By Guest Author, Roger O'Reilly
Illustrating for box-art required the artist to keep numerous parties happy. The art had to allow the manufacturer to get all the flashing, branding and information on the cover without compromising the image.
Sometimes the packaging might take in a couple of different formats, so that had to be allowed for.
The image had to clearly illustrate the airplane, vehicle or ship in a way that the purchaser could see what the final assembled kit might look like - Pino Dell'Orco's wonderfully dramatic paintings would never have passes muster - while the drama of the image had to be tempered with accuracy of detail.
The right armament had to be in the right place. Markings had to be accurate - history buffs had to be placated.
Lastly and most important were the legion of 10yr old boys who were going to buy the kits. The box art had to fire the imagination, draw the viewer into the drama and convince him to part with his pocket money. If I have anyone to blame for my pre-adolescent penury, it's probably these two guys.
Of the two artists, Huxley was probably the more accomplished.
He could illustrate figures just as well as planes, trains and automobiles...
... but if there was a competition for the iconic image of the age, it has to go to Roy Cross for his cover of the B17 Flying Fortress, complete with fourth engine on fire. For a generation of pre-teens, this was the one.
Along with my friends I tried to recreate this image in model form using everything from plaster and cardboard flames to filling the engine cowling with lighter fluid soaked tissue and setting the thing on fire.
Today, many of these kits carry photoshop generated artwork and they've removed the explosions, gunfire and in fact all the reasons we bought the kits in the first place. While there's nothing inherently wrong with the illustrations, even the aircraft themselves just don't have the excitement and drama that these masters captured with gouache and acrylics.
* Roger O'Reilly illustrates for advertising, magazines and newspapers in Ireland and around the world. His work has appeared in The Daily Telegraph, GQ, FHM, The Sunday Tribune and many others. His fine art paintings have been exhibited in Switzerland, Ireland, Holland and France, where he is represented in the permanent collection of the Musee D'histoire Contemporaine in Paris.