We are now teaming up with the Spanish fan site, cosmere.es, to translate articles from their site to English, and they can translate 17th Shard articles to Spanish! Cosmere.es does phenomenal work and we are so excited to share them with you. They have been killing it with interviews. Here's one of their recent ones! Thank you Ysondra and cosmere.es! You can read the original Spanish article here!
For several weeks we’ve been admiring the marvelous art from the board game Call to Adventure: Stormlight, whose cards portray unforgettable scenes and characters from the Stormlight Archive series.
Although Johnny O’Neal, cofounder of Brotherwise Games, has shared some of the images that await us in the new game, new images are appearing on social media from Brotherwise and the illustrators themselves.
Today we have the immense pleasure of chatting with one of the illustrators who participated in this project and is delighting fans worldwide: Soph Peralta. Just so you all get an idea of the huge success this game had in its first few days, the preorder campaign for the deluxe edition (that includes the booklet The Worldhopper’s Guide to Roshar, combining the history of Roshar and the amazing illustrations) sold out in 36 hours the units they thought would last several weeks. This success is without a doubt due to the care that artists like Soph Peralta have shown as they’ve brought the characters we love to life.
Looking at her work, I dare say that Soph has had a huge challenge by illustrating what we could call “the villains”. They've shared their creative process with us in detail.
And they've given us two images to share exclusively. The first is this spectacular illustration which is a great example of their incredible talent.
Yhorm, the Lonely Ruler, by Soph Peralta
And the second is the art for the card Unmade Influence that you can see with more detail below!
Cosmere.es: Hey, Soph! We’re so happy to meet you and that you’ve given us some of your time! We’ve had several weeks of “heart attack” discovering new illustrations, and the image of Moash you shared a few days ago is incredible. We’ve seen a bit about your art, but we’d love to get to know the artist.
Hi! Thank you for your interest in interviewing me! About me, I am from Barcelona, I’m 26 years years old, and I’ve been working as a freelancer for three years. I studied in an art school here and did a specialized masters in Concept Art to later discover what I really love is illustration. Even though I also love to do visual development or concepts for animation and video games.
Cosmere.es: Your profile shows love for books and video games. What are your favorites?
Without counting Sanderson books, I’ll fall into the cliche of mentioning Tolkien. I’m incapable of reading The Lord of the Rings without being moved several times. There’s something in his stories that gets me every time and I value that a lot when I read. I also love the classics (Poe, Lovecraft, Dracula...) and comics, especially manga. Lastly, I’m trying out science fiction which I haven’t done much of until now, and there are really interesting voices, especially African American or Asian voices, providing really fresh stories.
As for video games, it’s really hard to choose! I would say that my favorite series is the Mass Effect trilogy, but because the emotional connection I’ve had with all three I haven’t experienced with any other game and they were what made me choose to dedicate myself to video games. The games from Arkane Studios (Dishonored 1 and 2 and their expansions as well as Prey) are also at the top. The playability and the aesthetics are exquisite and they’re all an experience. Prey also has a surprising story. I’ll also add the Bioshock games and Dark Souls III, which I played the first time last year and it impressed me so much I’m doing a series of illustrations based on the Cinder Lords. I can’t forget The Witcher either (I love the books too). I’m also a big Pokemon fan!
Cosmere.es: In the tweet with the image you commented that you’re a huge fan of Brandon. How did you find him? What is your favorite book? And, what do you like the most about his books?
A strange thing happened to me with Sanderson. I wanted to read but I never got around to it. About a year or so ago several things about him came up on my social media and some friends of mine (Randy Vargas and Yara Abril, two great artists) highly recommended him to me and it was like “Okay, I get it! I’ll read it!” I started with Mistborn... and I didn’t put his books down until I’d read all there were in the Cosmere. I took a break after finishing Oathbringer until now. I just got Skyward.
With respect to my favorite book... I can’t choose. Mistborn Era 1 has a very special place because it was my introduction to the Cosmere. Vin is one of the best constructed characters I’ve ever found (although my favorite is Sazed). But almost... you can almost say that about the whole cast of the series. All the twists, the plot development, Scadrial’s worldbuilding and how through that he tells the story... Elantris is maybe the one I enjoyed the least from what I’ve read, but not because I think it’s worse, but because you can tell Sanderson is green in his first novel. At the same time, it has really cool aspects, and I loved Hrathen so much that when I finished the book I had to do a doodle of him.
Anyway, if I had to choose, I’d say the Stormlight Archive. Without choosing one book because all three are the most incredible thing I’ve read. How can each one be better than before?
What I like the most about his books... The worldbuilding is impressive and is without a doubt one of the things that draws me to his books. Have you seen Roshar’s ecosystem? From the grass to living things, how the world has been shaped by highstorms is genius from start to finish. I remember when I was reading The Way of Kings and every time it talked about plants retracting, I lost my mind. I know it’s an unimportant detail, but I think in the end it’s the little things that really enrich a world as you go deeper into the story.
