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"Select Adventure" pt. 1: Artwork, pt. 1

Updated: Feb 25, 2023

Hey everyone. It's been a hot minute, hasn't it?

A couple months ago, several musician friends and I, all part of the video game music collective GameGrooves, worked on various pieces of music for the album that I am going to talk about today, Select Adventure, which comes out 15 October!

So I figured I'd do a four-parter. This first part is going to cover the artwork I drew for it, as well as the process by which it was done.

Here it is, in all its glory!

The album artwork of Select Adventure: A Celebration of Identity. The title is in Enge Etienne font, the Final Fantasy font, with a stylised sword serving as the T in both the words "Select Adventure." The subtitle is in smaller text below. On the left of it are various fantasy islands of different settings, based on the songs in the album. It is laid out like a map in a role-playing game, and there is an archaic compass rose at the bottom left. The background is parchment. I go over the description of each island later on in the post!


The tentative title -- which was, in fact, the full title and subtitle, Select Adventure: A Celebration of Identity was first floated about in the GameGrooves Discord server in mid-August. Roundabout that time, each musician was in the midst of finalising their tracks, and they were encouraged to write a short description and a long description for their tracks. When I'd mailed off my short and long descriptions for my track, I was asked in reply if I knew an artist.

I chimed in, saying "I am an artist," but I also informed GameGrooves that I was, and still am at the time of writing, strictly nonprofit due to legal circumstances; nonetheless, if they would have me, I would be happy to help them.

They said yes!

The process of overseeing the making of the album, as well as the artwork, was spearheaded by Rahul Vanamali, and had full support of the other GameGrooves staff, including Allen Brasch and Ro Panuganti (the former was whom I liaised with for the album artwork, though I did liaise with Rahul for my track a good bit).

On a side note, both Rahul and Ro have tracks on Select Adventure -- respectively, 5-3 and Heaven Knows, which are tracks 3 and 6 on the album.


For the making of the artwork, I was given access to the premastered versions of all ten tracks, and I was encouraged to draw based on what I heard. The album art was meant to look like " old-fashioned map... (something) that looks like it could belong in an RPG or table-top game."

Brief detour: for the typesetting -- which I would do a good bit later -- it was recommended to me that I use fonts used in well-known JRPGs; the example presented to me was that used in the title of the original Secret of Mana, but I couldn't find said font. Instead, I settled with Enge Etienne and Rodin -- two notable fonts. The former is the typeface for Final Fantasy game titles and subtitles, while the latter is the UI text for the Nier games. I also drew the stylised sword in the centre, which serves as the T for both the words Select Adventure.

With the logo and typesetting out of the way, let's get back to the drafting stages of the artwork.

I started by drafting the artwork in good ol' MS PowerPoint -- I found a free-to-use parchment background, copied that into PowerPoint, and drew on it. I also had an asset that I'd drawn several years ago, a classical 12-direction compass rose, that I felt would be fitting here.

This is a screenshot from 17.08.2021, which shows my first draft of the Select Adventure artwork. There is no title here. The parchment background is there, and the 12-directional compass rose occupies a sizeable part of the upper right corner. The rest of the image has some very sketchy outlines of floating islands that I drew on with black ink using PowerPoint's Draw fuction.
This was the first draft, folks. Quite a far cry from the final result, eh?

I fully intended on adding some notable landmarks to each island / locale, but before continuing, I needed to listen to all ten tracks. I spent the next hour immersing myself in the music of this album, and during the hour, this happened.

Another PowerPoint screenshot. Unlike the one before, the compass rose is now small and on the bottom left corner. There are very sketchy details of landmarks that I'd planned to add in this map, that I scrawled on with black ink, again using PowerPoint's Draw function.
We're starting to see some details...

I noted that for one particular track, I was struggling to pinpoint details because I didn't want to deviate too far from the actual influence of the track. Nonetheless, I did my best. Once I'd finished scrawling it down, I saved the above as a separate PNG, imported that into Autodesk Sketchbook, and began laying down some rough detail:

This is a screenshot from Autodesk Sketchbook, where the above rough image is here in the background, almost transparent, and in this screenshot I am drawing various buildings with colour pencils. There are inklings of a Chinese-inspired city, and a river between two mountains, over which a rainbow hovers.

And when I'd done up the rough detail, it looked like this:

PowerPoint screenshot again, this time of my rough details of landmarks on the various islands. I'd scrawled them in with colour pencils in Autodesk Sketchbook, saved those as PNG, and imported them in. It is now a picture of roughly detailed floating islands on a plain white background, with some negative space on the right. As for what the islands are, I'm covering each one individually in the next post, as there are a LOT of details that I feel would be too much for an alt text.

After that, the process involved me outlining and colouring each island separately so that it could be slowly revealed with each individual track. The next post will cover all of the islands, and what tracks they were based on!

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