TaKtiX: Todd Rowland

Todd is the Brand Manager for Alderac Entertainment Group

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Art of Warlord

A very enjoyable part of my job now involves art direction. I can hardly draw a stick-man properly, but being able to realize a vision through the skills of fantastic artists from around the world is amazing. Up until this point, most Warlord art has followed the pattern of create a big guy with a big honkin' sword about to cleave through you. While this is great for marketing art, sometimes the artist director (me) might have trouble coming up with something totally new set after set. So with the Temple of Lore expansion, releasing after Epic Edition, we've decided to approach the art in a new way.

The characters will still have big honkin' swords, and they'll still look like they could eat you for breakfast, but now they are going to be more involved in what's going on. The Temple of Lore set will focus on groups of characters who are exploring the Temple itself. The monsters within, the traps, the treasure, all of it will be encountered by these characters.

What does this mean? Take for instance an elf rogue and a dwarf fighter. Not only will they be on their cards exploring the Temple, they may also be featured on a new rogue action involving the elf attacking the dwarf. All of the set should end up with a more cohesive feel than past sets, as you'll see the actions of the Warlords and characters.

But how does it get from idea to card? It often begins with design passing me their rough idea of cards. It isn't that important that I know every single mechanic at that time, just that I know "This is an evil elf rogue", or "This is an action that involves attacking multiple opponents." From there I can draft up an art description, similar to this one:

Character. Free Kingdoms. Human. Cleric, Good. Male.
This character is a cleric of Neus. He wears simple white robes with a hood (that is pulled back now). He wears a simple necklace with a golden symbol. He has a metal staff. He also has a pack slung over one shoulder, for his quest into the Temple. He should be pictured before a large bookcase of ancient books.

Simple huh? Well, that's usually the best way to do it. Giving the artist enough direction to know clearly what we want, but enough leeway to inject their own creative ideas into the character and background. A few days after sending those out, we receive the initial sketches. The sketch of this character can be found in this very post. The sketches are often rough, but they ensure that we are going to get the picture we had in mind. Assuming all is well, we'll approve the image and the artist will begin to add colors and finalize. They will often send scans as they begin to add the colors so that they can continue to be sure they are going the direction we want.

Once this piece gets a little farther along, I'll post it then, so you can watch its development.

So many of you ask, why can't we have artist X do this character? Why didn't artist Y do anything in this set? What where you thinking AEG? Well, the pure fact is these artists are busy people. They often end up committed to various projects and simply can't take any work in the window we have to assign art, or they can only take a few pieces. Over time we find that some artists are simply better at action and movement than static characters. Some can illustrate magical items that capture your imagination better than anything else. We often try to assign them pieces that show off their strengths, as that then results in a better looking game overall.

In the end, art is always subjective. So before you dismiss a piece as something you don't like, take a deeper look. Look at the use of color, light, and shadow. Look at what is going on in the action of the piece, or the background, or the small details. You might be surprised what you find.

Next Topic: Not sure yet, tune in and find out!


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thursday, May 25, 2006 1:04:00 AM  

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