April 19, 2014 at 4:20 am #2055
Here is the long promised ARTicle.
My name is Ryan Swisher and for over a year i’ve designed March of the Ants with Tim Eisner. From the beginning we wanted to both take part in the art creation and would blend our styles together digitally. In this article i’ll break down how this process looked for one of Tim’s favorite cards, The Fungus Ant.
Fungus Ant started out with the following description:
#13 Trophic, Fungus Cultivating Pharaoh Ant. The head of this is feeding on a larva via thin fangs, the background of the thorax shows fungus being cultivated, and the abdomen has rings to denote importance. Count Dracula. Characteristics of the atta species.
We divey’ed up who would draw which ants and Tim originally drew different artwork for this ant [word “ant” is a link to AntStory1.jpg]. This got redrawn a few weeks later after significant revisions were made to the three cards that make up these three cards. The original design document called for something Atta inspired, but i went with Acromyrmex, another fungal cultivating ant that has those crazy back spines.
Tim and I committed to a standard position for the ants so each segment’s joints would line up with the other evolutions.
I did this drawing in pencil and then went over it again in ink to get a good black and white scan.
I then took everything into the computer and selected and traced the line drawing to create these panels of color. Originally we color coded certain evolutions and so the ants were all crazy colors (orange, purple and green?!?) but in later version we standardized everything around red so the segments would match together better.
The backgrounds for the evolution cards were created using a Macro lens that magnetically attached to the camera on my phone. I found that by sticking my phone right up into the subject matter we got excellent close up images of soil, sand and natural growth. Each card has a single macro photo as its background, and the entire ant spans all three.
This is the three parts put together- line drawing, color and the macro-backgrounds. We developed to this stage about 3-6 months into the project. This felt like a huge step in the game creation because we went from using images we snatched from the internet to completely custom artwork!
Once we had artwork for every cord we moved into a refinement stage where we added shadows and textures to the ants. Tim drew in all the the shadow and highlight layers for each ants. The highlights are seen in yellow and shadows are seen in purple to give the ants volume and shape. I drew the spotty-mushroom pattern in my sketchbook and applied it as an alpha channel that screened a cream colored layer across the ant body.
Shadows are added along the edge of each card section to mute the background and I added a quick-n-dirty drop shadow on the ant. Most recently i’ve tweaked the eye balls a little bit and added hair to the ant. I actually added a ton a hairs to all the ants so i think there will probably be a last round of refinement where i give these ants a hair cut. :-)
I hope you enjoyed this look into the art from March of the Ants. In the coming weeks i’ll take a part one of our Colony Goal cards and give a sneak peak at the new artwork for Hunting Centipedes.
Attachments:You must be logged in to view attached files.April 19, 2014 at 4:22 am #2060April 22, 2014 at 4:40 am #2074
I really like it. Sorry I been out of touch. I will take a more in depth look tomorrow and give some edits and then I think we should post this on BGG and then keep firing MotA promo at BGG, Reddit, Faceboo, Twitter up to the launch. We want to keep some images in reserve but I think articles like this and i might dig up some stuff from the forums.April 22, 2014 at 1:17 pm #2076
Ok if you prefer i’ll post this to the BGG forums. My question is how cool they are with images in post at bgg.
I thought you could post the ARTicle to weird city games and then we will link to it on BGG page as a “blog post”
As a BGG forum post i’m gonna post something called “Designers’ Night Out” and its gonna be a recap of the games i play during kickstarter launch focusing on how players used the game in un-expected ways (such as James’ no explore strategy that almost won).
Also i want to show you video one more time, get approval and then will post to bgg page (via youTube).
We got so much to talk about on wed! we should start a seperate thread called Agenda.
mine: video review, KS header graphic review, check list for bGG promo content, calendar review of events (specicifically times and responsibilites- i know you tend to take a lot of that one but i want to make sure i’m available for everything needed!), review of all additions to v7 and finalize into v8 THE KICKSTARTER EDITION. others: i can show you where i’m at with victory cards blah blah.
send me a scan of lukas two ant sketches if he is really cool with me lifting them.April 23, 2014 at 3:31 am #2077
Yeah I think we should do both. Post it to Weird City and up on BGG graphic design forum. I think it will get a lot more draw if it is in the forums and leads people to the game, rather than people finding the game and then going to the article.
I really like the designer’s night out article idea. That is great. I will write one as well. I think if the homnifriends can start posting one article a night on BGG as we lead up we can probably get some really good traction.
I also want to plan tomorrow about what art to release when so that we can give interesting tidbits but not give away the farm.
Nice start on the agenda. We be mega jamming. I will bring more agenda points and we will rock through it.,April 23, 2014 at 2:41 pm #2080
When you figure out the roles/responsibilities leading up to launch (and during) please let me know! I’d like to be as helpful as possible, and taking time to write/edit is something I enjoy and can do fairly quickly. So if you need content (or another eye on content before it’s published) let me know how I can help.April 23, 2014 at 8:01 pm #2082
IF you can give me some notes on the above ARTicle. anything that is glossed over that you want more talk about? If you imagine the images in there, does the length seem good?
I’m going to start posting so much stufffffffff!April 24, 2014 at 2:37 pm #2083
Hey Ryan, I think the length seems good. Folks can read it quickly and there are lots of images that tell/illustrate the story of how the art developed over time.
My only suggestion is that readers might like to learn more about your thoughts, the “why” of doing things a particular way. For example, I remember chatting with you a bunch about what drew you to using macro photography for the evolution backgrounds — it was a contrasting style, it hasn’t been used much in game artwork, etc. You do a good job of telling “what” you did, but some more of the “why” might bring people into the creative process for you as an artist a little more.
You might also try to hit on how the mechanics of the game impacted the artistic choices. For example, you talk about wanting to align the body segments better in the opening paragraphs, but don’t explain why. Even one or two sentences like, “From our earliest design conversations, we knew that evolution cards would be placed on players’ nest mats — one for each body segment — as they evolved throughout the game. This led me to think about each ant as composed of three distinct panels, and I had to be sure to carefully align the body segments to match when placed onto the nest.” Or something like that? And then the final image could be the ant as three cards laid out together.
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