Making for a pleasant break from the library of gaming books, modelling, and painting guides we flip our way through, we’re settling into a comfy chair and turning the pages of an art book. This is a chunky, weighty, hardback tome, published by Osprey Games, and showcases the huge amount of artwork that has been produced for the popular Fantasy game Frostgrave.
The text below is a transcript of the video – for those who prefer to read rather than watch.
Wizard Eye: The Art of Frostgrave is a 256-page beast of a book. Plonking it down and moving to the introduction, you can feel the paper quality is at the level you’d want from an art book. That introduction shows that this is a collaborative effort. Frostgrave creator and designer Joseph A. McCullough talks alongside husband and wife art team Dmitry and Kate Burmak. Then it’s into the art!
The section starting on page 6 is called The Rulebook, but there are no rules here, rather vibrant double page spreads of the artwork from Frostgrave’s rules, starting off with the cover art. The colour quality and layout here and onward is generally good, putting the art pieces at centre stage. If we have one criticism, it’s evident on this first spread; it gets a little more severe further on too. The number of, and thickness of the pages, makes this a thick book and that can lead to the middle details of some artwork getting lost in the gutter.
It feels a bit mean to criticise the book for this – it’s a result of the embarrassment of riches inside. Also, turn the page and that art’s middle is shown again, fully, alongside details about the work from the author and the artist. There is all manner of informative and at times highly entertaining work in progress and research images.
Page 14 introduces the first of the original 10 wizards character art designs – acting as both a concept piece for sculpts and an inspirational bit of artwork, these are some of the strongest images in the book. The Sigilist is cool, the Summoner on page 20 is even cooler, the Witch steps that awesome factor up even higher. This is high-quality, diverse, intriguing art that will inspire many readers, be it Frostgrave players taking in the atmosphere, or artists examining the possibilities that come through developing a range with a strong vision.
And so the book continues. The Rulebook section takes in six battle scenes and all ten of the original wizards, before the Thaw of The Lich Lord campaign book’s art arrives on page 50. As with before there are descriptions of the pieces from Joe and Dmitry, early sketches, and details. More scenes of battle join new wizards and other detail images of races. Some of the most impressive pieces are the pieces of art designed for the plastic miniature’s boxes, which start on page 60 with an absolutely fantastic rendering of soldiers. Because of the artist’s description we get nuggets of information about the process “Yes, I drew the soldiers after the miniatures were sculpted” says Dmitry “In the main book, all the soldiers were just background characters, and I didn’t put too much time into them. The miniatures were so amazingly done, however, with so many interesting variations, that I tried to show as many of these details in the illustration as I could.” There are little ‘how the sausage is made’ details with all of the artwork.
Into the Breeding Pits is next from page 80 and we have more of the same mixture of high-quality art, fantastic and fantastical characters, and behind the scenes details and process images. Then it’s Forgotten Pacts from page 106. One of the fascinating things about the book is that we get to follow the evolution of Dmitry’s art from the very beginning of the project to the end. Already form and composition seem to improve, the lines are bolder and more confident, as are colours. This is a really interesting way to see the evolution of a world and of those working on it.
Page 132 is where Kate Burmak becomes involved. Another intriguing element of this project is that it became a collaborative effort between this skilled pair and they aren’t just two people working on individual pieces, they are literally both working on the same digital cover, combining their skills. Kate talks about this in detail about the brilliant cover art and more detail is covered beyond. The husband and wife team seem to complement each other’s art and share similar styles, maintaining the cohesive look.
A little more than halfway through and it starts to feel like we should perhaps be whispering incantations as we turn these pages, rather like the wizards within. Certainly, a lectern to place the heavy thing on would be good, wrists are turning to jelly! This is certainly a coffee table type book.
Dark Alchemy begins on page 146, The Maze of Malcor on 154, The Wizards’ Conclave on 188, Perilous Dark on 218, The Novels on 248, and finally And Finally on 254, rounding out an impressive, visually stunning and creative, artistic fantasy journey.
We’ll end this flipthrough by saying that if you have any love of fantasy art, artistic process, or Frostgrave, this is a book that needs to be giving you potentially permanent wrist damage! It costs £30 ($40 US) which is rather a bargain for a book as nice and hefty as this.
We’ll leave you with a look at some of our favourite pieces from the gallery.