Henning Ludvigsen's amazing artwork was featured along the years in many game tiles and boards, including multiple CMON games like Bloodborne, Trudvang, and Narcos. His process of creating full settings in 3D prior to finalizing the artwork in 2D is, to say the least, impressive. Today's update explores Henning's process in recreating such a famous setting for the Tiles of Night of the Living Dead: A Zombicide Game. Without further ado, we pass the word to Henning himself!
As a lifelong fan of horror movies, getting the opportunity to work on a Zombicide game based on THE most influential zombie movie that set the standard for the genre in all media was a big deal for me. Re-creating and adapting locations from my favorite movies or tv series and fitting them into the boundaries of board game designs is one of my absolute favorite challenges and activities. I strive to make the locations look as familiar to the original references as possible. I often find myself geeking out when realizing what I’m working on.
The game is based on the all-time classic original black and white movie, and even though we were at some point discussing making the board in black and white and experimented with a few different color variations, the final decision landed on a colorized yet slightly muted take, which I believe was the right choice! Luckily for us, there’s a colorized version of the movie available on the net that proved to be immensely useful.
Still, we need the players to feel at home in the Night of the Living Dead universe, so I tried keeping the color schemes somewhat muted and not take up too much attention. I did this by mostly relying on making the environment as similar as possible to the movie.
I had to watch the colorized version of the original movie many times and I spent literally days familiarizing myself with the interior of the farmhouse in the movie, taking screenshots and trying to make sense of the layout of all the different rooms. And don’t forget; the lovely designers at CMON had already done a great job adapting their game design to the layout of the house, which gave me a much welcomed head start!
Once I had a good overview and an extensive collection of reference screenshots, I started modelling all the props in 3D. I often had to rely on references based on very brief shots in the movie, or sometimes blurry images, or shots that didn’t cover all the angles I needed and left some parts to the imagination. But, after days and carefully studying every shot in the movie, I somehow figured most of it out.
Since the camera angle of the board game is seen from a top-down, orthographic view, this introduced another challenge: making the environments look familiar to the movie even though it’s seen from a completely different angle than when experiencing the movie.
A good friend of mine helped model a lot of the props, as it can turn into quite a big operation having to create hundreds of 3D models on your own once the post-production and initial planning and reference gathering job has been completed.
For the exterior tiles, there were only a couple of locations that had direct references from the movie. For instance, in the movie, we see the barn with the gasoline pump only from the outside. So, we had to populate the interiors of the barn using our imagination. Having to do this is actually really cool, as you get the feeling of adding something of your own to this already loved and established universe.
The same goes for locations that are off-camera and not part of the movie in the first place. If players of the game and fans of the movie don’t notice these changes, but feel just as home in all the locations, then I have done my job.
It was a great honor to be able to work on the tiles for Night of the Living Dead: A Zombicide Game. The movie is a horror classic, defining a whole genre, while the game has become a staple of gaming collections and game nights all over the world. It will be amazing to see players interacting with the movie in a whole new way, becoming part of the legacy of these two storied properties.
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