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Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb
 
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  Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

Interview with cover artist Drew Struzan (November 28, 2002)


Drew Struzan, award-winning artist in motion picture advertising, recently illustrated the cover for Indiana Jones® and the Emperor's TombT. We are pleased to debut this artwork here along with an interview with the artist.


LucasArts.com: What was your first Indy related project?

Drew Struzan: The movie Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first. I was commissioned to do a painting for the international promotion of the film. What I did was used and seen everywhere in the world as the poster that represented the film except in the domestic, North American market.


LucasArts.com: What other video game related art have you done?

Drew Struzan: This is a relatively new area for the application of my art. It is still rare for me to have the opportunity to do a painting for a video game. What I have done to date is art for the box covers of the games that may also be used for promotional posters. The first art I did for a video game box cover was for Star Trek Next Generation way back in '93. Then it was a long time until the next one came my way. I did a painting for the game Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine® in 2000. It was designed and used as a poster. I had also done a painting for the cover of the box but they didn't use it on the cover. [Editor's note: This art was featured on the back cover of the box.] Recently, this year, I created the artwork for the cover of the game titled Crimson Skies and most recently, of course, the cover for Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb.


LucasArts.com: How does your approach for a game box cover differ from other types of projects?

Drew Struzan: Every project has its similarities and every project is different unto itself. The thing that stands out as different with games seems to be the lack of related materials to work from. With movies, there is usually a great deal of photography from the film to refer to when I need inspiration or reference to paint from. For the most part, with video games, they are created digitally and are not "real" in their appearance.

I am called for my work because of its general natural or "real" appearance and for the emotional response it generates. That is usually based upon reality, not a digital creation. So for me to produce an image that they expect from me, I cannot base my work on the digital images. It's in the translation from digital generalities to a simulation of reality from me that the difficulty arises. What is in the mind of a client as to what a certain character may look like if they were real is really only in the mind's eye, their minds. For me to try to figure out what they think they see and what I have to paint is the real treasure hunt. Ever try to paint what is in someone else' s mind? Ever see one of those artist sketches based upon the eyewitness description provided to the police? Do they ever look like whom the person turns out to be? That's my dilemma in dealing with digital descriptions.

With the Indy projects it is not so bad. Indy exists in Harrison Ford, so no guessing there. It's the other characters that present a problem.


LucasArts.com: What reference materials did you use to create the Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb cover?

Drew Struzan: I have many pictures of Harrison Ford in the role of Indiana Jones. I fortunately kept these from the times I worked on the movies. So Indy was no problem. I just went to the storage box marked Indy and wa-la! For the Messerschmitts, German warplanes, I went to books on my bookshelf and onto the web searching for photos of the planes that worked best in the composition. For the Nazi officer I researched photos of real officers from the war and based the painting on one who looked to fulfill the typecast look expected, same for the girl. I found many pictures of the Terracotta Warriors but wound up ordering a statue made in China by people who live right by the actual site where the originals are located. They make beautiful and accurate reproductions from the originals. I ordered one to work from to get it in the correct position I wanted to paint from for the picture. The dragons came from a search for what are real Chinese dragons and ones that pleased my aesthetic taste.


LucasArts.com: How long did this piece take you to create?

Drew Struzan: I did a composition sketch, a drawing, first. Once it was approved, I could move onto the final painting. It took about two weeks to complete.


LucasArts.com: What artistic choices did you make to ensure this game cover would be compelling?

Drew Struzan: I just included what the game promises. The subject matter is rich and full and all drawn from the game itself. I compose the picture and elements in a strong and classical manner to set the scene with the proper emotional tone; that of secure and powerful, rock steady design. The color composition is warm, as is the trademark of so many of the Indy pieces, making it at that magic hour with the setting sun. Of course the reason I was asked to do the piece in the first place is that my style and taste is recognizable as the authentic Indy representation. With me doing it, it says immediately that this product is the real thing.


LucasArts.com: What do you think the art coveys about the game to the viewer?

Drew Struzan: Many things I would hope but mostly the adventure, the authenticity of the game, the quality it promises and the promise of the thrill we have come to expect from anything Indy.

Many thanks to Drew for taking the time to do this interview with us!


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Today 13. December 2017
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