Myth world This compendium of concept art reveals a rich new vision for a fantasy game that may never come out
The Art of Fable Legends; Movie Posters Re-imagined; The Anatomy of Style: Figure Drawing Techniques.
The latest in the Fable series of action role-playing games for Windows and XBox, Fable Legends was highly anticipated. However, in March Microsoft Studios announced that Lionheart Studios, the game’s maker, was to close. That most likely means the free-to-play, co-operative game set in the fantasy world of Albion, will not be released.
That would be a huge shame, as, unusually, a richly produced art book had been released before the game. It reveals a revolutionary back-to-basics move for the series, in aesthetic terms at least, and had seriously whetted our appetite for the game. With no game, the book is even more of a treat now.
Fable Legends was intended to be a prequel, set in a time before the Heroes’ Guild, in an older, more medieval Albion. Small towns and villages nestle among woodland inhabited by dangerous magical creatures. This lavish hardback is full of sumptuous, full-colour illustrations of the evocative fantasy period.
It’s the heavily stylised characters – heroes and villains, humans and animals – that are the real stars of this stunning book, and who dominate the bulk of its 196, large-format pages. But there’s no danger of monotony: with art by Billy Wimblett, Claire Hummel, Elliot Upton, Lauren Nichols, Mike McCarthy, Patrick Martin, Ross Dearsley and Sarah Morris, there’s a huge variety of approaches on show.
We’re particularly excited by the enigmatic yet sinister look of the pucks – pan-like creatures who flit between the sides of good and evil – and the beguiling Lady of Rosewood, a floaty, malevolent presence drawn in the style of Czech Art Nouveau painter Alphonse Mucha. Both illustrations highlight how much depth and originality went into the design of this game, raising it far above genre norms.
For each character or creature, we get a game screenshot, a full-colour illustration and a 3D render in greyscale. Pencil sketches-in-progress are dotted throughout, plus sections on tools and environments, and detailed commentary by the art team.
The latter provides insight and backstories for the game’s characters – though there’s not much mention of art techniques employed. Nonetheless, anyone who works in the games industry, or has a passing interest in the fantasy role-playing genre, will find this fascinating and inspiring.
“Sterling falls in love so easily, but the next morning he has got to be a hero,” says the game’s director David Eckelberry.
The idea here was for a feeling of the buildings being so ancient their origins are unknown.