Strategy Informer: How were you brought to work on the Might & Magic universe?
Oliver Ledroit: Erwan got in touch with me in the first place. He was looking for a drawer who could give Might & Magic a strong visual identity. The universes I picture in my graphic novels are dark, warlike and violent. This was exactly the direction that Erwan wanted the Might & Magic world to take.
In your opinion, what are the most interesting parts of this universe? How will that translate in the design?
Oliver Ledroit: For me the very interest of each fantasy universe lies in the fact that it allows to feel different places, other eras, and to escape… I think it is something very usual; you always need a place where you can escape from the real world constraints. Some people go to watch football matches, others will ready fantasy novels. In the past sci-fi was the lead universe, today it’s heroic fantasy. But in the end all these genders use the same codes; the story is often like a good old western. The need to escape remains the same, it only varies in manners.
Could you describe the process of creating a new design?
Oliver Ledroit: I always start by picturing the different factions, how they are related to each other, what differentiate them etc… Then for each side I come up with some basic shapes and silhouettes that remind of places, eras etc… So I give graphical codes to each one of them. Then I use this basis to create all the characters and places.
On Might & Magic, one constraint was to look different from the usual fantasy universe. Factions like the undeads or the elves have very strong and established visual codes and Ubisoft wanted to move away from this single vision. This is why the elves in Might&Magic do not only refer to a Celtic imagery but also to American Indians. The Dark elves on the other hand will remind you of the Italian Renaissance.
What are your inspirations?
Oliver Ledroit: I am still deeply influenced by my early readings, with artists like Giger for instance. I also base my inspiration on existing elements a lot. I really think that if you wish to create something original and long-lasting, you have to base yourself on existing and historical grounds. That’s the kind of things that will speak to everyone and are unlikely to become old-fashioned.
For instance in the last volume of my current series, Requiem, some building I drew are directly inspired from some churches of my region. When I need to draw an armor, the first thing I will do is to search my 13th century weapons encyclopedia, in order to build on cohesive grounds.
On top of that like every drawer I always keep a close eye on what other artists are doing. Their work is always an important source of inspiration.
What particular interest do you find in working on a video game? How much is it different from your usual work?
Oliver Ledroit: For me the most interesting things in videogames is the fact that they allow us to animate the universes that are created. It is very impressive to be able to walk in a man-made universe, just like if you were part of it.
I already worked with videogame industry in the past, but it was more difficult to see a direct link between what I had created and what was displayed on the screen…
For Might & Magic, I took care to create characters where you could remove some details without breaking the general silhouette. Even if most of them cannot be translated as such in a videogame right now, we hope that this will be possible in the future.
You became famous in the first place for your work on the Dark Moon Chronicles, which is also set in a heroic fantasy universe. How does it felt to work on that kind of universe again?
Oliver Ledroit: It was a bit like returning to the past. I really felt at home in this universe. Fantasy is a gender I am very familiar with, I know how to handle it even if this time the approach was a bit different. In graphic novels the characters are simpler, because you know that you will have to draw them hundreds of times from many different angles; My work on Might & Magic was more about designing characters, which allowed me to bring more details in the final drawing.
Since my work on the Dark Moon Chronicles, I have worked on many other projects that allowed me to broaden the palette of characters I could draw. This helped me a lot for this work given the amount and variety of what had to be created.
I think my work on Requiem also influenced my designs as they are darker, with more skulls…
Anything else you would like to add?
Oliver Ledroit: I would say that my work with Ubisoft on the Might & Magic universe was my best experience with video games so far. I had a lot of freedom in creating my designs, based on the vision Erwan and his team had of the universe. It was really a great experience.