7 questions for Arnaud Demaegd

Arnaud Demaegd
Arnaud Demaegd

Today, I am fortunate to have the answers to the 7 questions from an illustrator and what illustrator since it is Arnaud Demaegd. The names of the illustrators are sometimes, if not always, a little in the shade or poorly known, while it will be more difficult for a great game poorly illustrated to catch the public. Arnaud has a very large number of games under his belt and what games! Caylus, Sylla, and Yspahan, Myrmes (one of my favorite illustrations) to just named a few, the list is long but it is a prestigious list. Within Ystari Games, Arnaud worked with his brother Cyril and occasionally for other publishers.

Here are the 7 questions without waiting  for Arnaud Demaegd.

1 – How old were you when you played your first board game and what was it?

« The hard questions right away! Okay, I’m kidding, but it does not totally rejuvenates us. I have no memories of my early days in the game, except with regard to the role playing games. I started with l’Ultime épreuve, French RPG when I was nine years old, that is to say there thirty years ago… I was playing with my brother Cyril and his friends (including Neriac, which illustrates with me Ystari games). We then moved to Dungeons and DragonsCall of Cthulhu (probably the one I preferred), JRTM, and a host of diverse and varied games. Outside the realm of RPG, I have a lot of memories of games like Super Gang, Talisman, the Games from Workshop Games(Rogue Trooper, Kings and such things), and Civilization … not to mention Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, of course. « 

2 – Why and how did you decided to illustrate board games ?

 » Somehow , I never  » decided  » to illustrate board games. This was done alone. For my first game, a card game called Dragon’ Net, the author had contacted me . That was in 1996 , I think. For the rest , that is to say my career in Ystari Games, it is a bit unusual : when my brother Cyril Demaegd created his first game, Ys , he naturally turned to me for illustrations. We were amateurs at the time . I drew from my childhood and I turned to oil painting recently. The computer was new to me. We then followed with Caylus, who had the success that we know . In fact, I was not really prepared to illustrate games , especially since I played quite a few , lack of time. Over my 30 games and extensions, I happily ( and naturally ) progressed. « 

3 – What are your 3 favorite board games and why ?

« I’ll try to give some titles outside the RPG, even if it is the type of games I like (actually , nothing pleases me more than to create a character for  » tasting  » to a system and an universe !) . Do not see any chauvinism (because it is Ystari Games that reissues it) , but my favorite is probably Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective for its originality , its rules lightness, the feeling of freedom that comes out of the atmosphere. Otherwise , I’d say Talisman , first edition (not having played the last , recently released ) . I simply loved the game world , even if the dice played an important role . In party games , I would say without hesitation Panic block, from Roberto Fraga . I played the prototype at the Ludibreizh festival in Plouescat there a year ago, and it was a madness ! I love playing Cardline from Frederic Henri with my children. Overall , my list has to be very nostalgic , but I must say that I hardly have time to play . Produce personal works next to the illustrator work is extremely time consuming. « 

4 – For you what is the best combination to illustrate a game successfully?

« Ideally, a game illustration (unlike, for example, a book illustration) should be both beautiful and functional. I am perhaps not the best person to give the « formula for success » because within Ystari, I tend to do things as I feel, with a minimum of constraints, which is quite unconventional. But knowing anyway the editor constraints, I needed not to embarrass him by providing images that pose a problem for him. « 

5 – How do you proceed to illustrate a game?

« I work a little backwards (I think), because I like to start with the box cover. It allows me to get into the mood of the game, which is important since we change each time of period, universe or graphical approach. That’s what I did on Myrmes. If there are cards in the game, it is still less risky (in terms of time spent on a potentially failed illustration, since this is the first you do in this new world) to start with one of them, as I have done to Olympos and Sylla. After that, it’s not complicated: there are so many different elements in a game that once launched, it must move on. « 

6 – What advice would you give to someone wishing to illustrate a board game ?

 » As I said, the illustration of games must be functional and aesthetic . This last point is absolutely crucial : it means sacrificing an image or part of an image which we really like, if it is not functional in the context of the game. So the clarity prevails on the details. The image must often be made based on the placement of icons, for example . All this can be learned. But the most important tip is that you must absolutely respect the deadlines. Olympos , I made 25 cards « technology » in 15 days. It was essential to maintain the deadline after time spent on the board and the « Gods »cards . I did not ease the task trying to vary the maximum compositions , but I knew what I was doing because I have learned over games, to manage my time . On Prosperity Neriac and I are engaged in a race relay . There were 75 illustrations to produce in a month, and the box cover on top of that. Besides that, we had to find the graphic style of the game, which can be a long process in normaly , and that style would suit us both. I can not paint tlike Neriac and Neriac can not paint like Demaegd . This is normal. So it took us to find a « neutral » style which allowed us to pick up where the other left off. I spent a week on the cover while Neriac began to draw the first buildings , then I joined him . We were able to meet the deadline , even though we both work on another project on a side. It was tense , but he was out of the question for Ystari – and ourselves – to be late. This race against time can be frustrating , but it is also an exciting and important aspect of the art . « 

7 – Could you give us some information on your next project?

« Gladly! I should soon start work on the next extension of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, a campaign of three scenarios. not knowing yet the title, I can hardly tell you more, unfortunately. 😉  »

Arnaud thank you for taking the time to answer the 7 questions. If you want to know more about the work of Arnaud follow this link: http://www.arnauddemaegd.com/



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