Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Swords & Strongholds Game

Luke Crane & I are making a Mouse Guard board game! In the pages of Mouse Guard, the mice play "Swords & Strongholds", Luke and I have created a ruleset for the in-world game and just launched a Kickstarter to make the game a reality (while also offering some perk rewards for early adopters): CLICK HERE FOR THE KICKSTARTER

For today's blogpost, I'll be telling you a little about the game and running through the artwork I created for it.

The Game:
I'd made a model of the game (Swords, Diplomacy & Strongholds in the comics...but shortened to Swords & Strongholds for release) for my won needs to be able to draw it consistently and with the hopes of eventually making a ruleset for it. Well, Luke Crane (Burning Wheel, Mouse Guard RPG Torchbearer) and I sat down back in February and designed a playable game using my model prototype to playtest.

The game is played on a board with a grid. Mouse pawns reside on the grid intersections (mostly) and are moved in conjunction with cards: Swords, Diplomacy, and Strongholds. Each card allows the mouse you are moving an ability beyond it's normal movement. We came up with something that is a 2 player light strategy game that is pretty easy to learn and can scale in difficulty with the skill levels of the players. The Kickstarted set will will include a wooden board, eight plastic pawns, 30 cards in a sturdy tuck box or sleeve, and a rules sheet complete with example illustrations. The game will be contained in a cardboard two piece box with a full color wrap.

Box Cover Art: 
When creating the art for the 2014 Bookplate, I had this game on my mind. And I could think of no better art-image for the game, but I needed to create artwork that looked more like my traditional Mouse Guard artwork to adorn the box. Using my rough of the bookplate art, I mocked up a tighter pencil version and added some decoration to the corners. This photoshop composite of my pencil sketches was then printed at full scale (8.5" x 8.5") on copy paper.

I taped that copy paper printout of my roughs to the back of a sheet of Strathmore 300 series Bristol. On a lightbox, I can see the rough through the bristol surface to use as a guide to ink. Unlike the 2014 Bookplate that was made to look like embroidery, I needed this piece to have my usual style of inking with textures, abbreviated, weathered, and distressed lines and text. The Box will have title text on it beyond what is in the art, but I thought it important to show the balance of these 3 tenants by including the type.

After the inks were done, I scanned those and in Photoshop started the coloring process with flatting the colors in. This stage is all about filling in large areas with flat (un-rendereed) colors. The color choices don't need to be final, it's more about making each shape of the drawing a different color to make it easier to isolate when it's time to pick final colors and do any rendering. I also established the color holds, or areas where I want my ink work be be a color instead of black.

Here is another shot of the final cover art for the game box. The shading and highlights were all done with the dodge and burn tools in Photoshop while using a textured brush.

The inks for this piece are available as a reward tier in the Kickstarter.

The Cards:
I had drawn card art for my prototype many years ago when I first made it (2009?) but felt that this cool of a release of Swords and Strongholds needed updated artwork. I kept the designs mostly the same, but made some artistic choices to tighten details or change proportions of roofs or scrolls or hilts. Below you can see the inked card art (along with the back of each card) And the color renderings that will be used for production. The 4 inked pieces of cart art are available as reward tiers in the Kickstarter.

So please take a look at the Kickstarter for the project, and also take a look at the various reward tiers (including a deluxe hardwood set with pewter pawns and a felt lined box made by Israel Skelton!)

2014 Appearances:
San Diego Comic Con: July 23-27
Boston Comic Con: August 8-10
NY Comic Con: Oct. 9-12


CraftyAndy said...

just take all of my money.

Aaron said...

I just found your Raspberry Mouse print posted on April 2013 while I was looking for something good to put on my homebrew raspberry melomel label. I hope you don't mind if I use it. I really can't imagine anything more suitable. I'm giving away half this batch, so I won't neglect to give your work credit. Cheers.

Aaron said...

And I'm a long time comic lover, but this really snuck under my radar. I think my sister will be getting some Mouse Guard TPBs for her birthday next month.

Unknown said...

I need this. I wish i could find how to buy it!

DPetersen said...

Brodget: The Kickstarter for the Mouse Guard game: Swords & Strongholds has already completed (above our goal).

What that means is that we are in the middle of production of the game (final tweaks to files for the printer for box art & cards and sending the sculpted pawns off for molding) When the games are shipped to Luke after the manufacturing, the first priority is to fulfill all the people who helped us fund and backed the Kickstarter. But after that the game will be available to order through Luke Crane's website as well as through your local comic/gaming store (via Diamond & Alliance)


Unknown said...

Thank you so much, David! I can't wait!

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