A peek under the hood of M&M

December 3, 2010

Mutants & Masterminds 3rd Edition Art Preview #2

This is the second part of our art preview for the new Mutants & Masterminds Hero's Handbook. If you missed the first part, you can look here. This time around we're going to take a look at the cover to the Hero's Handbook and the process it took to create it.

Art for the Book
One of the things I do before the final manuscript for an M&M book is finished, is to write up an art order, so Hal Mangold (remember him, Lord of the Art Budget?) can get artists hired to work on the illustrations that make the books look so cool.

Mutants & Masterminds has been around for a few years, so we have a large library or art to pull from, if we want to. We all knew, however, that most of the art for the Hero's Handbook had to be new. We wanted the book to set the tone for all the M&M books to follow and we wanted to introduce a number of new characters—and a whole new setting!—so we worked out how much art we needed and I sat down to write up the art order.

It included notes on all ten of the Sentinels, 13 villains that are new to the world, and pages and pages of descriptions for the art you'll see in book. Twenty-one pages in all. This time around, we're looking at the first one in that document and it's a doozy; one sentence long. It was:

Cover: The Sentinels charging toward the viewer, with a big, iconic building (Emerald Tower) in the background. Heroes are: Xeno, Vortex, Mongrel, Rocky, Princess, the Rook, Dragoneye, and Ultramarine.
And it was accompanied by the concept art of all the characters you saw last time, reference images on the style of cover image I wanted, and some sample architectural images to give the artist some ideas for the style of the building. You'll see what they turned it into next.

The Cover: Sketch

A couple of weeks after I sent Hal the art order and he sent the cover description and references images to the artist, they sent their first sketch. I was blown away. The artist completely nailed it. Every character looks how I'd imagined.

Hero's Handbook Cover Sketch 1

I love the way he did the Rook's cape, much more like I'd originally pictured. Rocky's looming large. Mongrel seems to have the right build and a bit of a grin. Xeno's in the background, but I love the angle because you can see more of the costume. Vortex looks good, but the slight ripple around his portal is spot on. Ultramarine has a sleek, aerodynamic feel. Dragoneye is in a great pose. And Princess is perfect. This is the team I'd imagined.

My quick response to the artist was, "Yes! More please!"
Next time we get to see the cover with the building added and it changes the whole thing!

Jon Leitheusser
M&M Line Developer