Zoom in on Sophie Wainwright

Just before Essen, I was contacted by a Núria Casellas, from Cucafera Games. She was curious if I would take a look at their newest game ‘Zoom In Barcelona’. If you attended SPIEL19 you might have seen the game. I am always happy when designers or artists contact me about their project so I Zoomed in on the game. It is with great joy that I share this interview with the English artist – based in Barcelona: Sophie Wainwright.

Tell us a little about your artistic background? 

Without sounding like too much of a cliche, I’ve always been interested in art. I was drawing at a young age and it’s something my parents have always encouraged. 

As a teenager, I used to play online games and would sell illustrations of players’ avatars to make gold etc.

When I was studying we were really encouraged to use traditional tools – pencil, ink, paint etc. I like to think I’ve kept some of that in my digital artwork.

I assume because you currently live in Barcelona that this is how you got the ‘gig’? 

Yup, that’s it! I sell illustrations and postcards in some shops around the city. Nuria and Craig saw my work in one of the shops and got in contact! This is the first board game I’ve ever worked on, but I would love to be involved in more. Not only has it been a great project but it’s introduced me to the world of board games! I’m addicted.

Zoom In on Barcelona board game

What do you think is important in illustration briefs – and do you find that brief for game illustrations require something different?

I think the most important thing is – The general idea/vision, what the illustration is going to be for, dimensions, colour palette and any of my previous work that the client particularly liked. 

The brief for the Zoom game illustration wasn’t any different really. I can’t say if that will always be true as it’s my first game commission.

Did you and Núria Casellas or the other designers test how the illustrations should be – in composition, color etc. ?

From the beginning they knew they wanted a square format. They sent me the dimensions and then I worked to double that size in photoshop. They were really open about the colour palette and they already had some great ideas of what they wanted.

I couldn’t have asked for a nicer team to work with really. They were really supportive without being pushy. 

I couldn’t have asked for a nicer team to work with really. They were really supportive without being pushy. 

I was given a list of the places needed for the game. At first, I visited the sites and tried to do some little sketches, but in the end the deadlines were too tight for this and we worked from reference photos.

You made a lot of illustrations – take us through the steps in your process when making a piece of art for the game – idea to final print?

Yeah, there is quite a few! It was a lot of work, I went to bed and dreamt about Barcelona monuments and buildings.

I always start with a pencil sketch, this helps me decide the composition etc. Everything is then ok’d by the client before I develop it further. Then I paint as much as I can by hand and I scan both this and the small sketch into photoshop. I redraw the illustration and colour it on the computer. I then add in as much of the hand-drawn stuff as I can, keeping the texture. If possible I like to print it out and look at it from a different perspective/irl.

What are your favored tools; Software and traditional?

Mechanical pencils, definitely! I like the tester paint pots you get in DIY stores, the colours can be really nice and it dries very quickly. I nearly always start with a pencil sketch which I then scan into the computer. Then photoshop and the intuos pro tablet.

Sophies workspace
Sophies workspace

Describe your current workplace?

I’ve just moved home! I now have a really nice desk and working space that I’m really happy with. There are also lots of nice coworking offices and cafes in the city. When I’m feeling uninspired or having a bad day, I try and change environments.

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

Keep drawing! Take a sketchbook with you everywhere and just keep at it. It’s such a nice thing to have as well, better than a diary in my opinion.

Keep drawing! Take a sketchbook with you everywhere and just keep at it. It’s such a nice thing to have as well, better than a diary in my opinion.

Also.. a limited colour palette works well for me. I feel like minimising the colours in a picture make it look a lot more polished and finished.

Name up to 3 artists you admire?

Only 3! Uff, that’s difficult.. Mark Hearld, his work is amazing and someone I’ve admired for a long time. The texture and colours he uses in his work are beautiful.

Alice & Martin Provensen, a husband & wife team who illustrated children’s books. My tutor at uni showed me ‘Myths & Legends’ and it was a game changer, I’m still obsessed with that book.

and.. there are too many graphic novel artists to mention that I love!

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

I’m most active on instagram@wainwrightillustration. My website sophiewainwright.co.uk.
My next project is a series of floral illustrations for a company in Barcelona! Really excited about that one.

I’d also like to try and do some little narrative graphic novel style illustrations too, just for myself really.

Thank you Sophie! We look forward to see more from you and from Cucafera Games

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