Sun’s Origin – The Look

June 27, 2024

There’s a lot to love about Unmatched: Sun’s Origin… but one element that’s consistently being commented on is how great the set looks!

We thought it would be fun to give a peek behind the scenes to show how Sun’s Origin’s look came together. As with all sets, it starts with the art direction by our Visual Restoration Wizard, Jason Taylor. Thanks Jason for sharing some of the early exploration with us!

Of course – the first call the “picture people” team has to make is – what illustrator for the set? There’s so much work that goes into illustrating an entire hero’s deck, let alone two and a cover and a board! We knew we wanted a Japanese artist to illustrate Sun’s Origin and we were ecstatic when Yuta Onoda signed on to work on the entire set. From their portfolio, we knew they could draw gorgeous pieces – ones that had energy and could move into the higher concept art that Unmatched likes to incorporate.

Jason then provides an art direction document for the illustrator. You can see that the team does a lot of research into the setting of the set, sharing inspirational pieces, providing notes highlighting priority elements, and early thoughts on color palette. But ultimately – we collaborate with extraordinarily talented illustrators and we want them to express themselves and bring all their artistry to bear on the set and encourage them to bring their own ideas to the table.

Every illustrator works differently, but in general the steps we go through are: character concepts (general look and feel for the heroes and sidekicks), card concepts (sketches that show the idea), illustration round 1, and final with color. Here you can see how expressive Yuta’s ideas were even in sketch form.

After the final illustrations are handed off, the picture people team does a lot of work sizing the art, updating colors to ensure decks feel cohesive and that the colors will print well. But we can talk about that process another day!

And of course, no set would be complete without a battlefield. Playtesting usually happens on plain paper with colored zone circles… and that map is handed of to the illustrator with some notes about how the zones flow and where there should be movement space, or line of sight blocks, etc. It’s thrilling when the art comes and we can see the fight arena really come to life. Here’s an early sketch from Yuta Onoda that shows how they wanted to approach the Azuchi Castle interior – with the multi-tiered zones. The internal team will look at the sketch, do their best to make sure fighter flow and sight make contextual sense… but mostly we ooh and ahh at how cool the board will be.

Finally, creating the set logo is a creative process in itself. Here you can see some of the iterations and development for Sun’s Origin. This, along with the other graphic design elements like the text backgrounds and special icons, are done by our picture people team. We wanted the logo to be evocative, decipherable, distinct, and thematic but not tropish. We landed on a logo that uses straight clean lines that contrast beautifully with the brush-stroke textures of the illustrations with it’s crisp and clean readability.

I’d like to end on a note about cultural appreciation. It’s imperative to the Restoration team that we approach projects/characters from other cultures in a respectful way. This doesn’t mean we cannot take artistic liberties and have a lot of fun with with it – far from it. A critical part of developing Sun’s Origin from design to final was hiring a cultural consultant from Japan. “Saigo” is a respected figure in the board gaming world and provided incredible input on everything from card names, to kanji, to the art. We know Unmatched: Sun’s Origin is a better game because of their role in developing it.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this behind-the-scenes peek at how Sun’s Origin became the stunning set it is. If you haven’t read the designer diaries from the two hero designers, make sure to check out our convos with Jason and Zack!

You can order Unmatched: Sun’s Origin from Restoration Games and receive special foil promo cards or find it at stores everywhere now.