Interview with an Illustrator - Chris Quilliams, Flick 'em Up! : Dead of Winter

In: Root On:
Illustrator Chris Quilliams sits down to discuss his role in bringing Flick 'em Up! Dead of Winter to life.
Interview with an Illustrator series - Flick 'em Up! : Dead of Winter

Chris Quilliams is a resident illustrator at Pretzel and Plan B Games.  Many fans will recognize his iconic illustrations for many popular titles, such as the 
Pandemic series, Flick 'em Up! series, and many others.  I sat down with him to discuss his role in illustrating Flick 'em Up! Dead of Winter.  
Mike - Tell fans a little about your history and how you got into illustrating board games?
Chris I started off wanting to be a comic book artist. I illustrated work in the comic industry off and on for a little while, but working 16- 18 hour shifts everyday were just to much for me.  Soon after I got the opportunity to work in the RPG industry. I worked on titles primarily for just one publisher, so it was nice is I wasn’t constantly chasing jobs and juggling assignments in that period. My entry into the table top game industry was through Zev Shlasinger, formerly of Z-Man Games. He had published a card game based on the Conan RPG and used some of my art from the publisher. He was impressed with the work and contacted me to do some illustrations based his card game Shadowfist. From there I worked on a few tabletop games with Zev. Thanks to that experience I started to get work from several different table top publishers and because of this eventually came into contact with Sophie Gravel who was the owner of Z-Man Games at the time, she is now CEO of Plan B Games.
Mike – Which eventually landed you here as a full-time illustrator with Pretzel and Plan B Games.  Speaking of which - Flick 'Em Up had a unique and evocative art style.  How did you come up with the distinct style for the original Flick?
Chris It took quit a while to come up with the style, Phil (my art director) and I started with dozens of body constructions. He and I worked on several different style concepts as well and eventually came up with what we have now. It had to have a fresh look and a strong appeal to children, as well as adults. I think if you take a look at the first Flick ‘em Up! game and what has been done for Flick ‘em Up! Dead of Winter, you can see how far the style has evolved.

Mike - When designing art for a dexterity game - were you thinking about the components?  What sort of limitations did that place on you? 
Chris Absolutely, everything within the game has to be constructed around a template that works with game play.
Mike – Can you give me an example?
Chris The game pieces were adjusted as the art evolved, basically we’d test the different elements with a flicking motion to make sure they worked well. Martin Bouchard was the lead developer and responsible for all the game testing - he would spend hours testing the prototypes! If something didn't feel right and there was an adjustment needed, I’d make it. The way the meeples were constructed was largely based on this testing. Its one of the reasons the characters look like they do. A very form/function approach.
Mike – That's sounds like a comprehensive process!  Was it challenging to take the darker themes of Dead of Winter and apply them in a much more family friendly setting of Flick 'em Up! Dead of Winter?
Chris Yes this was very tricky, the game had to be approached from the idea that a child could play it. The game Dead of Winter is very, very dark and has mature themes. So Phil and I needed to find the right balance in tone. The game needed a lightness to it so I wanted to add a bit of humor to some of the illustrations, as well as the exaggeration of the Flick ‘em Up! style. We had to keep in mind that this was still a Flick ‘em Up! game.  On the other hand, this is also a zombie game so the question came up of how much gore could be shown.  I found this was one of the most difficult balances to strike.  In the end, I am happy with the final product.
Mike - What was your favorite part of the project to work on? 
Chris -  Any of the storytelling illustrations - this probably goes back to my comic book days. I’m happy a few of these illustrations made it onto the cover. I have to say that re-interpreting the characters was a blast. I already had known many of the characters from being around the original Dead of Winter game a lot so the redesign was fun, especially Sparky!


Flick 'em Up! Dead of Winter is available at retailers soon, but braver survivors can order now at Pretzel Games web store...


Good luck and happy flicking!


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