Mike – Philippe, would you mind introducing yourself to those who don't know much about you?
Philippe – Sure, my passion is music, but art in general is my interest – music, visual, or cinema, it doesn't matter. Years ago, I attended University of Montreal's film school. However, I didn't see myself going into that industry permanently. So after graduating, I got very serious about making music. I recorded and published a few albums, even went on tour. Eventually though, I went back to school for graphic design and got hired by Filosofia and been working in the board game industry since.
Mike – What special qualities do you bring to the team?
Philippe – I can draw, but I'm not a professional illustrator. I'm not a master like Chris (Lead Illustrator), but I understand composition and how to illustrate. I can help Chris with suggestions and feedback, but my biggest strength is that I am passionate about all types of art. I can blend all my influences and interests to help the team. Can I say that I'm very appreciative of Chris? He is so talented and we've got a great work relationship.
Mike – How do you begin the process of illustrating a game?
Philippe – It usually takes us a week or two of us of drawing concepts and bouncing ideas off each other before we move into a game – I mean, it takes a little time to know what the game feels like and what it should look like. There's some back and forth between us to get the big ideas down. However, when get the train moving - watch out!
Mike – How was the process for Azul?
Philippe – We had some conversations about how Azul would look. We thought it was going to be more illustrative – like showing artists at work – however, after consulting with Sophie (President), we decided that it was to be more design oriented work to emphasize the beauty of the tiles. My job was to keep the composition of the tiles as the focus of the project.
Mike – With your history as a graphic designer, was this easy then?
Philippe – Not exactly, the first few attempts Chris made were good. However, the cover and tiles were very authentic and felt like they were 200 – 300 years old. However, I wanted it to feel contemporary – he had used a lot of brown. While very pretty, it felt aged. We knew we wanted something different, so I advised him to make the colors brighter and feel modern - to have a contemporary take on a classic design art. It was also very important that we nailed the blue in the logo – to remind people of tiles they may have seen. When we got that, it really came together.
Mike – Talk to me about the components, is this something you worked on as well?
Philippe – Of course, I wanted thick pieces that felt good in the hand. I actually designed the game in 3D to send to our printers so they would get the idea of what we wanted. I choose the color palette and Chris worked on the tile's embellishments. I insisted that we had rounded edges because it just feels comfortable holding them. After getting some samples – I presented them to the team and everyone loved them. I also designed the insert for the box and am very happy with how it turned out.
Mike – How does Azul compare to the prototype?
Philippe – The prototype was fantastic! All the great game elements were there. Plus, it had really big wooden cubes. This gave me the idea to have chunky resin pieces as our tiles because of how it feels. The color palette is different on the prototype, but that's usually the case.
Mike – Some tiles have embellishments and others don't. Was this your decision? If so, why?
Philippe – Yes, otherwise the game would be too busy to look at. We wanted some tiles to be plain and others to have patterns. So people wouldn't get lost on the table. Also, we wanted the patterns not to be too busy. While working on the tiles with Chris - I was always telling him, "Less details Chris...more simple!" That became our running joke. However, the exception to this are the Joker Tiles – even then we printed them on translucent pieces to help balance that out.
Mike – What came first – the title of the game or the blue color palette? Did this influence your work?
Philippe – The title, it really gave us the direction we needed with design. We were able to find attractive shades of blue for the tiles, bag, and the cover. Ideas began gravitating towards the title, because once you got it, things come easier. Overall, I think it's pretty cohesive.
Mike – Any final thoughts?
Philippe – We're really proud of how this one turned out. It's a great game and we're so happy to have been able to illustrate it. This one was a solid team effort and we hope our fans love it as much as we do!
Azul releases at Essen 2017, however you can pre-order Azul from the Plan B web store. If you order before October 1st, you'll get the Joker Tiles promo for free!
Click Here to Pre-Order Azul!