When my good friend André from Estaminé came to me with the ideia to make a spin-off game of the famous "The Werewolves of Miller's Hollow" (2001) created by Philippe des Pallières and Hervé Marly, I only said — "Awesome, but I got dibs on the witch!".
As a long time player of this game, "The Witch" has always been my favourite card.
With power over life and death, the witch has the knowledge to prepare two magical potions, one that grants life and one that inflicts death. It's a character that can quickly change the outcome of the match for better or worse, if It's powers are not used correctly, and is a hella fun to play!
The image of the witch quickly came to me, as I had plenty of time over the years to imagine what it would look like. Her visible features are those of a classic old hag, the big and scary goggly eyes or her scrawny and bony hands are probably drawn from my childhood memories of watching Disney’s "Snow White" or even more recent ones like Zeniba from Studio Ghibli's "Spirited Away".
Instead of the traditional crumpled pointy hat, I gave her a quirky candle wax hat, implying that the witch is a character that sheds light over the shroud of uncertainty and doubt that is the core of the gameplay.
Her two hands hold into the foreground, this characters most valuable assets, the two magical potions. On the right hand, the potion of life: a big heart shaped vial filled with a swirling pearly liquid. On the skeletal left hand, undoubtedly afflicted by the vial’s noxious concoction, the potion of death: a lean sharp-cornered vial brimming with a fizzy foamy substance that spells deadly.
On the left, leaning on her back and looking over her shoulder is her trusty dark feathered friend. The crow is (literally) the witch’s eyes and hears, he scouts the village and tells the hag which villagers are in need of her services. And of course, no self entitled witch is complete without her bubbling and steaming cauldron.
I wanted the player to rediscover the card with every game he played, so I added subtle details that may go unnoticed at first glance, but will eventually become more evident over the course of several games:
The eye that the crow carries in its beak is intended to be the witch’s missing right eye, a tribute to the Sisters of Fate from Disney’s Hercules, one of my favourite animated movies.
The pendant that hangs between the two bangs of hair is shaped like a Moon in front of a round jewel, which symbolises the sun. It’s a visual metaphor that represents the daytime/nightime mechanics of the game and implies that the witch only acts when called during the night.
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And finally, sitting in the background shelves, peeking from middle of all the apothecary jars and trinkets, right next to the skull, there is a very special jar with a label that reads "SNACK". A little easter egg that I decided to include as tribute to my studio, partners and friends.
I worked closely with André during the development of the game, even thrown some of my own ideias into the conceptual mix, so I was able to craft the illustration having in mind the specifics of the card's design. I was aware that the card would have a label at the bottom, so I tried to use that in my favor to make certain elements pop out by setting them over the label, like the steam coming out of the cauldron or the heart vial. I also created a complete version of the illustration, without the label, for the event's exhibition poster.
Design & Coordination ♦ André Santos
Concept & Illustration ♦ Carlos Meinedo
Photography ♦ Álvaro Martino
Set Design ♦ Pilar
♦ Special Thanks ♦
Adriana Leites, João Moreira, Nuno Leites