A Master Piece: Saatchi Gallery unveils Halo oil painting to mark release of Halo Infinite on Xbox and PC

A huge Renaissance-style oil painting inspired by the Halo universe has been hung in London’s Saatchi Gallery to mark the release of the latest title in the series – Halo Infinite.

Created by award-winning artist Iva Troj, the three-metre by six-metre canvas shows the main character of the franchise, Master Chief, battling alien enemies as he inspires those around him to join the fight and become heroes.

Members of the public can see the painting for free at the Chelsea gallery until December 15. A smaller replica will also be on display at the Carrousel du Louvre in Paris.

Troj, who has held successful exhibitions of her work across the world, said: “Creating this painting was a labour of love for me. I love the Halo universe and the storytelling in it, and I also know what this work will mean to fans of the series. I wanted to get everything right, from the colours to the characters – I must have drawn and redrawn Master Chief 50 times – and it also had to tell a story. I hope that people see the painting has been created with love and respect for the world of Halo. It was an amazing experience for me.”

The artist worked with Halo developer 343 Industries on initial pencil sketches, which were then digitised and coloured. Once the final design was agreed upon, Troj and her team started painting.

Because the artwork is so big it was divided up into three sections, each containing four layers of materials. The team began by colour-blocking with pastels and charcoal – this involves laying down general shapes and colours on the canvas to create a guide of where everything will be. They then varnished and washed the canvas with water before applying acrylic paints. The details were added using water mixable oil paints, which dry faster, before the whole thing was glazed.

“The canvas was so big I couldn’t keep it in my Brighton studio,” Troj added. “Someone gave me an address for a videogaming centre in the city, which was next to a church and an old theatre. We built a cubicle at the back and my team and I would work in it there. But it was all top secret so we were talking to each other about the painting in code.

“You could see what working on this project meant to the people on the team. They would tell each other stories about their experiences playing Halo and Xbox. They threw their hearts into this painting and it brought us all closer together; everyone became a soldier to complete this project on time.”

Once the painting was finished, it was carefully placed into a truck and driven 50 miles north, to the Saatchi Gallery. A team of staff hung the painting, with Troj then filling in the gaps between the sections.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” Troj said. “People had tears in their eyes when they saw it in the gallery for the first time, because it means so much to them. It’s so hard to find a great team to work with, so I want to keep this group together and do more projects with them.”

Artist Iva Troj stands in front of her Halo painting at Saatchi Gallery

Artist Iva Troj stands in front of her Halo painting at Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery, which opened in 1985, has previously exhibited work from world-famous artists such as Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin.

The gallery unveiled the Halo painting on December 8 – the same day Halo Infinite was released on Xbox, Xbox Game Pass and PC.

As part of the game’s release, the iconic Halo ring was also projected onto the façade of the Microsoft Experience Centre on Oxford Circus in London as a full-sized replica of a Warthog, the famous vehicle from Halo, was revealed.

Customers can sit in the replica at the Experience Centre and take part in a driving experience.

“It’s fantastic to see London coming alive as part of the huge global launch for Halo Infinite,” said Joseph Staten, Head of Creative at 343 Industries. “We’re so excited to get this game in the hands of our players – both those that have been with us since the beginning as well as newer gamers – all ready to jump into an epic sci-fi universe and experience our most adventure-filled Halo game yet.”

James Butcher, Head of Xbox UK and Ireland, added: “Xbox and Halo both turned 20 last month and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than with such unique activities, giving our fans and the wider public a chance to see something special. They are a fitting way to conclude what has been a string of successful big-name game releases over recent weeks.”

To learn more about Halo Infinite and order the game, click here.