Illustrations on the border to board games – by Evgeny Viitman

Is a digital board game a board game? Where do you look for artists for your game? I find inspiration on behance.net among other places – and that was where I found Evgeny. I immediately fell in love with his strong expressive comic characters – and several of his works looked like digital games playing with analog references. I hope that he will be working on a board game project soon – his art rocks!

Hi Evgeny – where are you from?

Heyo! I was born in sunny Alma-ata in Kazakhstan which is right on the border with China, surrounded by beautiful Tyan Shan mountains. When I was a teenager my family moved to Siberia (still a big mystery for me, why), at the age of 23 I moved to Europe, to Prague, where I spent good 6 years of my life, then moved to Berlin, now me and my family are based in Barcelona.

Tell us a little about your artistic background and how did you end up working with art for games?

I am coming from a family of theatrical artists (my parents are scenographers and character designers working for theatre and also teaching painting, drawing and sculpting at the Art Academy, so I was exposed to art since I was born. Nevertheless, because of my teenage rebel feelings I wanted to become everything else but an artist, I chose to study physics, but life has directed me to follow the path of my parents and with time I switched to art anyway. My first experience as a game artist was in 2006 when I was working for Unigine.corp as a 3D artist/animator. Then it all started – I tasted the gamedev and dived under it’s muddy waters.

Have you ever worked on any board games or card games? 

Not yet, but would be happy to so. As a kid, my brother and I were inventing many games and we were using plasticine to create our worlds. Here you can see some stuff we were building.

Childhood creation

the ships were floating in water like real ones! The guns were really shooting, charged with sulfur from matches. The mechanics of fights were almost like in dnd games, we were using dice and every character from our crews had its own attributes such as life, defence and attack.

I normally approach artists that worked on board games – but your work seems to have an analog feel like ‘Abe’s Salon’ or ‘Wizards’ – even if they are digital.  What advantage to the experience do you think it has to give digital games an analog feel? Do you have other reflections on this territory between physical and digital?

This is my philosophy! I am always trying to think about how it would work in real world when I am designing something for games. The latest game I am really proud of is “Krumit’s Tale” which you can find on Steam in early access. There you can see the approach to the mechanics which would be different if developed by any big company. Being independent allowed us to do it the way we think it is more interesting. Check it out! There is a connection to the physical world, when the whole game is happening inside an actual box, which is held by a narrator.  

I understand that many of your games are currently for an online casino portal. Do you ever experience that your art inspires changes in a game setup?

Not for the gambling games tho. They look different and people notice that, but not the gamblers. As I know gamblers don’t really care about the graphics. The most valuable component for them is the math! Thats why I could experiment a lot with the visuals. 

For example our “Meteorfall: the journeys” is pretty innovative – it brought some new feeling to the card-games genre as it represents an actual card game when the player is embodied as a humanoid-bear. Everything happens in a tavern called “Meteorfall”, on a table, the bear plays cards and sometimes pushes away everything out of the table (the transition between scene is represented within the bear’s paw wiping everything out of a table, cleaning the screen and allowing new elements to appear).

Your style is so elaborate and detailed – can you reveal a few techniques from the steps you go through when making art from idea to print. (for example, if you sketch by hand, how you color etc)

I am trying to be relaxed and to have fun when I am drawing. When the fun is gone – the result is baaad baaad baaad. The drawings don’t look good at all and they shouldn’t. Yet while building a character, for example, I am always keeping in mind the real proportions and stylizing them, otherwise the magic is gone and the characters look broken. When it is a UI or a gamescreen mockup, I am trying to connect everything that happens behind the screen to a real physical world (how it would work in real life? what is this window? what is this button, where it is coming from etc.).  Subsequently I am trying to implement the features I would never do – cheesy, cliche, all of that. And it happens that this works for me – the thing I am creating makes me laugh – then I consider the thing ready to be delivered! 

the thing I am creating makes me laugh – then I consider the thing ready to be delivered! 

Evgeny Viitman

What are your preferred tools in (software/hardware/traditional) 

Paper/pencil, plasticine, Photoshop, 3DMax, Spine

Evgeny’s sketchbooks

What is best about your current workplace?

durable and comfortable armchair. 

It looks like you use spine 2d for making animations of your art. It looks awesome – can you tell us about your experience with that?

its like a 2D Maya! hahaha, I love spine. Even though it is lacking many things (a proper UV editor, for example), but it is flexible and pretty intuitive. 

What’s the best piece of advice on making art, you yourself have been given by someone or learned through your career?

Be yourself, don’t copy – collect, consume, refurbish, stylise, have fun!

Name up to 3 other artists you admire?

CG artists?

I respect them dudes:

Warwick Johnson Cadwell (@WarwickJC), 

– Max -Mexer- Fiedler – dude (@pigsell),

Joe Sparrow (@torpordust)

otherwise

Hieronymus Bosch

Francis Picabia

Amedeo Modigliani

Finally – where can people find more about you and what is your next project?

on twitter! I publish many things there. I love twitter 🙂 Some projects I publish on my behance page. 

Thank you for sharing Evgeny. I will keep an eye on your future projects.

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