The best thing about buying video games in the 80s and 90s was the box art. Before the internet, you only had magazines if you were lucky to see what a game actually looked like. Most of the time, all you had was the artwork on the packaging, and often times those illustrations were better than the actual game.
Meet Tom duBois, an illustrator who created the elaborate paintings used on North American Konami box art and magazine ads from 1988 to 1994. This is his story, courtesy of My Life in Gaming:
It’s very interesting to hear the process behind every illustration, and how he had to figure out the appearance of these characters based on a tiny pile of pixels.
Tom was responsible for illustrating the covers for Contra 3, Lethal Enforcers, Castlevania Bloodlines, Metal Gear, Blades of Steel, and many many more as you will see in the video. His personal favorite was Sunset Riders:
My favorite was Sunset Riders (1993; Alkyd/ colored pencil) because I was able to have some fun developing the characters and didn’t overwork the art as much as I usually did. Off the top of my head, I remember the first actual box art I did was Blades of Steel (1988) and then Bayou Billy (1988). I’m pretty sure the last thing I did for Konami was Lethal Enforcers II: Gun Fighters (1994). For a while it seemed like every week they had a new one they wanted me to do along with a lot of illustrations for the ads.
Konami went to another agency in New York around 1993, something like that, and it was over. Nothing lasts forever, sadly! Too bad, it was fun work but really hard because they never gave me enough time to really do a good job.