The Evolution of the Art of End of the Line
Hey Fight Fans!
Melonie here to talk a little bit about the graphic design for End of the Line.
When I first started designing with Seppy, about a year ago, this is what the artwork looked like:
Lots of great hand drawings, mixed with clean, crisp silhouettes. The line boards really capture that dark, desolate, post-apocalyptic feeling. You instantly can see that being last in line is not where you want to be (unless you’re the type that hides in the shadows, then it’s very welcoming to you).
The dark and desolate-ness was one of the big things that Seppy wanted to change. He had told me that the game is dark, but humorous, and the art being dark as well makes it depressing (probably not his exact words, but that was the gist). He wanted people to leave the game having had a fun time, even if their entire family died, not check themselves immediately into counseling.
Seppy had a Pinterest board ready, with all sorts of inspiration to give me ideas of what he was going for. Big surprise, the theme was, “Cold War.” He also made me sit though multiple “Duck and Cover” videos on YouTube. (He really loves that cartoon turtle.) To make Cold War seem friendly, we were going to mix in a little Donna Reed. Light, faded colors and lots of cheesy smiles could make Cold War seem nice, right? This was my first batch of card attempts:
(The “Bears, Raccoons, Vampires, Lincoln” is not my artwork. It was my inspiration for the color theme, and something I just threw in there for lack of artwork ideas at that point in time.)
After that, we moved on to the logo. I love the grenade that was on the previous logo (see first photo above). But the text was a bit plain and could use some excitement. Here are some of the early logo ideas:
Don’t judge me. These were just ideas that were thrown on the page. Some were original and some were altered from things that other people have done. And yes, I am aware that I SUCK at drawing people. Seppy can tell you the story of all my creepy people that I made him look at week after week. He did a good job of not openly cringing.
I loved the logos at the top in brown and blue, so I moved on to create a card idea to try to push Seppy towards that:
But it didn’t work. I had taken his dark, post-apocalypse and made it too light and sunny. For the next round of ideas, he scratched all color, and we moved forward trying to create a completely black and white game. I was also told to tap into my dark side...which was confusing...I don’t have a dark side. Ask my brother. He requested plenty of drawings of skulls and bloody things when we were younger, only to be disappointed that they all seemed to be so happy and friendly.
These iterations made Seppy happy, but he still wanted something darker. So he kept pushing, and the double-headed rat burger and human faucet were born:
OK, so it’s a little dark, but the rats are still kind of cute, right? Seppy tells me I’m really dark for coming up with this, but his original art had rats on skewers, so I think making a burger is not such a leap. And since we are American, of course we had to super-size it and put two rats in. Apocalypse or not, a single rat just will not do!
I think the human faucet actually came to me from playing “You Don’t Know Jack.” Or maybe the “Sims?” On one of those games, an ad always came up with a guy with a faucet handle in the back of his head. So I just thought about how, if it were an apocalypse, and someone needed to drink, they could rip off someone’s head, put a faucet on back of their head, and use them for water. Kind of MacGyver-ish really. (Don’t ask about logistics...)
From here, we ended up with a card design that we liked and planned on using:
Now we just had to come up with the design for the icons:
And art for the front of the cards:
The original ideas on the cards was that a card icon would go up at the top left-corner and individual artwork would go on each card. The icons would be crisp and logo-esque, while the artwork would be sketchy. Since the sketchy drawings and icons weren’t really meshing well with each other, we scratched that and went full icon.
After that, Seppy was interested in adding color back in, so we slowly added a few colors at a time, until we got to the artwork we have today:
So what about the font? Where did that come from? When I was brainstorming and trying to come up with ideas, I thought about what would be available in a post-apocalyptic world. I figured that computers would be out, so people would likely write most things by hand. But an entire game created in hand writing seemed difficult to read. So I thought that maybe people would break into museums and steal old-timey typewriters. (I think the old ones didn’t require electricity...For the sake of not ruining my dream, I have not researched that. We can all steal typewriters in my post-apocalypse, and they will work without electricity.) The font Courier immediately came to mind, but after working for years in the printing industry, it made it difficult to want to pick that font. (If you send a file to a platemaker, and the font is missing, it would default to Courier to make you aware that there was a problem. I used Courier in a few of my designs at work, and almost everyone in the shop came to double-check with me that the font wasn’t missing!) So the font I ended up picking was American Typewriter. It’s similar to Courier, but classier, and it has bold and condensed versions, which also helped so I could use only one font, but differentiate it from blocks of text.
Designing for a board game was more challenging for me than what I thought it would be. I am used to designing business cards, letterhead, brochures, and things like that. This was more involved, and there was so much stuff to think about. How will this all fit in the box? Can you add an expansion in the future and make it match? What about meeples? What about resources? A first player token? So much stuff!
I also had a really hard time when Seppy scratched my first Donna Reed-esque designs. Being a designer in the print industry, and I have started to see myself as a “Designer on Demand.” Nobody wants to pay for my ideas, but they do want many ideas to choose from. So I am usually given a half an hour to an hour to crank out a lot of ideas. From there, clients will choose one, Frankenstein the design up by asking me to combine design 1, 2, and 3, or give me the idea they created in Word that they really wanted, but for some reason didn’t give me originally. Trashing everything and starting over was really foreign to me. And actually taking time and tweaking things multiple times was a little unsettling at first (I’ve worked in print for far too long...), but looking back, I think this is some of the best work that I’ve created. And even though I was out of my comfort zone, sometimes frustrated, sometimes sad at losing a design I was in love with, it was overall a great experience. And it couldn’t have been all that bad for Seppy, since he offered me partnership in the company!
And that’s how I found $10...and a stick of gum...on the ground. Is that bad to eat?...