Below Status Update #2: Art Attack

Ask me why I’m so excited. Go on. Go on. Go on.

I’m glad you asked. I am excited because Below is going to look much, much prettier than I’d anticipated.

Find out why after the break…

A Thousand Words

I’m ecstatic to announce that Yasmeen Khan (who you may know as the lead writer/designer of Failbetter Games’ The Silver Tree – she has many skills) will be contributing art to the game. We’ve spent the last couple of days honing a style, planning out the pieces we’ll need and roughing out dungeon banners, and I couldn’t be happier.

Here are a couple of pieces of her concept art that made me go all fluttery.

A series of islands, wreathed in fire and smoke

The Lair of the Fire-Queen

These are the Isles of Fire, where one of Below’s more perilous dungeons can be found. You may have guessed that it’s the home of a dragon. I love the contrast of fire and water in this piece. I can imagine the folk of Gallowmoor seeing the everburning fires on the horizon as night falls, and whispering a prayer. Will the Fire-Queen return one day to scour the land as she did in days past?


The next piece shows why I think Yasmeen’s such a perfect fit for Below:

A vast, dark hall of high galleries, with a few tiny figures making their way across it.

The Great Hall

There’s so much to love about this: the scale, the gloom, the use of light to pick out details of the architecture. But best of all, it asks questions. Who are those figures? What was this place? And, most of all, why does that door need to be so big?

Yasmeen often works from black to white, so her images are drenched in the oppressive dark of the underworld. There’s something unsafe about her work – there’s always something in there that’s eerie or sinister. You can see for yourselves – I’ll be posting more pieces in the near future.

We’ve got some ideas we’d like to experiment with. We want to make it easier to differentiate Above and Below cards in your hand. We want to single quest cards out as such, and convey your current level of Spirit more clearly, as well as make clear when it’s getting dangerously low.

Below already has a number of beautiful pieces by Paul Arendt, Failbetter’s resident artist, and it’ll continue to make extensive use of StoryNexus’ ever-growing art library. But now we plan to add bespoke art from Yasmeen, too. Soon we’ll have so much stuff that I’ll create a gallery here at the site to show some of it off.

Yesterday I muttered something about needing a pit icon, and before the afternoon was done Yasmeen had created one. Not just a neat hole in the ground, either – a blasphemous carbuncle of a pit, hungry and malignant. Like a pock on the Earth’s crust.

I think we’re going to get on.



  1. Andy Raff December 19, 2012 5:38 pm  Reply

    The Great Hall is *gorgeous*

    • Chris December 19, 2012 5:38 pm  Reply


  2. Tssha December 26, 2012 6:11 am  Reply

    I’ve always loved the dark and macabre; sadness is an emotion that speaks to me, in both beauty and passion. It’s always been the sad music that’s touched me more than anything else, the sadness of life in general that I’ve connected with.

    On that, I entirely approve of this artistic collaboration. I’m sure it’ll lead to nothing but good.

    Well, bad. You know what I mean!

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