Valor Interview: Kylee Henke, Lead Artist

For our second developer interview, we sat down with Kylee Henke, the Lead Artist for Valorous Games and asked her a bit about the art process with Valor.

Staff: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do with Valor?

Henke: Hi! I’m Kylee Henke, and I’m an artist based out of Seattle, WA. I like to blog, play games, and embarrass myself on the internet. I’m the lead artist for Valor!

Staff: So, how did you get involved with doing art for Valor?

Henke: I was actually selling my artwork at Sakura-Con a couple years ago when Austin and Jenna came by my booth and flipped through my portfolio. They said they loved my work, and grabbed my business card. After the convention, they messaged me and asked if I’d be interested in an interview for an art position at their company. By some miracle I managed not to screw it up, and soon I was brought on board the art team!

Staff: What kind of work did you do with the first book?

Henke: For the first book, I mainly worked on splash pages. I got to push myself in ways I’d never really had to before, and some really cool pieces came out of it! My favorite one to work on would definitely have to be the picture of the heroes facing off against a zombie horde.

Staff: That’s actually one of my favorites as well! So with Villains, Creatures and Foes coming out, I imagine you’ll be providing art for that as well. Is there anything you’re working on right now?

Henke: Right now I’m actually designing the book cover art! I’m working on nailing down the composition first before I render and color it. I’ve already gone through several different versions [laughs]. Gotta get it perfect if the cover is gonna be the first thing people see!

Staff: What is the process for putting together the composition for a cover like this?

Henke: A whole lot of stuff goes into consideration. The directional flow of the  art, where to bring the viewer’s the focus, the angle and perspective, the proportions and poses–all this stuff has to be nailed down before I tighten the linework and start coloring. The cover depicts an action scene so it’s a challenge in itself to cram it all into specific dimensions for cover art. I’m gonna make sure the final product looks super cool.

Staff: Given how awesome the splash pages are for the last book, I bet the cover is going to look amazing. : So what is the cover for the new book going to look like? What kind of Foe are we going to see on it?

Henke: On this new cover, our heroes (both old and new!) will be facing off against both sides of an entity called the Mother of Life and Death. She has two different faces that control, well, life and death [laughs]. The front and back covers will each depict the heroes battling one of the faces.

Staff: So the five heroes that we know from the first book?

Henke: Yep! The original squad will be making a return, but they will be joined by some brand new faces.

Staff: New faces?

Henke: In addition to the cover art, I designed a whole new squad of heroes for this new book. They will be making their debut in Valorous Foes, and I’m excited for everybody to meet them!

Staff: That’s exciting! Can you talk a bit about what went into designing the new squad of heroes?

Henke: I was given some descriptions of the characters’ personalities and general looks, and from there I was given the artistic liberty to flesh them all out. Personality and cultural background were both big factors in how I approached the designs! Some of the heroes even turned out a little different than they were originally intended to, but it was for the better! Sometimes characters create themselves, and the artist just gives them form. It’s really fun.

Staff: It sounds like it! I imagine you’ve gotten a chance to play the game before. What was that like?

Henke: Every single time I’ve played Valor I’ve had a blast. We of course had an excellent GM, which is half the battle, but the game itself allows for boundless creativity – and potential for hilarious disaster the likes of which I’ve never experienced before, and I recall laughing to the point of actual tears many times. No matter how ridiculous the characters I played, Valor integrated them into the system with no problem. I mean, let me give you an example of the things I have accomplished while playing Valor:

-I once used a designer glitter cannon to Fabulous my foes to death

-I have been the victim of a grotesque barbecue sauce massacre and have been forced to ruminate on my poor life choices while occupying the insides of a large gelatin dessert that ate me alive

-I delivered the killing blow to a giant boss dragon by ejecting out of a speeding escape vehicle and punching it in the throat

…Just to name a few.

Valor: Villains, Creatures and Foes can be found on Kickstarter through October 15.

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