If there is such thing as an famous board game artist it must be Vincent Dutrait – master of board game art. The sheer number of successful titles, using his handcrafted images, make him very hard to overlook. Famous people have fans – and we at GHG are definitely fans of Vincent. That is why we hope you will enjoy his answers to our questions for him as much as we did. Vincent is from France but lives and work out of Korea. Let’s get rolling with,
Vincent Dutrait – master of board game art
Why did you when you were young, want to study at Émile Cohl and become an illustrator?
I’ve always loved drawing. After a period of US Comics, I got interested in roleplaying games. At first, I was fascinated by the illustrations. After that, as I grew more excited by the alternate worlds. The art made me dream, and I had one wish – to do the same thing with my own art. So, I studied the illustration and computer graphics art at the Ecole Emile Cohl ArtSchool in Lyon (graduated in 1997).
How did you get into board and card game design and do you only do the illustration part or are you sometimes working on the user interface like frames and borders etc. (like the Rising 5 board)?
Some commissions are simply a summarized list of images to create, without any consultation from me. It is often frustrating and not all that constructive. I greatly prefer to share, discuss and participate in the development of the game. And now, I usually do ALL graphics, box, board, icons, illustrations, texts, etc.
I always ask to work very closely with the publisher, and I can bring ideas to the game for everything visual, making it make sense, thinking about what colors work, the best image framing for components, et cetera. This is when I get to really be an illustrator, and not confined just to ‘draw.’
The list of great games you worked on is long – I can mention Tikal II, Tschak (which In my opinion has some of the best illustrated cards in the world of games because of the dynamic compositions ), Lewis&Clark, Longhorn, Augustus, New York, Rising 5, Time Stories and Broom Service. Many of them was news at Essen last year so you must be a busy man. Have you worked on any Korean games since you now live in South Korea? and what is, the master of board game art, working on at the moment?
Yes I’m really busy… Working hard and I usually handle several projects (up to 15!) but not all at the same time, for short or long term. In South Korea, I illustrated Sherlock 13 (designed by Hope S. Hwang for BoardM factory) a really good and pure deduction game and Rising 5 (designed by Gary Kim from Mandoo Games), an impressive cooperative and deduction game ! Now I’m working on Medici The Card Game precisely and other projects but it’s too soon -or secret- to talk about 😉
From what I researched you work mostly with traditional mediums and scan your artwork to apply the last color corrections. I am so curious to hear if you have done that on all you game artwork or if you also sometimes work purely digital with for example a Wacom pen?
When making the last color corrections, there is always some details about color balance, contrasts, but it is also about the final adjustments preparing the files for printing. And I never work on digital, all with traditional mediums. This is a kind of “trademark” for my works, so I don’t want and I don’t need to work on another way.
And I never work on digital, all with traditional mediums. This is a kind of “trademark” for my works, so I don’t want and I don’t need to work on another way.
What do you think is a good game artwork and what can it do for the game. Should it aim for a lot of details or not?
The illustrations must increase the game feeling, the mechanics. The illustrations are not used only to « look pretty ». Illustrations must have an efficient role in the game. High details or not is not the most important, illustrator have to give a meaning to his artworks.
Which tools and paints do you use most in your artwork – Acrylics, gouache, aquarell, color pencils, felt pens or others?
Brushes and acrylic paints for the most part and using inks, color pencils and felts for the amendments and small adjustments.
How do you think a perfect brief on a job should be?
I first talk with the publisher to find the better way to illustrate his project, to find the most appropriate style. So, it’s possible to get really short brief or high detailed brief. It is very important to pick the right tone, and it must be set well in advance. The editor and designer should always define a clear direction.
It is very important to pick the right tone, and it must be set well in advance
Can you short describe your workflow – from you initial thought to the end. Do you research a lot, how many reference images do you find or do you jump right at it?
Documentations and references are so important, I research and use a lot. And I think a lot. I never do many rough sketches or doodles. I prefer to show only one main idea and then we talk. Sometimes thinking and preparing my illustrations is maybe more than 2/3 of the work!
Technically what size and format do you deliver your work in?
According to the size of the final support (card, board, box lid, etc.) I work between up + 200~300%. So the physical size of a board to paint could be really huge!
It seems like you rarely ink you art – but just use a hard pencil and then paint on top of a copy. Do you ink some lines again on top of the paint?
I never ink. I draw my sketches with blue pencils on scrap paper. Then I scan them to convert them to black & white lines. And I print my adjusted sketches on good and heavy paper ready to paint. But while painting, I redraw some lines with pencils.
For those who are interested you have an “old” tutorial on this – here. How do you keep a consistent color schemes over many images?
Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe it’s just “feeling”, my universe and personality and a “signature”? 😉
Name 1 to 3 artist you yourself admire?
C. Wyeth, Yoshida Hiroshi and Jean Paul Colbus.
Finally – is there any place of inspiration, creative tutorials, or other resources you can advocate to aspiring artists? or personal projects you want to advertise.
There are so many on Internet… I spend a lot of time researching informations, images, videos. I really enjoy the videos on https://www.thegnomonworkshop.com/ (about traditional mediums), James Gurney did really instructive videos too (https://gumroad.com/gurneyjourney#), I find a lot of technical inspirations here https://creativemarket.com/ and here http://market.envato.com/
And I wrote lot of articles about artbooks, videos on my blog, it’s in French but easy to find links and images http://www.vincentdutrait.com/blogv2/category/culture/
Thank you Vincent for sharing your process and experiences with us all. We truly hope that more board game art will be as captivating as yours – and that we will see more illustrations from you, on future games.
U WANT MORE?
We asked Vincent a couple of extra questions that engaged readers can read the answers to here.
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