More Games Please: Art in Board Games Interviews

Please find excerpts from my blog 'Art in Board Games' where I talk to different board game designers and illustrators about their work. www.moregamesplease.com It's a companion piece to my IG: www.instagram.com/moregamesplease

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Results Best Art of 2019!

Ross
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The results are now live for the Best Board Game Art of 2019.
The version on MoreGamesPlease.com contain quotes from those involved in the projects and art from the games but for those of you who just want to skip to the results see below.

In December the community nominated over 350 different titles and then in February thousands voted on the top 10.

You nominated so many incredible games I wish I could have included more and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating not only the talent shown below but that in the industry as a whole.

For those who don't want to head to my site here's the top 10.
Runners Up (alphabetical):
Detective: City of Angels
Pipeline
Skulk Hollow
Tapestry
Unmatched

Top Five:
5 - Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid
4 - Pax Pamir 2nd Edition
3 - Museum
2 - Wingspan
1 - PARKS

The results are now live for the Best Board Game Art of 2019. Head to More Games Please if you'd like to read more.

What were some of your favorites from the list? Were there any games missing in this top 10 for you?
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Tue Mar 10, 2020 7:34 pm
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Best Board Game Art of 2019!

Ross
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If you want to take part then head to More Games Please to cast your vote. To find out more then keep reading.

I’m looking to find out which of these games released in 2019 had the BEST OVERALL ARTWORK. In December thousands of you nominated your favorite games with over 350 different titles suggested. Below is the top 10 most popular from this list!

You nominated so many incredible games I wish I could have included more and I hope you’ll join me in celebrating not only the talent shown below but that in the industry as a whole.

For those who don't want to head to my site here's the top 10 (alphabetical):
Detective: City of Angels
Museum
Pipeline
PARKS
Pax Pamir 2nd Edition
Power Rangers: Heroes of the Grid
Skulk Hollow
Tapestry
Unmatched
Wingspan

If you do want to take part, then head to More Games Please to cast your vote. Feel free to talk about your favs and why in the comments!
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Tue Feb 18, 2020 6:50 pm
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Anne Heidsieck: Art in Board Games #55

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This is just an excerpt, so if you want to read the full interview, with tons more art, then head to More Games Please.

Anne Heidsieck: Art in Board Games #55


Editors note: Today I’m joined by the Anne Heidsieck, whose work caught my eye via 2018s release Welcome to. Roll and Write games (or flip and fill in this case) aren’t always well known for their gorgeous art, but what struck me about this game was how fully realised its theme was, from the played board itself to the accompanying art. I decided I needed to know more about that game, and the artist, so I got in touch. I hope you enjoy our conversation and if you have any questions, feel free to post them below.


Hi Anne, thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hi Ross, and thank you very much for writing about the art in board games! I'm a 27 years old illustrator, working since 2012 after my studies in Nantes. Currently, I live in France and more precisely in Lorraine. When I'm not working, not often enough, according to my dog, I like hiking in the mountains and the snow (as much as possible!), reading, playing games of course, and devouring lots of series!

I have worked on several games from Blue cocker (Welcome, Argh and Meeple War), on Majesty and Carcassonne Safari of HIG, on some cards for When I Dream of Repos Production and on a game of Haba, Frido's Treasure Trove.

So how did you first get involved in making board games?

Soon after finishing my art studies I wanted to make the artwork for games. My sister and brother made a game themselves for our family when I was a kid and maybe that inspired me! So, with my partner, we created a game. We invented the rules, I carried out the illustrations and then we met several editors to present our project. It was quite a failure and the game is somewhere in a box in the cellar now, but it allowed me to meet people who were so nice and gave me the advice that really convinced me to keep trying, but only on the side of the illustrations this time.

I sent emails to many editors and, one day, Alain Balay from BlueCocker answered me. He was looking for an illustrator for his new game, Meeple war! That's how I found my first work on board game designs.

I haven't had the opportunity to work on a lot of things other than games but, from what I’ve seen, the work is really different in-game illustration and book illustration, for example. I think that game design requires even more organization. It can seem too strict because we have a lot of "rules" to respect, for the ergonomy of the game, but it's rather reassuring to me because we don't begin the work with a blank page.

When beginning to work on any new project what are the first few things that you do?

I always begin by researching a looooot of pictures, on Pinterest mostly and also in my art books. I need to figure out the idea of the mood of the game, the color atmosphere, the style, etc. Even if I don't use them later during my work, they help me to find the first ideas. I make some first sketches after that, to be sure that we agree with the editor. When the work begins for real (and after I print a plan and fix it on my wall!), I start working precisely on each illustration. First with a sketch, a definitive drawing, a color rough and finally the definitive coloring, asking the editor for confirmation between each step.

What do you remember about your first board game project Meeple War, and how did you prepare yourself for the job?

As I had already worked on a full project for a game (even if it was personal, it was really formative), I wasn't very surprised by the necessary rigor of work when I started to illustrate Meeple War. The first thing I did was to organize a very strict plan, that I totally exceeded of course. Today when I do planning, I schedule much more time than I estimated at first, to avoid being under too much pressure. I continue to exceed my time limit, but less

-----------------------------------------

This was just an excerpt, so if you want to read the full interview, with tons more art, then head to More Games Please.
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Sun Nov 3, 2019 5:37 pm
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Tyler Myatt: Art in Board Games #52

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This is an excerpt from the interview with Tyler Matt on More Games Please. To read the full article with behind the scenes art head here.

===================================

Tyler Myatt: Art in Board Games #52


EDITORS NOTE: Board games often have creative or artistic directors to project manage and help ensure there’s a cohesive vision behind the work. This is especially important on games that have multiple artists involved. I’d been wanting to speak to more creative directors about how they work and I’m very grateful for Tyler for taking the time to speak to me. If you’re a creative/art director and want to speak to me about your work in the industry then get in touch!

Hi Tyler, thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

No Problem, Ross! Thanks for having me! I work as the Creative Director at Grey Fox Games here in Saint Louis Missouri. I also live about 5 minutes away from our office in a house with my lovely wife Morgan and my two cats Theron and Artemis. That is over in Maryland Heights.

My work includes Illustration, planning, and graphic design of board games from start to finish. A little less on the illustration side though, it is so time-consuming so we commission out a lot of it.

So how did you first get involved in making board games?

Well, I always loved the look and feel of board games. As an artist I was so drawn to games like Small World, and Sheriff of Nottingham, etc. just based off of the way they looked. The look of a game can totally sell me on it. Anyways, I saw a job opening for Grey Fox Games and immediately went to their Office and asked to be interviewed. I showed up in my best suit and had my portfolio ready! 2 weeks later I had the job.

My first assignment was to work on a game called Bushido and another game called Harvest Dice. Harvest Dice is a cute little roll and write game and is entirely done by me. All of the art and graphics, rulebook, etc. You should try it out! Bushido took a lot longer and we had some issues with the original character art. After taking it into consideration we decided to go with new character art, which set back the release time but it will be 100% worth the wait. The rest of the art and graphics in the game are done by me.

When you start a project, how early do you decide what will be done in-house and what will be produced externally? What are your first steps?

First off, we make sure the game is at a point to where there won't be very many huge changes to the game mechanics. That way we don't run into a situation where we have spent time and money on an aspect of the game which we then have to scrap because something changed.

So, when that point is achieved, we move forward and discuss what kind of audience we want to reach (kids, adults, gamer crowds, family, mass market, etc.) from there we will sometimes write down style aspects and feelings we want to convey or maybe even some backstory and elements of this "world" we want to bring to life.

Afterwards I will go on to some of my favorite sites like ArtStation, or Pinterest (I mainly use Pinterest) and look stuff up. I like to create boards on Pinterest. It is an amazing reference tool for artists and I think everyone should check it out. Once I get a bunch of findings together I will make a "mood board" which is really just a big document with a collage of references put together. I take that and show the Ceo, Shane, what I have and what I am thinking for the project.

He gives me the okay and then we discuss budgeting and how much of this project i will do and how much we will have farmed out. Usually, a lot of the big illustrations we will have one or more artists do. It's just so time-consuming, so we have to min/max a lot here. Let's take City Of Gears for example. We had two different artists do the building art and another artist do the front cover of the game. I did everything else. One important thing that I like to have done in this process is getting the cover art done first. That helps me figure out how the rest of the game can look from there so that you really get a look into the game from a glance at the cover.

We are constantly finding artists we like and try to keep their information for later use. The biggest thing we look for, however, is how good the work you can do in a short amount of time is. Making games is always on a time crunch so you gotta be quick. When we reach out to an artist we like to be very upfront. we take a few of their pieces that stand out to us and link it in the email, telling them what aspects we like about their work and how we would like to use it in our game. we then tell them what the game is about and wonder if they would be interested in working on the project with us. After that we tell them what the budget is and go from there.

I know lots of creatives use Pinterest as a sounding board for ideas. How important is it for your research and has it replaced more traditional methods for you?

So Pinterest is a site that allows you to make something called a "Board" these boards can have any number of things pinned to them. So for instance, one of the big projects I worked on recently was our Reavers of Midgard Kickstarter. I went on Pinterest because I knew the style I wanted to go with. At the top of the page I wanted this Carved wood header with all these cool runes and knot work and dragon heads.

