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 Issue 10 - August 13th 2510
Interview with Knut_Rockie and ryanfitz
by Calthor

GLN: How is your life outside of Blood Bowl?

Knut_Rockie: Well, with all the work I've been doing on the player portraits it kind of feels like I don't have a life outside of Blood Bowl at the moment! However, I work as a professional artist. I make paintings and exhibit them in private and public galleries across Europe. It's a notoriously fickle existence financially and what with the rather... ahem... 'interesting' financial times we are living through at the moment I also teach fine art in a University part-time. Other than that making or looking at art pretty much dominates my life.

ryanfitz: I currently make a living as a photographer, but before all else I am a dad, my eldest boy just started T-Ball and there isn't much better in life than going to his games and practices.

GLN: What is your history with Blood Bowl? How did you first come into contact with the game and how did you come to FUMBBL?

Knut_Rockie: I guess this will age me immediately but my first ever contact with the game was back in 1989... 21 years ago! I remember that I swapped one of my plastic 40k Titans for one of the 2nd edition plastic humans that came in the boxed set; on reflection it wasn't the smartest trade in history when you consider the relative sizes of the two models, but I just thought the human player looked great. After painting him and admiring him for a few months (I think I may even have incorporated him into a few 40k skirmishes!) I found out the details of the game he came with. The more I found out the more it became an irresistible prospect for me and I soon bought the game itself and became an avid collector of the miniatures. As for FUMBBL, I stumbled across it quite by accident. In fact, you have Wikipedia to thank for the advertising: I was taking a trip down memory lane by reading the article about Blood Bowl on there when I discovered that the game I once loved was alive and well and living in this corner of cyberspace.

ryanfitz: I remember playing one-off blood bowl games back in '94 or '95 with my buddies' copy of the rules. I loved the game, being able to fluff out my team and follow 'my' players, so I picked up my copy and was only able to find a game about 3-4 times a year. I hadn't played a GW game in about 5 years when I heard about Cyanide's release and stumbled across FUMBBL, started up a team and promptly began playing to achieve my 1st losing streak.

GLN: What is your favourite team to play with and what is your least favourite? Why?

Knut_Rockie: This one goes back to my previous answer. Humans have always been my team mainly for fluff but also I like their play style. That humble 2nd Ed. plastic mini of the Human player, which now looks rather unsophisticated, for me summed up everything I liked at that point in time. I remember I got into Blood Bowl at around the same time as the original Speedball game and the similarities were hard to miss, but I was also a massive Judge Dredd fan - all those shoulder pads and helmets really put me in mind of something from that world also... In fact I think the purely fantasy setting of Blood Bowl did not really sink in for me until the 3rd edition made the Warhammer links explicit, prior to that I simply read it as being it's own crazy world; I mean... Chainsaws? Bazookas? Cyborcs?! It simply didn't fit comfortably within any genre and I liked that freedom. As for least favourite... I just can't see the point of the Amazons, they don't seem to fit the background of the game particularly well and the roster seems a bit odd really. Compare it to the way the Norse have had a very interesting set of alterations and I'm left wondering why Amazons weren't similarly fiddled with... If that doesn't sound too obscene!

ryanfitz: Gobbos are the only team that truely understand what Bloodbowl is about, the rest are just cheap or maybe expensive imitations. Only team I've ever played on table top, every time I bust em out I feel like a kid playing with my toys, that such a cool feeling. Never had any desire to play Khemri, and have yet to make an Undead team. Odd, because they seem like they would be fun teams to fluff out.

GLN: What do you think of the new rules set (LRB 5/CRP) in comparison to the old one (LRB 4)?

Knut_Rockie: I must admit to having never played LRB5/CRP (CRP? that's an acronym ripe for abuse if ever I saw one!). However I have read the rules cover to cover as part of my research for the portraits and I must say I rather liked it. Generally I think most of the changes are positive, specifically I like that teams will be less likely to get abandoned after one bad game, hopefully this will encourage coaches to get more of an emotional investment with their team and build an interesting history for them, as for me that is mainly what Blood Bowl is all about. Also the changes to the skills look intriguing, I like how there are elements of balancing going on and that there may be a more interesting spread of skills chosen across the board, in some ways it reminded me of the complexity that the 2nd edition compendium brought to the game. That said I think LRB 4 is a great rule set that plays very well, it's just that the consequences of some outcomes (I'm thinking 'Get The Ref!' combined with a liberal sprinkling of DPs) can really destroy a team's longterm viability.

ryanfitz: I'm not a game designer, so my opinion is nothing more than just one more in a sea of opinions, that being said, some parts look to be great (my goblins get their weapons as positionals!), while other parts ring of pandering (I loved the imbalance of Get The Ref!, and having to be VERY conscious of your Fan Factor rating - heck I even liked ageing even if I didn't like the way niggling injuries were implemented in LRB4).

