A few months ago, we decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on commissioning new portrait art for Conclave.  Those of you who are a part of the Conclave Facebook and Google Plus groups have probably seen preliminary sketches of the new portraits; today, we’re going to show you a bit more of what they’ll be like in practice.

But first, why new portraits?  Portrait art matters a lot in Conclave.  As with any roleplaying game, portraits can help you visualize your character, aiding you in identifying with it and making the game come to life a bit more.  Unlike many such games, however, Conclave’s portraits show up just about everywhere.  Whether you are choosing which of your characters you wish to play with right now, forming a party, chatting, or fighting on the battlefield, those portraits are shorthand identification of your character.

Meanwhile, we came to see a few too many collisions where two party members would share a portrait.  This can get pretty confusing when you log in and are quickly trying to see your situation in a combat:  you can’t just rely on picking out your unique image from the battlefield, because it’s not actually unique.  With ten portraits, this happens fairly often.  Simply upping the number of possible portraits cuts down on these collisions a lot.

Another factor is that it can be difficult to find a piece of art that does a good job of depicting certain combinations of race, gender, and archetype within the game.  If you are a female forgeborn Vanguard, great:  we’ve got you covered.  But what if you are a trow instead?  Are you okay looking like this?  With new portraits in the mix, it’s much easier to find an image that really fits your character.

Finally, we simply love working with Chris Rahn, the artist who painted the original portraits, and our selection for the new ones as well.  Chris is an art director’s dream come true:  fast, responsive, and able to quickly grok what you are going for with a minimum of specific direction.  His work with light and glows is just fantastic.  There’s a maturity, a seriousness, about his art that distances it from all-too-common fantasy schlock, a maturity that’s important to the Conclave game experience.  And it’s all just so darned pretty.

Okay, enough background.  Let’s see some new portraits in action.  For today, we’ll only be seeing final artwork for the forgeborn; you’ll have to wait for the rest until we make our next release.  When will that be?  Soon… very soon.

Here’s how step three of character creation will change:

Note that this is a preliminary screen:  things will change before launch.  (Certainly, the first portrait will be at full resolution!).  Only one of the two new portraits shown will actually be a part of this release:  every race/gender combination will have now have two choices available, bringing us up to twenty total portraits.

And here’s how a new portrait looks like in action.  He looks like he’d make an excellent Vanguard, helmed and with a weapon strapped to his back, or a great Beacon, calling the troops to battle.

To see sketches of other upcoming portraits, please join our Facebook or Google Plus groups.