Obviously I can't just pull that stuff out of my head and make it accurate. Most people can't haha. So I created a board called Viking stuff and then started searching for things like "Carved viking stuff" "viking symbols" "norse mythology" "viking ships" etc. then from there I started making all the art for the page. This method helps me stay consistent with the final outcome and helps me capture the feel of what I am trying to do.

If you don't use Pinterest you are doing yourself a disservice. It is so incredibly useful and you can find a lot of inspiration on there.

How do you think wearing many hats in your job, such as graphic design, illustration and creative director work has changed your perspective on each role?

Well, at first hand, I thought working for a game company would be me sitting in a cubicle, drawing characters and monsters and items and whatnot all day long. That is very much not the case. I do all of that (minus the cubicle part), but also I answer emails, attend meetings, do graphics , make icons, sketch out crappy looking boxes for components, crawl through Pinterest constantly, play prototypes, make kickstarters, update graphics, make advertisements, and anything else that needs visuals. All of that happens at the same time haha. You really have to be good at time management. At the beginning of all this I was not the best at it but you really just kind of HAVE to learn it. Like, sink or swim.

I remember at one point in time I was working on a Kickstarter, making graphics for 2 other games, AND doing the art for another game. It was pretty stressful but you have to get use to cutting down vines one at a time, eventually you start to see a clearing ahead. I get way less stressed now than I used to and it is starting to become second nature.

==================================

This is an excerpt from the interview with Tyler Matt on More Games Please. To read the full article with behind the scenes art head here.
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Sun Jul 21, 2019 4:19 pm
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Bartłomiej Kordowski: Art in Board Games #51

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This is the full interview text from MoreGamesPlease. To see behind the scenes sketches and artwork then follow this link here.

===========================================

Bartłomiej Kordowski: Art in Board Games #51

Editors note: This interview was conducted earlier in the year but has taken a while longer than usual to appear on the site. I’m very happy to finally get to share mine and Bartłomiej’s chat. I hope you enjoy and if you have any questions don’t forget to leave them in the comments below.

Hi Bartłomiej, thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hello! I'm very glad to share my passions with you. Together with my family, wife Natalia and two little girls, we live in Toruń in Poland. The youngest daughter Eliza is now two years old and the older Lidia is four and a half years old. For over four years my passion is to be a cool dad. My second passion is painting which I've been doing from a young age and I'm currently working as a board games illustrator.

So how did you first get involved in making board games?

During my studies I painted a few illustrations for a collective card game "Veto". It was my first contact with a board game publisher. I had a lot of freedom in this creation so I could practice and develop my skills. At the time I bought my first tablet and I made my switch to digital art. Then after my studies ended, I started working for advertising and illustration agency. I have been working on many different projects from pizzeria leaflets, business cards to book covers and computer game arts.

After a few years I decided to look for my own jobs and I began working as a freelance illustrator. This, which I didn't mention earlier, helped me in my other passion which is board games. I love gaming and this is one of the nicest ways to spend time in good company. This is why I decided to send my portfolio to publishers and I got lucky. I managed to combine work with pleasure. At that time "Rebel" publishing house was looking for a new guy in the industry and it fell to me. I received a work order for my first big project - the Dream Home board game and from the beginning I was in constant contact with Rafał Szczepkowski a Game Development Coordinator at that time. He showed me in from the kitchen (back door) of this game industry and gave me a lot of good advice and tips.

Working on Dream Home took a long time. From the start to the end of the project it had been a year. I've never had to do over a hundred illustrations before, design layouts, box, tokens, the first player marker and so on. It was hard but with the aid of my wife (she is also an illustrator) we finished Dream Home. Many of the details which can be found in rooms were painted by Natalia. Working on this project was a big lesson for me and through this experience I realized how much time every phase of work consumes and also what rules support the visual side of board games.

Did the experience on Dream Home change how you approached your next projects?

In few aspects yes. First of all, I have become more aware of how to spread my time across the work and how fast I need to work too. Knowing how much time to spend on the box cover, how long on components I can therefore more precisely establish when my work will end end. My biggest challenge is the cover art and I'm always stressed because I know how important this is for developers. That's why I try to complete the cover concept first. Everything else is pure pleasure.

You've worked on a number of games released this year which have featured a collection of artists work. What do you think the major differences are when working as a solo artist compared to being part of a team of artists on a board game?

That is true, this year I have been working on a couple of team projects. There were projects where I had to simply adjust my work to the graphics prepared earlier and I had to work on their basis. This is harder but fortunately, that doesn't happen very often. In other projects where I was part of the team, each artist watched over a different aspect of the board game. So it was with the Spy Club board game. I illustrated cards, characters, the box cover and other artists were responsible for layouts, typography, compositions, game visualization, commercial, printing etc.

Of course, all these things make sense if there is an art director. Someone who watches over everything and has a vision of how a particular game should look, selecting the right people and paying attention to graphical coherency. This is very important and in the case of Spy Club, those people were Jason Kingsley and Randy Hoyt. I think that such an approach to the subject is the best way in big and time-consuming projects.

Working as a solo illustrator you have more control over the visual side of a board game. It's a bit more challenging because you need to take care of almost all graphic elements, but personally, I like this way better. I often choose what the board game will look like and this brings me greater satisfaction. In my case, these are typically small games such as Blossoms, Staropolski Wokabularz (Old Polishlexicon), O kocie w kłopocie (Cat in trouble).

One of those collaborative projects was Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig, the recent Stonemaier Games, and Bezier Games release. Can you tell us more about your role in this project?

It was a special situation and my role was limited to illustrating the box cover. When Jamey Stegmaier first time contacted me he offered me to join the team working on the art for the room tiles. Unfortunately at that time I was working on Spy Club and our timing didn't fit. However, we made a deal that I would end up working on the front cover and title. I had an insight into all illustrations showing the rooms of castles so I could look at them to get into the atmosphere. Based on the description from Jamey, combined with the room art I started working on the cover and the final illustration is inspired by the game tile themes. I was very happy about this project, it was one of the most interesting jobs I’ve recently had, all the more, I love to paint landscapes.

Having worked on a number of board game box covers are there any key elements you try to include and do you think the box needs to reflect the game inside?

I think that most of all the box cover art should put you into the game vibe. If we also add an interesting style and great colors... it's perfect! That kind of illustration stays in the mind and causes us to want to know more about the game. At least it does for me. Recently I was hypnotized by the box cover and graphic art for Feudum made by Justine Schultz, so much that I decided to buy a game on KS version for the first time. In the case of the illustrations I make, the publishers usually already have some idea of what should be placed on the cover. For example, if I get a brief that it should be a sweet, friendly kitty game but the arrangement of the whole scene belongs to me then I always try to sneak a piece of story in background and details to pull the viewer into the game world.

With Spy Club, you mention the game having strong art direction to hold it together. Could you talk us through the direction you were given and how this helped you to create more cohesive illustrations?

My work on Spy Club began with creating a deck of Clue cards that were shared into six categories: Crime, Motive, Suspect, Location, Object and Distractions. Certainly the subject of the illustrations was important and I was supposed to illustrate each subject but I had a wide margin of discretion with how I did this. The game mechanics and usability were the most important factors and required that the categories should be clearly different from each other.

That point was well tested by the publisher and the same solution was given by the game prototype. Graphics from each category have their own color code (for example the predominant color for locations is green). For the illustrations used on campaign cards there were no restrictions so in that case when layout was put all together it was connected with the main characters and their hobby. The game prototype also outlined the direction of iconography and textures. I think that such preparation of game elements and a good brief make it possible to better understand the game objectives and facilitate the work in graphic arrangements. In my view it is the key to a coherent and attractive product.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work as an artist?

Looking at my current work I see that I still have a long way to achieve the level I wish to. It's a little disheartening, but the good thing is that looking at my older works I can see how they are evolving and that there is a progress. So my advice is don't lose your confidence and keep drawing. Creating is the best work ever.

What are some non-game related creations (books, music, movies, etc) that you’re currently enjoying?

I'm a movie fan and I love movie soundtracks, so while working I often turn on a list of different soundtracks, also those from computer games. Most commonly on my list is Bladerunner, music from Gothic series or Machinarium. But recently youtube is successfully giving me a whole gallery of lo-fi hip hop/study/chill/homework music radio that put me in a good mood for the day. From time to time I also listen to the board game video reviews such as Dice Tower, Rhadho, and local things like PoGraMy, GambitTV to find out a little more about new games. After work, in my mind there are only my children.

Do you have any current projects underway, or coming up that you’d like (or are able) to tell us about?

There is one project which me and my wife just finished late last year called Wodny szlak (Waterway) by FoxGames publishing and it should be in store this year in Poland but I believe that in time this will be also released in other countries. It's a family game known as "My first tile drafting game" in which you build a river path, gather resources like wood or wheat and ship them to lumber mills and water mills. We love tile games and it was an obvious fun to illustrate those small landscapes with snaking river. On another recent project we have also had tiles to illustrate but this time it’s about building sandcastles. As part of our research we grabbed a bucket and shovels and moved to the beach.

Finally, if we’d like to see more of you and your work, where can we find you?

You can find my work here at ArtStation website.

Thanks for taking the time to chat to me Bartłomiej Kordowski.

==============================================

This is the full interview text from MoreGamesPlease. To see behind the scenes sketches and artwork then follow this link here.
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Tue Jul 9, 2019 7:33 pm
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Untamed - Feral Factions: The Art in Kickstarter #7

Ross
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=============================

This is the full interview from moregamesplease.com. The version on my site has photos and artwork, so if that's your kind of thing then you can follow the link here.

