Dev Blog #88: The Key Visual


Dev Blog #88: The Key Visual

This week we present to you our final key visual for Battle Brothers and dive a bit into the visual evolution of our game over the last four years. Why did we create a completely new artwork and why does it look the way it does? Find out!

The visual evolution of Battle Brothers

Battle Brothers has come a long way since its conception and has seen some significant changes in development. It started as a hobby into which we invested many an evening on top of our day jobs, and turned into our full time jobs. The original art assets had to be created in short sessions late at night, and as we gained the means to invest more and more time into the game, we eventually redid most of the assets in order to bring them up to a higher standard of quality. As the game design evolved, so did the art style from a light-hearted comic approach to a somewhat more serious and gritty, but still exaggerated one.

The different iterations of both the key visual and ingame assets illustrate the changes over time pretty well.


Why do a new key visual?

The key visual is of some importance for the success of the game, as parts of it are used all over; in the game itself, on Steam, on our website, in social media and as press material. It’s what catches a potential player’s attention first, so it really has to get people interested to learn more. Many of you want the development of Battle Brothers to continue beyond its initial release, and for this to work out, we need the game to be a success, which the key visual plays a part in.

So what’s wrong with the old key visual and why did it need to be redone? There are a couple of points we wanted to address.

Quality – The previous artwork lacks in overall quality. It’s more than two years old already and has been painted over countless short late-night sessions.

Design – The character looks don’t match our ingame assets anymore, raising memories of back when box cover art showed things not even in a game. Some characters also have a certain ‘knightly’ vibe about them, which may lead to wrong expectations for players. Finally, it still looks kind of light-hearted and the enemies are borderline cute, which is more commonly associated with casual mobile games and not a complex and challenging game like Battle Brothers.

Composition – Now we’re getting to the core of what’s wrong with the old artwork. It’s never a good idea to have a center-focused composition in a landscape format picture, especially if you need some space to show your logo. This puts you in a position where your main character and your logo have to compete for space and attention on the canvas.


Guiding the eye is very important in any artwork to help the observer find the focus point and not get lost while exploring the picture. As you can see, we used a variety of elements to emphasize the focus on the main character in our old key visual. Unfortunately, this absolutely excludes the logo from holding any meaningful position in the picture.


The Solution

Here is what we came up with to remedy all the above issues and add a good amount of additional awesomeness on top: the final key visual of Battle Brothers.


As you can see, the rendering quality of the picture is a lot better now. The whole picture features a broader format and an off-center focus, creating a more dynamic and visually pleasing composition. Additionally, a lot of space has been freed up to place the new Battle Brothers lettering where it doesn’t collide with the main characters. Designs are inspired by actual ingame assets, and the characters look more like mercenaries now and less like knights. The whole atmosphere is more serious and less light-hearted, while still retaining an over-the-top heroic battle style.

Another important point is that the landscape setup facilitates easier creation of header graphics and other assets for secondary websites like Steam, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. To complete the visual rework of our assets, the Battle Brothers logo also got an overhaul.


Everything could be improved further, of course, but that’s always the case. We’re quite happy with our new artwork, so it’s time to move on to the next important items on our todo-list. Next week we’ll take a look at a new worldmap mechanic!

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About Jaysen


  • Avatar photo
    Nov 18, 2016 @ 16:54 pm

    The new picture is awesome. I still love the old “Chuck-Norris-Style” knightly merc though. It´s a shame he is gone.

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    JP Falcon
    Nov 18, 2016 @ 17:10 pm

    My only concern about the new artwork is that it gives the impression of Total War like hordes attacking the mercs when in fact it is much more tactical and intimate.

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      Nov 18, 2016 @ 17:50 pm

      Technically you are right. I decided to show enemy hordes just out of nostalgia for oldschool video game covers and for additional awesomeness.

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      Nov 19, 2016 @ 2:54 am

      Probably because the new box art style IS the typical Warhammer Fantasy art minus the religious symbolism.