GLN: How does it make you feel to be part of those responsible for making the new client as good as possible?

Knut_Rockie: I think the new client is a fantastic idea and am hugely impressed by the work that everyone is doing with regards to programming, bug fixing, icons etc. By comparison I'm playing a relatively minor part in this, however if the work ryanfitz and myself are doing helps to enhance the gaming experience of the community at large then I will be delighted.

ryanfitz: I was looking for a way to give back to FUMBBL in some way, I saw Knut_Rockie's original blog posting and hoped I might have a chance to jump in and steal ALL his credit... Smile

GLN: You offered to provide the artwork for the new client. Do you think you over- or underestimated the amount of work required?

Knut_Rockie: It's an interesting question. When I first saw the thread for player portraits appear I must admit that I felt an adrenaline rush, but thought I'd see what the community could come up with before diving in. I already had some Blood Bowl related drawings that I'd been working on in idle moments in my studio sketch books but I really wasn't sure whether they were any good. As the weeks marched on and there did not seem to be any viable solution presenting itself I thought I'd scan a few of the test images I'd been working on and post them on my blog... At that point I didn't think for a minute I'd end up being solely responsible for all the art work. So in answer to the question, no I didn't underestimate the work required, I just didn't think my work would be accepted!

GLN: You have not played many matches yet on FUMBBL. Why are you still willing to spend this much time and effort for the community?

Knut_Rockie: I've really enjoyed my few games on here but there are a couple of external reasons as to why the amount of matches played is so low. First my internet connection is annoyingly unstable, I hate starting a game only to have it be interrupted by a disconnection and know it was my fault. It definitely puts me off my game and forces me to rush my moves. Secondly, I go through periods of having lots of spare time and then other periods where I have absolutely none, finding the time for a game (combined with connection issues) has meant I really have to plan hard when I can actually play. At present I have a window of opportunity where my spare time is such that I can dedicate some serious man hours to making these drawings rather than playing. I'm doing this in the hope that my art work will have a lasting positive impact on the community as a whole (I have a soft spot for you guys!). I may be wrong, but when all these portraits are done it will mean that FUMBBL is the only place in the world that has a artistically credible full set of drawings for every positional and star player in the LRB - maybe it'll even help publicise the site! On a personal level this is a project I've waited 20 years to do, I've been making BB drawings since 1990, so what you are seeing on this site is the culmination of a my youthful ambition!

GLN: What has been the hardest team to draw and why?

Knut_Rockie: I don't think there's been anyone team that's been hard, but there are plenty of individual portraits that have been very tricky though. Orcs are actually much harder to do than you'd think for such a ubiquitous fantasy race. The canonical GW Orc is particularly tough. The hunched back causes loads of perspective headaches as well as problems with proportion and those tusks... Once you've incorporated them they tend to dominate the expression and can be a real pain if you don't take them into account before hand. Also all those shoulder pads! I remember reading an interview with one of the artists who drew Judge Dredd (I forget who) but he said he found Dredd to be one of the hardest characters to do because of all he shoulder pads, chains and buckles he had to draw, well I can say the same goes for Blood Bowl players too. The shoulder pads are a perspective nightmare, if they're not articulated properly they make the whole drawing look totally wrong.

GLN: What has been the most fun to draw and why?

Knut_Rockie: I've been really surprised at how much I've enjoyed drawing the Chaos teams (Pact/Nurgle/Skaven/Chaos) they're really varied and lend themselves to some really dramatic poses and shading. It goes without saying Goblins are a lot of fun as well, they're just so comically nasty!

GLN: Where do you get the inspiration from for drawing these pictures, considering the variety of football poses and pictures of players that are somewhat undefined of how they should look (Nurgle Beast for example)?

