Illustrating an impossible labyrinth

bocetos mazescape

Illustrating a board game is always a challenge, linking together the theme and mechanics of the game, while simplifying it using symbols and colors that help the player to understand it.

How to illustrate a labyrinth of impossible roads?

Creating the Mazescape aesthetic is a very challenging job for an artist, since it is an illustration in movement. Each Mazescape map features 8 double quadrants, printed on both sides. Each quadrant must coincide with the other ones every time the player folds any part of the map. This particular quality makes the illustration particularly challenging, given that all roads and objects must coincide every time each quadrant meets another one - otherwise, the player won’t be able to understand if they are on the right track or if they’ve reached a dead end.

mazescape un despliegue
mazescape dos despliegue
mazescape tres despliegue

To solve this, Mazescape’s artists used a technique called “isometric perspective”, invented in Ancient Greece and formalized by William Farish in 1822, which simplifies the illustration of objects following the lines that represent the X, Y and Z axes. This gives volume to the illustration, and a construction perspective. This technique may be one of the most used by architects and engineers for hundreds of years to project their ideas in a constructive way.

Using this method, the designers would send their labyrinth structure drafts in black and white to the artists, using squared sheets and applying the isometric perspective. They calculated the designs for each quadrant making sure that they would match on every fold, avoiding mistakes. However, a Mazescape illustration requires a lot of trial and error, so it was important to print or simulate these ideas before arriving at the final product. Even so, once the illustration has been printed, it might be a couple of millimeters off, making the labyrinth look unfinished. And then it was back to the drawing board to keep on polishing details until it was absolutely perfect.

work in progress mazescape
work in progress mazescape

A lost world in a forgotten universe

Mazescape’s authors and illustrators conceived Labyrinthos and Ariadne as abandoned spaces, forgotten worlds and places once full of life, but now, for some reason, no one inhabits. They wanted to create a solitude environment, and for that, they looked for references.

One of the main inspirations for Mazescape’s art has been the unmistakable work of Mauritx Cornelis Escher. His works of impossible perspectives and ladders that broke all laws of physics helped the minds behind Mazescape to understand how to face the creation of a labyrinth whose roads may be unconnected and that it takes exploration to get out.

Perspectivas absurdas de William Hogarth
The Drawbridge de Giovanni Batista Piranesi

Another reference was Edward Gorey'sart style, a North American artist known for his black and white drawings, and whose hatched technique highlights volumes and characters. Mazescape artists were inspired by this and used it on the maps’ detailed compositions.

Finally, the maps were also inspired by the work of “Moebius” (Jean Giraud), who presented places from a desolate world, with distinct soft colors in a solitary environment while reflecting a lost history.

The result is unmistakable: a series of maps that change every time we fold the paper, creating the idea of continuity and paths, exploring strange places that take us to a new and mysterious world.

If you want to explore a simple Mazescape map, click here.

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