Chaotic process with stunning results – Interview with Xavier aka Naïade

I just love artwork in games. Maybe it is because those artworks rarely stand alone. Maybe its because they tell a story or maybe I just like how they are framed with icons and text. It is not art that should only be viewed or read – it must be captivating and follow the flow of play. I am not sure why I love game art in specific – but I am sure that one of my favourite board game artists must be Xavier from Nantes, France. Also goes by the name Naïade. Enjoy our interview with him.


Could you tell us a little about how you became an artist?:

I became an illustrator because I could do nothing else. My studies lead me to the design field but that’s not what I originally wanted to do, I would have preferred to have an job working outside. 


I did not finish my design studies,  and I tried to make comics. Finally I specialised in board games illustration. Today I love my job.

Today I love my job.


Some years ago I was big fan of the french online game DOFUS – your character style reminds me of it. Do you know that game?


yes I know this game, I love this universe.

I love the illustrations of “Xa” (Xavier Houssin the original illustrator).

I worked for this universe, I realized an illustration for collectible card games, and I have illustrated several coverage of Dofus and Wakfu magazine.

Cover for WAKFU Magazine


It seems like a lot of good artists are French – do you think there is a reason for this?


I think in France we are lucky, there is a great graphic culture, the arts are highly developed and promoted. We are close to Italy and Spain and in these countries the art is very important also. We are also very influenced by Japan and the United States. All this gives us a lot of inspiration.


The Big Book of Madness art looks fantastic. Have you worked with IELLO before? And are you the sole artist on the game (illustrations, layout, icons etc.) or did you work with others?


I worked on a game called Kabuki for them, and on the Big Book of Madness, I did all illustration while the design and layouting was conducted by Igor Polouchine


How are you usually briefed on a job?


Publishers contact me, show me their project. If I think I am able to achieve it, I give response to the request. Sometimes if I decline the theme of the game does not match my ability… I do not know everything!


What was your inspiration for the visual design of the games universe?


It’s very wide, I am inspired by everything. I love history and archeology, I love comic books, cartoons, movies and video games, I love the work of other illustrators. I am inspired by everything from reality as fiction.


Takara island by Ferti Games
Card Illustrations for “Takara island” by Ferti Games

What is your preferred software and hardware when painting?


I work on a Cintiq, connected to an iMac, and I use Photoshop and Painter.


Could you roughly describe your workflow on your game illustrations. From start to the final image.


I could not describe my method of work, it is never the same and it is still very chaotic. Drawing remains to be something very difficult for me.

I could not describe my method of work, it is never the same and it is still very chaotic.


Well you pieces doesn’t show. What do you think is important when creating art for board games?


I think it is important to have notions of ergonomics, so it’s better to be a player I think.

We must succeed to support the game, keep it fluid while creating dreams and moving the players.


Tokaido illustration step by step
Tokaido illustration step by step

How do you choose colours for your art and do you do it before or after the initial sketch?


I chose – somewhat random, according to the tastes of the moment. It’s like my method of work, it is chaotic !! Moreover, it seems that I am color blind.


Do you like to have many layers (working non-destructive) or few layers (work more intuitively)?


It depends on the time. Sometimes I multiply layers sometimes I only uses one. I think this choice will influence on the final rendering.


What art piece in The Big Book of Madness are you most satisfied/happy with?


I’m pretty happy with the cover artwork but mostly I am very satisfied with the card of the “dragon“.

Cover for the Big Book of Madness

Who is your own favourite artists out there?


Mathieu Leyssenne (jamaica)

Xavier Houssin (dofus)

Joe Madureira (darksiders, battle chasers)


it’s these people that make me dream.


Do you play board games yourself and do you have an favorite game?


yes I play a little.

my favourite games are Mice and Mystics, Quantum and the hare and the tortoise


Thank you for sharing your story with us.




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