Knut_Rockie: I've really looked far and wide for interesting resource materials to help me make these drawings. Firstly I try and locate the most recent and canonical image of the player I am drawing, I always try and use the most recent model as a reference point - this is important for me as it removes some of the subjectivity from this task. By this I mean we all have our own ideas of what a favourite player or position should look like (and I'm no different in that respect) however by being able to refer to an official depiction of the player any arguments in this area are minimised as I can defend any decisions I make. Probably the most 'controversial' team I did was the Wood Elves, I took some liberties with them by adding helmets and extra pads (albeit flimsy) when the GW minis are a little lighter, this was purely an artistic decision, I wanted to make them look a bit more like Wood Elf-football-hybrids and less like a WHFB unit striking football poses, in general I've tried to make all positionals have this football/fantasy-hybrid look whereas for star players I've done this a less. In my mind they need to stand out from the ordinary Joe Schmoe Lineman somehow. In terms of the poses these are usually inspired by the players stats, I will use anything and everything as a reference point for these drawings, be it poses from comics, anatomy books, sports photography... Literally anything so long as it gives me a good sense of how to arrange proportions and perspective to get the pose I'm after. I think the weirdest source material I used was for the Amazons, until then I'd never heard of 'Lingerie Bowl' and after seeing images of it I kind of wish I hadn't! (If anyone is reaching for google be careful it's all fairly NSFW/family unfriendly!) still it was very handy for working out what an Amazon player would actually look like in reality. For undefined positions such as Beast of Nurgle and to some extent the Slann that can be a bit mixed. The Slann were surprisingly easy and fun to draw the Beast was another story. I made about 4 attempts, two were trashed, two I published, both of the published ones have things I like but I'm still keen to have another crack at getting this one right... watch this space! [EDITOR'S NOTE: As you might have noticed, Knut_Rockie has indeed had another crack at the Beast of Nurgle!]

GLN: When you started, did you expect the almost unanimous praise for your art? How has this influenced your work – was there more stress when you realised people liked it so much, or was it easier?

Knut_Rockie: I was completely shocked by the praise (in a nice way). It's amazing to know so many people are appreciating what I do and the fact that they like my work enough to comment on it is a big honour for me. Without a doubt the praise has helped me plough through these portraits. It spurs me on to do the best that I can in the shortest space of time possible. I do welcome all constructive feedback even if it's critique, but that would definitely have slowed me down as the perfectionist in me would keep trying to revisit the critiqued drawings.

GLN: Do you enjoy drawing the star players more than the regular players, or the other way round?

Knut_Rockie: Again there's no clear cut answer to this. Some positionals are more fun than star players and some star players are more fun than positionals. As a rule of thumb I'd say the star players have a slightly higher difficulty level because in some cases they have fairly well defined characters and that is not easy to do in this format. With positionals you can generalise a bit but you can't do that with well loved characters like Griff, Zug, Morg, Lord Borak and the others; you really need to encapsulate something about them and that can take a fair bit of time and effort.

GLN: How much time does one drawing take?

Knut_Rockie: This is variable. Generally I can get it done on average in 40 minutes but if it is a tough one I may need to do further research, several drawings until I'm satisfied. So sometimes they take longer, but I'm very aware I don't have unlimited time and the sooner I can get them done the better. So I tend to give myself a target of how many i want to produce in a session and try and do it.

GLN: What do you think of ryanfitz's colouring?

Knut_Rockie: I think he's doing a superb job. I'm so grateful he stepped in to do the colouring as I simply couldn't do it as quickly as is needed. I'm still learning the ropes of how to use photoshop to colour my work and I get really picky over silly details so it would take me at least a few hours per drawing and if you think about how many drawings there are that is an unfeasible amount of time. I think his colourings keep getting better and better and there are some rosters where he's definitely raised them up a few notches on the excellence scale adding interest and drama to my pencils. The portraits that will end up on the client are definitely a team effort and he deserves much praise, It wouldn't have happened without his hard work.

GLN: Are Knut_Rockie's drawings easy or hard to colour, relatively speaking?

ryanfitz: I've only done one other colorist job in the past and the artist I worked with didn't have nearly as good of a feel for motion as Knut does. I originally had some conniptions over where the light source would be and how the shadows should fall, but after getting the 1st batches shrunk down to client size, realized that a more readable coloring job was more important that worrying about details that do not appear in the final product.

GLN: How much time does it take to colour a drawing?

ryanfitz: Hadn't timed it 'till you asked so timed the last couple I did. I would guess I average 30-45 minutes breaking down each image, I break 'em out into layers so I can re-edit and rework them quicker. I'll then spend another 30-90 mins working on getting a good 'team theme' that I like for the team then the rest of the team takes about 10 min. each. All told each player averages about an hour or so. (It was a good bit longer when I started!)

GLN: Have you ever suggested a change in Knut_Rockie's drawings, because it did not really work after colouring? If not, have you ever thought about it?

ryanfitz: The only suggestions I have made to Knut's drawings were posted into the forums as 'edited' products of his work to try to get them to fit in the client restrictions, but the coloring has been quite flexible and relatively easy to work out. I have also gotten a lot of great advice and observations to help make the final images more 'finished'

GLN: How do you decide which team colours to use for a race?

ryanfitz: I have tried to make the teams as familiar as possible to FUMBBLers, so I have looked at the player pics that came standard with Skyjunkie's client as a basis.

If you enjoyed this article, or found it interesting/useful, feel free to let us know in this thread

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