Making Of The Cover: Halo: Reach

by Matt Miller on Jan 27, 2010 at 12:33 PM

For Game Informer's February issue, Bungie provided some remarkable new art to grace the front and back cover of the magazine. The art for the cover was designed specifically for this exclusive reveal of the game, and we loved the piece so much that we decided to ask the artist, Alex ChinYu Chu, about its creation. Not only did he answer our questions, but he sent along several shots of the cover as it progressed from concept through completion. Click on each image below to see them in all their full-size glory.  Enjoy!

What is your title at Bungie?

I'm a concept artist here at Bungie.

For a major piece of artwork like this, what is the starting point? Do you come up with the idea for the image, or does that come from someone else?

We started off with an initial brainstorm meeting with our creative directors, managers and artists. During this meeting we discussed possible themes, ideas, and elements that we would like to reveal to the Halo fans based on the context and subject matter being presented in the article. Marcus Lehto, Reach Creative Director, first presented the core idea of creating a “war journalism” look for the cover. Everyone else then pitched in their creative juice to refine this core concept.

What tools do you use to craft the image? Is the entire project done digitally, or do you do any initial work on paper?

For the most part the entire process of creating this image was done in Photoshop. Doing the sketches and thumbnails digitally lets me make adjustments quicker.

What are the steps in the process of creating a piece like our cover image? Do you complete multiple versions of the image before finalizing it?

After the initial meeting, I had a pretty clear idea of the direction we were taking. I started out by creating a series of quick thumbnail sketches to determine composition and layout and presented them to the team for feedback. Marcus picked two thumbnails that had the most potential and I started refining them and narrowing down to the final image. There were a lot of revisions in between until the image was approved for print. We wanted to make sure that the image was conveying what we needed to show the audience.

What is the overall concept behind the art piece? What is the viewpoint we’re seeing from, and who are we seeing framed in the shot? What atmosphere did you hope to evoke with the image?

The overall concept behind the art piece is to showcase Noble Team within the theme of "war journalism" for Halo: Reach. We set out to create a cinematic look that gave the viewers a complete sense of immersion. In short, instead of taking the angle of a spectator watching the events of the game, we wanted the player to really feel like they're a participant in Noble Team's mission. The image I have created is taking the viewpoint of the player, Noble 6. The image is capturing a moment in between the usual action-packed battles that we generally see in Halo games. As you can see, the team is taking orders from Carter as they move towards their next objective. 

Are there other artists, designers, or other Bungie team members that help out on a project like this, and if so, what roles are they taking up?

I tried to get as much help as I could from all the other folks on the team. Aside from Aaron and Marcus who helped guide the direction of the image, I got lots of feedback from other artists who are more familiar with the Halo Universe to make sure I was producing a quality piece of art that was true to its roots.

About how many man hours do you think go into creating a single image like this?

Lots and lots and lots! Haha


What about Halo: Reach has you excited, from a visual perspective? What do you think sets its apart artistically from the previous games in the franchise?

I think one thing about Reach that really got me excited is how we've managed to tap into some very raw emotions that have not been done in the previous installments through the new visual direction. In Reach, the fans will engage the humanity of the Spartans and truly understand who and what the Spartans are.

For our complete coverage of all things related to Halo: Reach, explore our hub page for the game.