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Captain Villainy Process

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Captain Villainy’s design is closer to classic Hero/Villain tropes than any other villain in Diabolical! Of course – with our characters – we want to make them our own… fresh. His design stems from notable heroes like Superman, Batman, and Captain America, if those characters had fallen from fame and became bench-pressing hermits.


His biography helped in his design development. Asking questions like, “What would I look like if I was a once famed Superhero who washed up and strictly ate TV dinners for sustenance?” The result is the Captain Villainy you see in our board game.



Even after losing all of his notoriety, his confidence still remained; it just became a more vengeful confidence. Characteristics like this help determine things like pose and facial expressions. Knowing your character beyond a “cool” design and building a personality for them can help bring more life to the design.





Cthu-Loo-Loo Process

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A recurring theme for the visual development of Diabolical! villains seems to be growth. Growth in that the character we develop changes drastically in the creation process. What we end up with are villains I’m quite proud to include in our board game.

Cthu-Loo-Loo went through a lot of change in her development. For me, there are a few contributing elements to the growth of our characters. The two primary elements are collaboration and the digital process.





In previous posts, I’ve mentioned the benefits of the collaboration process and how conversations and brainstorming can push an idea even further.

The digital process (Photoshop) has many benefits and possibilities, but there are also downsides. Below are 5 Pros and Cons I’ve found working digitally.


  • Extensive editing ability 🙂
  • Ctrl + Z (undo)
  • Fine tuning color
  • Layers
  • No clean up


  • Extensive editing ability 🙁
  • File Saving
  • Software Crash
  • Screen Fatigue
  • Not tangible

With most things there are pros and cons and I’m beginning to find a healthy balance of traditional and digital in my process.

Cthu-Loo-Loo’s appearance started more “immature,” kind of in a young adolescence stage, which was fun and worked in the initial sketch. Somewhere in the translation from sketch to digital, it wasn’t interesting to me anymore. It felt safe for me and I felt I needed more practice depicting the female form.




In the end, she looks more like the angsty daughter of a great demigod and not just your standard angsty teen. My initial paintings were somewhat frustrating, but I feel like she turned out to be a fantastic inclusion to the villains of Diabolical!






Chip Banner

Chip Van der Nanner Process

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Before Chip Van der Nanner became the hairiest CEO in Wall Street history, he was a lizard. Not that he was born a lizard and then became a mammal. That’s outrageous. This was the visual decision Evan and I made, shortly after a few early sketches. Before visual development began, we planned to make him more of a movie Kaiju, which is cool, but we realized that with him a lizard, that would make several scaley/slimy villains (very secret unannounced character included ???).


The decision to swap species for the character was made and after sharing some ideas with each other, we started to work on him with the idea of “beast” in mind.


Above are a few class pictures I was able to dig up from Chip’s school years, which show where he began and where we landed. There was a mid point where I explored a Bigfoot route, but that wasn’t developing much. We liked the idea of a snooty/pompous villain and like our process with other villains, we threw ideas back and forth, which eventually brought us to our current Chip.





Görløk Process

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Of all the characters in Diabolical!, Görløk went through the most visual change as we developed him. This is something I welcome and encourage greatly in the creative process. One standout nugget of advice I’ve heard throughout my life is, “The first drawing is just a draft, never settle on the first idea.” By iterating on your ideas and pushing them far from where they started, you’ll likely discover your final product is much stronger overall.


Görløk’s character began as Görløk “The Metalhead” Necromancer, which wasn’t bad, but kind of bland in comparison to where we landed. Around the time I started painting him, I was watching some He-Man clips and the 80’s vibe really got me and helped inspire his costume and physique. The 80’s cartoons + Norwegian Black Metal & CorpseGrinder’s neck really helped bring it all together.




H4-T3 Process

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The villains for Diabolical! begin with a general concept for the look of the character. For H4-T3, we wanted to have some kind of “rogue” artificial intelligence, but we didn’t know what kind of AI this would be or how it would look.




I played around with some generic concepts – like a humanoid robot – but this felt to cliché for the kind of villains that would be in the game. Our goal was to create villains that relate to classic villain tropes, but to also apply our own creativity and personality to those ideas. During the exploration phase, I wanted the character to be more accessible to people, something more relatable. I had a sketch of a smartphone with a little face on it, which really helped her take shape.




Through her development, her personality became “small but mighty,” so one aspect we began playing up were the buff hologram arms. Some additional details that helped give her more personality were her binary brass knuckles, the various app icons on her screen, the cracked glass, and her electric blue hairdo.




H4-T3 is a sleek/high-tech villain and I wanted her logo to reflect those qualities. Taking notes from current smart phone juggernauts, the goal was to create a logo that could believably match up against today’s smart phone branding

h4t3_logo 2



Dr. McHavok Process

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Each character for Diabolical! started as a sketch and Dr. McHavok was the first.


When I joined the project, Evan and I frequently met to talk about the game. Among the topics of conversation were my responsibilities as the character designer. We had a general idea of the kind of villains we wanted to include. Evan had even begun work on a Mad Scientist, but initially these were basic concepts. By continuing our conversations, the villains began to grow. They started to take on more personality and depth.


In Dr. McHavok’s case, we asked ourselves questions like:

  • Where is this character from?
  • What is his backstory?
  • How did he become a villain?
  • How did he acquire his skill set?

By asking questions like these and filtering them through coffee fueled, comedic riffing sessions, we turned a general Mad Scientist into Dr. McHavok: The Scottish Mad Scientist. This would become our formula for creating the remaining Diabolical! characters.

After our discussions, I used the ideas Evan and I came up with and translated them into digitally painted visuals. This was an iterative process, as every time we met, we came up with more ways to strengthen the characters.


Though some of these deeper questions may seem irrelevant to board game characters, it defined the visual voice of Diabolical! and helped solidify the overall tone of the game.