Deep research and remaster of
"The Golden Mask" title image
Greetings! Many of you know that I am engaged in programming and reverse engineering, but for sure it will be news for you that in my spare time I also draw different things in graphic editors. By free time, I mean such moments when I get bored with programming and want to do something else. Ok, this happens infrequently, but I think I have something to make you happy.
Well. In order not to torment you with my wall of text, here is a remastered title picture of the Golden Mask and its version for a widescreen monitor. Enjoy!
Let me remind you that the original versions of these images (and Tomb Raider II Gold official user manual scan) look like this:
In fact, I have created even more detailed versions (almost 4K), but for now I am publishing their reduced HD versions. How did I manage to work out these images in such detail, you ask? Before I began to draw anything, I spent dozens of hours researching the original image. I tried to find out where its elements were borrowed from, what fonts were used, the real prototypes, etc. Let's take a look at the title image again and carefully examine each of the items on the table.
Attu Island map
Piled up with papers and other items, this huge map occupies the entire table and serves almost as a tablecloth. Initially, I did not know that this map of Attu Island, and I had to search for it by river/cove/mountain names, coordinates and other indirect data. In fact, this island itself has absolutely nothing to do with the plot of the game. The game takes place on the fictional island of Melnikov, which is located among the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. So Attu is westernmost island of the Aleutian Islands. It is noteworthy that the map uses outdated coordinate system - Principal meridians of Alaska, in particular, Umiat Meridian. You can see these coordinates on the map: R263W, R264W and so on. If you are interested in how to use this coordinate system, and how to decipher these numbers, I suggest you read about Public Land Survey System. I've found the exact map that was used for the original title image on this website.
Aleutian Islands map
This map was redrawn by me from scratch. Like Attu, any of the Aleutian Islands can be found in the Alaska Index Map of this website. It is particularly interesting that in the area labeled "Melnikov Island" there is in fact no Melnikov Island - this can be seen on the detailed map of the area near Amukta Island.
Browning Hi-Power Pistol
I just upscaled this one and then remastered. The user manual scan provides more detailed image than original title image. In my opinion, this is a simplified concept art drawn in the image of a real pistol, i.e. Browning Hi-Power (may be black or silver colored). Also it is used in Tomb Raider I as pair pistol model. Just check your inventory there. Oh, and you can easily recognize this gun on rendered promo pictures of TR1-3.
Photo of an Inuit with the Golden Mask
I tried very hard to find the original photo, but unfortunately I did not succeed. In the end I just upscaled and remastered this image. But I still suspect Nanook is depicted in the photo.
Clinique red lipstick
Even after 20 years, the lipstick of the Clinique brand has not lost its popularity. Moreover, even the design has not changed. Lara knew a lot about good makeup, despite the fact that she used her lipstick as a pencil. This item was pretty easy to redraw from scratch.
Old "USA Daily" newspaper
The image recreated from scratch, "The Cold War" level screenshot remade. Uncle Sam is watching more closely now. The newspaper text refers to the conflict between the USSR and the USA in connection with the appearance of Soviet ships near the Aleutian Islands, specifically Melnikov Island (PBY Catalina spotted the Russian fleet). It seems the photo was intercepted from USSR radiophoto signal. All the data indicate that there is a secret Soviet gold mining base on Melnikov Island, where Lara will go.
The plan of a secret mine base on the Melnikov Island
Perhaps this part of the work was the most difficult. I had to redraw the entire drawing in vector format. Initially, I did not have an asset that you can see above. I had only the original title picture and user manual. I had to make out and think out the details of the image, figure out what is written on the drawing and what was drawn there. When the work was half finished, two people with whom I communicated and shared my drafts, unexpectedly stated that they were just lying about the drawing image, albeit in poor quality. A huge THANK YOU to these guys! So far, they have wished to remain anonymous, but if they want, I am always ready to announce the names of the heroes. So, when I saw a more complete and detailed version of the artwork, I was able to add details to my drawing. Here is a draft of the "Cold War" level plan, most likely drawn by a level designer. In the left part of it you can see a zip-line, in the right there is a bridge for riding a snowmobile, there is military base building between them. You can see this building on the newspaper - a screenshot taken from the right side. At the top of the plan, two mine shafts are marked, one of which (Shaft A) is the end of the level.
We remember that in the game story this base belonged to the USSR, which means that the inscriptions on the original drawing were made in Russian. But the problem is that the developers did not know the Russian language, there was no "Google Translate" in 1999, so they solved this problem by cutting out fragments of phrases from old Soviet posters of the Second World War. I found these posters, here they are.
1. "Take care of military equipment so that it does not let you down in battle"
2. "In military intelligence, watch out for tree branches too. Do not sleep when you're a sentry, you are responsible for everyone"
If you're interested, here are other old Soviet posters.
I think you understand how absurd and senseless these Russian inscriptions look on a secret Soviet drawing. Therefore, I replaced them with more meaningful ones, such as “Mine Shaft", "Checkpoint", "Warehouse", "Armory", etc. For the same reason, the stamp on the drawing was reworked. The original stamp looked like a wax seal, not very realistic. In the USSR there were no such stamps on the drawings, so the new stamp uses the blue ink. The original stamp is based on Order of the Patriotic War - the military medal with words "Отечественная Война" ("The Patriotic War") on it, this name is used for Second World War in the period 1941-1945 in the former USSR and modern Russia. Of course, such a text on a stamp looks ridiculous for anyone who can read in Russian. Therefore, the text has been replaced by a more reasonable "Совершенно Секретно" ("Top Secret").
I understand that after all these edits, the drawing became less authentic, but at the same time it became much more logical. This is very important in the case of a detailed image that everyone can see now.
I hope you enjoyed my little article and the result of the work. In any case, I am always open to criticism, and there is an opportunity to improve something. I propose to discuss in this thread (on tombraiderforums.com) the original image, as well as the remaster.
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