=============================

Untamed - Feral Factions: The Art in Kickstarter #7

Editors Note: I’ll admit, I’m a big fan of board games with anthropomorphic art, but not all of it is done well. When I saw the art for Untamed: Feral Factions on social media, I was reminded of my favorite cartoons growing up, in my eyes a pretty big compliment. This game is currently doing good work on Kickstarter (live until July 3rd), so if you like what you see, go take a look afterwards.

Hello there Jeremy Falger, thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?


Hi Ross, thanks for having me! I'm a game designer living Utrecht, one of the bigger cities in the Netherlands. If you ever have to chance to visit, Utrecht is great place for board game lovers, as we have 4 board game shops within 50m of each other! I also work in one of the aforementioned shops part time. After my bachelor degree in History I realised that what I really wanted to do was make games. I had been designing games since I was about 14 years old, and though I had put it on the backburner during my studies it came back in full force a few years ago. That led me to pursue a master's degree in Game Design at the University of Amsterdam and this is also where I met some of the guys with whom I eventually started our company: Grumpy Owl Games. Within Grumpy Owl Games I'm (obviously) involved with the game design side of things, alongside our other designer: Milan Lefferts. Additionally I'm responsible for the art direction and visual design side of things.

As my master degree also focused on applied (or 'serious') game design, before I became a Grumpy Owl, I worked on games focused on children's healthcare and wellbeing, at the University of Turku, in Finland. And while we've always been working on our title, Untamed: Feral Factions, for the general, tabletop entertainment market, Grumpy Owl Games also continues to develop games as training tools for the healthcare and educational market. Aside and not ever sleeping because I'm always thinking about games, I enjoy riding my road bike (sorta) fast, spinning obscure funky house tracks as a DJ and checking out traditional tattoo flash.

Can you describe your Kickstarter game to us and what makes it interesting?


So Untamed: Feral Factions is a card battle game, think Magic: The Gathering or Hearthstone. There's lots of games out there in that genre and I love the genre. However a lot of them require a significant buy-in, in the shape of time, or money, or both. I just wanted a game that's quick to setup and dive into, but still offers a level of agency as you choose your deck and your play style. Additionally I wanted a fairly balanced experience. In my opinion the shuffle-building mechanic is a perfect fit to accomplish this.

I don't claim to have reinvented to wheel together with my co-designer Milan Lefferts, but I think we took familiar elements and combined them in a package just feels really nice to play. There's a bunch of small mechanics that improve quality of life (or play?) I think. In addition to these smaller elements I also feel the 'bigger' Support mechanic adds a nice new twist to the genre by introducing a second, finite resource. It adds depth to the design without adding a bunch of extra 'stuff'. You're essentially using components you already have anyway and turn that into a second resource which you'll have to manage to get the most out of your cards and abilities. Furthermore I think the theme, artwork and graphic design is different from a lot of other games in the genre.

How long have you been working on this game? What made you launch the campaign now?

Work on the game started in early 2017. We hadn't set many limitations on ourselves except that we wanted to make a card battle game that was quick to set up and didn't have the traditional style of (fun yet time-consuming) deckbuilding. Still, this left us with a wide range of options.Thus we started experimenting with a wide range of mechanics and frameworks, most of which didn't work out in the end.

After realising we needed to set clear limitations and design goals, the design process actually progressed fairly quickly. We received loads of great feedback at Spiel 2018 and other playtest events and we kept tweaking and streamlining the design until we felt we couldn't streamline it any further. That's was when we felt confident enough to start prepping the Kickstarter.

What were some of the main design changes that took place?

We had a totally different resource system for the longest time which the whole turn structure and deck construction was built around. It was pretty novel with two sided resource cards but in the end it proved to be too limiting so we scrapped it and opted for a different combat system. I think we were actually pretty good in killing our darlings. I wrote down all mechanics we ever came up with, for future reference, but I was never really married to one particular idea, though I do love multi-use cards, so I tried to put that in anywhere possible. That's also what I enjoyed in designing together with Milan, I have a tendency to make big sweeping changes and Milan is way more conservative, so that balanced each other out nicely.

The art in Untamed: Feral Factions is anthropomorphic in style, why this theme and at what point in the process did this develop?

While we didn't really have any limits to the mechanics, we did commit to the art style and the theme early on. We felt that for a game in this genre, but without traditional deckbuilding, a different look would help distinguish itself and help communicate that this was intended to be a bit more of a casual affair yet still pique the interest of veterans of the genre. A fair amount of thought went into the theming as we wanted it to be recognisable and something that people could identify with.

I think that the downfall of a lot of high fantasy themed media is that you either love it or you're indifferent to it at best. However, everybody knows what a Tiger, a Panda or Rabbit is and a lot of people have some sort of connection with animals. I think this automatically lowers the barrier of entry and allows people to actually look further than the theme. Additionally I'm just naturally drawn to bright and vibrant artwork, so it was a natural choice to pursue this for the art style for the game.

You worked with a variety of artists on this game so how challenging was it to keep the style consistent throughout?

It was a challenge at some points, but I do think that careful selection before hand helped a lot. I spent a lot of time looking at portfolio's as well as creating a mood board up front. This made it easier to refer to what I had in mind. Also a lot of artists I worked with had the same 'artist idols' (e.g. Jesper Ejsing, Paul Mafayon) as I had, so that made everything a lot easier as well. And as soon as you have an established body of work for the game, it's easy to just refer to that for new artists coming aboard with regards to color palette and styling etc. Though I also think that it helped that we had different factions in the game, so it's okay if there's a little difference between the factions themselves, it just helps set each faction apart.

Where did the concepts for the card art come from and how much of that came from you and Milan, and how much came from collaboration?

All in all, it was a pretty organic process. Practically speaking I probably wrote the majority of the briefs but Milan and myself bounced ideas off each other, sometimes based on the name of the card or the mechanics we were doing for that faction. Other times we'd try to figure out what aesthetic would logically fit with this particular animal by looking at how a certain animal is perceived in popular culture.

Foxes for example are often seen as sneaky and sly in many (western) children's tales, therefore it just made a lot of sense to portray them as thieves and spies in Untamed, as that naturally connects with many people's expectations. After the concept for the card, the first piece I'd commission to an artist usually had a pretty detailed brief. However if we'd already done some pieces then sometimes we'd also have a bit more of a back and forth which was really fun as well.

It's safe to say clear graphic design is a must to keep any card battle game flowing. Were there any games you took inspiration from and how did the graphic design evolve during your playtesting?

For sure, during testing at Essen for example we saw people putting their Power and Support cards in all sorts of different places. We wanted to streamline that and facilitate an easy to read play area, so we added 2 little icons within an arrow shape on the Stronghold cards to help organise the player's playing area by having the Power cards always on the left, and the Support always on the right. These icons double as reminders to help players understand the iconography in the text box (mainly the paw symbol we chose to symbolise support). We also added the hexagonal icon to the back of each card to help players realise that each card can be played face down as a Power resource.

For the card frame we took a look at all the other card battle games out there. We saw a small trend towards the card frames and graphic design becoming cleaner and more simple (a trend found in every other industry as well). While the first drafts of the card frame for example had a very '3D stone skeuomorphism' vibe to them, in the end we settled for the much cleaner, more modern look we have now. It's not only easier to read, it gave us more space for text as well as providing the art with as much real estate as possible.

What made you choose Kickstarter and how did you prepare for your campaign?

As a small company and for our first game Kickstarter just made the most sense. We feel like it's a good way to gauge interest in the product and to get a community going as well as help with production costs. We analysed countless kickstarter pages of similar (and completely different) games and made an overview of what we should absolutely include and do (and not do). Additionally we also read loads of articles and blogs on how to run a successful kickstarter campaign, for example Jamey Stegmaier's blog proved to be super helpful (thanks Jamey!).

What are some non-game related creations (books, music, movies, etc) that you’re currently enjoying?


I've recently finished reading Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy, which I really loved. Looking to get started with his Stormlight Archive series during my holiday. I'm also halfway through Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of Fallen series, though I suspect it will take me a few more years to finish it due to the sheer volume, not only of the books, but also due to the huge amount of characters introduced and which I keep forgetting about.

I mostly read fantasy nowadays, though I also try to read some literature every now and then, most recently I finished Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions, which was interesting. Music wise I listen to a lot electronic music, mostly funky house and melodic techno (Jesper Ryom for example) but I have pretty varied taste, so I also love me some American Sharks (really sweet punk rock) or Foals (indie). I haven't seen that many movies recently, though I'm looking forward to Jim Jarmusch's zombie movie The Dead Don't Die, I'm also really excited to binge watch Stranger Things season 3!

Finally, if we want to find the game and more of your work online, how can we find you?


There's a BGG page for the game here. The Kickstarter can be found here. You can also play on Tabletopia here or on Tabletop Simulator here.

I'm on Twitter (@CardbConspiracy) sometimes and I scroll through a lot of Instagram , though I don't necessarily post a lot (I just always forget to take pictures of stuff), the Grumpy Owl Games Instagram feed is a lot livelier though. If I ever have time in the future I want to start posting some more stuff on UX design in board game design, but that's still up in the air.

=============================

This is the full interview from moregamesplease.com. The version on my site has photos and artwork, so if that's your kind of thing then you can follow the link here.
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Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:08 pm
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Atommix: The Art in Kickstarter #6

Ross
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Nottingham
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This is the full interview from moregamesplease.com. The version on my site has photos and artwork, so if that's your kind of thing then you can follow the link here.

