Illustration work on heroes

This time, we want to give you some insight into our process on creating our hero-illustrations. The challenge was to fit the images to both the original lore, as well as the requirements set by our Game Design. Pictures are a powerful medium through which we communicate and we wanted to achieve that all our heroes speak for themselves, giving you an idea of their profession and character even without having to read the descriptive texts.

We depicted Helen and Leonidas as the lead characters for our hero campaign, as they are largely known and share great sympathy amongst most people. After providing them with basic information, VOLTA (a presigious illustration studio based in Canada) started with some basic sketches:


Version A of Helen appeared to be too shy and lacking self-confidence. Version C had the appeal of a dancer, and although Helen looked quite cool like that, we thought of this approach as being a little too dynamic. Sketch B displayed a Helen in a pose implying grace and candor, staring into the distance instead of looking the viewer straight into the eye makes her appear somewhat untouchable. Also, her outfit seemed to fit very well.


After several color sketches, VOLTA eventually created a great illustration, worthy of the shimmering personality Helen certainly would have been. The falling leafes and the subtle light beam from the top gave the whole look and feel an extra “Woah!”-effect.

Leonidas on the other hand is known as the fearsome Spartan many of us celebrated in the movie “300”. Due to the limited time on my hands this was one of only two heroes I was able to illustrate myself. The pose of the first sketch already worked out quite well, but letting him wear a helmet made it difficult to display his facial expression which again made it impossible for the viewer to read his character: A warrior through and through, merciless in battle and unquestioned as a leader. The removal of his helmet gave me the ability to portray him the way we would imagine Leonidas to face the persian hordes:


After the decision was made to bring him closer to the looks of the Leonidas of the movie, I gave him a new haircut. Besides that I tried to stick to my original concept, in which I tried to be as historically accurate as possible:


Keep in mind: Only sissies wear boots. πŸ˜‰

Zuretha, the ex-pirate (thus improving the performance of ships!). She was supposed to have a pirate-ish look, but sketch A and C didn’t quite fit the setting of Grepolis:


Obviously this one was a tough nut to crack! When thinking about pirates the first thing that comes to mind are the characters we know from today’s media. Unfortunately most of them picture a time period hundreds of years after the legends of ancient Greece have long been written. So the use of sabers, eyepatches and the commonly known bandanas were no suitable option. Thus we were really font of what VOLTA came up with in the end! πŸ™‚ This rugged beauty expresses self-confidence and seems to be experienced in hand to hand combat, while her trident and the fish net (as being part of her sleeve) establish a connection to her maritime past.


When looking at the lore of ancient Greece you will recognize Cheiron as being a creature of high merits. The legend tells us that he mentored none less than the great Hercules himself. The first sketches we recieved were all very interesting, but since he is supposed to be a character of great wisdom, we were looking for his appearance to be this of a scholar.


We went for sketch A, but also wanted parts of his body to be seen just to display his centaur nature.


After VOLTA’s reinterpretation he happened to look a bit too friendly and slightly too young. Also, we thought that the character woud benefit from some accessories. With their final post the guys nailed it:


As I already mentioned Hercules before, I certainly don’t want to keep back VOLTA’s great illustration of this legendary figure. Being the archetype of a hero there was not much for us to specify while briefing our outsourcing partner in Quebec. Having successfully faced pretty much every possible challenge, the myth of Hercules gave us plenty to work with, but we decided to make him appear in Grepolis as an archer.


The first color sketch was already a direct hit. The superior pose, the lions furr draped around his broad shoulders and the shortbow in the firm grip of his huge hand all perfectly outline Hercules’ character. What I thought was missing to make it a perfect action pose was his right arm reaching for an arrow in the quiver on his back.



After another iteration in which his face seemed a bit too round and almost androgynous in our eyes the guys finally came up with a Hercules illustration perfectly matching our expectations.

The last illustration we want to show you is Orpheus. Orpheus is known as a man of leisure, loving music and festivals. It was really hard to determine the most promising sketch, as they all wereΒ fitting the description.


Yet we went for sketch C, a thoughtful and young Orpheus. We already had so many characters wearing beards! πŸ˜‰


The saga amongst other things describes his supernatural ability to play the lyra. The death of his love Eurydike and the failed attempt to get her back made him bitter though which has successfully been portrayed in his yearning stare.

I hope you enjoyed this little tour through the process of character design. As soon as the hero feature gets released, more heroes are to follow and new interesting personas will come to life in Grepolis. So stay put for another round of eyecandy in the near future! πŸ˜‰


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5 comments on “Illustration work on heroes
  1. GeoEye1999 says:

    Hi! Fantastic work on the illustrations! I wanted to ask: When will the different characteristics of the heroes be available to us? Awesome work anyways! πŸ™‚

  2. Anon says:

    Hi may I ask what the name of the painting software you and your friends at volta are using?

    • Marcel Zons says:

      We don’t know exactly what kind of software VOLTA is using, but we are using Photoshop. πŸ˜‰