      Hey, if it works, why reinvent the wheel right?

      Also, will there be one more beta patch before full release or are we in the home stretch now?

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    Nov 18, 2016 @ 17:34 pm

    I think it looks great. I love the fact that you iterate and improve all the time. All though the old one looks good, there is an obvious leap of quality here.
    The only thing I would change is the helmet of the main character. It looks like there is something wrong with the perspective there, the head is too long and with the ribbon it looks like the picnicking type of mercenary :)

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    Nov 18, 2016 @ 17:47 pm

    New arts looks more solid – right like the game itself after all this good work that you , devs, done. Takk ‘Odin!

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    Nov 18, 2016 @ 19:13 pm

    new pic looks great and i see your points, but the old theme will still remain as my wallpaper i guess.i just like it too much. :-)

    but great job everyone! now i’m waiting for battle map assets like farms and tents etc. :-)


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    Nov 18, 2016 @ 19:36 pm

    I have to admit, I always missed the figure’s legs and I am even more sad to see that those where part of the first version. Nevertheless, using only the upper part allows more detail.

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      Nov 21, 2016 @ 2:14 am

      I am completely with you. The stylized characters (without the legs) are the reason why I ignored the game at first and one of the reasons why I still didn’t buy it. Will make up my decision at some point after release…

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        Nov 22, 2016 @ 15:51 pm

        i have to agree as well, the legs would make such a difference imho

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    Nov 18, 2016 @ 20:00 pm

    Amazing picture! You are doing great work! Had the game for a couple of years and really like where you going with it!

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    Nov 18, 2016 @ 20:07 pm

    Amazing picture. Very good improving. Had the game for a couple of years and really like where you going with the game. Hope you at some point will revisit the aftermath of a camping and depending how you did might add something extra than simple the playthrough.

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    Nov 18, 2016 @ 21:02 pm

    Battle brothers estethically is second-to-none. BUT any way we could get you to release that awesome initial art to the original users in some scenarios as a bonus?

    The problem with Paul is… short investment or not, everything he has done has been state of the art :)

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    Nov 18, 2016 @ 22:15 pm

    Well its look really great.
    Also just up maximum size for enemy and allied parties(as a separate option or for some difficulties) and there will be hordes of enemies.

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    Nov 19, 2016 @ 10:59 am

    This really is a stunning piece of work, I haven’t been playing recently, but I can’t help but keep checking in to see the progress you guys are making. Keep it up dudes!

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    Nov 20, 2016 @ 0:11 am

    So much work..Well done!

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    Nov 20, 2016 @ 20:57 pm

    While I like it, one grating thing for me compared to the old version is how the font lettering bleeds into a similar color as the background it’s written on. so at a glance its almost like “8aATTLE BROthercns”
    where it trails off like a visual mumble unless I’m focused on it. This feels especially present on the wooden shield logo, as the vertical lines of the shield and very similar shade muddy the fonts outline even further. I’m not a visual arts or design guy, so I can’t give a specific fix.. maybe higher saturation on the letters, or thicker outlining on the letters? I’m not quite sure.

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      Nov 23, 2016 @ 15:27 pm

      Exactly what I see. Using the “Star Wars” example, the “Battlebrothers” logo is too muted and not big enough.
      When I compare the “original” to the “new”, on the “original” key graphic, I jump to the center action, and immediately up to the logo. On the new one, I jump to the side and … stay there. The font size and coloring do not draw me back, and the bright backlighting nails my attention there. The shield logo also needs help. “Battle Brothers” just disappears. The new artwork is excellent, as usual, but the font coloring falls well short of the purpose.
      In the new Key Graphic, break “Battle Brothers” to two lines and brighten the font coloring. The shield needs to have the font color brightened. Great art, lousy font choices.

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    Nov 20, 2016 @ 22:50 pm

    When do all these updates go live?

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