=============================

Atommix: The Art in Kickstarter #6

Editors note: It should probably come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of street art. I’ve seen the restorative effects it had on Christchurch after the earthquakes. How it’s transformed parts of Berlin into a living breathing canvas. I’ve walked around countless cities marveling not only at the talent of the art but also the location and scale of some pieces. When Rafi and Tutti got in touch about their card game based around street art I had to admit I was intrigued. Enjoy the interview and you can find atommix on Kickstarter until 10th July. For those of you interested in seeing more from the artists involved there is a list of their Instagram accounts at the end of the interview.

Today I'm being joined by Rafi and Tutti creators of the card game 'atommix'. Thanks for joining me! Before we find out about the game itself could you tell our readers a bit about yourselves and what you do?"

We are a duo of street artists from Tel Aviv otherwise known as Extra Crunchy. We’re creating murals and traveling together around the world for 3 years, nomadic lifestyle. Recently we’ve settled down in Costa Rica. We painted at street art festivals and music festivals. While traveling, we got to meet some of the guest artists (on the game) and thought it would be rad to form a project with them. Rafi also has a background of 3d modeling and animation and we both love creating art and finding new sources of inspiration.

Let's talk about your art collaboration, Extra Crunchy. When did it start and what have been some of your personal highlights along the way?

We’ve been doing Extra Crunchy since we started traveling three years ago. We both come from different artistic backgrounds. Rafi’s artistic style is more 3d because of his background and I’m more illustrative and flows. It seemed like going on an adventure together and combining our styles was the most obvious thing to do. We started in Panama and continued to about 10 other countries on this planet. Basically following opportunity, wherever we could paint and had good friends and vibes. We got influenced by each other’s style throughout this journey, and shared different kinds of inspiration to create Extra Crunchy. It’s always fun to check art together and zoom in on techniques.

You’ve now collaborated to create a card game 'atommix'. What inspired you to create a game and what do you think makes it interesting?

It started with an illustration we decided to call ‘Helium’ and slowly continued to grow. We thought it would be fun to learn science by illustrating the elements. Later on we realized a game would be the perfect way to engage with the cards, so we started creating the gameplay. Most of us have long ago discarded the periodic table from memory. But in order for it to genuinely stick we have combined the Elemental properties with visual language, which is immediately interpreted by the brain. Our brains are far more engaged by storytelling than just plain text, so by placing powerful and beautiful images next to words our brains create an immediate connection between the two - just like in advertising - the same manipulation can be used for a better purpose.

You're working with artists from a variety of backgrounds on this game. How did you decide who to include and when it came to directing the artists what kind of brief did you give them?

While traveling we had the opportunity to meet many great artists from different fields, street art, visionary art, character design and whatever in between. We feel art is a high form of communication and big ideas should be shared through them. It felt more accessible to refer to them first. We were looking for artists who also resonated with the project and could express that. Some of the artists had a clear vision for the element they wanted, and some wanted us to pick for them. We sent them the characteristics of the element and let them tell a story from their point of view.

What kind of characteristics would you give for the elements?

We did a lot of research about the properties of elements and what makes them magical, and decided to focus on the most interesting chemistry information we found. For instance, if it’s magnetic or diamagnet, metal or nonmetal, high or low reactivity, electric conductivity, energy levels and families. We wondered what we would like to learn about the elements and what would be fun to translate into a symbol. The symbols ('or special effects') are serving different purposes throughout the game. They are inspired by actual Alchemic symbols.


So how did you get started as street artists?

We're both inspired by street art. We love the idea of large scale art on the street. Art shouldn't be in a museum where you need to go especially and pay money if you want to explore aesthetics, it should surround us. We started with our first piece three years ago in Tel Aviv central bus station and we've both been hooked ever since. It took us some time to learn to work together, how to give and receive critique and create for the being that is Extra Crunchy that allows us to deliver our message better.

What do you think are some of the differences between street art and that of other mediums?

Street art in our opinion has raised the bar in the last few years. Pieces being made these days are such high quality, we believe it's made by some of the greatest artists ever lived AND they are not dead yet People are doing 12 story building murals with super high skill and often it's a one man band. You can see how different styles are merging together on buildings in international cities; hyper realistic with calligraphy, graphic design with portraits and so on. It's a strong effort of one to communicate a message.

Looking back on our first piece, it was actually two separate pieces one next to the other also designed separately. We would definitely do it differently today, nowadays we just move the sketchbook/sketch pad back and forth fixing, correcting, and creating the story as we go. Large scale mural open and shut different options in terms of size. It's best to have a rough sketch, see the wall and shape it accordingly. We never really know how a final piece is going to look like exactly.

When it comes to the game itself, how has it changed as you've been developing it?

Creating the gameplay wasn’t easy for us, we’re more visual artists than gamers. But we love learning new trades so it saw it as a challenge. When researching other card games we saw mostly what we DON’T want it to be like. It started as a Uno/Taki type game, a well known casual game that would be easy to catch up with. Naturally we kept finding ways to make it stand for itself. After we perfected the rules we found out that writing it down as a rule book was yet another challenge. We’re getting as much feedback as possible from reviewers and gamer friends, and using their high standards to make extra special.

What lessons have you learned about game design in this project so far? Have there been any surprises?

Everything is a learning process and because it's our first time running a Kickstarter we have to learn who our audience is and what they’re looking for. We wish to use this platform to allow an open communication with the backers, so we can use our collective intelligence to perfect the game.

As creators we are really enjoying the process of developing the gameplay. We had the idea of creating multiple levels and unlocking them during the campaign. Looking back it might have been better to reveal all of the levels at launch, because we figured that many potential backers that wanted to see the whole game might not return later on.

How has your perception of tabletop gaming changed?

Since we're more gamer creators, or let's say 'experience creators', we want to communicate with the gamer audience and elevate the game experience. We have some gamer friends who have reached out to design a higher level of game. It's important for us that it will be engaging in many aspects. This way the chemistry and the art will be memorable and THIS is what we want.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to become an artist?

Be consistent. Make yourself spend around half an hour a day and draw shapes for fun, no expectations. Collect three favorite artists and study them, take note of the details you like and try to apply that in your work. Make your tools accessible for you to keep them in sight. But most of all - practice.

What are some non game related creations (books, music, movies, etc) that you’re currently enjoying?

Tekkonkinkreet, Paprika and Ghibli films are favorites. recently watched Kung Fury for the third time and also loved Hereditary and Jordans Peele's work, Get Out and Us. (Ross, if you haven't seen these yet, we recommend you to). In the video (on the Kickstarter page), the music is by Symbolico. These days we mostly like electronic music we can paint or work with, like Symbolico, Ott, Man of No Ego, Clozee, Hypnagog. Also we both look forward to the next Tool album.

Finally, if we’d like to see more of you and your work, where can we find you?

You can find atommix on Kickstarter here until July 10th. You can also find us on social media: Facebook / Instagram. Our website is: goextracrunchy.com

=============================

This is the full interview from moregamesplease.com. The version on my site has photos and artwork, so if that's your kind of thing then you can follow the link here.
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Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:39 pm
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Kwanchai Moriya: Art in Board Games #50

Ross
United Kingdom
Nottingham
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Microbadge: Follow me on InstagramMicrobadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level II - If I have seen further, it's only by standing on the apex of other's dice.Microbadge: Copper Board Game CollectorMicrobadge: I've played Carcassonne in CarcassonneMicrobadge: Silver Image Uploader
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This is the full interview from moregamesplease.com. The version on my site has sketches and artwork, so if that's your kind of thing then you can follow the link here.

=============================

Kwanchai Moriya: Art in Board Games #50

Editors note: As much as this website is my own personal curation of art in the industry I don’t tend to throw around terms like “favorites” very often. However, Kwanchai is in my humble opinion, one of the absolute best in the industry right now. He was one of the very first people I tried to contact when launching my site and I’m so very glad we’ve finally got this interview to share with you. Enjoy the read and do yourself a favor, go check out his website afterwards, it’s a feast for the eyes.

Today I'm being joined by Kwanchai Moriya. Thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hi, thanks for having me! I'm an illustrator and painter, working mainly in board games and children’s books. I was born in New York to a Japanese father and Thai mother, both emigrated from their home countries. But mostly I grew up in the ‘burbs of LA and Chicago, in the 80’s and 90’s. Did some schoolin’ and ended up with a degree in history before sayings ‘oops’ and going for my BFA in illustration in Pasadena, California. I popped out the other side: nine years, lots of debt, and many part-time jobs later. I’ve been freelance illustrating for the past 9 years, though I’d say the last 4 years have been markedly different in terms of the growth and opportunity I’ve had. I currently live in Los Angeles with my wife and like to spice life up with board gaming, backpacking, travel, woodworking, etc.

So how did you first get involved in making board games?

My first real gig illustrating board games was doing 11 half-inch counter illustrations for a little-known wargame called Heroes of the Gap. The publisher contacted me through Boardgamegeek, since I was quite active doing my own fan redesigns of games and posting the art there. In fact, my next two freelance gigs came through BGG’s Geekmail system: Catacombs 3rd edition and a game called Twin Tin Bots. The Catacombs gig I was offered specifically because I had done a fan redesign of the game with my own whimsical art and had posted it to BGG.

