Cloudspire

Design

For about a year, I was working on the board game Cloudspire at work. It’s complete, and the staff just got their copies recently! Not only is this the first big game that I’ve worked on with the company, it’s also the first game where I’ve been involved right at the beginning. It has been a good learning project and a lot of fun! And to date, it’s my best work yet!

It was a completely different experience to be involved in the game from the very beginning. When I worked on Too Many Bones, there was already a design aesthetic set up, and I had to make sure that everything I did matched up with what was already in place. With Cloudspire, I had a part in shaping how the game would end up looking, which was very rewarding, but also very challenging.

The most difficult part is getting everything to fit on a chip and be legible. Every chip has at least nine different pieces of information on it. And because the main artist, Anthony LeTourneau does such a great job on the art, we try our best to keep it as large as it can possibly be. But since playing the game is the most important part, every symbol and piece of game information needs to also be clear and legible.

This was also the first project that I managed multiple artists. In addition to Anthony, we also had Jared Blando working on all of the neoprene hex art. His art is beautiful and bright and vibrant. The biggest challenge was making sure that both of the artists’ work looked coherent and seamlessly fit together. Since their styles are different, it was not the easiest task. But I think it also helped that the only place where their art was merged was on the neoprene fortresses.

My favorite pieces are the covers for the solo and cooperative scenario books. They were some of the last designs that I did for the game, and I love how the scratches worked with the background art. It added a grunge that gives you an idea of what is back there, but really calls more attention to the art and makes it stand out. The only thing that makes me sad is that the covers were printed so dark. (You can’t tell this in the photos because I lightened them to look as I had intended.)

I liked the cover art so much, that I used the same effects when I designed the booth panels. (I’ll write a separate design post for that at another time.)

This was by far the most difficult game for me to photograph. There are so many pieces to the game, I couldn’t get a photo of everything without the edges of my photo setup showing up (which is why I have a lot of detail shots below). Plus, we went with a matte finish on the chips this time, which is absolutely beautiful, but has to be photographed at specific angles in order to not cause a huge glare!

Now the only thing left is for me to learn how to play the game! We were so busy putting together all of the content that went into this game, that I never had a chance to playtest. And since I’ll be explaining the game at Essen this year, it would be helpful to know the intricacies of it!

The Waterlogged Book!

Design

When I first started working at Chip Theory Games this year, the Waterlogged Book was the first big design project I was tasked with. This is a book that accompanies our newer game, Undertow. It’s a collection of stories and artwork that go with the game and can be purchased additionally.

Before I started working on designing the pages, I was tasked with reading the Liberation Logbook, which was the accompanying book to the first game in the series, Too Many Bones. The Liberation Logbook is really amazing! It is a leather-bound book that has a design burned into the leather cover. It also has pages that have been burned in the book. Seriously! The company that printed and bound the books took a blow torch to the pages to singe them! How cool is that?! And because every page burned differently, every book is unique.

So I had some really intimidating shoes to fill! This book had to be as cool, if not cooler than the previous book (which in a way would be easier, since this book wouldn’t be getting burned…ha!) The leather bound part of the Waterlogged Book was already decided, as well as the format of the book (the sections and a general idea of where some of the artwork had to go in the sections), and we wanted the book to not look so completely different from the first book that it didn’t look like it could have come from the same world.

The first part that I started designing was the background of the pages. I used the same background as the previous book, but I added water pools and drip spots to the pages. I also darkened the page on the edges, which didn’t have to be done to the previous book, since it literally had its pages burned.

Then I moved on to the text and artwork. The headers were really fun to create! After that, I got to read through the stories and search through all of the art from the artist, Anthony LeTourneau, and add things in the book where pictures would seem to make sense. The book is supposed to be like a journal of the Gearloc’s (Too Many Bones characters) journey as they float on a raft down the river. It was so much fun looking through all the art to decide what to use. Anthony is such a talented artist, and he had done so much amazing stuff! My favorites were the tentacle drawings and the pair on the raft at the end of the Kickstarter story portion. When I found the tentacle art, I didn’t think it was being used in the game, but I loved it so much, that I had to add it to the book. It turns out that the tentacles are a part of the Tyrant that is making its debut in this game, so it worked out perfectly!

