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 😉
I got into making art for board games after I graduated university and discovered that animation wasn’t something for me. I really loved making paintings, which board games offer me the chance to do, whereas what I studied – 2D animation – requires lots and lots of sketching the same thing over and over. (And sketching is in fact my least favourite part of the process)
The first game I saw from you was Belle of the Ball by Daniel Solis. What games have you worked on?
How would you prefer to be briefed on a new assignment?
As much as possible! The trickiest bit about drawing anything for someone else is that you can’t see what they have in their heads. The more briefed I am and the more references they can give the better idea I have of what they’re thinking.
Can you tell us about the steps you go through making a piece of art from nothing to print – I assume you love for costume designs demands some research?
I usually go through three main stages when working. Sketch – colour rough – final rendering. In between these stages if I’m working with a client they are sent the work-in-progress to offer feedback and ask for changes. If the brief is pretty detailed then I find I tend to need less variations before we hit on the final design.
Yes, for costumes and characters I tend to have to spend quite a while with Google. I also have a booked all about clothes through the ages (WHat People Wore When) that has more than earned its keep.
Your style clearly reveals a foundation in your animation background. Selective lines with the strong and curvy character shapes ready for a turnaround. How do you think animation skills work for you or against you in your illustrational work.
This is a funny one. For board games I’ve found my style has gotten me a lot of work because it’s considered to be kid and family friendly but liked by adults who grew up with animated movies. In the illustration world though it can be a bit of a hindrance since like most things fashions come and go in children’s illustration and what can be ‘in’ one year isn’t in the next.
I paint the colours I do because I like them and they look good to me.
Your artworks literally explode in colors and capture my eyes with such a broad palette of colors. How do you work with colors – and what advice can you give on colors?
Hmm, I’m not really sure on this one. I paint the colours I do because I like them and they look good to me. What helps me a lot when thinking of pallets is to look at a lot of landscape photos from all sorts of different places at different times of day. I try to find the landscape that best matches the mood of what I’m painting, even if say I’m painting a jungle and the photo is of the northern lights. If the colour and atmosphere fit what I want then it’s useful.
What are your preferred tools (software/hardware/traditional) – tell us about your workplace?
I work primarily on a Wacom Cintiq 24’ in Photoshop CC but I occasionally switch to my old Intuos 4 when I fancy something different for my hand.
Now you have worked on game art for some years – what do you think make strong or good game art?
As an artist I tend to lean towards games with beautiful rendering and characters that have life in them, but as a player with actually terrible eyesight I prefer when games have simpler easy to read design.
If it’s not readable when tiny then it’s not working.
In case the above answer does not include this. What is most important to remember when making art and graphic design for games?
I’m not really sure about this one. Something I try to remember when doing card art is that this thing I’m viewing high resolution is actually only going to be printed a few inches tall. If it’s not readable when tiny then it’s not working.
What was your biggest challenge on Ex Libris?
I didn’t find there was a challenge on Ex Libris. It was one of my favorite games to work on with a great team behind it. Renegade Game Studio – you guys rock!
Is there any pitfalls new board game artisans should try to avoid ?
I;d say trying to do everything for everyone. When I first started I tried to be good at everything but I’ve found I’m happier and better focusing on what I enjoy – characters and animals. That’s not to say it isn’t good to give yourself a challenge now and then, but I prefer to do that in my own time.
You can’t be expected to know what everything in the world looks
What’s the best piece of advice on making art you yourself have been given?
Reference! Use lots of reference. You can’t be expected to know what everything in the world looks like and it saves a lot of time and frustration just to look it up rather than try to guess.
Name 3 artists/designers you admire?
For fellow board game artists it’s easy; Nolan Nasser, Beth Sobel and Vincent Dutrait. For designers: Daniel Solis, Adam P.Mclver and Scott Almes. But really there’s so many on both categories it’s probably best to see who I follow on Twitter
Is there one game you think is particularly beautiful (you did not make)?
What are your current and future projects?
I’m currently working on a game for Letiman Games and have recently wrapped up another for FoxMind Games. I also have another couple projects currently lined up and in progress that I can’t discuss just yet.
What is your dream project?
I think I Tweeted about this a few weeks ago – but someone has to make an Animals of Farthing Wood game. I would love that.
I will look forward to play that. Readers please join the irregular mail service of this blog 🙂 Until next artist, bye!