Oshawott Pokemon Custom Playmat

Most people tend to avoid adding text to their designs if possible, you may have noticed I’m something of exception in that regard. Most people also tend to avoid card zones too and today, along with talking about the latest Pokemon mat I’m going to talk a bit about why that is. I will also spend some time talking tangents and for once it wont be of the aside variety.
Coming straight out of working on the Bulbasuar mat next up is, another Pokemon mat, but thats ok I’m in the zone right now and how can you get tired of drawing the little yellow guy?
Oshawott, however, is the star of this design. On top of that, to keep me on my toes since this mat will end up being a birthday present for someone who’s quite new to the game and needs a little helping hand, it was going to require card zones.
Have you seen Pokemon card zones? they take up a fair bit of room.
But lets not worry about that for now I say to myself you have a design to do after all. First up I decide it needs to be something lighthearted, Pokemon doesn’t generally lend itself to dark and gritty in any case but there was a definite emphasis on keeping it fun.
From there design evolved out of the idea of Osawatt holding up his shell triumphantly at the center of the image and design wise everyone else just sort of fell into place around him. I also wanted them to have something of the look of a pile of stuffed animals. That said it was quite tricky to get Squirtle to look right sitting down, I’m not sure its an easy pose for a turtle. There was also something of an incident involving Pikachu’s feet, originally he didn’t have any, which was fine but by the time I got to colouring the shadow under everyone it didn’t look quite right, almost as if he was sliding off the edge of the page.
Additionally for this project I set myself the goal of attempting to avoid tangents, I might talk a bit more about them in a separate post down the line but the short of it is in areas where 3 lines intersect it can make the objects involved look as if they are connected in some way they actualy arnt, an illusion of sorts that is best to try and avoid.
Its relatively straightforward for me to adjust the image to weed them out due to the current way I go about designing mats which involves at least 3 revisions. I bring the topic up however because having done my best to remove them then  I went about adding the card zones.
Which were rectangles with straight edges, threatening to create tangents with the background all over the place.
For the most part I managed to avoid adding too many. You can see that the zone over the shell very deliberately avoids hitting any corners of the surrounding image. The nearest being where it goes over his ear. It was fortunate in a way that so much of the design is made of soft curves, had there been a majority of straight lines like exist in Pikachu’s tail it may have been more awkward.
Having placed the first zone you now get to the second major issue with them, making sure they are aligned correctly with the mat and each other.
It’s not easy, its time consuming and can end up looking wrong if your not careful. Thankfully there is a way to make your life a tad easier and it involves the use of something most people have loads of. I’m talking of course of spare cards and in this instance far from being useless they come to the rescue. For example why do the zones start 4 inches up from the bottom of the mat? Its because I laid out real cards in that space and remembered that some people like to rest their forearms on the mat so I made sure there would beenough space for that. The zones are also the same distance in from both sides and the the discard and deck piles are where they are also because I was able to play with physical cards moving them about until it looked right.
Finally once thats all sorted you have to make sure people can tell where the zones are, an outline helps and here Ive gone with brown because it shows up the best across the most colours in the mat but I have also made sure to leave the areas inside the zones a few shades lighter than the surrounding image to make it look like they are semi transparent shapes that sit above the image and knock some of the colours out of it.
So the reason people avoid zones? Beside’s the fact that you may want to paly other games on the mat obviously. Mainly because they cause so much extra planning, checking and re-checking, and, you know, hide the design which is the thing that, really, when it comes down to it, you want people to see.
I finish things off with a relatively simple background, again full of curves to avoid tangets and add some stars and Pokeballs in order otto give a sense of motion to the whole affair.
Sneakily two of the Pokeballs just happen to correspond to locations that people typically put gyms and supporters.
A total coincidence you understand. It had nothing to do with not wanting to add even more rectangles to the image.
Next time be prepared to for a trip to the big city.

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