In 2010, I also started going to all the big conventions (Essen, Origins, Gen Con) with my portfolio and the widest grin I could muster. Back then, I’d bother every publisher booth on the floor and hopefully fly home with at least a project or two in tow. The first handful of games I illustrated were equal parts, nerve-wracking and thrilling. I feel like I’ve grown a lot as an artist since then, and it’s hard to look at early projects without feeling squirmy. With my scant experience, publishers were apt to pay very little and over direct a project to death. Definitely a lot of stress in those early years was because I was learning the business side of freelancing on the go, while butchering my work/life balance, and flexing relatively weak artistic muscles.

For example, Catacombs 3rd edition was the first time I’d ever done something in that cartoony whimsical style, as I was primarily doing figurative oil paintings at the time. But, one thing that hasn’t changed is how exciting board games are for me, both playing them and being invited into the process of making them. I love being an illustrator in this industry and having a hand in so many varied and interesting projects.

Having worked in the board game industry now for a number of years, how has your relationship with clients changed as your reputation has grown?

It's awesome! In general, I get a very warm reception from folks working in this industry. Sometimes, just wearing my name badge at a convention will get me a sit down with someone important I wasn't even planning on meeting. That's nuts! Compare that to a couple of years ago, when I had to plead with people for a few minutes to look at my pitifully scant portfolio. The warmth I get is definitely attributable to the kind-hearted folks in this business, but I'm sure it also has something to do with the growing list of games I've been a part of. With my clients now, there's more trust that I can get a project wrapped on time and it can look good. Earlier projects did tend to be over-directed, with a lot of hand-holding. But I don’t blame publishers, as choosing an artist is one of the many risks they take on in the process of making a game.

A brand new illustrator thinks they are hot stuff, with a unique style and vision. Or at least, I did! And it takes a few projects to smash that down, and learn how to collaborate well and flow with others. Nowadays, I do get more say on what a project should look like, but of course it varies wildly from project to project. Some clients know exactly what they want, and some take me to the park and just want me to run and run. I like the ones that take me to the park.

The negative side of an increased reputation is an increased expectation from people. Or perhaps I have an increased expectation that other people have an increased expectation? For sure I’m harder on myself now, and more scared to make mistakes. I feel like I have to constantly hit home runs, even though I just learned how to play. Moreover, I feel like I've made a lot of different plays on almost all of my projects, visually, conceptually. Dinosaur Island looks totally different from Flipships, which looks totally different from Catacombs or Capital Lux. So I'm stressed, Ross, I'm stressed all the time.

When you're presented with illustrative work that is outside of your comfort zone and very different from what you've previously created, where do you start?

I love a challenge, though often I end up over-challenging myself. I try to pick one big project a year that I'm going to totally just throw myself off a cliff with. Either something that challenges my command of a medium or trying a new style or type of art. For example, one year that project was the thick paints and stylization in Flipships, another year it was the crazy colors and line art in Dinosaur Island. Those styles I'd never really tried before. I'm also a sucker for weird themes and new concepts.

I have a running 10-item list of themes, or styles or kernels of ideas that I want to try at some point: a bucket list of 'style-cliffs,' if I may.

Tantamount with any project, in or out of my comfort zone, is doing good research. Looking at what's been done before for that particular theme, or making sure there are facts in the factual part of a project. I feel out of my depth all the time, and oftentimes I am. Really being a freelance artist means being in your own head all the time, and a polite nudge or two from the art director or graphic designer is sometimes just the ticket to a solid piece of art.

Alright Kwanchai, you got me, what's currently at the top of that your art creation bucket list and will we see this soon?

Okay, I'll give you a few off my list.

1. Classic Gnomes. I really want to do a project that features little mischievous gnomes in red hats. You know blue shirts and tiny beards, the whole thing. I would just get a kick out of illustrating tons of little gnomes just going about their day, tormenting the house cat, stealing food from the fridge. I don't know why, I love it.

2. Really Creepy Ghosts. Have you seen Nate Hayden's games (Cave Evil, Psycho Raiders)? It's unsettling and weird and I love it. I've been jonesing to do a theme that is about ghosts or some kind of creepy supernatural thing, but not done in a cutesy style at all. Just straight terrifying and dark, with lots of heavy paint and scratchy ink lines. I have a lot of bright colors and friendly themes in my usual work and it'd be fun to throw that out the window.

OJ_Char_2500_c.jpg
3. Illustrative Type. So this would be illustrating components using only hand-drawn type and fonts. Like if a card is supposed to have a Man-eating Squirrel on it, I would hand-draw the words 'MAN-EATING SQUIRREL' on the card and illustrate the letters in a way that is thematic and immersive? Hah, I have no idea what this would end up looking like, but I've been thinking about it a lot.

4. Women's Baseball League. "A League of Their Own' the board game, or something akin to that. Love the history there.

On another note, a goal of mine is to design and illustrate my own game. I have two or three game designs that have I've been puttering around with for years. I think it would be really fun to do all the design work, play testing, pitching to publishers, graphic design, and artwork. Of course, everyone and their mom has a game design, and I'm sure anything I design would be mediocre at best. But I think going through the whole process would be a very valuable experience for me, since I've only really experienced one particular side of this industry.

You've illustrated some of the most distinctive and original board game box art in the industry, so tell me, what's your process when you come to work on a game cover and how is it different from creating other art?

Box cover art is usually the priciest line item in a project, and for good reason. It's the thing that wraps around the outside of all this important stuff. That stuff being: the designer's hopes and dreams for their baby, the publisher's investment in components, wrangling printers and scheduling, etc. So yea the cover is a big deal because it needs to speak to all the important things inside in one solid punch.

I usually begin planning a cover by looking at all the covers from any games, comics, or movies that share the genre. Then I try to cut sideways from the norm and try to come up with a concept that feels fresh. Sometimes that means using colors or a composition that atypical to the genre, or maybe using subjects that bend the stereotypes that genre. Most importantly, in my thinking, a cover needs to exude energy and investment. For example, on Bosk, a recent project with the theme of forests and trees, the publisher really wanted the forest itself to be the subject of the box cover. So I thought okay let's make the trees huge, and have a few tiny hikers in the composition just to exaggerate the scale of the trees. Or in Gorus Maximus, a game about gladiators, I wanted to make the covers just bonkers-level of dumb gore: brains popping out of helmets, crocodile sliced up like someone was playing Fruit Ninja. A composition needs to feel full of liveliness and thought. And although I don't always succeed, I think it's a far worse crime to deliver something that looks boring or typical.

As someone who started out as a figurative painter in art school, one of my crutches has always been to just throw a well-painted person on an illustration to give it that 'wow.' Lately I've been trying to get away from that crutch, wanting to see I can still do an awesome cover without a person, front and center. So for example, my recent cover for 'In the Hall of the Mountain King', it's three trolls marching into caverns on it. And I've only ever really drawn really cartoony trolls, like in Catacombs, so trying to do realistic ones was a really scary and I think it really paid off. Or in my redesign of 'The Game' for Pandasaurus, it was all just paper cut-out of shapes and abstract objects, no humans at all. I finished up the cover for Gil Hova's 'High Rise,' which is a cityscape with towering skyscrapers looming in the background. No hoomans, but still much wow I hope!

I've found success when I try to paint towards a feeling. For the cover of Bosk, I tried to assemble reference material and choose colors and a composition that reflected that feeling I get when I pass the trailhead sign on my way into a national park. For the cover of Dinosaur Island and its expansion Totally Liquid, I tried to tap into all my love of dinosaurs and growing up in the 90's: neon-dinosaur toys, Trapper Keepers covers, Capri-Sun, Disneyland, and Saturday morning cartoons. For the cover of Dual Powers, I tried to tap into the sadness of that last scene in Doctor Zhivago, a man drowning against the onward march of history and conflict.

Sensibly, publishers and game designers often want a cover to arithmetically reflect the contents of the game. They want to show every faction type in the game, the landscape, etc. This can crowd out the potential of a well-composed, beautiful piece of art. No publisher is that blunt, but given all the risks that a publisher takes on to make a product, the last thing they need is a cover that doesn't make sense or causes Kickstarter backers to form a mob, etc. But building a box cover illustration by just adding up what’s in the box and the rulebook is a total bummer for me. We poke fun at Euro box covers that have a merchant in the foreground gesturing back at a medieval city, but man there's still a lot of that going around. Just not for me. At least as an internal starting block, I believe it's crucial for an artist to paint towards an emotion, a feeling, a nostalgic moment. What comes out the other end might still end up just looking like a typical genre box cover, but I think those lofty, flamboyant inner goals are what keep me chugging along happily. There's a lot of technical things you can get good at, the longer you work in the biz: like friendly but pointed email writing, nailing deadlines while keeping buffers for personal life, etc. But I feel like the box cover is a tabletop artist's flagship product. It's the ship of the line, the cream of the crop. So you better enjoy it and you better make it sing.


The greatest critic is said to be ourselves so considering how you're always pushing yourself as an artist, are there any projects you previously worked on where you look back now and think you really nailed it?

Let me just point out that I'm not necessarily always pushing myself as an artist, though I would very much like everyone to think I am. I always try to try hard. But any given painting is a mix of blood, sweat, and tears; as well as whatever I ate that afternoon, how full my inbox is that morning, or if I've been outside more than usual that week. Moreover, the final product that sits on shelves is a larger mix of: how tight the project deadlines were, what the graphic designer did with my raw art, and how supportive and/or collaborative the publisher was during the whole process. So I can't really take credit for an amazing looking product, there's often a lot of hands that are in there and they all matter.

