Ravensburger’s Disney Lorcana brings the world of Disney to the arena of trading card games. Featuring characters and items you know and love from your favorite Disney animated films, Lorcana takes players to familiar places in a new style. The game’s story unfolds in a unique setting. It positions players as Illumineers who must bring together elements from the Great Illuminary to protect Lorcana. This includes glimmers, new versions of Disney characters that exist only in this world. Blending decades of Disney nostalgia in this different framework takes a deft hand. The Lorcana creative team, all fans of Disney animation, has that awareness, as Nerdist learned when we went behind the scenes of Disney Lorcana‘s art.
“From the beginning we had a clear vision of a cohesive art style for the majority of our cards that we call ‘modern storybook.’ It’s an illustration style inspired by the work of some of our premier and featured artists in the first set,” Ravensburger creative director Shane Hartley tells Nerdist. “Since our glimmers come from Disney stories past and present, the illustrations needed to feel nostalgic but not old, familiar but original and exciting. The modern storybook style we developed has visible line work to align with animation as well as vibrant color washes that purposely break those lines, making each image come alive. It mixes the traditional hand drawn and painted attributes seen in fairy tale storybooks with new digital techniques.”
The modern storybook style establishes a distinct look for Lorcana‘s art, and additionally, design pillars feature in the designs—literally. They used pillars to tell part of the story. The booster packaging has a large pillar, or column, beside the character. Hartley notes those are ink columns from an inkcasting room inside the Great Illuminary. The character you see is a glimmer emerging from magic ink. “So, the pillars not only create a branding element to frame the characters on the packaging. They also provide a visual representation of how glimmers are created in Lorcana using magical ink,” Hartley explains.
Lorcana‘s many elements from packaging to cards to character design connect to make an expansive -wo.rld. For example, the “o” in the Lorcana logo, is the Illuminary’s silhouette. The outer ring shows how each of the six magical inks converge on a story star in the center. That reinforces the creation story of glimmers.
The magical inks play a key role in the game. As an Illumineer, players use an inkcaster to summon glimmers. Hartley says designing the six ink icons of Lorcana was a huge team effort. They began by gathering references and mood board visuals that evoked the traits reflected in each ink’s play style. “It’s important to note that in addition to each ink having its own personality and traits, they all include glimmers of both heroes and villains, so it’s not just a matter of good and evil,” Hartley says.
He calls Lorcana’s inks the building blocks, or periodic table, of the world. Hartley says, “It was important to create icons that looked like a family, ones that were unified in shape and visuals as well as working individually. They also needed to work in different combinations, since you can have two inks in a deck. Very early on we landed on using a hexagon as a container for the icon, with its six sides representing the game’s six inks. This also felt complementary to the game’s logo design, which we decided on first.”
Hartley shared in-depth information about each of the glimmer’s characteristics:
- Amber glimmers are purposeful, patient and dedicated. They often work within their community, so the icon was inspired by knots and weaving to illustrate the strength found by working together. The whole is greater than the individual.
- Amethyst glimmers are incredibly powerful and use otherworldly powers and arcane abilities to achieve their goals. Amethyst was probably the first icon we did and were happy with, although it was also tricky. Our first iterations of this icon leant itself more to villains, which isn’t an accurate representation of the inks. It took some work to get to a version that looked good for heroes, too.
- Emerald glimmers are flexible and can easily adapt as things change. I think this icon took the longest to develop, as it was difficult to create a visual of something that felt like it was elegantly bobbing, weaving and diving—but in a flat 2D shape.
- Steel glimmers are strong and can be large, armored, or just plain powerful. The idea of a defensive fortress is something we had very quickly, but the refinement actually took a while, as we wanted to make sure it was also a symbol of strength and force.
- Ruby glimmers are daring; this is the ink of the speedsters, the brave and the risk-takers. We purposely created an asymmetrical design for this icon to show how these glimmers leap right into action.
- Sapphire represents glimmers who are intelligent, strategic and inventive; these are the thinkers, planners, and creators in Lorcana. This icon has elements of an eye and sacred geometry.
The inks connect to another important part of Lorcana: the Great Illuminary. The Great Illumnairy holds the inkcasting station. Concept artists tried several designs to create an aesthetic informed by magic and science that felt timeless. Hartley adds, “We wanted the Great Illuminary to feel almost like it was alive, or an autonomous machine. The top is similar to a lightning rod and is designed to draw the story stars into it, pulling them through the top and down through the center before projecting them to the inkcasting stations. The gold and bronze outer shell of the magical sphere has openings and separations that mysteriously reveal the vast inner workings.”
The design team “powered” the Illuminary structure with flowing lines, or grooves. Those serve as the conduits for the power of the inks to travel throughout the Illuminary.
As Hartley mentions, creating the look of Lorcana was a collaborative effort. We can exclusively reveal four cards today from three of the artists who created card illustrations for the first set: Nicholas Kole, Koni, a.k.a. Amandine Girard, and Hedvig Häggman-Sund. All are fans of Disney, citing the films and characters as inspiration. Kole says, “I was a musical theater kid in high school; I have an encyclopedic Disney music library in my head. Any time I get a Disney Lorcana assignment I can pretty much guarantee that I’ll have that movie’s soundtrack stuck in my head until I move on to the next card. That emotional connection to the source material is pretty potent stuff; each illustration feels connected to a whole world of art and music and memories.”
Calling back to those memories can enhance the art, too. Koni mentioned working on her favorite characters takes her back to childhood and that makes the characters more alive. The creative process then becomes more personal.
Disney artists like Jin Kim, Cory Loftis and James Baxter inspire Häggman-Sund. Koni looks to the color work and atmospheres in films like Coco. She also calls out the overall creative process it takes to bring Disney films to life. Kole is a huge fan of Milt Kahl, Shiyoon Kim, Ami Thompson, and also Cory Loftis. Kole says, “They’re all incredible commanders of line and shape, but more than that, I can feel loads of heart and sincerity coming through their work and that’s what draws me to the artists I remember forever.”
Speaking to inspiration for Disney Lorcana‘s art, Hartley says, “For me and for the team, it’s important to stay true to the origins of the stories and the personalities of the characters but then expand upon that in new and exciting ways. The last thing we want to do is something that feels inauthentic for a character or their personality. We look at elements of a character’s story and iconic moments, their clothing, their regions, and even the cultural themes and time periods represented and explore how these characters might adapt or be reinvented in this new world. Just like the Illumineers in the game who are casting these glimmers, we’re creating new and familiar versions that feel true to the Lorcana realm and to join us on our quest.”
Disney Lorcana will be available at hobby stores and Disney Parks on August 18. It will be available at mass retail and shopDisney on September 1. Learn more at Ravensburger’s site.