I also love how he plays with the theme of the divinities, the theology and religion, the magic systems are super original and well thought out (Taking magic from the storms. What’s cooler than that?) and the rhythm, the twists, how he builds the plot, giving you information little by little so the climax encompasses all of it and leaves you awestruck... But, no doubt, I’m left with the characters. Their complexity, their growth through the story, their internal conflicts, what moves them, their charisma... Even the ones I hate are because of how well written they are.
Also, I love how he shows neurodivergent people in his books. It’s really hard to find good representation and to me he does it really well.
Cosmere.es: We’ve read on Twitter that the game has three of your illustrations. How did you get involved with the project?
Thanks to Randy, in fact! He had been working on the project and when I was finishing Oathbringer and talking about it, he encouraged me to give my portfolio to Johnny.
Cosmere.es: Given the exceptional quality of the cards they’ve revealed, we think this is the result of working with artists who are big fans of the Stormlight Archive. How was working with Brotherwise Games and Johnny?
It was a really, really cool process. The project exudes passion for Sanderson’s books and they cared a lot about the details. The communication was simple and they gave good feedback while still leaving plenty of freedom for the interpretation. They could give you a briefing with a composition that interested them but later you could give another, completely new option that was still valid. It’s really inspiring when your art director trusts you and your credentials as an artist (and fan) so you contribute your vision to what they ask of you.
The fact that there’s already a developed aesthetic more or less official for the characters and many of Roshar’s elements also helped with the work.
Cosmere.es: Can you tell us about the other two cards besides Fallen from Grace?
Fallen from Grace was my test card, and in fact when I sent in my portfolio I was about to finish Oathbringer but I hadn’t gotten to this moment. Luckily when they responded I had! Honestly, I hate Moash with my whole being and I thought it was funny that my test was precisely him. I took it as a challenge, to try and portray him how he really is with all his contradictions and his doubt, a person who has made certain decisions and justifies his selfishness by how the world has treated him. The moment is crucial in his development because it’s when he definitively crosses the line. The whole situation with Elhokar at the end was revenge, but after that he didn’t have personal motivations to justify his decision to comply with the Voidbringers and assassinate Jezrien. He deliberately decided to take this path. I wanted to reflect all of that in the illustration and truthfully having the reading and how evocative that section is fresh in my mind helped a lot.
The other two cards I did were more characters themselves rather than a specific moment of the story. In Ghostblood Agent I had to do Mraize and I tried to focus on how enigmatic and shady he is, which is why I chose this kind of lighting. While in Unmade Influence, it was Queen Asuedan’s turn when she was already under the influence of the Unmade. I went over the top with her design with which they gave me a lot of freedom. But I wanted her to show the opulence and excess that she had turned into. Additionally I love that the Stormlight Archive has East Asian influence and I tried to show that in both characters.
Fallen From Grace, by Soph Peralta
Unmade Influence, by Soph Peralta
Ghostblood Agent, by Soph Peralta
Cosmere.es: What was the process of creating the illustrations like? What type of references did you use? What inspired you?
I always start with the briefing that the art director sent me. In this case, for example, Fallen from Grace was the following:
Fallen from Grace
Type: Trait (Tarot sized)
Setting: A stone balcony at night.
Action: A female Fused (Hnanan) gives a golden knife to an angry slave (Moash).
- Moash has a narrow face with hawk-like features and brown-black hair.
- The Fused has long hair, marbled black/white/red skin, and a bony orange ridge over her brow.
- He accepts a knife from her. It's a yellow-white metal, with a sapphire set into the pommel.
Mood: Intense, dark, hateful. This is the moment where Moash turns completely from the side of good.
Reference: I've attached reference for this specific scene, as well as reference for the Fused.
They sent me a series of references (the ones marked in red) and I made myself a PureRef file with those and some others I found. On one hand for the values and the light since it was the first time I’d done a night scene and getting it to reflect well was very complicated and on the other hand references for the intensity and dark mood. The artists are Frank Tenney Johnson (the cowboys), Marta Nael (the girl with wings and animals), Jodie Muir (the blue illustrations with red moons) and my favorite artist Piotr Jabłoński for the rest. I also added the forehead tattoo from Bridge Four which I added to Moash though it was barely visible in the end and I took a photograph to see how the weight was distributed on the body in that pose.
References for Fallen From Grace
Once I had a moodboard I was satisfied with, I moved on to the thumbnails which are small drawings to show the composition and light of the scene (steps 1 and 2 of the images in the process for Fallen from Grace). I sent them and they chose the second one. I played around with the color palette, trying to keep the sense of animosity, overwhelm and hate. I sent them step 4 and they sent me back feedback. On one hand it ended up very dark and the impression was that the colors came out worse. Hnanan’s clothes should be red (I had focused on a too phantasmal mood) and more “solid” and the dagger should be more golden.
I made the changes corresponding to step 5 and did a few touch ups and added a bit of background that insinuated Kholinar so it wasn’t so planae and sent them step 6.
The corrections from step 7 I did after finishing Unmade Influence. They were working with Isaac Stewart on finalizing the rest of the illustrations and some details needed to be polished so they fit with the “official” aesthetic.
Click the spoiler below for the step-by-step progression for Fallen From Grace!
