Advanced graphics for Inform 7


I was able to steal a few hours here and there this week to work on another illustration for Kerkerkruip, the mindslug. This giant slug wins not only for its bulk, but also for its psychic/psionic/telepathic abilities. Most notably, it can exert its titanic will over other sentient creatures, turning them into pliant mind-slaves. When we meet it in the game, the mindslug is defended by two such zombis, in the persons of a pair of famous heroes of the sword & sorcery genre.

That’s fun, but I did struggle for a while to figure out how best to portray a psychedelic slug. My initial idea was to borrow the iconic trait of the mind flayer and show the slug rearing up to reveal a ring of squid-like tentacles around its mouth. Cute, I guess, but physiologically nonsensical–the connection between the tentacles and psychic powers is nil, and anyway a slug’s mouth is on the underside of its head where the tentacles would be utterly superfluous.

Later, I thought of the baroque defensive plumes and wild color found on many of the nudibranches (often referred to as sea-slugs). I was especially drawn to the flaming neons of this specimen:

Spanish Shawl Nudibranch, by Christopher Bradford

Spanish Shawl Nudibranch, by Christopher Bradford

In the end I didn’t borrow the nudibranch’s cerata for the mindslug. But I did latch on to the colors in that image, deciding that the representation of the mindslug rather than its morphology should be psychedelic. I found a great background texture (by flickr user rubyblossom) that seemed to conceal vague shapes in shifting clouds of rich purple, suggestive of psychic landscape or experience. The final illustration is effective I think at conveying what the slug might look like to someone who is falling under its influence. There is a cost, though, in that it strays far from the muted color schemes of the other cards produced so far:

Mindslug illustration

The font used is Lato, an open-source font from Poland. It is available on Google Webfonts.

Oh, the illustration has a bit of an easter egg, loosely inspired by Sergio Aragones’s marginal cartoons for Mad Magazine. Look just a bit more closely than you might have otherwise and you’re sure to see it…

Because slugs are pretty darn cool, I’ll close with a few images that I used or simply enjoyed as I worked:

Slug eggs

Slug eggs


Comments on: "Mindslug" (8)

  1. Dannii said:

    Love it!

    Two thinks seem a little odd though: the squiggles in the main part of the head, and the bottom left eyestalk (I don’t like the u having a tail).

    • I’ll be interested to hear if anyone else has anything to say about the markings on the head. They are intended to depict/suggest a number of things:

      1. Actual head markings of some slug species (see the first photo in the slug gallery at the end of the post)
      2. The folds and involutions of a cerebral cortex (it’s a MIND slug!)
      3. An inscrutable intelligence (like a thought balloon, but unreadable)

      Conveying the texture of a brain in typographic symbols, without other context, is very difficult! This is the last, and definitely the best, of many attempts. But it may have to go the way of the slime, which I also tried a number of ways of depicting before deciding that none of them were readable enough and giving up.

      Your comment about the lowercase u on the lefthand sensory antenna deserves a post of its own. Just kidding! But it does remind me that I saved some early designs for the slug that might be interesting to share. I’ll try to post that tonight.

      • Dannii said:

        As usual, you should ignore most of what I say!

        Except when it comes to typefaces and the letter u having a tail. Because that is objective fact.

  2. Sam Kabo Ashwell said:

    I read the headsquiggles as either a cilia-filled maw, or squiggly beams of psychic energy emanating out of the slug’s head.

  3. Victor Gijsbers said:

    I really like it, including the easter egg and the psychedelic colours!

  4. Thanks all. I decided that the head markings just needed to have the same psychedelic glow as the other body markings. I think it makes for an improvement in the image overall:

    Mindslug revised

  5. Victor Gijsbers said:

    I agree, the new image is cooler.

  6. […] A player who has defeated some of the denizens of Kerkerkruip, on the other hand, can wait at the main menu for the Rogues Gallery to appear. This is a succession of trading-card like depictions of each monster defeated, along with stats that summarize the player’s history with that enemy (for more on the cards, see my previous posts). […]

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