Frankly, I always look back on the last three projects I did and am usually the happiest with those. Anything further back, and I tend to cringe at some of the inexperience I can see evident in the artwork. So currently the last three projects are Bosk, High Rise, and In the Hall of the Mountain King. I’m really proud of those, in fact. I think they represent a good jump in my confidence and abilities that wasn't there before. In some past projects, I would approach a piece of art and truly not know if there was light at the end of the tunnel. I don't know if that makes sense, but there were illustrations early in my career, with which I felt like I was drowning near the end and just couldn't get a face or a scene right no matter how hard I tried. I feel more confident in my recent work.

If I had to pick all-time favorite projects, I'd say any of my large-scale figurative paintings are probably the most objectively impressive things to look back on: Overlight RPG cover art, Galaxy Trucker poster, Capital Lux/Rebel Nox, Dual Powers etc. With my history as a figurative oil painter, I tend to lean heavily on those skill sets and the experience has some shine to it. I should mention that I happen to really like my earliest project, Catacombs. I still find the composition and colors of the box cover and components really appealing and fun.

Board game art can often play it a little safe, sticking to known themes or visual styles. So how important do you think diversity is in board game art and how would you like to see the industry change?

That's a big question! I think there’s a lot out there that looks same-y and homogenized, especially your 'European merchant trading something' game, or your 'lots of miniatures in oversized black box' sci-fi game. I am not the artist needed on a game like that, nor do I feel compelled to take on those projects when they show up in my inbox. But that's not to say that those publishers and designers don't know what they're doing. They are mainlining their target audiences with exactly what they want, and it's great that the board game world now has different mini-worlds that can argue and bicker and have opinions about who’s best. When I got into board games years ago, there were maybe a few dozen games you “had to buy” and that was it. So the glut is awesome.

As far as diversity, I think that's an even bigger question that I'm not sure I'm qualified to answer. From an art point of view, I think an easy way to add diversity to a project is to simply represent as many ethnicities, genders, or cultures in the world-building or characters. The more compelling way I've seen diversity approached are in games that delve wholly into specific niches of culture or history. For example, there was a game that came out a few years ago called Navajo Wars from GMT Games, and it was about the historical journey of the Dine (Navajo) peoples, from a specific era in history. I thought that was awesome, shining a light on a lesser-known part of history, rather than just another 101st Airborne game from a war game publisher. I think having a diverse cast of characters in a game is very cool but I think having a whole game be about something specific and unique, elevating something up and shining a light on lesser known corners of our world, is even more compelling. I'm not smart enough to come up with how that would work as a board game, but I'll definitely wax poetic on the subject!

In regards to that last question.. a final extra thought to tie into that. How much do you think Kickstarter has changed the landscape it comes to board game art?

Having worked with both Kickstarter projects and regular distribution publishing, I don't know that it makes much of a difference when it comes to doing the art. I think Kickstarter has given more opportunities for smaller publishers to get products to market, which in turn means that there's more opportunities for illustrators to get projects. So that's always good. A downside to Kickstarter, or any publishing presence on social media or BGG for that matter, is people's propensity to skewer art in a public forum. I mean, even some of the best covers I've seen get a few inane comments like: "eh, hate it" or "liked the old art better." Kickstarter is particularly bad in this regard, where some backers feel empowered to judge the art harshly. As an artist, it's crushing to see comments like that, after spending time and thought on a piece of art. Of course a piece of art should be judged on its discrete face value, especially one that is gracing a product meant to be sold. But, man, sometimes it's hard.

The people behind a lot of awesome games are often just a tiny ragtag team of: publisher, designer, artist, and graphic designer. It's easy to demand a lot from publishers and condemn failures. But I've found that overwhelmingly creators in this industry are thoughtful and emboldened to create fun things, often leaving other careers to do something they feel passionate about. I don't know what my point is there, or what I'm being defensive about. I guess, just please be nice to me all the time, is the moral to learn here.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work as an artist?

I went to a traditional art college. Let me be depressing for a moment. When I graduated from Art Center College of Design here in Pasadena, my program (like many other traditional illustration degree programs) was essentially grooming me to be an editorial illustrator. As in covers for books and magazines and the little illustrations in the Op-Ed section of a newspaper. Professors encouraged us to fly to New York and schedule meetings with print media agencies in order to drum up work, which I did twice. I didn’t find success by any metric. One book publisher did give me a pamphlet for their summer intern program. I was also taught to send out mailers using expensive databases of art director info. I sent out hundreds of mailers twice a year, punching out my cards with a corner rounder on the floor of my one-room studio, piles of letters all over my bed. Nothing shook loose for me, and it was very disheartening. I don’t think those methods are wrong, and I do think I had a very weak portfolio. But, those traditional methods now look very antiquated in the current world of illustration. It’s a wider world that includes everything from Pixar to Patreon.

At that point, I was turning 30 without a clear path, and absolutely buried in loans paid for private art school, and going through quite a bit in my personal life. I unsuccessfully applied for job after job on my college’s job board for anything art-related. The last one I tried for was an Archivist position at Yul Brynner's estate, scanning and digitizing photos. "I'm fascinated by the opportunity to work with photos from the Golden Age of Hollywood!" and "Can begin immediately!" I wrote. It was crushing after all the effort and hope I had drummed up in myself and my family and friends.

There were other graduates from my college that got work or hired by studios. They were better artists and made smarter choices during the program. But I gave up trying to be an illustrator and ended up working as a tutor at a Chinese after-school program nearby. They're a dime a dozen here. To go to work, I'd slap a laminated sign on the side of my car (Michael's Fine Art Classes!) and pick up kids from elementary school, and then help them with their homework. There was a ray of light during that time, I had managed to get into a handful of gallery shows in LA and Seattle. So I was still doing some art. They're awesome to be a part of, but I don’t think I was good enough, and it was unsustainable as a single source of income. In fact, I was still working at Michael’s Fine Art Classes two years later when the opportunity to illustrate Catacombs, my first big game, fell in my lap.

My point here is that I feel like I barely made it, and every step of this process has been jumping from one lily pad to the next. I don’t know what I’m doing. I think that’s important to say before I give any sage advice. So here goes, my five-step method to becoming a tabletop illustrator:

Step 1: Get loaded with debt at art college, and then work at a Chinese after-school program for two years.
Step 2: Go to lots of board game conventions and walk around bothering people with your portfolio.
Step 3: Hide your poor grasp of anatomy and perspective by adding tons of color and dialing up the composition to eleven. Empty space on the canvas? Here’s some geometric shapes for no reason! Magenta!
Step 4: Feel guilty about how hard your parents worked their blue-collar jobs and then transform that guilt into valuable energy. Harness energy in a myriad of ways like: trying to stop watching that Youtube video, or not napping at noon.
Step 5: Be old. Your poor choices and bad luck means you don’t have as much runway left as your youthful, smiling competitors.

But less sarcastically:

1. Explore a multitude of paths, and work whatever side jobs you need to. But when it’s go-time, make the jump and bring all your time and resources to bear.
2. Go to where the warm bodies are in this industry. Shake hands, meet people.
3. Bring energy and boldness to your art. Nuance and subtlety easily translate as boring in an industry where shelf appeal and table presence is important. Solid command of composition and values will win the day every time.
4. Treat your freelance job with integrity and respect, suit up and punch in every day.
5. Don’t waste time. A year can pass by and all you’ve done is illustrated two good pieces and checked how many likes they’ve gotten. Move and shake now, when it’s important to carve out a space for yourself.

What are some non-game related creations (books, music, movies, etc) that you’re currently enjoying?

I’ve been reading a lot of RPG books, stuff for Delta Green and OSR RPG stuff specifically. I run two RPG groups and of course a health amount of board gaming, so I’m often reading rulebooks, RPG stuff, and the like. Also, just finished Kazuo Ishiguro’s Buried Giant. Finished “The Caliphate” podcast series, very enlightening. I’ve been re-watching Parks & Rec for the zillionth time when I take breaks, since they’re quick fun bites. None of this necessarily fuels my work. As a freelancer, there’s just a ton of time spent totally alone in a room. So there’s always something I’m doing besides work, little projects, something on in the background.

Do you have any current projects underway, or coming up that you’d like (or are able) to tell us about?

I usually have between 3 to 6 projects running concurrently. And there’s always a handful of wrapped project that haven’t been announced by the publisher yet. Fun stuff! But I can definitely mention High Rise, In the Hall of the Mountain King, Complexcity, Kodama 3D, and Pret-a-Porter that will be coming out in the next year or so. I’m particularly jazzed for Pret-a-Porter, because it was a big leap for me in terms of theme and working with a new publisher, Portal Games.

Finally, if we’d like to see more of you and your work, where can we find you?

I’m on all the social media at @kwanchaimoriya, and my website has a full portfolio at www.kwanchaimoriya.com. I also frequent a lot of board game conventions and meetups, doing signings or panels or just walking around. I really like it when people say hi!
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Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:44 pm
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Matijos Gebreselassie: Art in Board Games #49

Ross
United Kingdom
Nottingham
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This is the full interview with Matijos Gebreselassie from moregamesplease.com. The version on my site has sketches and artwork of the games he's worked on, so if that's your kind of thing then you can follow the link here.

