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LucasArts Posters: The Revenge


Laserschwert
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As great as this version of the artwork is, you can see the shortcomings of 80s physical film/optics and digital scanning technology. Some colors bleed into one another and edges aren't as refined as they could be. The MI2 artwork we derived from the magazine poster already looks more detailed.

 

I'd wager that a modern scan of the artwork (or as I understand it, paintings are most of the time photographed instead of flatbed-scanned) would result in even more detail and much better colour reproduction.

 

Color-correcting this will be a challenge too, since the different releases use many different color schemes for the art. Personally I'm partial to the Sega CD version's colors (which my current restorations leaned on heavily), though with this poster being a more definitive source, the end result will probably land somewhere inbetween.

Edited by Laserschwert
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I took a grab of the existing version for comparison:

 

BaHSBzc.png

 

New scan:
 

gQXxrKl.png

 

Let me know if I've messed up and this is unrepresentative somehow, Laser. But wow, even with any shortcomings of the scan/photo/repro techniques used, still a huge amount of extra detail!

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6 hours ago, Laserschwert said:

or as I understand it, paintings are most of the time photographed instead of flatbed-scanned

Yep this is the most common. There are digital cameras made at least partially to specialize in this sort of high res studio setup, which slightly vibrate the image censor and take multiple shots to create gigantic mega-res composite photos from a locked down tripod setup. And before digital as far as I know large format film cameras were commonly used, with the resulting shots preserved as slides or transparencies (instead of prints) to preserve as much detail as possible for reproduction.
 

There are surely slides or transparencies of all the box art out there somewhere as it was almost definitely the format used for mailing a copy to magazines for ads, and to international publishers, before print design went fully digital, but who knows where they’d be. Deep in old filing cabinets if they aren’t throw out. 

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The big thing I'm thinking of are of course the original paintings. At least we know that MI2, FOA and Rebel Assault 2 are still in Purcell's and Eaken's possessions. As for stuff like MI1, MM, Zak or The Dig, they must be stored somewhere... I hope. Loom is an interesting one, because it's not a painting but a coloured pencil drawing. So most likely it was done on paper and is thus not as sturdy as paintings made on cardboard, MDF or canvas.

 

Interestingly, GameHistoryOrg's Frank Cifaldi did initially have the MI1 poster photographed at a specialized vendor, but the quality couldn't compete with a flatbed scan, so he ended up scanning it on his A3 scanner.

 

Edit: According to Frank, Steve Purcell confirmed that the poster's colors are accurate. So that settles that.

Edited by Laserschwert
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5 hours ago, Laserschwert said:

Edit: According to Frank, Steve Purcell confirmed that the poster's colors are accurate. So that settles that.

I hope you do a version with the warmed up colors like you’ve done in the past too (sega cd style?), because I agree with you that it looks great like that. 

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52 minutes ago, Jake said:

I hope you do a version with the warmed up colors like you’ve done in the past too (sega cd style?), because I agree with you that it looks great like that. 

Yeah, MI1 is important enough to warrant multiple versions.

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7 hours ago, Jake said:

Yep this is the most common. There are digital cameras made at least partially to specialize in this sort of high res studio setup, which slightly vibrate the image censor and take multiple shots to create gigantic mega-res composite photos from a locked down tripod setup. And before digital as far as I know large format film cameras were commonly used, with the resulting shots preserved as slides or transparencies (instead of prints) to preserve as much detail as possible for reproduction.
 

There are surely slides or transparencies of all the box art out there somewhere as it was almost definitely the format used for mailing a copy to magazines for ads, and to international publishers, before print design went fully digital, but who knows where they’d be. Deep in old filing cabinets if they aren’t throw out. 


It would be really interesting to see some of these found.

 

If I understand correctly, slide format would allow for extremely detailed captures to be extracted much like how old film is used to create amazing-looking 4K remasters — because all that detail is there in the analogue format.

 

It might even be preferable to the original art itself given physical degradation may have occurred to that.

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31 minutes ago, Thrik said:


It might even be preferable to the original art itself given physical degradation may have occurred to that.

I guess it depends on what was used for the paintings. Acrylic paint basically turns into plastic once dried, so that should last a while. Oils are obviously more problematic, although it's not like these are renaissance paintings from a few hundred years ago. The painting surface can be the weak spot though... canvas, cardboard or MDF usually aren't water proof unless sealed.

 

But as I understand it, the Lucas archive is a professionally cared for, temperature-controlled facility, so most stuff should be safe.

 

As a matter of fact, Craig Derrick told me he's planning a trip to the archives soon. I asked him to especially look for boxart - originals and slides/transparencies - to at least make sure these are properly stored and modern scans could be made. I doubt that he's in a position to share anything for the poster project, but it would at least ease my mind a bit if these works can be confirmed to be safe.

 

As for the quality of slides: Just look at the quality of the new MI poster. That one was most definitely created from a slide. The detail is very good, but as I mentioned above, there's still room for improvement. But that would require going back to the original painting, because all those shortcomings are now baked into those slides.

