Several card illustrations for Madplay Games’ ‘Hexos’, a video game based on cards, much like Hearthstone.
The game is set in a Sci-Fi universe were pirate robots coexist with lion knights and magic, so it was great fun and let me introduce some ideas that may not be suited in more serious productions.
My job for Madplay involved being the Art Director as well as illustrating, so all the briefs were really easy to follow (for me, at least!)
Every card in the game had a faction assigned to it, and each of these factions had a distinct feel to them, so I tried to reflect that with the illustrations. Having worked on tabletop Role- Playing games, the style from those was decisive in getting the look and feel of the whole project.
Painting digitally was an absolute must, given the time constraints and the need for a lot of illustrations in a limited time. At certain moments, I even produced crude 3D models of certain objects and environments to avoid lengthy perspective calculations, and I wholeheartedly recommend this type of ‘cheating’ to anyone in a production environment.
Because the artwork was to be seen amidst many other cards and designs, I went for vibrant colours and clear shapes on all of them, and also assigned a specific colour palette to each faction that would make them easy to read while playing.
I mostly used Clip Studio Paint, which to me is the perfect blend of Corel Painter’s over the top paint simulation and Photoshop’s somewhat sterile basic tools. For 3D work, I used Blender, which despite its rather steep learning curve is a robust (and open source!) option.
Every card illustration started with a prompt from the game designer, who might need a certain type of character in the game; combining that with the game’s existing lore gave me a very clear idea of the sort of composition and designs it would need.
Of course, all the illustrations started with a round of thumbnailing that was a bit hard to explain to our patient programmers, who ended up being the best test patients for my crazy ideas: if they saw the potential in the sketch, it was a definite keeper.
From then, and having solid linework and composition, it was a matter of working much as I would when colouring comics: flat colours, a couple multiply layers to accentuate form and define the light source, another set to overlay to push the light and contrast a bit further, and a final layer for corrections and painterly touches.
As far as I know, the art for ‘Hexos’ was well received by its players, and everyone in the company was really hyped about it and the concepts I came up with that were carried out by the amazing team of artists, such as my buddy Javier Jerez, a great illustrator himself.
All in all, this was my third assignment as Concept Artist/ Art Director, and this time I got it absolutely right: I took the time to create an Art Design Document that the other illustrators (and myself) could follow when in doubt, and that informed my briefs much better. So… my biggest learning experience in this project was how to handle illustration duties as well as keeping things under control with tight deadlines!
Go play it! It’s in every self-respecting mobile app store. And thanks for reading!!