Inspiration Corner: The Stylised art of The Banner Saga and Eyvind Earle


Bit of a visual one for you today. I’m guessing a lot of you reading this blog know about a game called The Banner Saga. If you don’t, then definitely check it out. It’s a lovely tactical role playing game, inspired by Norse mythology. Not only is it really fun to play, the art is also breath taking. I simply love the style of it. Look, see for yourself: 

Stoic, the studio behind it, make no secret of the fact that one of their key influences is an artist called Eyvind Earle. In fact he is even credited on the project for ’Artistic Inspiration’, so largely was his impact felt. When you compare his work to the game you can see why:

His work is extremely bold and graphical, utilising simple colour palettes (nearly always with black, or something close to black) to create high contrast images. Often he’ll use dramatic shadows or negative space to conjure up striking compositions. This, in combination with an effective distribution of detail, helps create some amazing pieces of art. 

The Banner Saga does a very similar thing. Particularly striking is the use of scale, whereby they utilise the large/medium/small composition rule to great effect. So for example, they have something incredibly big, like a massive face carved into a rock taking up 1/2 of the screen (large shape), then some much smaller, tighter detail like little people at the bottom (small shape), and then something in between like the trees (medium shape). Finally, the clean pure red banner brings some focus and visual harmony to the scene. The cherry on the cake is the parallax created by the foreground trees. Pretty awesome huh?

We were lucky enough to watch a BAFTA stream with Stoic Studio where they explored some of there narrative process and thinking and it was fascinating. One detail that stuck in my head was that the world of The Banner Saga always has long shadows, as if the sun was constantly setting and the world was caught in this state of decline as the light ebbs away. Wow, what a great bit of subliminal world-building and a fascinating insight.

What I like most about Eyvind Earles's paintings is the sense of wonder. They feel like they’re directly out of a fairy tale.  It also doesn’t hurt that a lot of his scenes are all snowy - FTW! There’s enough detail to make them feel real, but enough abstraction of colour and shapes to feel other-worldly. This style also makes everything incredibly accessible. They have a child like quality, but portrayed through a master’s eye. It’s a potent combination and one that's been used to great effect in The Banner Saga.

Happily, The Banner Saga 3 has also recently been backed on Kickstarter, so there's plenty more goodness to come at the end of this year!

Until next time,

Alex & Tom

Tom Jones