In short, PlayStation is producing a handsome limited edition hardback Shadow of the Colossus art book, and wants you to help fill it. As well as creating the cover image, I’ll be judging the entries and curating the contents.
I first played Shadow of the Colossus on PlayStation 2 whilst I was in my final year of university. I’d been obsessed with ICO, the previous game from the same developers, so when I read about Shadow of the Colossus there was no way I wouldn’t end up playing it.
The thing that struck me first was just how different it was to every other game I had played. The emptiness of the world was such a stark contrast to what I expected from an action-adventure game. The way the player explored the landscape to find a route towards the Colossi gave no constraints on time, so you were free to just wander around (no pun intended).
The starkness of the landscape was mirrored in the story, with information parcelled out in pieces and just enough to guide you, but not enough to see the larger narrative. You know all you need to know – the characters actions define them more than any extraneous backstory.
When I started sketching out ideas, I was surprised by how clearly the Colossi and the look of the world all came back to me. It is still such a visually distinctive game.
The soft, muted colour palette in particular was something I really wanted to capture to keep the spirit of the world. It presented a bit of a challenge as I usually work with such bold and hyper saturated tones, so I had to resist the urge to throw in a bright orange or pink.
My sketches focussed on the Gaius Colossus, as it’s the one which clearly stuck in my mind over the years and I think best represents the game. It’s a weird gnarly hybrid of an animal and ruined building, but at the same time quite visually pleasing.
I wanted to try and capture the shambling grandeur of the beast; looking up at the creature from Wander’s point of view seemed like the logical place to start. It allowed me to realise the scale, as well as how they both sit within the landscape.
I took a little bit of poetic license with Wander arriving upon the Gaius Colossus from the entrance to a canyon – I don’t think this is exactly how he comes across the creature in the game – but I wanted to try and find a way to frame the scene, drawing the viewers eye down towards Wander and Agro. The black closing in on either side represents the encroaching darkness of the Wander’s actions upon his soul.
From a creative point of view I generally do all my sketching and initial work on a tablet these days. I like the portability and the fact I can sketch anywhere. I took a lot of screen grabs of the Colossus and Wander so that I could make sure they looked as on-model as possible whilst still maintaining my own aesthetic.
Once I’m pleased with the layout, I’ll jump over on to Photoshop which is where I do the bulk of the final work. Because I can place the sketch as the background layer, I can work directly over the top of it, refining the details as I go whilst still maintaining the spontaneity of the sketch.
I’m really excited to be partnering with PlayStation on this campaign, and seeing the visual identity fans of the game come up with. There is a great tradition and rich history of the gaming community creating stunning artwork and I can’t wait to see what you all come up with. Shadow of the Colossus will always be visually distinctive game so I’m expecting (and excited to see) fans portray the game in a way that hasn’t been seen before.
If you want a chance to have your creations featured in our limited edition fan art book, Art Inspired by Shadow of the Colossus, simply share your Shadow of the Colossus artwork via Twitter using #ColossusArt. The winners will receive a copy of the book. It won’t be made commercially available for sale at any point, so this is the only way to get hold of it*. Further details about the competition and terms & conditions can be found here.
*Note: This post was updated on 26th January to clarify that the finished artbook will not be made available commercially for sale.