The absurdly magnificent works of Kwanchai Moriya

Take a look at Kwanchai Moriya’s portfolio and you will discover unparalleled works of an extremely talented and versatile artist. From the ‘Days of Ire’ cover to Flips Ships and Dinosaur Island we get significant images dripping with personality. I am so thrilled to bring an interview with  Kwanchai Moriya – the half-Thai and half-Japanese, born in Manhattan, grew up in Chicago, and currently living in Los Angeles, California.


Tell us a little about your artistic background and how you got into making art in general and for board games?


My mom enrolled me in a pastels class at my local park district when I was, maybe, 8 or 9. I did a pretty good job on a banana and an apple, and so began the journey!

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How Jacqui Davis use lots of reference for her stunning paintings!

When interviewing Daniel Solis earlier I noticed colorfull characters in the art of Belle of the Ball. The same artist also worked on, Ex Libris by Renegade Studios, a game that has been rewarded for its art. Her name is Jaquis Davis, located in north west England. I am a fan of her colorful and intriguing art and apparently she is not afraid to use lots of reference in her process.



Tell us a little about your artistic background and how you got into making art for board games?


My mom likes to tell the story that as a kid I told her off for drawing horses wrong so she made me do it. I’ve always been drawing – and of course my horses are always right 😉

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Designing for game competitions

For the last couple of years I have participated in several design contests driven and curated by the community. The most recent one being the Hookbox challenge by The Game Crafter. I haven’t used TGC before – but the title of the contest just pulled me in. Again and again I wish I had done things differently and better and that is why I want to share a few thoughts on how to get the best out of board game competitions.

Understanding the premise

A contest is by definition a competition where there is one or more winners and entrants are rated by judges.  This is some contest you might come across:

  • Contests that is community driven: This is like on Boardgamegeek forums or Bgdf. You will have a lot more openness and interaction during development. You and the other participants are the judges.
  • Contests facilitated by publishers with an intention of publication.  This can be a publisher looking for a new way to play an existing game or need another game of a specific type.

If you want a game published you might be using your time better that entering design contest  – but if you want to improve your design skills and challenge your passion it is a great way to interact with the community. Some games get picked up by publishers like the games of Todd Sanders.

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Emil Larsen – Working with illustrators from a designers perspective

Hi guys, I’m Emil Larsen a board game designer from Denmark. I’ve been Kickstarting, designing and publishing games for the last 4-5 years while working as an Officer in the Danish Army.

Niklas reached out to me because he wanted to hear how it is to work with illustrators from a designer’s perspective. Now I want this article to be something both a designer and illustrator can use when approaching or dealing with a project like a board game, hopefully bridging the gap between the two perspectives. So here’s my take on it 🙂

I’ve been working with illustrators, layouters, artists etc. during most of my entrepreneur career, now stretching almost 11 years. My recent card game Burning Rome is probably the most fluent experience I’ve had in terms of creative projects, interaction and involvement of freelancers. This is especially true when taking into account that 8 illustrators have been involved in Burning Rome and its first Stand-alone expansion.

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Art matters – even in indie game contests

The Hookbox challenge semi finalists has been chosen, and I am thrilled that Downhill Daredevils is among them.

Now it is time to conclude my experiment. I looked at all games before voting in this last article. Even if it NOT fair to only rate a game by the cover – this is what I did, to see if there is a connection between visual appeal and votes in contests like this. I wonder if the order of appearance on the site reflects the number of votes? 


My favorites  Semi-finalists
 Gunplay  Yes
 Mission Control  Yes
 Mine, Mine, Mine  Yes
 Smuggles N’Snuggles  Yes
 Gluttony 18
 Duelling Dinos  Yes
 Empire of Swords
 Battle Stations
 Turris  Yes
  Do not open
 A kings Jest

 Looked good

 Doomsday Device
 Saloon Goons!
 The Coup
 Totem’s Call  Yes
 Fury Road
 Crazy cat laydy

 My Close-ups

Canyon Racers
Shields Up  Yes
Armour Up  Yes


Games I choose that looks good and could be printed in colour.

Since 20 of 129 entries was selected it is 15,5 % of all submission. If I selected 10 random of the 129 entries approximately 1 or 2 of them would be selected as semi finalists. Now there is 6 (60%). This to me indicates that the looks is a huge factor. This should off course be held up against how good all games where to play… because maybe the art is irrelevant and these games just was better in play.


Games that I think looked good but did not have a free PNP download

Only 1 of these was selected and this could indicate that the community don’t vote on thing they can’t test or see properly.


Among the semi-finalist there is a couple great looking games that I oversaw, like Reign.


The conclusion must be

When entering a board game contest – Hooking up with an artist friend is a good idea and remember to share your files with the community

Fine lines by AAAB Illustration

A week ago I posted the designer diary from Grizzly Games on their new card game “Home on Lagrange“. If you haven’t checked it out yet – go here. They talk about how they collaborated with the artist Adam on developing the fabulous universe of Lagrange. I am excited to share this interview with the artist from Leeds himself to shed light on the artistic process behind the images. Welcome, Adam tell us a little about yourself.

