Lorinda Tomko: Art in Board Games #6
This week we have Lorinda Tomko, an artist who worked on Kingdom Death with Adam Poots Games.
Hello Lorinda, thanks for taking the time to speak to us. Firstly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi Ross. I grew up loving art and illustration, and have been doing freelance work for just over 10 years. I went to JMU for a degree in Studio Art, and I’m now living in the Pacific Northwest with my husband Dan and our pet rat Brie. I’ve dabbled in a lot of different art projects, but my first love will always be game art and illustration.
Now we know a little more about you, I have to ask, as a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
I first realized I loved art in middle school. As a kid I was always doodling on everything; my desk, restaurant place mats. I even got into trouble for it at times. I also loved reading horror stories. My parents were extremely supportive, I was very fortunate!
So how did you first get involved in making board games?
I think Kingdom Death was actually the first board game I was involved in making. Adam had posted a call for artists on a forum I used. I responded and have been contributing on and off, to the growing game world that is Kingdom Death, ever since. I love the dark concept behind KD:M, Adam has very creative ideas and the other artists are fabulous. Games can be a great project to work on. It’s a substantial amount of work so I don’t need to be constantly hunting down other projects, but it’s still a lot of fun, especially when the game has an interesting theme.
When you are working on the art of a board game can you give us a quick overview of your creative or thought process and has this changed at all since you first started?
Since I’ve taken up more graphic design work than I did at first, I’ve come to consider these aspects much more, like what will fit well in the space, and what needs to be immediately visible and legible. I don’t usually do a lot of sketching before settling on 1-2 ideas. I prefer to brainstorm while doing other things, then when I’m ready to get down to work I already have an idea I’m happy with.
You were involved in the creation of Kingdom Death, so could you tell us a little bit about what that involved and what were the biggest challenges you faced?
I’ve contributed a few different sorts of things to KD. First are small images for the item cards, which is fast and fun. I get a short description to work off of for most items, which is pretty flexible so I get to play with what I think will look creepy or interesting. I’ve done some illustrations also. With these I aim for an interesting composition, something that will be eye-catching in the rule book. Lastly are miniature designs. These are the most challenging but also what I’m most proud of. Adam is open to a lot of design ideas from the artists, but it’s a challenge to hit the right aesthetic and feel for the existing game universe, especially since I don’t always have access to all the lore or what the other artists are working on. It’s very satisfying when a design is approved and you get to see your drawn concept become a real sculpt.
With miniature concepts there are some special challenges I try to keep in mind. KD has done some amazing things with delicate sculpts, but there are limits on what can bear weight. If the sculpting is done traditionally, small piercings in the designs will be hard to capture and the end effect may look blocky. I’ve learned a lot since beginning, both on KD and other miniature games like Purgatory, what makes for a clear turnaround design that sculptors can use, as well as what looks dynamic at a small scale.
What was the inspiration or core idea that drove your work on Kingdom Death?
I love horror and surrealism. I think my art reflects that a lot - it’s much easier for me to draw grim and creepy than cute and shiny. The monster designs of KD run the gamut from grotesque to elegant, but I’m drawn toward the ones that are subtler and almost graceful. Nature is another big source of inspiration for me; nothing is creepier than some of the things that already exist here on Earth. I’ve based monsters on parasites, diseases, carnivorous plants and deep sea creatures - I like that the KD universe isn’t filled with the same old thing!
What are you currently reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
Right now I’m rereading the Dark Tower series, partly out of excitement that they’re making a movie.. I follow a few comics as well like Monstress and Kill Six Billion Demons, both of which I highly recommend. Junji Ito is my comic idol and I’m constantly rereading his works. As for music, right now I’m listening to a lot of RTJ and Shamir.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to work in the board game industry?
Two words.. Be professional! Very few games are made start to finish by one person. This means there are people trusting you to know your stuff, respond quickly and courteously, set or negotiate your own rates (at a price point that is worth your time!), and of course meet deadlines. I can’t even begin to list the projects I was brought in on simply by being dependable and keeping a fast turnaround. It’s a very competitive market and if you prove reliable, the word of mouth will be invaluable.
Do you have any current projects underway, or coming up that you’d like (or are able) to tell us about?
I’m finishing up some graphic design and a bit of illustration for two other minis games who successfully funded on Kickstarter: Mythos by Paranoid Miniatures, and Purgatory by Underestimated Games. Both are small indie companies and I’m very excited to see where they go! Mythos is a Lovecraft-inspired game set around the 1920s, and I got to incorporate a combination of deco and nouveau styles into the design. Purgatory is a comedy/epic apocalypse game set in the end times of Earth, battling angels, demons and humans against each other. There’s a great sense of humour in the character designs which I had fun with - I can’t wait to get my hands on the Soul Train faction.
Finally, if we’d like to see more of you and your work, where can we find you?
My own website is at www.lorindatomko.com. You can also follow me at www.ensoulart.tumblr.com, or find me on FB at www.facebook.com/ensoulart. Thanks for having me!
(Images supplied by Lorinda Tomko)