QWG's El Capitán

The QWG Master Print Edition of El Capitán. Note that for this preview, the designer's name has been removed from the box at the publisher's request.

In the last entry, I had highlighted an exciting new project that I have been working on with QWG which I’d like to expand on. The name is El Capitán and – as the pictures suggest – takes place in the Mediterranean Sea in the 16th century involving Spanish, Italian and Portuguese powers. Basically, it is a colonization/money-making game at it’s heart. ...with, yes some pirate activity. It’s not a pirate game, but in some cases pirates are in play. The designer is one of the big ones that everyone will be familiar with, though I cannot mention his or her name now.

As I understand, the game is to be released Oct 2007 in the following countries (so far): Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK/Ireland, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway. Maybe also in Poland, France, Italy and Spain. This is all I know in terms of distribution.

Pictured above, we have the QWG Master Print Series box. Also seen here is how it looks as part of the MP system. The whole experience is becoming very rich and textural. I’m very excited to see this product added to the collection and how the series is fleshing out as a brand identity for QWG.

There will be some nice special touches in the game art, which I’m very pleased with as well. I’ll be releasing more images next month.

Some have been interested in the creative process. So I’ll elaborate on that a bit.

Generally, in these productions, the games are still being tested, fine tuned and finalized. So the safest bet for the artist is to start on the cover. Given the theme has been fleshed out by the time an artist is called on, everything is ready for me to begin here. The cover is also an effective piece for the announcement of a game, so it is no surprise that this is usually the first piece completed.

For this production, I had proposed a few covers which I sketched out. First sketches vary depending on the project. Sometimes it is a rough photo collage to give a sense of composition, color and subject. Other times, I simply find a pool of scrap art that can serve as a guide for subject and style. I’ll say, “Imagine if it looked like this but with some of the elements of the other picture.” And then other times I might actually sketch a rough black and white image or paint a rough picture. Much of this depends on how complicated an image is to draw and how comfortable I am doing it quickly or what can be found to assist in the visualization process. In this case, the publisher was happy with the cover and picked one to move forward with. Incidentally, the alternate cover that did not make it became the starting player piece as seen below.

Spine view of the first three in the series. As with the cover, the designer's name has been left off for this preview.




The starting player tile. No longer a card as previous post. This was actually another cover that I had proposed at the start of the process. In the end, it worked quite well as a start player tile so I picked this up and developed it.


From here, it was just a matter of redrawing the image and refining to what you see above. From the beginning, I also create a graphic look and style to the box in terms of where the title goes and how it all fits together. So, the first sketches are not only image but graphic design. I find I have an advantage being a graphic designer by trade as the image is married to the format from the beginning. Generally, a game illustrator will create an image with a clear space or generic art hole in the picture (like clouds or bushes or such) where the title tucks in. I tend to believe this is why most covers look alike as they have been developed with a standard assumption of how and where a title should be placed. The look is “locked in” by virtue of the illustration which is built to house the graphic design. Given that I had previously worked on a special format for QWG, initial sketches had to take into account how the image would live in their Master Print Series box look as well as live within another format for their partner publisher’s boxes. The two of which need to look great, but different in company identity, but the same in terms of product identity.

In contrast to the box top, the bottom of the box is the last piece to be developed. It is generally low priority as it does not effect anything at all (component inventory, how they come together on a sheet or fit and work with a board) and is dependent on a product image. I generally like taking the photo of the product which I either comp up or receive as a prototype. In the case of the QWG MP Series, I have established a tradition of setting a poem, quote or interesting fact on the sides of the box bottom. It is just a nice touch that I’ve not seen before and adds to the narrative in an unusual but authentic way.

In following posts, I’ll speak more toward board and component development.

Hope you enjoy,

Mike