When Technical becomes Beautiful
Back in 1986 FASA produced the an incredibly cool supplement for its new Battletech line featuring nothing but advanced statistics and images for their mechs, aerospace fighters, vehicles, and dropships. Thus, the line of Battletech Technical Readouts was born.
I well remember purchasing this book and pouring over the pages as finally, in lovely tech drawing detail, I could see exactly what comprised the big machines I’d had so much fun playing on the tabletop.
Artist/Art Director Dana Knutson actually did a very impressive painting of my personal favorite mech, the Marauder, on the front cover. I can honestly say this is the only piece of Dana’s that I can recall offhand, although I’m sure many more pieces exist in the FASA archives.
Interior art was provided by only two artists, and with 200 pages in the supplement, that means 100 pieces of unique art! The bulk of the work was done by Duane Loose, who got the call to create all battlemechs as well as the vehicle section of the book. His drafting style is absolutely perfect for this exercise, right down to the grid lines he uses beneath the feet of all his works, and the shadows that give them a solid feel of reality even in full sketch mode. You truly get a schematic feel with every piece, and I have to applaud FASA for taking this approach when they simply could have shown standard shorts of all their mechs and been done with it.
The second artist, David Deitrick, had already made a name for himself by designing all the various uniforms for the Houses in the universe, and here he was given the task of both the aerotech fighter designs as well as the dropships. In both cases he crisply knocks the proverbial ball right out of the park. Deitrick takes a softer line in his work, giving just the right amount of greyscale that smooths out the hard feeling of heavy ink Loose provided in his work to perfectly balance the book.
All-in-all this is a stellar piece of work from an up and coming gaming company in the 1980s. I was incredibly pleased with it in 1987, and am still just as taken with its production over twenty years later.
Artistic Rating: 4.5 [our of 5]