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Matijos Gebreselassie: Art in Board Games #49


Editors Note: I first noticed Matijos name on the Dinosaur Tea Party artwork and also happened to be one of the backers of Chronicles of Crime on Kickstarter. I knew I wanted to find out more about his particular style and of course that photo realistic work on Chronicles. Enjoy!

Hi Matijos, thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?

Hi Ross, thank you for reaching out to me. Yes, I always wonder where to start with introducing myself- I'm a Pole, mulatto with Ethiopian Roots that was born in Sankt Petersburg, Russia. It usually works on job interviews as from the start everyone is curious about the combination.

I got my education in Poland and lived there from my early years. I've always been very passionate about drawing and expressing myself through illustrations. With the right mix of my other loves, cinematography and comics, I guess I figured out a characteristic art style for myself; cartoony and atmospheric with heavy outline. I also started experimenting with bringing my artwork to life and that led me to graduate from Polish National Film School in Łódź.

This was a great place that gave me the skills to execute animation in a professional way. While still studying I moved to the capital city and started working on animated movies, then later on, mobile games. Then I traveled to Kraków and that happened to create many opportunities for me. As an Art Director there I guided teams and was creating slot games. But by night I continued on delivering freelance passion projects - like board games.

Right now, I'm quite fresh after a relocation to Malta where I continue to work on slot games, this time with some additions in game design along with the art.

So how did you first get involved in making board games?

While moving to Krakow I was already in contact with Lucky Duck Games. Everything started with that company. Earlier I saw an ad that they were looking for a supportive artist for their new title Master of Elements, an expansion of the successful ‘Vikings Gone Wild’. I was attracted by the fantasy theme and cartoony art style that this game had and I knew it wouldn't be a problem for me to deliver something similar after hours. I drew a couple of cards for a start but soon the Kickstarter campaign turned out to be such a huge hit that fans started reaching almost every stretch goal planned within a day or even a few hours. New artwork for cards was needed to be done extremely quickly in order to update the campaign. It was a very pleasant time full of challenges and late night emails: 'We need 3 more!'.

When the dust has settled the CEO and Founder of Lucky Duck Games, Vincent Vergonejeanne invited me to the office with an offer of a wider collaboration. He showed me the prototype of Chronicles of Crime invented by David Cicurel with only placeholders on a print. Everything was yet to be filled with proper art and I was absolutely blown away by the whole gameplay concept and innovation.

Once again full artistic freedom was given to me by Vince with lots of trust and professionalism. In my previous experience that wasn't very common. So board games with LDG became my true passion!

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Your work spans quite a number of fields, from animation, film, concept and game art. How do you think this experience changes how you approach each new project? What key lessons do you think you've learned that you can apply throughout your work?

At the beginning I tried to grab almost every job opportunity in the industry there was. As they joke:

“So why do you want this job?”
”Well, I've always been passionate about not starving to death, sir”

My girlfriend at the time, now wife, supported me all the way in order to stay focused and on track no matter the obstacles. So I was always doing art. Art in different forms that each time brought me joy. My goal is to use cinematic eye wherever I can, to leave a characteristic mark on everything I do. Now I've got this privilege to get involved in new projects only because I'd like to, not because of necessity and board games are a perfect example of this.

I realized that in every job I have I use the same skill set package that is learned once. No matter if it's VFX for the film, costume or scenery design for a theater, mobile, slot or board game. It's always sketching, storyboards, polishing in different art styles and animating. Each field somehow needs to use those tools.

I loved to work on my own but as an Art Director I guess I've learned to focus on teamwork more and I like the different chemistry that it brings. Everyone learns from each other and push projects forward at a pace that you'd never achieve on your own.

I first came across your work in ‘Dinosaur Tea Party’. It’s characters are larger than life, so how did you create them?

Thank you, glad to hear that. At first I was given the theme and a core idea: 'Let's imagine dinosaurs wearing Downton Abbey clothes having a tea party'. With my character design I aimed for something family friendly and witty. I suggested my take on a single outlined sketch, it depicted a dino wearing a bow-tie, a hat and a monocle holding a bubble pipe. Then Restoration Games were kind enough to leave the entire art approach to me afterwards.

I was provided with a list of Dinosaurs names, not species types, actual names like Betty or Bob, which were gathered in Excel. This list contained visual characteristics required for the game play, assets like hats, glasses, flowers, patterns on the skin etc. Then I did some research on the different dinosaurs looks for inspiration. In the end some of them are based on real species, but with some mix of features as my imagination dictated. I just tried not to repeat myself visually. For the polishing part I used a technique in Photoshop that was new to me at the time, grey-scale maps. It was worth taking a shot at using it, as it's an extremely time saving technique, good for tight deadlines and it helped to keep everything consistent in style.

You mentioned you’ve learned to change how you work now that you’re an art director. What do you think are some of the most important aspects of this role?

To me it would be overall vision of the entire project and consistent art guidance towards the final product, plus creating a friendly atmosphere for the team because only then you can outperform the project in every aspect. For a long time in my artistic education I was very self-centered and tried to be self-sufficient in everything I did. The role of an art director (AD) opened different doors for my workflow model.

The first thing is to know your team members; their strong fields of profession, even their attitudes toward different tasks. Only then you can assign the right one and control the development. The second very important aspect for me is the final composition. The AD should be in charge of the final stitching of art components so they come together as one. You should try to avoid the effect of a Frankenstein being put together from lots of different elements. It doesn't mean that only your art style goes on top of the last edit, it could be anyone's from the team, it's just a matter of keeping it all consistent at the end.

Chronicles of Crime ties it's narrative into real locations. How do you go about creating these art assets with the real world in mind?

At the beginning of the project I just needed to find the right style. I started with the character design of our victims/suspects cards, where with the studio we've chosen black comic book outline and a slight exaggeration of some features as a guideline for the entire game. It's actually something in which I feel the most comfortable.

Then I aimed in translating this to the location cards and 360 VR panoramas, which was a bit different because this time I wasn't designing from my imagination. The locations are based on the real London districts so I needed to stick to the right look. I began with photo research, and I created a library of references. Sometimes it takes half an hour, but with more complex views it may even take a couple of days.

Then comes the most engaging and important part of the entire process, compositing photos together. After this there's a time for the outline, which basically does major part in compositing because it blends everything nicely. Then a couple of Photoshop filters and lots of brush over-painting, that simplifies the shadings and gradients which gets away from the realistic feel and brings in more of an illustrated effect. The best part is this last stage where you already see everything in its place and the only aspect left is playing with the light, rim lights, reflections and gentle touches of brush stroke.

I learned this technique at the beginning of my freelance path where I was designing Hidden Object Games using photobashing.

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Photobashing is the technique of combining photographs or images, using painting and editing to create larger pictures. Although it's a common technique in digital art some have accused it as being "cheating". What would you say to people with this opinion and how does photobashing help illustrators work?

Photobashing is for sure an excellent technique for concept art and the mood board stage. In many fields in the industry it helps artists deliver multiple high quality illustrations in a short time. It works similarly to story boarding in a sense, in that it clarifies visually where you’re aiming with the style and overall look. But when doing your final renderings it's of course all about being smart and having in mind intellectual rights, with heavy editing a must. This means cuts and edits, with strong over-painting that will change the basic look. It's just another technique you can reach for if you decide to achieve a photo realistic effect, it goes along with over-painting 3D models and pasting photo textures which is absolutely fine with me. If you manage to do it right, you can have unique and fresh visuals out of pre-made materials.

You mention looking to leave a charismatic mark on everything you do, so in a practical sense how do you approach each piece of art to ensure you do this?

When working on different projects that vary from each other I want to find the right technique that supports the core vision and a story, but my relatives always mention that they can spot my style in everything I do, so I guess I'm not that elastic after all and fail with each trial!

Of course, cartoon looks and black lines comes naturally as I sketch at the beginning of everything. Even when I decide to skip the outline in polishing I usually go for very strong rim lights (that does almost the same job but with opposite, bright colors) and that was the case of Dinosaur Tea Party made for Restoration Games for instance.

But aside from the technique, I guess I always go for a certain look of a human or monster body that is taken from the pop culture that I value. I push with a specific character design that I developed naturally through my learning process. So it doesn't matter if it's a scary and realistic horror project (concepts for a theme park attraction with VR technology) or concepts for more friendly Fireball Island board game - you'll always find my way of drawing muscles, eyes or hands. Even, or only, those small details.

How do you keep the balance between your work as a freelancer? Do you have any advice?

Actually I don't think I keep the balance at all. I should be the last person to give advice on that matter, but if I have to:
”Kids, if you'd like to follow my footsteps I suggest unhealthy little amount of sleep, late chocolate snacks and a good playlist in your ears”.
Night is perfect for art challenges, it's like winning an extra day.

What are some non-game related creations (books, music, movies, etc) that you’re currently enjoying?

I'll refer to something that I enjoy listening to while working on my projects. My playlist is always very strange because it mixes Rammstein with Vivaldi and Max Richter, but as a polish, patriotic move I'll recommend to all amazing bands like Bass Astral x Igo and Kwiat Jabłoni. I also look for interviews with writers and people of cinema, recently the Hollywood Reporter gave nice insight releasing on Youtube 'the Roundtable', a series of discussion panels. I think that cinema is something that I’ve had in my blood from birth, but while working I limit myself to audio only. I think almost every stand-up on Netflix I've got checked as 'watched'.

Finally, if we’d like to see more of you and your work, where can we find you?

