About Illustrations and Art

Today we made an interview with Gabriella, our Head of Art and Gábor, our Illustrator.


How did your career develop from an artist to a fantasy gamebook app illustrator? What was your biggest non-games related project?

Gabriella, Head of Art of the Narborion Saga
Gabriella, Head of Art of the Narborion Saga

[GÁBOR] My earliest memories about myself is me drawing. I was drawing pictures all the time when I was a kid. I was infatuated with illustrations so I decided to study in this field. I went to an art high school to become a goldsmith, and later I choose the University of Fine Arts and majored in graphic design. It gave me a good basic in traditional and digital techniques.

I’ve been doing sci-fi and fantasy illustrations since 1995, I have more than a thousand illustrations published in magazines, newspapers, training materials and trading card games. I started this in parallel during my university years. I’m also working in animated movies as background painter, my greatest success was when I could work in George Lucas’s Red Tails as digital matte painter.

[GABRIELLA] My main area is corporate design, web design and I also do wedding design. I work for SMEs and large enterprises as well. So how I got into Narborion? My friend Dan asked me to. I enjoyed this work enormously, especially figuring out the general visual atmosphere of the game. It was a completely new area for me, I just loved to submerge into the world of old scrolls, monsters and blood…

Is your work approach traditional pen and paper or mostly digital? What are the main steps creating Narborion Saga art?

[GÁBOR] Digital techniques ease our life tremendously, but I often use pen and paper as well. When I’m traveling home to visit my family, for example, I use pen and paper on the train.

With Narborion Saga, I’ve been using both techniques, but mainly digital. Sketches were made on computer as well and it was hard work to make it look like a hand-drawn facture with spatters. I have a large library and I re-used some old factures for these drawings. I tried to preserve the dynamism of hand-drawings on the illustrations to create the desired effect.

Self-portrait of Gábor, Illustrator of the Narborion Saga
Self-portrait of Gábor, Illustrator of the Narborion Saga

[GABRIELLA] I’m a digital girl, using only software to create the layout plans of Narborion Saga. The backpack, character sheet, spellbook and other pages of the book have been created on my laptop as well. I did lots of research before starting this project, looking at old folios, tabletop role-playing handbooks and medieval artwork to receive inspiration.

Where do you get inspiration for the artwork?

[GÁBOR] I regularly check “CG society” which is always like a visual shock to me, overwhelming my senses completely. 9 years of education in art mixed with being an avid comic book fan had a great influence on me.

[GABRIELLA] Before I started the work we had lengthy discussions with Tom and Dan about the visual atmosphere of Narborion Saga. I just listened and listened, taking pages of notes, references… Then I sat down with Gábor and discussed all of these to figure out the style and mood of the illustrations: the sepia – golden – brown combination with that reddish claret color. Gábor used my initial design drafts as starting points for the illustration.

Which Narborion Saga character was the biggest challenge for you to draw?

[GÁBOR] I honestly cannot remember! J When I start drawing, I instantly lose my conscious self and I get into this flow state… I start working, time is passing and I suddenly realize it’s midnight.

Do you usually work alone or are there people around who influence your work during the creative process?

[GÁBOR] Nowadays I’m working as a freelancer but this particular work had been an iterative process. We discussed the style at the beginning but it has evolved a lot during the work itself. I had complete freedom in figuring everything out, which was great. You don’t find a team like this often.

[GABRIELLA] Tom and Dan had been my greatest inspiration. Once I put a bit too much blood on a particular design and Tom started to look oddly at me. J It was a very fluent cooperation with the team. I loved it! I hope there will be many more books so we can work on this for years!

About the new SagaScribe Engine

Joseph, Head Developer of the Narborion Saga

As a first Developer Diary entry, here is a short Q&A with Joseph, our had developer and Dan, our editor-in-chief.

What was the main idea or inspiration behind the SagaScribe engine?

(DAN) With the first book we did a huge leap of faith, placing our money on what we knew about tabletop roleplayers. It seems that it was a good first try, but we did not make everything right. We received tons of user feedback in form of emails, appstore comments, Facebook posts and so on! It was amazing, even the bad ones. Especially the bad ones. So we sat down and did a huge brainstorming to figure out what to do. We decided to create the best gamebook engine of all times, taking tabletop roleplaying as close to the mobile/tablet era as possible. We’ll continue this road until we figure out a way to make the perfect gamebook engine.

Does SagaScribe give you more flexibility as a developer?

(JOSEPH) Enormously! We changed most of the legacy part of the code, completely re-writing and re-inventing things. Naturally, the most exciting thing to do was the new battle system. I hope you will like it! It resembles tabletop RPG fights with the movements of the figurines, initiative rolls, spells, weapons and action points.

How do you see SagaScribe changing or supporting the gamebook genre?

(DAN) I think gamebook is an interesting genre. I strongly believe that gamebook apps are not competing each other but strengthening the gamebook genre in general. Just like with books: you don’t read George Martin OR Tolkien. You don’t make a selection. You only decide in which order you’re going to read them. The same applies to gamebooks. So a gamebook of good quality, good story and good gameplay will make players download and play other gamebooks.

Gamebooks have a seen a revival of sorts on tablet, do you think SagaScribe is a technology consumers have come to expect for this type of product?

Dan, Editor-in-Chief of the Narborion Saga
Dan, Editor-in-Chief of the Narborion Saga

(DAN) I certainly hope so! We hope to make something users will enjoy and play a lot. We’ll introduce new game elements, like the Arena for the battle addicts, character evolution during books, item creation and trade, learning new spells and so on. The vision is to have a tabletop roleplaying experience on a tablet. Gamebooks have been substitute products to me: when we couldn’t play our regular AD&D session, I played a gamebook.

Book 2 of The Narborion Saga is engaging the crossover of table top gamers into an RPG gamebook, do you think this audience is as engaged on tablet as it is with traditional forms of gaming?

(JOSEPH) I think so! We ourselves are in our mid-30s, with family, jobs, kids – we do not have time to play tabletop RPGs as often as we’d want to. We all have smartphones, tablets, so whenever we have 30 minutes, we’d like to do some time-traveling. Naturally, we want to use everything what technology can offer. This mixture is an ideal crossover. We are addressing the younger generation as well: we encourage them to read, play creativity games and experience tabletop roleplaying with gamebooks. They all have smart devices, so why not try this genre as well?

We’ll continue to post regular interviews here, the next one is going to be with the designer/illustrator team early next week. Shorter posts about the evolution of the software will happen more often, hopefully. Check out our Facebook page as well, http://facebook.com/narborion .


Narrative, story-driven RPGs