29 March 2019 | KeyForge

Entropic Manipulator

Art Director Crystal Chang and Tim Flanders Discuss the Art of KeyForge


“We found it while searching through the Kurnois Bog for a superior duck.”
   –Dr. Escotera

Pre-order your own copy of the Age of Ascension Two-Player Starter Set at your local retailer or online through our website today!

In KeyForge, you become an Archon battling for control of the Vaults scattered across the Crucible. By unlocking the unique strengths and synergies of your team, you must gather Æmber and stave off your opponent long enough to open a Vault and absorb its full power, moving ever closer to your goal of ascending beyond this plane of existence.

As the second set of the world’s first Unique Deck Game, Age of Ascension expands the KeyForge universe with a new pool of cards, introducing new creatures, skills, artifacts, and technology to each of the Crucible’s seven Houses. This artificial, ancient, and ever-renewed planet continues to surprise and amaze with each new piece of a world that the Architects meld into its structure. But on Earth, creating the Crucible requires dedicated work by some of the most imaginative artists the planet has to offer.

Today, Art Directors Crystal Chang and Tim Flanders discuss the vibrant art of KeyForge and how it continues to evolve in Age of Ascension—now available for pre-order at your local retailer or online through our website!

Crystal Chang and Tim Flanders on the Art of KeyForge

Our goal when we first began the visual design of KeyForge was to achieve a more playful, colorful, dynamic style, giving it a distinct look from our other games. In addition to style, we wanted to develop the Crucible in a way that could depict a broad spectrum of tones and genres comfortably alongside one another, from funny to epic to creepy and many more. Inspired by suggestions from the original pitch of the game by Richard Garfield, the developers and art team worked together to further develop the narrative behind each house, and particularly their drive to obtain Æmber. During those discussions we developed the seven houses that players know today!

Logos – Spindly, mechanical robots that strive for scientific perfection, invention, and discovery. 

Brobnar – A mob of Norse-inspired techno-barbarians, made up of giants, goblins, ogres, and other creatures looking for ways to show their strength and might. 

Dis – Deadly subterranean robo-demons. Twisted manipulators and schemers who feed on the energy and emotions of others.

Sanctum – Cyber angel-knights from on high, the self-appointed arbiters of righteous justice. 

Shadows – Stealthy, sneaking thieves and hooligans who prey on the people of the Crucible. They make their way by taking whatever they want.

Mars – The little green men of classic science fiction, aggressive and xenophobic in the extreme, their bulbous eyes set on conquering the Crucible. 

Untamed – The wild creatures of the Crucible, the plants, animals, and the peoples that survive among them, all shaped and changed by the strange environment and energies of the Crucible.

Once we had these basic concepts of the seven Houses, we worked closely with the exceptionally talented concept artist David Kegg to create the visual style of each House. We focused on specific design elements, such as the colors, textures, materials, and silhouettes that would make each House identifiable and distinct from all the others. What we really wanted were styles that made each House feel unique and that communicated their themes at a glance. 

With Logos, for example, we wanted to really push their inhuman physique, giving their machine-bodies multiple actuated appendages, flat, disk-like heads, and myriad built-in hyper-science devices with cables, optics, and blue fiber-muscles. We combined these elements with a clean, pristine aesthetic and intricate circuitry to create a recognizable visual language to describe any member of House Logos. 

On the other hand, for the brutish and powerful Brobnar, we exaggerated the stout, over-muscled upper bodies of the giants and set them atop tiny, puny legs, because as we all know, techno-barbarians don’t believe in leg day! We combined this exaggerated build with crude, yet powerful mechanical prosthetics, flame-belching furnaces, and bombastic, oversized weaponry to make sure no one ever forget that the Brobnar are the biggest and the strongest on the Crucible.

Once we had the iconic visual elements of each House hammered out, we were able to compile the visual style guides that would allow us to easily communicate these ideas to the many talented artists we work with from around the world. One of the great things about working with so many incredible artists is that each and every one of them is able to take our ideas and bring their own unique creativity to the design of their illustrations. We encourage artists to immerse themselves in the visual storytelling of KeyForge and to explore the world and the cultures of the Crucible. In turn, the hundreds of sketches and final illustrations that come across our desks lead to countless conversations about the Houses and the world of KeyForge and provide us with an endless well of inspiration for how to make the setting bigger, better, and more richly populated with fun and interesting details.

As the game continues to grow and more and more stories wind their way across the Crucible, in gameplay, narrative, and art, we strive to ensure that the world maintains its unique balance of humor, excitement, energy, and fun. After all, in a world where anything can happen and everything is possible, what stories are out there waiting to be told?

A New Age

Thanks, Crystal and Tim!

As KeyForge moves closer to the Age of Ascension, the world of the Crucible continues to grow and evolve, bringing the pieces of new planets to the varied Houses and bringing players more to discover with every unique deck. What will you uncover in the wilds of a new world? Gather your teams and prepare for a new tactical challenge in the center of the universe!

To enter the Age of Ascension, you can pre-order your copy of the Age of Ascension Two-Player Starter Set (KF04) and your collection of Age of Ascension Archon Decks (KF03a) at your local retailer today or online through our website here! Otherwise, be sure to look for the second set of KeyForge when it hits shelves in the second quarter of 2019!

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