Last year right about this time, my other lead artist, Mismuse, and I were frantically putting the finishing touches on a large set of intricate terrain pieces destined for 2011 GenCon. PG_apollosun here made a thread about the events over here last year. But as for the terrain used in that game specifically, and case anyone hasn't seen it yet, here's the project log for our Orgoth Ruins terrain set, a hugely intricate set that's not even fully finished yet!
(I may truncate some of the log to just the highlights so I don't have a hundred posts with 4 pics each. The full and unedited log is back at our own site.)
Like many of our sorted and twisted tales, this one begins with an E-mail from a fascinating person who has traveled the world.
We were contacted with a request to make a series of themed terrain pieces for our client's upcoming Warmachine tournament which he was organizing for GenCon 2011. This immediately piqued our curiosity, because we've been itching to work on something besides The Grim Darkness Of The Future for a long time, but since that's all we're asked to make, we haven't had a lot of opportunities to spread our wings and try different styles. (Also, GenCon! wheeee!)
Some commissioned projects are rather simple and pretty much go like this:
Them: MAEK ME TERRAINS!!!1
Us: Ok. Monies plz k thx bye.
And we then design something that we think looks awesome and send it off and everything’s great. But in this case we were dealing with the flavor rich world of Warmachine, and a specific plan for a full-blown campaign event with an actual narrative.
We had a crash-course learning about Khador, the Orgoth and the origin of the Iron Kingdoms.
The storyline for the campaign was that an ancient Orgoth artifact had been discovered in the jungle, and an excavation had begun by the Khador. But when a later expedition arrives, they find the camps deserted, tools dropped and scattered, and the sense that something evil had been released.
Terrain-wise, the original plan called for about five pieces, including the huge, main centerpiece, which would feature the uncovered artifact (which was left up to us to decide on and design) and the signs of an abandoned archeological dig. The other pieces were a shattered stone seal of some kind, like a giant medallion that had been broken from within, an archeological dig site, a Khador Encampment, and a ring of standing stones.
Also, all of these pieces were to have a jungle ruins theme.
Yeah, so at this point we were bouncing off the walls with excitement. Our client provided us with some pictures he took himself from his own travels around the world, as inspiration for the look and feel of the terrain. Here are a few.
We also dug up some of our own inspiration, looking towards jungle ruins of the far east. One of the primary features that Mismuse wanted to include were Boddhi trees, the giant tropical trees that form from vines and have extensive root systems that flow all over everything.
While we eventually had hundreds of pictures of photo reference, this particular picture of Angkor Wat turned out to be one of my favorites for designing the individual components of the ruins, but more on that later.
Before I could begin hacking my fingers to pieces and pulling all-nighters at the workbench, we needed to come up with a design. Mismuse and I had a series of lengthy discussions about things like “balancing composition against playability” and “Which of us is a bigger buttface.” But eventually we started sketching out some plans.