Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Art of Gaming: The Banner Saga

As I've mentioned back when I brought you The Dream Machine and Blueberry Garden , there are times when I come across games that I have never heard of. Not that is a bad thing, but more mirrors the fact that the circles which I find myself in are more towards the well announced and advertised games. Games such as such as Anna luckily enough have a little bit of help by way of YouTube personalities and just normal people posting their playthroughs online but it still hasn't received as much attention as it should though it is visually captivating. In the case of the game I discovered, I have actually never seen any playthroughs let alone heard any mention of it before. So after a pause of curiosity when I came across the name The Banner Saga, I decided to go ahead and look into it.

From the minds at Stoic Studios (Arnie Jorgensen, Alex Thomas, and John Watson), The Banner Saga is a “role-playing, turn-based strategy game putting you in control of a clan of battle-hardened viking warriors'. They have the multi-player option available through the game's website and according to the news feed, it would seem that they're having a Kickstarter in progress to make a single player version of the game. You can read more information about the Kickstarter here: Single Player Progress Kickstarter Update #30

When looking at the trailer and the concept art, it made me think of some classic animated films such as Sleeping Beauty (1959) and even Fire and Ice (1983). With stylized and perhaps simplified details to the environments and characters, not to the point of the Bayeux Tapestry but more towards a re-envisioning of art nouvea style. Looking things over, it made me wonder if I was perhaps wrong with my guesses so I went ahead and originally posted my question to Stoic Studios on their Facebook page back in December but hadn't received a response until recently when I managed to find their email and resent my question.

Hello Dawn! Thank you for your inquiry and sorry I missed the Facebook question, but I'm a bit of an idiot with Facebook.

The art style for The Banner Saga was unabashedly borrowed from the art of American Master, Eyvind Earle. With the target on the Disney classic, Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty has, however, two distinct styles. One for the exterior environment scenes crafted by Eyvind and the second style was more painterly for the interior scenes. We're trying to match this as well as you can see. We're also trying to add a bit of our own flavor into the mix. It's very cool to see people attracted to this style and I'm constantly amazed that the younger generation is unaware of Eyvind's work. Glad we're doing our part to make people aware of it.

Ivan Bilibin is an artist that many, specially those from Eastern Europe, think we're using as inspiration but it's not true. I was not aware of his work until people started telling me about him recently. Since them I've become a huge fan and wouldn't mind if people look into his work as it would make the world a better place.

I've shared a dropbox folder with you with some of our in-game art.
Thanks for the interest!
~Arnie Jorgensen

"Eucalyptus" by Eyvind Earle
At first I couldn't help but giggle when I read the first line of the email, mainly because I usually get told something similar from people who have Facebook accounts but are hardly ever on. Looking through what Arnie said, I was thrilled that I could recognize the inspiration of Sleeping Beauty correctly. Eyvind Earle (1916-2000) not only worked on the Disney animated film but had a hand in Peter Pan (1953), Paul Bunyan (1958) and Lady and the Tramp (1955). The second artist that he mentioned, Ivan Bilibin, rung a bell then I quickly realized that I had done an A common influence... maybe: Ivan Bilibin back in August 2012. Arnie not only did share with me the in-game art to check out but also sent me a second, shorter email stating "Ps. Feel free to add that we're shipping later this month. :)" . I'm not too sure what he's in reference of but I have a feeling that it's perhaps about the single player option that I had mentioned earlier.

If you're interested in checking the game out yourself, you can find it here:
stoicstudio.com – The Banner Saga: Factions


  1. Hi Dawn, it' always a pleasure reading your indie game art reviews. In these case I also discovered the name of an artist who is inspiring me in a new idea! Cool! ^_^ Ivan Bilibin... mmm...

    1. You're very welcome! I do try to post up information that might be interesting to everyone but since the year is still young, there hasn't been much to post. I'll be sure to keep an eye out for anything and perhaps, once posted, it'll help inspire you more.