Edited by Laserschwert
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It could be cool to have a raw or unedited version for studying purposes, the details in the brush strokes are really cool to see :).

Paintings even on paper don't deteriorate too much if they are handled mildly responsibly, that means not trowing them to gather dust and humidity in an open space.
The more delicate pieces are the ones made with markers though, if they are not covered from light sources (specially the sun) the colors fade away really fast. Watercolors and acrylic paints can be displayed without problems other than having the paper yellowing (direct sun light without UV filters can yellow the paper, also depends on the paper quality too), gouaches can be displayed too but a drop of water can do a bit of damage if it's not sealed or covered.
Oils don't have much of a problem, usually the varnish is the one that gets really yellow and dark and it can be removed and replaced, but I think modern varnishes have less yellowing problems.


*On a side note, I was looking for a better version of the Edison's portrait but couldn't find one, I only found a photo posted by Purcell a few years ago, I'm guessing this one was never made public, right?

So I took the photo and cleaned it up the best I could and turned out to have really nice colors and details I didn't know it had, it's a shame it looks a bit blurry though, we might need to send a ninja to take photos wherever the original painting is haha!.

__X.jpg

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That is really sad, man I was hoping it would be hanging somewhere at Disney/Lucasarts so people working there could be able to take pictures of it. Steve could have some photos of it before selling it so there is some hope 😛.

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3 hours ago, Scummbuddy said:

It was sold, sure, but I believe that buyer was generous enough to provide some scans within the last few months here and now we have the work/poster that Laserschwert has made available for us.

Nope, the poster was only using scans of game releases. Mainly the manuals of the Korean and Taiwanese version of MI2, plus several box scans. If I had access to scans of the original painting, the quality would be much, much higher.

 

bile8O7.jpg

 

6f0rkPh.jpg

 

Noteworthy: The Korean manual seems to be the only available source of an unobstructed "LeChuck's Revenge" banner.

Edited by Laserschwert
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The more sources you post, the more impressed I am of the work you’re doing, Laserschwert. You go through such great lengths to get as many sources as you can. After that, it must be hard work puzzling everything together as neatly as you do, and then colour correcting it and making sure the quality of the final image is consistent.
In dutch we call such a thing ‘a monk’s job’, because it’s so detailed and strenuous. I’m glad we have you in our community.

 

I’m curious, how many layers do your Photoshop files have, and do you keep the sources in the PSD’s ‘clean’ so you can swap them out when better images become available?

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1 hour ago, Lagomorph01 said:

I’m curious, how many layers do your Photoshop files have, and do you keep the sources in the PSD’s ‘clean’ so you can swap them out when better images become available?

 

It depends on the image, and how many sources I can collect. Apart from actually fixing dirt and damage to a scan, piecing together different sources is the most work in a restoration. And you're right: Color-correcting each one so that they all match can often be tricky. Usually I start out with the best quality source, and try to match everything else to that. Sometimes I need to color-correct different parts of the same scan with different settings, which in turn ups the layer count. Once everything is pieced together in a homogenous way, cleanup and color-correction of the complete image can happen. Regarding keeping my sources clean, in terms of color correction I usually use adjustment layers, so that the source itself isn't changed. But when aligning different scans, the pieces hardly ever fit together without warping or distorting them ever so slightly. That's why a simple swap of sources usually isn't possible.

 

Luckily, aligning can be automated with a bunch of different tools. Most of the time Photoshop's own automatic alignment tool is good enough. In the case of the MI1 poster, which was made up of 15 separate scans, it worked right away. The Rebel Assault 2 poster on the other hand failed miserably (because of so much black space), so I resorted to Hugin, an open-source image stitching tool that can align images by manually placing marker pairs in the different images. It took a few hours of manual work, but the stitched image turned out great.

Edited by Laserschwert
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  • 2 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

The restoration is coming along nicely:

 

https://i.imgur.com/TfeS579.jpg

 

XTvGEAj.jpg

 

I was a little scared about painting out the logo, but besides using some great sources for the palm trees (unlike 13-or-so years ago, when I didn't have much to work with), I just went and repainted most of the sky. After all, it's just splotches of color, which can be conveniently sampled from inbetween the letters. Adding the appropriate amount of texture on top of it, it works quite well. However, I think I'll still include a logo-less version with a cloud overlay, like in my old versions. The bottom half of the artwork is still missing a bit of material to remove stickers and logos, but I have a few sources that I have yet to train AI models on.

Edited by Laserschwert
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On 5/15/2021 at 2:03 PM, knolll said:

Wow! That new scan pops!

On 10/9/2021 at 7:07 PM, knolll said:

That new version pops!

 

On 5/17/2021 at 11:58 PM, ThunderPeel2001 said:

Where once I was blind, now I can see.

On 9/25/2021 at 10:55 AM, Lagomorph01 said:

The difference is amazing! I was blind but now I see! 😳

 

:D Obviously there's only so much you can say about these.

Getting there:

 

Eu9QlU8.gif

 

It's weird to see so much more on the sides when you've gotten used to the cropped art over the years.

Edited by Laserschwert
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