Rob Cham: First Person On Creating "Confictura"

The following is a guest post by Rob Cham, designer and creator of the recently-released set, “Confictura.”  If you ever create a set for NeonMob or are curious about the process artists go through, this is a good read.  

When I started Confictura, I didn’t have a name for it, no big definite idea of what to do with it, I just had complete freedom to build a world from scratch and 100 cards to fill out with the details, which I really liked as a project, because well, it was something I really wanted to do and thought of it as this big dream project. Til then I had only ever done illustration work, but never something of this scale, so it was an exciting task I really enjoyed tackling.

I knew I wanted it to be something like Dungeons and Dragons, and something like that western fantasy world like Lord Of The Rings, but I’d introduce a bunch of different mythologies into the mix and hopefully it would mesh really well. It’s something I really enjoy seeing with card games like Magic the Gathering where they’d slap together all these different cultures into an interesting world and coherent context. I guess it boiled down to I wanted to make something I wanted to see. 

This is the first thing I ever drew for the project:

That would be the King and Queen of the Kala. I was trying to figure out how I could do the details of the world, would it be just blank backgrounds, what sort of line width should I use, how should the shading be, a lot of considerations.

I thought it could be something like the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where there was this skewed humor that came with everything. I thought of making the queen into a duck because well it showed that the world wasn’t exactly serious, but also that it was fantastical and things still meshed. I wanted a world where something like reverse Centaurs and friendly Werewolves can be getting along with traditional folk lore creatures like Unicorns of power and vampires existing in the same world. It paints a more colorful, friendly picture I never see in some other fantasy worlds and I wanted something like that, albeit still grounded that the world was full of these fantastical creatures and people.

I drew upon what mythologies I knew about, Western, Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Malaysian, Middle Eastern, European, Russian, Korean, a lot of things that could intersect and provide something of an interesting mix. I made it all up as I went along though and built upon what cards were there before. 

It came to a point where I wanted to take bigger and bigger risks with the material depicting these creatures that I figured out a completely different style than what I started with, but the coherence of it all comes from I guess the flavor text and descriptions, that you still get a sense of that this was all happening in the same place despite the different art styles I threw in there whether it be something really detailed painting wise, something with hard inks, and something that is just a huge splash of color, abstract, detail, and all the above. I hope it shows.

At the end of those three months I spent working on the set, it felt like I got used to the routine and just had that separation anxiety. I wanted to draw more cards but also did not want to go on because well, I want to move on to my own other projects. It was a mixed bag of feelings.

I had a blast working on Confictura and really love the response I’ve been getting be it on Twitter, or just browsing through e-mails from people saying how they love the set. Thanks, Neonmob and all the cool rad people who use the site!

– Rob Cham