For me. City of Terrors was “the book” that sold me on T&T. I buried myself in its strange places and odd citizens. It was fantasy, sensuality and humor all at mixed together same time. It is my favorite solitaire adventure –ever and has yet to be topped in my opinion. (I’m sure other members of the fellowship feel differently.)
If I was to compare the solos to rock music, City of Terrors is T&T’s “Sgt. Pepper album.” The concept of exploring a City in a solo adventure was new and no one had done it before. Mike Stackpole is to be congratulated for coming up with a great idea and executing it so well. CoT also has lush, textured illos on every page by Liz Danforth and Rob Carver. Both of them working together and separately on the same “album.” Pat Mueller’s typesetting and layout add a professional look to the book that stands up even 30 years later. Even Ken St. Andre’s presence hovers in the background, much like Sgt Pepper himself inspiring the Beatles as they created this masterpiece. All of it fell perfectly into place with this book. Rick Loomis took a chance publishing a 60-page solo about a city – but it paid off in spades.
Most fans remember the great wraparound illustration by Liz Danforth and Rob Carver with its panoramic view of the city of the Gull, its varied inhabitants spilling out of the main gates. It was a black and white illo, never meant to be in color and was replaced in 1983 with a new cover painted by Janell Jaquays. City of Terrors became a “must-have” in most fans collection.
Flash forward to 2012. When we started discussing what to do with the solos for Deluxe T&T, I think all of us agreed that reprinting City of Terrors should be high on the list. Everyone still remembered that original cover, so it seemed appropriate to somehow use that as the cover once again. In the years since I worked for Buffalo, the computer had become the tool of artists, and I had a lot of experience digitally coloring comic books. So I offered to digitally paint the original art, little realizing just how big a job with would be. I should have known – after all it’s 11 x 17, contains hundreds of individually drawn buildings and over thirty characters. A very daunting task indeed! So how did I color this piece of art?
The Process: scan and flat color: Once the cover art is scanned and cleaned up in Photoshop, I start to drop in flat colors in all the areas that will have to be painted. Liz Danforth had given me a rough colored pencil thumbnail to use as an overall lighting guide. She had suggested a sunset scene, just before night descends and the City becomes dangerous. The colors of everything and everyone were largely up to me, though I consulted regularly with Liz for her input and suggestions. Above is the flat art version of the image. Some of the general colors of the finished piece are in place and you can begin to see hints of how it might look in the final version. But the real purpose of the flat color is to allow me to easily select individual areas of the image that I can work on one at a time. A perfect example would be the tile rooftops. Once they are in as flat colors, its easy to select them all and work on them as a group. Same for the sky, the ocean or the grassy areas etc.
Painting & Texturizing: This is where the hard work begins. In this case I worked from the background to the foreground, so I selected the sky and got that done first, then the water etc. To me this piece is really a landscape with a group of people in front of it, so the landscape came first. That way I can make sure the people fit into the lighting that’s in the landscape. It was a this stage I also decided to redo the City of Terrors logo to better make it match the rest of the dT&T product line and the new look of the cover. I painted in textures like fur or water, along with seemingly endless toning, layering and adjustments, until the background is done and all the characters are painted. (see above)
We had planned to go even more darker and dramatic with the coloring and lighting, but in the end, I decided I didn’t want to run the risk of obscuring Liz’s and Rob’s beautiful line work with too many lighting effects. I wanted to keep the original line work all there, because that’s what everyone remembered from that cover. In all, it took me about 100 hours from start to finish. That’s just the coloring and painting. I don’t how long it took Liz and Rob to draw and ink it back in 1976 Maybe Liz will post a few of her remembrances of creating the black and white art.
I am deeply honored to have been a part of bringing this book back and making it better than ever. Yes, better. Besides the color cover, Deluxe City of Terrors has also been updated by Ken so that it will work better with the new Deluxe Tunnels & Trolls rules. We adjusted some information in existing paragraphs to add dT&T features and added some new paragraphs at the end of the book to allow you more options. We also fixed a couple of link mistakes that were in the last version of the book, the main one being that you can now actually get to Chronus for a chance at bringing yourself back to life. I also scanned and cleaned up all the original art for the book.
Working on City of Terrors I literally fell in love with T&T all over again. I think you will too, once you see the new Deluxe version!
In the meantime, enjoy seeing Gull in full-color. And please, let us know what you think. Steve Crompton