Behind the Scenes of the NHL 13 Cover
The world got its first look at the cover for NHL 13 when Claude Giroux was unveiled as the cover athlete and winner of the first-ever EA SPORTS NHL Cover Vote during the NHL Awards. With the Philadelphia Flyers forward in the bright orange of the Flyers’ home jersey; it’s a striking image, easily one of the more vibrant in a long line of NHL covers.
Because of the secrecy that surrounded the winner of the NHL 13 Cover Vote I first saw the cover along with the rest of the game’s fans, as it was revealed on a Las Vegas stage by last year’s cover athlete – Steven Stamkos. While I had been involved in the campaign to allow fans to pick who would be on the front of the box, I realized while watching the reveal that I really had no idea what went into making the box art once the cover athlete was selected.
To find out how the NHL 13 cover was designed, I turned to EA SPORTS’ Account Director Larre Sterling and Creative Director Larry Baltutis who are responsible for the design of EA SPORTS cover art.
Sterling began by telling me about what’s called “The Line Look”. Speaking to me over the phone she explained, “The Line Look is established and set. All simulation-style EA SPORTS titles reflect this look.”
This look set for several years. Larre continued, “We do a creative exploration and work with the heads of the different titles, all the marketing leaders and the brand leaders work with us to choice a direction.”
Coming up with a new Line Look involves consulting with an outside design agency in an expansive exploration where new designs are tested while keeping a few must-have elements of the EA SPORTS look.
Baltutis elaborated on some of what are considered ‘untouchable’ elements of the box art design, “Our EA SPORTS medallion must stay in the centre of the pack at all times.”
Beyond that, Baltutis explained, they’re free to explore different ways of using the cover athlete and the free space around them on the box front.
This year marks the first of a new Line Look.
With the Line Look established and the voting for the NHL 13 cover finished the team began to pour through stock images to find the perfect shot of Claude Giroux.
While other EA SPORTS titles often do a photo shoot to get the perfect picture, the NHL team has always relied on real life pictures of our stars in action.
Sterling told me that the image selected needs to meet certain criteria, “We need that image to show a number and a team logo, so we have a list of requirements that we need to hit for both aesthetic reasons as well as contractual reasons. So we take the best image we can find that meets all those requirements.”
Sometimes no one image quite works and a composite is built out of several different pictures. Larre Sterling joked that knowing that might ruin the ‘movie magic’ of the final image for fans.
Next up is legal approvals, with everyone from EA SPORTS’ marketing team to the NHL and NHLPA get to weigh in on the selected image.
From there a process of optimization, colour correction and image tweaking continues almost right up to the point where the cover goes to print.
In fact the NHL 13 cover shown onstage at the NHL Awards was not the final image, and it’s since been tweaked by the design team.
While you’ll have to wait until September to get NHL 13 into your hands and examine the cover in person you can rest assured countless hours of work has been devoted to every aspect of the game, including the picture of Claude Giroux on the front of the box.