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This area of has been designed and is devoted to bringing you exclusive unseen material from the FF game. During our many interviews with many of the original Fighting Fantasy contributors, authors and artists were kind enough to reveal much about their work for the genre. In a number of these interviews via email, mail and telephone information was revealed regarding unseen Gamebooks, proposals and artwork that has never seen the light of day. This area is proud to announce and reveal that unseen information...

First Look at Unseen Fighting Fantasy images

We are delighted to reveal this month the first look at the cover of the new Sorcery Epic Book one: The Shamutanti Hills by Mel Grant. Mel Grant also did the fantastic Deathtrap Dungeon cover and will paint all of the new Sorcery covers, for continuity.

New Crypt of the Sorcere cover

AFF: Mel may I ask where did the design briefs come from for all the books? Can I ask what each of them was?

The design briefs for the latest four came from Wizard Books, from Simon Flynn and Steve Jackson. Deathtrap Dungeon came from Jeremy Cox at Icon and Ian Livingstone. Below are snippets from the briefing emails from Simon and Steve. As you can see, with such great descriptions, you can’t help but get ‘Fired Up’ and whack it from a great height. After the initial sketches there would sometime be some minor changes, but the gist of it is here.

The Shamutanti Hills

Standing before you on four legs is a huge MANTICORE - a hybrid creature with a lion's body and a scorpion's tail. Its face is that of an old man and as it sees you it rears back, flapping two great wings.
Some gory remains of the creature's last meal (a human, of course) can be clearly seen. Or maybe you've just interrupted his meal - even better!

Khare City of Trap

This is a huge blubbery slime-festering creature like a swamp demon, which feeds on sewage, excrement and general filth. It stinks. It is covered in festering sores, pus-filled boils and general grot. It's foul to look at. A hideous and fearsome creature. Perhaps it is rising up from its normal pose resting hippo-like just on the surface of the filthy liquid it lives in. Your arrival has disturbed it and it intends to attack by smothering you in its blubbery body.

The Seven Serpents

I suggest this is a picture showing a 'swirl' containing the Seven Serpents all rearing up to attack. In the book they never actually appear together, so this is a bit of a cheat. The Seven Serpents are:
And here there were individual descriptions of the serpents

The Crown of Kings

For this I suggest a picture showing the Archmage of Mampang in the middle of casting a spell out at the reader. And a picture of the Crown of Kings, perhaps semi-transparent, hanging in the background.
Imagine the reader has intruded on the Archmage's home, intent on stealing the Crown. The Archmage is LIVID! He rises to his feet, his eyes ABLAZE with HATRED! He summons up a powerful fireball spell (or some other kind of powerful magical attack spell) and at the time the 'photo' on the cover is taken, his expression is one of pure screaming evil as he sends his deadly blast out of the cover aimed straight at the reader's heart. As he casts it his body is wracked with a jolt of energy. The Archmage is going nuclear here!

AFF: Can I ask how long does it take for you to come up with a final design after being given the initial brief. How many sketches do you usually try before you are roughly happy with it?

Well this varies; nothing I do ever seems to go in a straight line. It has been sometimes thought by the ‘Powers’ who commission that a quick scratchy, sketch can be turned around on a sixpence. ‘Just a quick idea,’ they say, ‘It doesn’t have to be too good. Just so we get an idea.’ What they really mean is, ‘I want a really good sketch… with all the mustard and pickles, but still turned around on a sixpence.’ But the sketch, to me, is the most important part of the process. This is where the heart of the work comes from and sometimes it takes longer than the final painting. But there are other times when it just goes ‘Wham’ like that. Done with a manic grin, and the fist is raised with a triumphant ‘YESSSS!’ Sometimes though, there are many terrible sketches with much tearing of hair and foul language. Those are my dark shades when any sensible creatures in the immediate vicinity will go quietly somewhere else and leave me friendless. But mostly, there are happy times, like when it goes backwards and the final painting is done before the sketch (you can do that with computers). In that case I have to go back and prepare a sketch, for the presenting, because there is a procedure here. Some paintings can be done in a day or two and some in a week or two. Backward painting in a day or so, even hours, but I do like to linger a bit. It also depends on what else I have on at the time.

AFF: When you paint the cover from initial outline to sketch and then the completion what material do you use?

Up until about seven years ago all my work was painted in oils, but now I use digital paint and the artwork is given out on a CD. At times I wish I’d stayed with canvases and oils, as with computers and me there is occasionally a conflict of wills. But I don’t have to wait for the paint to dry now.
Sometimes I’ll do an initial pencil or coloured sketch and scan this in and go from there, or maybe I’ll sketch straight into the computer. Sometimes I’ll use reference and sometimes it’s straight through a hole in the back of my head.

But one thing, I do not do ‘Computer Generated’. I do not use programs to do the art for me. I do the work by hand and you can’t do it well if you can’t draw. I use Photoshop and sometimes Painter, mostly Photoshop ‘cause it’s simple to use and standard. But I have managed to ‘Tweak’ it so it responds in a very similar way to oil paints and it knows who is master now. I did most of this ‘Tweaking’ with a gentle touch… and also obscene threats with a large hammer.

AFF: Are you looking forward to any future covers, or is there a cover you would like to do?

Yes, I would look forward to many future covers and FF covers in particular. They are great fun to do. At this time I have no particular cover that I would prefer to do… just as long as it’s something to get my teeth into and chew around a bit.

A big thank you must go to Mel Grant for the scans, e-mails and great conversations. Thank you for again supporting the site!

All original content is Copyright 2001 - 2003 by David Holt. [email protected] All Rights Reserved.