Hello everybody! Today I’m excited to talk about our new StarCityGames.com State Championships program, specifically the Spring playmat. I know many people like to see how the sausage is made, and this is my chance to pull back the curtain on this very fun creative process.
Before we move on to the fun stuff, get yourself to the StarCityGames.com State Championships minisite and find your store. Spring States will take place on May 17-18 and is the first event of its kind to offer preregistration rewards. Yep, you get a free dice bag and six-sided die just by going to your local States organizer and signing up!
But today is really about a cyclops.
You see, one of the best parts of my job is that I get to art direct all of the playmats and products we produce at StarCityGames.com, like Invitational Qualifier playmats, the Open Trial playmats, and the Creature Collection. These are all incredibly fun and challenging in their own ways, as there is nothing quite as enjoyable as coming up with a fun idea and watching a talented artist bring it to life.
For the StarCityGames.com Spring State Championships, I wanted to create something really unique. I feel that if I am in a position to literally create whatever I want, I should use it to create something new and different. As I was browsing deviantART fantasy art for ideas, I saw some cyclops. It got me thinking how freaking cool it would be to own a cyclops. They’re ferocious beasts and would fight for you, right?
That led to this art description:
I was thinking of showing a badass warrior—Spartan-esque, etc. Decked out, the baddest of the bad warrior.
But it’s not just him. In his hand is a chain that leads to a monstrous hulking cyclops whose huge iron collar is connected to said chain, implying the warrior essentially has the cyclops as his pet/defender. The monster is injured a bit, but nothing too serious.
In the background you can make out a fighting pit where another cyclops is dead and its blood soaks the ground; his warrior owner kneels next to it on the ground mourning his loss.
Yes—this is cyclops cockfighting.
With another silly idea from my head, we were off with our first sketches from talented artist Kristen Plescow, who asked exactly what kind of cyclops we wanted.
Artist Notes: “Not sure if we want to try to subvert tropes (having a giant, but one eye is missing from battle), go for the bulky/fat type, etc.”
Evan Feedback: “These should be hulking muscular giants; These are trained cyclops (actual cyclops, not missing one eye). The best way to explain my vision is that they are “monstrous bodybuilders.”
I dig the idea of elephant skulls, but more like trophies the monster has, not so much a mask. We should see its face.
I like this face:”
Up next came some composition thumbnails—these give us a sense of what direction we’re looking, what’s in the frame or not, etc.
After review I felt #5 really gave us terrific energy, but I wanted the warrior from #6 and to move the camera/viewpoint back a bit. Here’s what she came back with:
Now that we had our final composition, much of my work was done. However, we soon came to another turning point:
The questions were chains or ropes and whether there should be scars on the beast or not. I snap answered chains and scars please along with adding a helmet to the warrior—it’s easier to imagine yourself as that warrior when the face is behind a mask.
After the art itself comes the coloring. Here were our options:
I disliked the top left since I felt it looked too much like spray-on tan, and the rest weren’t as rich as the bottom right option, which I chose.
That led us to the final piece that you can get on Top 8 playmats:
And here is the special version only for the State Champion!
We loved the artwork so much in black and white that we felt it would be a disservice if we didn’t have a playmat that featured it!
There you have it: one crazy idea turned into one sweet playmat. Now I just have to come up with something else for the StarCityGames.com Autumn State Championships . . . join me then!