I graduated from the Leeds College of Art (now Leeds Arts University) illustration degree a couple of years ago. Midway through the degree I began to get jobs; little bits for museums and educational projects. This was exactly the kind of work I really wanted to do; I’ve always enjoyed diagrams and informative pictures.


After the degree I worked as the Student President, and a colleague happened to be married to Callum, one of the Grizzly chaps. It was in this context that Callum approached me to pitch his Lagrange idea; which was right up my street as I read figurative tonnes of science fiction material, as well as watching a whole bunch of TV and film.


Have you worked on other games?


Not on a professional basis; however when I was first discovering photoshop as a young sprog I made fake Yugioh cards to dupe friends (unsuccessfully); since then I’ve been looking for an excuse to work on a real game.


What do you like in a brief on a new assignment?


Specificity can be easiest; however there is plenty of fun to have with a client or collaborator open to some meandering experimentation (and indeed if there is the time for it).


Can you tell us about your creative process when making a piece of art for the game from start to finish?


Off the bat I had a few ideas which I bashed together in Photoshop, this was followed by the more traditional pen-to-paper scrawlings in my sketchbooks.



For reference I collected a lot of reference material pertaining to 1970s futuristic artworks, since that’s the sort of thing the Lagrange game was going for. This was followed by more sketching to figure out the format and content of cards. There was a lot of constructive back-and-forth with the Grizzly lads to get what they had in their heads manifested as drawings. Once I had solidified a few cards it became fun to push the limitations of the format.

In brief, the process was sketching, followed by line-art and colouration; with amendment phases sprinkled throughout.



What are your preferred tools (software/hardware/traditional) – tell us about your workplace?


When I sketch, it’s mostly with pencils and fineliners, but I predominantly use a Cintiq for finished artwork; which is a screen one draws directly on. I currently inhabit Duke Studios in Leeds; it has a lovely cafe-library atmosphere of productivity and the folk there are lovely.



The pictographic stylised look for Home on Laragne looks awesome. It reminds me of one of my favourite artist Chris Ware. The isometric look add some flavours of game and science. How did you find this style and what drives your work?


In a kind of blasphemous way, I had no idea about Chris Ware until a few years ago when I saw him at ELCAF in London, I think he is rather good. My primary reference has always been Hergé, the illustrator of Tintin; they were probably the first books I read independently as a child. The isometric angles I like to use comes from prolonged staring at Dorling Kindersley books.


What do you think make strong or good game art?


I reckon ‘glance-factor’ is the most important element to games. I find it similar to character design in animation or video games. If you can glance at a card or board and quickly understand what it represents, then its design has succeeded. Besides that any tone can work in the right context.


I reckon ‘glance-factor’ is the most important element to games


Have you learned anything from the process on Home of Larange?


I learned that I can get a lot of drawing done on a 10-hour flight. One just pops the wacom and laptop on the folding tray, and you’re all set. The Grizzlys have been a pleasure to work with throughout, and working with them to establish a sort of formula or visual language to the game improved the structure of my process.


What’s the best piece of advice on making art you yourself have been given?


One of my wonderful art teachers at school had a very simple mantra; ‘The more you do boy, the better you get’. It’s true.


Name up to 3 artists/designers you admire?



Andrew Rae

Sophia Foster-Dimino


Is there one game you think is particularly beautiful (you did not make)?


Machi Koro is the best looking game I’ve played. It’s nice to look a hand of cards that is stripped back and doesn’t have extraneous detail (although in some cases extraneous detail is a benefit).


What are your future projects?


I’m currently working on an unannounced book; so stay tuned!


Finally – is there any place for inspiration you want to advocate?


Anything has the potential to be inspiration; a nice rock in the woods or a background prop in Star Trek: The Next Generation. I would say the my primary source of imagery is from watching film and television. I am a particular fan of going to Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, it has a very pleasant atmosphere, and they frequently show cult, indie and classic film alongside regular programming.


Thank you Adam for sharing your story. I hope the project will rally the backers needed.  Should anyone want to see your portfolio it is to find here aaab-illustration


If any readers did not see the Grizzly diary it is here.

The 10 best looking FREE titles in the Hookbox Challenge

How big a role does good art play? I decided to select my 10 favourite best looking games from the 129 entries in the Game Crafters Hookbox challenge. Showcase them here to later see how many of them that advance to the semi-finals. Many designers did not put up a download PNP which I think will be going against them in the rating…or will it? To also investigate that I will select a few of the most visually interesting looking games and write in the end.


And off course like in life it is what is inside that matters most – but this is an art investigation. Sorry.


129 entries in the Hookbox challenge

Art is generally a problem if you are a solo designer with no art skills. Many designers will find good places of royalty free images they can use for the cards – and that is a great idea to do for your prototype.  In many cases I feel this unfortunately make the game impersonal and generic – but it  depends also of the graphic design. But how important is the looks of a game? It is safe to say that people will generally agree on good art but in the many cases also be very affected by taste in themes. This is a few reason you need to find someone to help with your art.


