The Making of Abunai! 2018’s Poster feat. Howling Riot

Feb 23, 2018 | Blog, Howling Riot

Editor’s note: How mighty fine our new artwork is! As with previous Abunai! editions, our artwork is designed by the incredible Howling Riot. Howling Riot consists of artist Els and scenarist Renincy. They are an important part of Abunai! and have been ever since 2013, when they created their first poster for us.

As I’m one of those people who cannot draw if her life depended on it and am insanely curious (dangerous combination), I just had to bug kindly request Els if she could tell me more about her artwork for Abunai!, including the 2018 poster. Our audience has a right to know!

Luckily, Els graciously agreed to an interview with yours truly. Without further ado, please read on to discover all the secrets behind Abunai! 2018: Tales of Kitsunia’s poster – Mariëlle, your ever so dutiful editor.

Els, could you please introduce yourself to our lovely audience?

You shall bow before me for I am ..! Oh.. wait.. wrong personality. Ahem! Let’s try that again. I am a fulltime illustrator and comic artist. In artschool they told me I could never make it in life with drawing foxes and manga. And now it is nearly all I do for a living. I started drawing foxes in kindergarten as an emotional outlet. I did not fit in with my classmates very well. The first foxes I would start with were often sad or angry, but after a while the emotion leaves you and you start to draw happier foxes. I would basically draw myself back to happiness again.

In 2005 I started the doujin circle “Howling Riot” together with my best friend and awesome scenarist Renincy. What started out as a mainly shonen manga focused doujin group, gradually shifted to more and more animal inspired artwork. (Mostly foxes, wolves and tigers).

This is where Abunai! gets in the picture.

Since their mascot already used to be a fox and their previous artist was going to quit, they asked me if I could make the posters from then on, creating my own version of the Kitsune mascot.

Darkness Rising in 2013 was the first official poster by my hand.

Nowadays I also make the art for the crew shirts and the merchandise stand.

Other personal stuff/fun facts:

I usually work till late at night (‘till about 3 or 5 in the morning) so a nickname that is used often is “nightfox/nachtvosje”.

I love food (steak, salmon, hot Thai curries, sushi, penny waffles) and I collect alien-looking exotic fruits. I don’t really like drinking (the normal watery healthy stuff), so my friends often help me keep an eye on not getting too dehydrated. I do love saké, but that doesn’t help the dehydration part at all! XD

I used to sing professionally at weddings and memorials.

I am a huge fan of Dragonball Z, it inspired us to start Howling Riot.

As for physical exercise: I enjoy playing Pokémon Go and Stepmania. :p I also used to belly dance a lot. I haven’t had much time for it lately, but would love to pick it up again.

Me and Renincy are currently passionate about and working on a fox comic called “Ghosts of the Mangrove”. About a fox cub trying to use the forces of evil for doing good. (Because, what could go wrong?)

I draw best on music that is like a theme song for the characters I draw. If the character I draw is a psycho, I end up feeling pretty paranoid at the end of the night, haha.

Cosplaying and running a convention stand can be challenging. So no more body-paint cosplays for me while on stand duty/drawing commissions. I pick more convenient costumes nowadays. (I am wise now! Really! Believe me! :3)

What inspired the concept of the poster? Did you have an idea from the start to go with the theme?

Haha, one idea? I soon had 8 ideas to pick from! I tried my best to reduce it back to a maximum of 4 before introducing the sketches to pick from to Abunai!. The games theme has such a wide range of inspiration to pick from. In the final 4 I took a lot of inspiration from the Zelda games.

Next to that we also have a Final Fantasy/Okami inspired logo, Chrono Trigger inspired background islands, and small game parodies around the Kitsune from Kingdom Hearts, Pokémon Go, a 20 sided dice from roleplaying games, DDR arrows and a playing card on the back shield. The poster was mostly made on “Best Music Mix 2017- Best of EDM”.

For who looked closely at the 2016 “Beyond the stars” Abunai! Poster must have noticed a very angry alien chicken being carried by a big Mecha. It is angry since our naughty Kitsune has stolen its golden egg. (That is just what foxes do)

This universe ruling dark overlord chicken now has its own Facebook page where you can worship its feathered glory: “Majestic Space Chicken”.

Since Link likes to carry around angry chickens in the Zelda games I found this to be the perfect opportunity for the chicken to make his comeback to the big poster. He doesn’t seem to agree with his position of power in the poster tho.

Does the final poster differ significantly from the first sketch?

The final poster has stayed quite close to the original sketch. The biggest

differences are:

  • an extra floating island in the background
  • the added game icons on the back shield (and the back shield itself)
  • the sword having changed into a Kingdom hearts inspired key.

And of course many hours of changing the blobby impressions into detailed well-communicating elements.

What was the biggest challenge in designing the poster?
Painting the mountains in the background digitally has been my biggest challenge with this poster. All the previous posters have either been completely or partially painted manually on paper. This was the first time I made the whole poster digitally, using both Photoshop and Manga Studio.

There have been moments I considered going manual again, since it surely doesn’t respond the same as real watercolor, but I figured it out eventually. So this is the first time I was able to make a time-lapse video of how the poster was made. It is filmed by gradually making the 214 layers visible.

What do you like most about the poster??

The feeling of standing at the beginning of a whole new adventure. That feeling you can have at the start of a new game, or the first hour of just having arrived at an anime convention. Still, so many areas to explore, new experiences to find, beauty to see and people to meet.

That, and the angry chicken, being casually dragged along by our kitsune… I am truly looking forwards to his attempt to take revenge. ^^

Thank you Els for graciously answering my questions! Aside from this interview, Els was also more than kind enough to show us how she created our lovely 2018 poster. Is there anything she cannot do? Tune in next time to find out.

For more information on Howling Riot, please check the Howling Riot website, like the Howling Riot Facebook, follow the Howling Riot Instagram, tweet to the Howling Riot Twitter, and subscribe to the Howling Riot YouTube channel.