Graphic design & illustration for games | David MacKenzie

Graphic design and illustration for
Video & Board Games

Working as a freelance designer and illustrator for the past five years I've occasionally found myself working with companies in the games industry, producing products in both digital and physical format. As an avid gamer, both in pixels and pencils, this work has been tremendously engaging and rewarding and I'm always on the lookout for future projects within the industry. The work has been primarily design-led, but has covered everything from branding and layout to character illustrations and cartography.

For companies or individuals who are interested in hiring me for further work in this vein I've collected a range of the most relevant projects here. In addition to this page, feel free to check out the full portfolio of my other design & illustration work.

Branding

When independent video game company RedMatter started work on their first stand-alone title ‘Intruder Alert!’, a game inspired by both classic and campy spy films, I was brought on board to help brand the new product as well as create a variety of graphic design and marketing material to help raise awareness and promote the product during it’s development.

My first task was to create a logo for the game, aiming to capture both the 1960’s Bond aesthetic and the playful, humorous tone of the game. After plenty of research this bold, vibrant design was created, and went on to inform much of the design of the accompanying material for the project.

A sketched version of the Intruder Alert! logo
A logo for Intruder Alert! inspired by 1960s spy films

Design & Layout

While working with RedMatter on ‘Intruder Alert!’, the 3D artists on the team were feverishly churning out fantastic assets to go into the game, and we felt it would be great to showcase these to the fans to keep interest in the project high during potentially long production periods. We decided quite quickly that to use blueprint-style presentations of the various vehicles and locations perfectly fitted the ‘evil genius’ theme present in the designs.

A blueprint featuring a 3D model of an industrial vehicle
A blueprint featuring a 3D model of a mining laser
A blueprint featuring a 3D model of a mining crane
A blueprint featuring a 3D model of a liquid tank

Illustration

Given written descriptions and a blank canvas I was given tremendous freedom to bring my own ideas to the table about the exotic appearance of the various denizens of the world of Sulhan, a tabletop roleplaying game from writer and game designer Richard Gorman. The resulting 35 fantasy illustrations encompassed everyone from sophisticated merchants from the desert wastes, to snarling lizard-like beasts of burden.

An illustration of a mechanical Umuthi
An illustration of an aquatic Ajulani
An illustration of a winged Surtisu
Fantasy rulebook cover for The World of Sulhan
Fantasy cover art for 'The World of Sulhan' roleplaying game

Flexible illustration style

The following book cover design for John Cee Stannard’s teen-fiction fantasy novel and a faux-vintage travel poster to celebrate the remastering of 90’s PC game Grim Fandango highlight the broad range of styles I’m comfortable illustrating in, from vector art to photoshop painting.

An illustrated young adult fantasy book cover
An illustrated poster for the videogame Grim Fandango

Character Illustration

These character portraits were from a series created to depict Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his descendants, working from historical accounts of the traditional dress, health and social status of each of the family members provided in order to appropriately envisage the historical figures with a degree of accuracy and personality.

Illustrated portraits of Genghis Khan and two of his descendants

Click here to see the full write-up of my work on 'Genghis - An Empire Built on Horseback'

Cartography

As well as bringing the creatures of Sulhan to life I was commissioned to create 12 maps to describe the topography of the world writer and game designer Richard Gorman had created. Working from original sketches from Richard everything from dangerous isles to bustling continents were mapped, creating a world of locations for daring adventuring parties to explore.

An illustrated map of the Per-loana isles
An illustrated map of the Aruthia continent

Packaging

OK, so I’m cheating a bit here as this one clearly isn’t for a game but, as in most endeavours, learning from one area of practise very often spills over into others. As blues musician John Stannard’s first solo album was full of musical nods to the past, it felt like a great opportunity to mix the olf and new and explore the modern digipack album cover in the style of a vintage record sleeve. During the project, careful attention was paid to how the design would appear once complete and printed and where information could be presented in unique and stylish ways.

Album cover design for The Doob Doo Album
Outer album packaging for The Doob Doo Album
Inner album packaging for The Doob Doo Album

Marketing & Web

To coincide with the launch of the new brand and help raise interest in the project I was asked to completely rebrand the ‘Intruder Alert!’ IndieDB page. The original page was sparse and rarely strayed from the traditional appearance of many other projects’ pages so we knew a rebrand that incorporated every asset on the page would have the most appeal and elevate the project above it’s competition.

An IndieDB page for Intruder Alert before the rebrand The original IndieDB page for Intruder Alert! featuring minimal branding
The IndieDB page for Intruder Alert after the rebrand The updated IndieDB page featured branding tied into all the elements of the page

Thanks for listening.

If you like the work you’ve seen here and have any further questions or would like to hire me to work on your own projects please get in touch. In addition to this page, feel free to check out the full portfolio of my other design & illustration work.