Feel free to check my Instagram where I usually post more often. Then there is my ArtStation account where I try to keep my work organized.

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This is the full interview with Matijos Gebreselassie from moregamesplease.com. The version on my site has sketches and artwork of the games he's worked on, so if that's your kind of thing then you can follow the link here.
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Mon Jun 10, 2019 2:31 pm
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Magda Markowska: Art in Board Games #48

Ross
United Kingdom
Nottingham
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This is the full interview with Magda Markowska from moregamesplease.com. The version on my site has sketches and artwork of the games she's worked on, so if that's your kind of thing then you can follow the link here.

Magda Markowska: Art in Board Games #48

Editors Note: I often keep a look out for game artists, usually online, but conventions are often a good place to find them. At Essen Spiel 2018 I was walking the convention floor when I saw a small boxed game whose art made a big impression on me. The game was Black Skull Island. I knew I needed to find out more about the artist and her work and this interview is the result of that conversation. I hope you enjoy.

Hi Magda, thanks for joining me! For our readers who aren't aware of your work could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?


Hi, Ross! I'm really happy to have this opportunity to speak with you. I started working as an illustrator and then also as a concept artist somewhere around 2008, so that would be almost for 10 years now. I work on board games, animations, advertising, applications.

I always wanted to be an artist but at that time and place (Poland in the '90s), I thought that this kind of dream would be completely beyond my reach. Also, my parents were against it. So I've abandoned that plan, and instead, I went to school that was chosen by them. Drawing was more like a hobby. So mostly I illustrated novels written by my younger sister, made sketches of animals or created designs for characters for our roleplaying game campaign.

And then, one day, when I was still in high school, I went to the cinema instead of taking classes. I was the only person in the cinema hall and the movie they showed was "Spirited Away". (I didn't hear about someone like Hayao Miyazaki at the time - whose films are now one of my greatest inspirations). That movie reminded me that I have always wanted and still want to illustrate such stories. That I want to work as an artist. Time passed, but I only got more determined. I learned everything on my own: anatomy, color theory, composition, etc. or software (like Photoshop or Flash). Thanks to this at some point something that was only a hobby was finally my job. Later, I started working in an animation studio in my hometown. And now I'm a freelancer.

Apart from art, I still love pen and paper RPGs, board games, samurai movies, and anime. I'm also very interested in anthropology, history and animal behaviorism.

You're part of a small collective called All Blue Studio, how do you think small studios help artists such as yourself and what are you hoping to achieve with the project?

As I mentioned before, even as children, we created stories along with my sister. She wrote scripts and I made illustrations. So our first serious project as All Blue Studio - which was 'The Thief of Wishes' interactive book for kids - was something that we always wanted to create together. The fact that my fiancé, who is a developer, also joined in, allowed us to finish this as family and friends. So we were very lucky that our skills are so compatible and perfect for this project. Of course, it was still a complex process and there were plenty of other difficulties.

At first, we had the ambition to create something much more advanced. But unfortunately, we did not have all the necessary resources to do it, only our own skills and will. It is not easy to sit down after a hard day of work (or simply on a day off) and continue working. But we have learned a lot during this project - also about our own limitations and how to cooperate with each other. A part of that it was extremely satisfying to see 'The Thief of Wishes' in AppStore. And we are so incredibly happy that now we can work on another app.

So how did you first get involved in making board games?

I always wanted to illustrate board games, because this is also one of my hobbies. (We have an entire wardrobe filled with games). So when the opportunity came, I was very happy. The first project I made was a game for the Polish Customs Office. It was an educational game that's supposed to teach the players about the dangers of smuggling of animals and plants. After this, I started to work on a more commercial game with the title “3 Wishes”. Strawberry Studio contacted me and asked if I could create illustrations for the cards and the cover box. I received a list with phrases that described wishes and I was allowed to interpret them freely. I had a lot of fun with it. So I decided that the more devious the wishes would be, the more interesting result we will get. Just like as the wishes were fulfilled by some malicious genie. After that, I cooperated with Strawberry Studio also on other games.

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Much of your work has a very painterly style full of beautiful textures. As a self-taught artist, how did you develop your style and what kinds of resources did you use to help you?

Thank you, Ross. That was very kind of you. To tell you the truth, when I started to work as an artist I decided to learn from the absolute basics. I spent almost the whole year, at least one hour each day, just learning anatomy (drawing each muscle and bone) from tutorials on the internet or books (like Classic Human Anatomy by Valerie L. Winslow and Figure Drawing for All It's Worth by Andrew Loomis). I also bought and read every book recommended by other artists whom I admire. At some point, I decided to try workshops and lectures (like CGMasterAcademy, Schoolism) and lately, I’ve discovered Gumroad.

I think that my style has evolved thanks to all of those sources. Previously I just focused on gathering knowledge and at some point, then I noticed I started to use a very particular colour pallet, or techniques, or brushes. Another thing is, I often spend a lot of time on one project (a few months or more). After some time of using a specific technique or style, I’m getting tired of it, and I try to do something completely new during the new project. (Just to learn more, see what I can change or do differently.)

What is your creative process when working on a board game? Can you talk us through it?


After I learn about a general idea, I always try to understand gameplay (or even test it) and see if I can suggest some solutions that can benefit a game designer. For example, what symbols or illustrations can we add or how to put texts on cards to make it more “player friendly”. It is something that we can call “user experience”, but only on the level of my competence as an artist.

Other than that, I gather as many references as possible. For example, if a game has a historical or anthropological theme (which are favorites of mine), I try to learn more about a topic to which game is referring. Once, when I worked on puzzles about old Slavic, I went to a historical fortification (which also happens to be a museum) and spoke with an archaeologist who worked there. I also always attempt to collect books, go to art galleries or other places which are inspirational to me or simply aid understanding the game.

After that, I try to create the game universe in my head. Conceptualize things such as: who are heroes, (if a game has them), what they are doing, what will make this universe more realistic. As far as that point, I also focus on things like lights and colours which should be used to get the desired effect – they help me to select the best style for the specific project. I often create the colour pallet at the same time as conceptual sketches.

Your character illustrations are filled with personality, so what do you think are some key things an artist should try to include to create memorable characters?


In the art book of the Tangled, Glen Keane mentioned that Ollie Johnston (who mentored him) was always wanting the idea, "What [are they] thinking," to be considered. I always try to remember this. As I mentioned before, from my childhood I created stories with my sister. Her characters gave an impression that they are real people and not just random heroes from books or RPG scenarios. So, I think that I’ve learned a lot about storytelling from her.

From a more technical perspective, the book which was the greatest help to me when it came to expressions was and continues to be The Artist's Complete Guide to Facial Expression by Gary Faigin. I have really learned a lot from it. It made clear to me how to correctly emphasize a wide range of emotions by just using three correctly drawn lines.

When it comes to drawing animals, I think simple observations taught me the most. As a child, we had various animals at home. I’m also a huge fan of documentaries about animals (and shorts about cats or dogs on YouTube). I observe them for a very long period of time (especially birds). Instead of sketching (because otherwise, I would focus mainly on a drawing), I try to just spend some time noting their behavior and personalities. In their eyes, there is always such an incredible curiosity about the world around them (or at least I interpret it that way as a human). So for example, when I create personified animals, I try to use observations combined with the knowledge I have about human expressions.

Are there any projects that you're working on at the moment you're able to tell us about?

As the end of 2018 and the first quarter of 2019 were overwhelming with work for me, I'm trying to take fewer client jobs now. The last Christmas I was involved in a very interesting project that was made for Samsung. My work was to design and prepare characters to an animated part of a commercial. You can see the results here.

Also, two games are coming out - this year, I think - that I illustrated for Strawberry Studio. Unfortunately, I can't share any of my other client works until they will be made public - probably in fall 2019. At this particular moment, the only thing I'm working on now is an application for kids. It's going to be a charming book about sheep in which the reader becomes the main character.

Along with my team, we are also developing another application, but it's still in a very early phase.

Do you have any advice for anyone trying to get into the industry or find work as a professional illustrator and concept artist?

I think I wouldn't enjoy working on board games that much if I didn't like them myself. Knowing this industry means knowing some gameplay nuances you need to take into account when designing illustrations. Because I play board games myself, I know which elements can draw the attention of the player more, and which ones don't have to be so detailed (as they will be covered with icons and other information).

So my main advice is to play boardgames yourself to better understand players' expectations, read some reviews on game orientated websites and meet their authors. It's also worth visiting some conventions (I love the mood of SPIEL in Essen!). This way you'll be able to learn about the market or meet the game designers in person and exchange contact info. In my opinion, without a dose of personal commitment, it's hard to start working in this industry.

What are some non-game related creations (books, music, movies, etc) that you’re currently enjoying?

I finally found some time to play the Unravel (such a beautiful game!), and now I'm listening to the soundtrack from it. Surprisingly it also slots perfectly as background music when you draw fields with sheep (my current project). And I just can't wait to start the second part of this game!

As for the reading lately, I've been enjoying the Book of Barely Imagined Beings: A 21st Century Bestiary by Caspar Henderson and it's absolutely fascinating.

Finally, if we’d like to see more of you and your work, where can we find you?

You can check my portfolio on Behance, and I’m also on Facebook and Instagram.

My project with All Blue Studio can be found here and the latest information about us is here.

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This is the full interview with Magda Markowska from moregamesplease.com. The version on my site has sketches and artwork of the games she's worked on, so if that's your kind of thing then you can follow the link here.
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