In addition to exploring Tolkien’s lore and thematic play, one of my goals at Master of Lore has been to showcase the fantastic artwork that has been produced for The Lord of the Rings LCG. To this end, I’ve reached out to a few of the artists we’ve featured and included some of their comments in my articles.
For my most recent feature on the Old Forest Road, I received a very kind reply from Ben Zweifel and took him up on his offer to answer a few more questions about his work. Rather than going back to edit the article, I’d like to share Mr. Zweifel’s responses as an “Artist Spotlight” with hopes that this may be the first in a new series of feature supplements that give voice to the wonderful talents behind the gorgeous scenes on our cards.
Ben Zweifel grew up in Switzerland but is currently based in Sarasota, Florida. He was the most prolific artist of the Core Set and Shadows of Mirkwood cycle as can be seen in this fantastic LOTR LCG Art Links thread at Board Game Geek. He’s been very gracious in his answers and we wish him all the best in his future work. So without further ado, enjoy reading Mr. Zweifel’s words about his Lord of the Rings work and checking out a couple more of his pieces from the game!
Master of Lore (MoL): How would you describe your process and style for the Old Forest Road?
Ben Zweifel (BZ): All the work I do for FFG is digital and I guess the style is a bit tough to describe but it’s fairly ubiquitous throughout the fantasy art genre. As far as reference goes, these particular forest road-ish pieces are kind of interesting because they don’t necessarily require a lot of it, as opposed to pieces that are much more character or perspective heavy. Obviously the internet is a wonderful resource for reference but outside of that I have had the opportunity to travel a quite a bit and shoot my own reference which has proven to be immensely helpful.
MoL: What have you found most challenging about your work?
BZ: A lot of the location cards are a little difficult to compose for because the layouts of the cards themselves dictate some strange requirements that make the drawings seem a bit odd when looked at out of context.
MoL: What first drew you to working as a fantasy artist?
BZ: I blame the games of my childhood. Things like video game manuals, DnD and Magic: The Gathering all were initial pulls into that world. As a kid I think I frequently enjoyed looking at the art much more than I ever enjoyed playing most of the games, and I suspect in a way that’s still true today. But this rapidly expanded to include a great deal of different art — Ralph McQuarrie’s Star Wars work being prime among them. I was given a book of the art for The Empire Strikes Back which is fantastic and I still use as a reference for the X-Wing and Edge of the Empire projects I’m working on today.
MoL: Do you have a personal project or other work that you’d like to share?
BZ: Nothing interesting. It’s a blast working on these licenses and I get to explore a lot of creative things within the scope of my projects.
MoL: Which of your Lord of the Rings illustrations is your favorite so far?
BZ: I’ve been working on and off on the LOTR stuff for a few years now and one of my favorites has definitely got to be the Doors of Durin. It was great doing something that iconic and unique to the world, as opposed to the dozens of winding paths that travel through ominous looking forests with just a touch of dappled sunlight, of which there are far too many in my portfolio. 😛
I’ve recently completed a couple of pieces for an as yet unannounced (I think) expansion that I am particularly fond of, as I got to do a bit of a greater variety of locations and characters.
MoL: What is your favorite Lord of the Rings moment from the story?
BZ: That’s tough to say but among the more iconic moments stuck in my head are the Attack on Weathertop and the Battle of Pelennor Fields.
MoL: You mentioned that you’ve got some pieces you’re proud of in the upcoming expansion. Is it the Voice of Isengard with Saruman, Ents, and Dunlendings?
BZ: I’m frankly unsure. When I work on these I usually refer to them by their production codes, and it’s not unheard of for the art to be moved around a little bit if it makes more sense. That being said, they are probably in the sets you mentioned.
MoL: Anything else you’d like to share with fans of the LOTR LCG game?
BZ: I hope you have as much fun playing it as I do painting some of the pictures! Also, a big thanks to my art director Zoe Robinson who is a pleasure to work with and easily responsible for a large part of the aesthetic of the game.
Thanks for the interest, let me know if I missed anything crucial or you have any other questions!
MoL: Thanks again so much for your time and for helping bring the world of Middle-earth to life for so many fans!