  • The theme and story of the game will be more saturated – making the game more immersive
  • If you got good art – you probably invested time in the game, making it more likely to be tested
  • The game will be more unique and memorable
  • The art can be explanatory, and help players to understand the game rules.
  • Maybe increase your chance on a vote in a competition like this – we will see?


You could have a very illustrative game with few graphic elements, visa versa or a combination. I consider myself as an versatile artist that is quite good at both but definitely not the best (The best artist out there you will find in the Interview section). Sine I like game designing I usually tend to do a more clean graphic style in the game art because it is quicker and more flexible to work with and it can be pretty & functional at the same time (like the classic Innovation) . Unfortunately this usually sticks with the game and it is hard to find time to redo the art. There are many of the games that got handdrawn or more of an amateurish style but this can actually be really cool and authentic. Just be sure to keep it consistant.

For my own game I payed for the community art review that you can get on TGC. I payed because I was sure to score high and I wanted the badge to be an eye-catcher on the shop page. I only scored 80+ which first surprised me but when I thought about it made good sense. I have no story telling and different artworks on my cards. They might be pretty but when you see 9 almost equal looking cards on a page with no real motif it is not better than 8or9 of 10.



Now let’s get to the top ten – there was a lot of close ones to get to the list like, DomiNations, Commons, Canyon Racers, Heist, DuelofTheDungounDesigners, Starfighters, Shilds Up, Armour Up, Inconceivable,

The top 10


Nr. 10a A King’s Jest




Even it this is not high quality final art – it really shout ‘indie game’.  And the work is detailed and consistent  – which make is vey appealing.


Nr. 10b Do not open




Absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Also a bit ‘naive’ – which I like.

Nr. 9 Turris – City of Giants




I do not know how much of this was painted for the game. It seem like a lot of collages with paint on top -BUT hey! it looks fantastic. And there are so much going on it really triggers your curiosity.  

Nr. 8 Battle Stations




I was in doubt with this game. I think it really captures a war atmosphere. The design is very nice – and I LOVE the water.

Nr. 7 Empire of Swords




The use of glow, colors, hard lines and grunge brush strokes creates a very strong and appealing visual style.

Nr. 6 Dueling Dinos




This leans to how I would normally approach a competition. It works graphically and got some cute looking Dino’s. I like!.

Nr. 5 Gluttony 18




This oooze of fun and gameplay. I get digital associations especially to “The Fat Princess!” on my Playstation. 

Nr. 4 Smuggles n’ snuggles




This is really fantastic character design and linework. It lacks a bit in the graphic design and colouring IMHO. 

Nr. 3 Mine, Mine, Mine

Art by: Moy Shin Hung




Strong illustration. No outlines and in your face coloring. It really pulls you in.

Nr. 2 Mission Control




Spectacular style. Even if it might be a collage of images that has been given an series of effects it is consistent and very cool looking.

Nr. 1 Gunplay

Art by: Pha Chau – theArtManor




Wonderful images. A harmonious color pallette. Nice type and elegant layout. Clean and cool character design


And to the many games that looked really cool – but had no free PNP – sorry!. I will write som here to see how they do.

Doomsday Device

Saloon Goons!

The Coup

Totem’s Call

Fury Road

Crazy cat laydy

To all the winners – all 11, are free to use the Gold Hooked award badge.

By Niklas Hook



Grizzly Games – Home on Lagrange

It’s been just over a year now since myself (Jordan) and Callum, started working on our new card game, ‘Home on Lagrange’ and in that time we’ve learnt a lot.

Lets start at the beginning.

It’s October 2016, we’d both been recently working through the entire back catalogue of the 99% Invisible podcast. We had almost caught up when we listened to this; and it clicked, there’s a game in there somewhere. Who doesn’t want to live in space? Who doesn’t want to be aboard a grand space colony like those seen in Elysium and Interstellar? Probably lots of people, but surely some might fancy venturing into the deep chasm of space with us?

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Macedonian artist Mihajlo also known as The Mico

In a recent thread on Board Game Exposure on facebook Martyn Poole asked who everyones favourite artist was.  Someone wrote “and I have fallen in love with art by the Mico. His style was particularly one I used not to care for much but really enjoy it and will defer to a Mico art game over another if it’s a toss up between the two”. With almost 200.000 pageviews on his DeviantArt gallery – there is no doubt many people and players like the style of the artist known as The Mico (which is pronaunced The MiCHo not The Miko ). What I find fantastic – is the span between the style for Raiders of the North Sea and A Kings Life.  Let’s talk with Macedonian artist Mihajlo Dimitrievskiallsaw.



Tell us a little about your artistic background and how you got into making art for board games?


I have been drawing as long i can remember. When  I was little i used to draw on the margins of the books (like Sergio Aragones from MAD) and I guess that was my start. I actually started my “carrier” as an comic book artist drawing comics for magazines and school papers. From there I started to illustrate books and i started to work in major advertising company here in Macedonia as an illustrator and storyboard artist. Few years ago Shem wrote me about the game (Shipwrights of the North Sea) and I took the job.

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