After giving you an insight into the development of the game Cóatl with Designer Diary: Cóatl, today we would like to turn our attention to the game’s illustration. Ellie Yong gives us an insight into the design development of the game.
Ellie Yong, known professionally under the super professional name of SillyJellie, is currently working as a concept artist and a freelancing illustrator. She loves immersing herself in her Little Mermaid world. She does various editorial illustrations, Children’s books, posters, and murals. Her dog is her therapist. We chatted with her to learn about her process creating this rich, unique design of the Aztec world.
I played around with a few designs for the font and border frame, but in the end, readability is the most important key here. As always, I researched the material, looking up examples of stone work from the Aztec world to incorporate into my design. I mainly opted for simple shapes and designs.
GOD PROPHECY CARDS
For the art style, I wanted to make them seem sort of carved, thus deliberately making some of their features blocky looking. Wherever possible, I tried to incorporate actual Aztec art into the
design, for example the Sun disk behind Huitzilopochtli and the maize design in the background. I had the fortuitous chance of coming across a book on Aztec culture during a book sale after
accepting this project, which I snapped up immediately.
Every god card has their own distinctive mood and colour, sunny yellow for Huitzilopochtli the sun God, watery blue for Tlaloc, and gloomy darks for Mictecacihuatl, Lady of the Dead. I didn’t want her to look quite as festive as how she is often depicted on the Day of the Dead; rather, I referenced old stone sculptures and paintings of her, giving her a more humble traditional look and
headdress. The skull and bone patterns are also reminiscent of how the Aztecs drew them. Ellie Yong, known professionally under the super professional name of SillyJellie, is currently working as a concept artist and a freelancing illustrator. She loves immersing herself in her Little Mermaid world. She does various editorial illustrations, Children’s books, posters, and murals. Her dog is her therapist. We chatted with her to learn about her process creating this rich, unique design of
the Aztec world.
For Cóatlicue, apart from a giant statue with serpent heads showing what she looks like after she got her head cut off by her children (Yup history is bloody) there weren’t as many other historical
works of art or sculptures to reference her design on. I sort of played by ear on how a motherly figure could look. She is the mother of the moon, stars and sun, and in this visual, currently pregnant with the sun god (Huitzilopochtli) by a hummingbird feather which she tucked into her snake skirt.
The headdresses of each God were deliberately made distinctive to their roles and name. Quetzalcóatl is known as the feathered serpent, and has the flashiest headdress of them all. I didn’t want him to look more important than the others, thus I simplified his headdress while maintaining the “serpent and feather” bit of his description. The headdresses are made of feathers, but keeping to the intended style depictions, I kept the feathers looking like blocky carved stone.
Wherever possible I try to depict objects as how the Aztecs did them, but sometimes their depictions look too abstract for normal people to comprehend. Tlaloc’s lightning strikes look vastly different from the zaggy zaps we associate with lightning they look more like patterned curls. I think
it was a good call that the publishers gave me feedback to change it. I still kept some of the Tlaloc’s original lightning strikes at the back for the curious.
The composition for the box cover was actually super tricky to get right, but the idea is pretty simple. Giant serpent and the city (Tenochtitlan). Cóatl means snake, just in case you’re wondering. I wanted to incorporate some game play into the box cover as well, where you’ll see the winding feather serpent tail gradually transforming into game p ieces as the decorative feathers fly off.
PS: There is also Cóatl – The Card Game. You can read an interview with the two authors here.
Coatl is from Pascale Brassard, Etienne Dubois-Roy and for 1 to 4 players. The boardgame includes 150 Cóatl segments, 54 prophecy cards, 15 temple cards, 1 supply board, 4 player tablets, 12 sacrifice tokens, 3 supply bags, 1 start player marker, 1 game rule (German + English), 1 solo rule (German + English).
Cóatl is from Synapses Games and was published in German by HeidelBÄR Games.