I also should talk about the prepress snafu that I encountered for this book. Even though my font was embedded, when we sent the book to be printed, our first draft came back with the font looking ok, but all of the ligatures were missing. So the word “first,” would be missing the “fi” and printed only as “rst.” It was very frustrating, since I missed it when I was checking the book. The images looked good, and the text was there, so I was ready to say ok to the entire project. Luckily, Josh had actually read some of the book, and he noticed it right away. (Definitely not my finest proofing moment…) I’m not sure what would cause this to happen when the font is embedded, but now I know that I absolutely need to create outlines before I send out my PDFs for printing. I never ran across that when I worked in prepress. I only saw font problems if the font wasn’t properly embedded, so this was a new one. So for any of you who are sending files out, make sure you do this as well. Or at least make sure to check all of your ligatures, since they can be easy to miss!

Pig Pen

Design

I recently worked on a logo design for a board game. I’m not sure if it’s actually going to be a board game or if it was just a concept for a competition. I didn’t win the competition, but I loved the logo that I came up with. I had originally designed the logo to be a square, but since most board game boxes have smaller sides, I changed it to a landscape version so it would fit on the side of the box and be able to be larger.

I think I am so in love with this logo because it’s cartoony, but sophisticated. Back in elementary school, I had gotten a How to Draw Animals book, and I think my go-to is to draw my super cartoony version of what I learned way back then. For this logo, rather than rely on my long-ago-learned-skills, I looked at other logos using pigs and photos of actual pigs. My original plan was to make it more of a flat design with basic shadows. My husband suggested that I should add a texture to give it a more papercraft feel. Because I was running out of time, I quickly added a crumpled up sheet to give it some texture. If I had more time, I would have gone with a more subtle texture and maybe used a different texture for each piece of the logo, not just over the top of the entire logo. But either way, I’m still really pleased with how this turned out!

St. Peter, Minnesota

Design, Photography

For July’s photo outing, Kristin and I took a trip to St. Peter, Minnesota. I remembered driving through their downtown on my way to my Grandparents, and I thought it might be a cute spot to take pictures. I also distinctly remembered a cute, wooden gazebo that was in a park there, that I think my aunt and uncle were married at.

On our way into the downtown area, we spotted a coffee shop and stopped for a coffee, lemonade, and a change of clothing, since it was much hotter than we had expected it to be. On our way out of the coffee shop, we spotted a water fountain and went to explore. There was a little park with a walking trail that led into the woods. The woods looked promising, so we trudged ahead! Turns out, it was pretty disappointing. The trail was not covered at all, so we were in the hot sun on an over 80 degree day. After a short walk, we could see there was no shade in sight, so we turned back.

Since downtown was fairly busy at that time, we thought it might be fun to go explore Gustavus Adolphus College. On the way there, we passed the park that had the little, wooden gazebo. Sadly, the gazebo had been replaced by a larger, not-as-cute gazebo (or I just completely remembered it as nicer than it was…that could be the case too). The college looked very ’70s. There was one building that was architecturally interesting, but otherwise, the buildings were all brick and rectangular.

Luckily, the college had an arboretum, which is where we spent most of our time. Sadly, there wasn’t any shade here either, so we got really warm walking around. I was concerned that it might be too warm, and our lenses might get condensation on them, but they appear to be fine. I got a lot of flower pictures, so that made the sweaty walk worth it!

After hours in the sun on a hot day, we didn’t have the energy left to go back and explore downtown. Maybe on another day trip, we’ll pass by there again and stop.

Caponi Art Park

Design, Photography

This is the poster for my June photo outing with Kristin. We both had very busy months, so we had to get together on a weeknight and had less photo time than we usually do. For this adventure, we went to Caponi Art Park in Eagan. Neither of us had been there before, and I had only caught a glimpse of it while taking a walk.

We started out of the parking lot on a trail that went to the South. After wandering around the trails for awhile, we started to wonder where the art was. Everything was just nature paths through the woods. It was nice, but not as art-filled as we had been expecting. So we back-tracked to the parking lot and went North instead. (I knew there were sculptures to the north, since that was near where I had walked previously.)

When I’m in a new place, there is so much to take in, that I sometimes miss obvious things. So there is a potential that we missed it, but I didn’t see anything that explained the art. I can’t remember for sure, but I think there may have been something to tell what the name of the piece was and who created it, but nothing about what they were trying to say. For some of the art, that was ok. For others, I really feel like I needed an explanation.

Because of this, I tried to mimick the feelings of not really clearly knowing what is going on in my poster. Some of the photos are easy to see and some blend into the others more. I also chose to hand write the name of the poster, rather than pick a font. Because I get the Caponi Art Park newsletter, and I see the snake sculpture all the time, I chose to make my text mirror the snake a little with curves. I realized after I finished the text, that the triangle on the end makes it more dragon-like, but I like it better when it tapered off.

So that was Caponi Art Park. I hope my poster inspires you to check it out!