In the case of Ghostblood Agent the steps were more or less the same. The main difference is that after refining the base color, I wanted to make the chair reflect what you couldn’t see in the rest of the room: Mraize’s taste for well made things with a certain luxury while fixing the perspective. I don’t think I made a moodboard for this, although obviously I used references outside what they sent me which mostly focused on the character’s features.
Click the spoiler below for the step-by-step progression for Ghostblood Agent!
And finally, for Unmade Influence, I made myself a PureRef file because, without a doubt, this card was the most complex of the three that they sent me. Something clear in Fallen from Grace is that Roshar doesn’t have one white moon but three, so the light can’t be like the light on Earth. It doesn’t only change the tone, but it must be made clear and they specified that the scene be illuminated by Salas, the violet moon, but with a reddish tint. I reused references for the night lighting and added some that were closer to the tone I was looking for (such as the illustrations by Pauline Voß). And for the black smoke coming from Aesudan I used Karla Ortiz’s work on Magic: The Gathering cards because I like the way she treats this material and how she controls the “edges” of her pieces. There are also some by Anna Pavleeva, Olya Bossak, Nathan Fowkes, Justin Sweet, Vance Kovacs, and the references to flesh are from Marta Dettlaff and Miklós Ligeti.
References for Unmade Influence
The process for the illustration itself is more or less the same as well. In this case, they chose the second thumbnail but I had to make a few changes, fix the size of the figure in relation to the size of the Heart so she could take more prominence. Once the composition was finished, I did a study of the texture of the Heart because it had to appear black despite the purple-reddish light.
I established the base color in step 5 and in step 6 I adjusted the folds of the dress while also rendering some of the Unmade.
When I went to apply texture to the dress, I based it on the embroidery of traditional Chinese and Korean clothes.... After I had done it I realized that in Roshar there aren’t birds or flowers so I had to go back to more abstract patterns although surely the Alethi have their own motifs, maybe based on storm iconography or their own glyphs. These last ones I used for the embroidery of the lower layer of the dress and the neck piece, which, although you can hardly see it, is the Kholin glyphpair. I like to take these little details into account in my work and it’s also a pay to pay homage to Sanderson’s attention to detail (like the retracting plants!).
In step 8 I only had to refine the finish, add some background, and in step 9 the final touch of smoke, the amethysts with stormlight, and polish the values of light. And voila!
Click the spoiler below for the step-by-step progression for Unmade Influence!
Cosmere.es: What did you like the most about working to bring life to Call to Adventure: Stormlight?
Aside from the obvious, I liked having the opportunity to portray characters and scenes I probably wouldn’t have done on my own.
Cosmere.es: Are there any other scenes you would have liked to capture?
There are a few powerful scenes I would have loved to do. The scene where Hoid tells Kal the story of Wandersail is one of my favorite parts of the series. I did a version in inktober last year but it was very short. Kal and Bridge Four coming back for Dalinar, Adolin and his army on the Shattered Plains is another. Also Syl facing off against the highstorm while Kaladin is chained or when she fights rotspren after that. Or swearing one of the ideals.
Left to right: Unforseeable, Scars, and Glow by Soph Peralta
There are also a pair of moments with Shallan which are ingrained in my mind and I want to draw so badly. One of them is when she’s drawing alone in the library in Kharbranth and creationspren appear around her. Also her encounter with the santhid, which there is actually a card of this moment in the game, and from the illustrations I’ve seen, it’s one of my favorites.
In general, I would have liked to have gotten to do one of the Radiants. All of the scenes with Dalinar are also tremendously epic. Jasnah is another interesting character and it would also have been interesting to do Odium or a highstorm.
Cosmere.es: Can we hope to see more of your art for Brandon’s books?
I think with my last answer I’ve said it all! I have a few things in mind, and before Rhythm of War comes out, I wanted to reread the first three. Surely something will come of it.
I also have an idea in mind with Vin and sooner or later it will come to light.
Cosmere.es: Had you ever thought about how it would be to adapt Sanderson’s book to a game? Since we’re imagining, pretend there’s no budget. What would you like to see? Who would be your dream team to develop it?
I’ve thought about it and talked about it with other Cosmere fans a few times and for me, it’s clear. Arkane Studios developing a game based on Mistborn would be a dream made real. Their games have a strong stealth aspect and an aspect of finding creative solutions to problems in front of you which you can adapt to the way you want to play. I think that encapsulates the first Mistborn trilogy really well. The abilities Corvo and Emily have in the two Dishonored games also have a similar air to them. Plus, Dunwall’s development through levels and heights is how I imagine you could play in a Luthadel context.
I think something similar would also work for Warbreaker where in the end, the magic system is very visual.
For Stormlight Archive I had a bit of trouble imagining it until I saw the demo for Unreal Engine 5. Now I need a game for Stormlight like that!
Cosmere.es: Which other authors or IPs do you like to work with?
If they do more expansions of Call to Adventure for the Cosmere I’d sign up without thinking twice. I also like Leigh Bardugo a lot, especially Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. They’re two books that I enjoy and working on something official with the Crows would be very fun. On the other hand The Witcher is one of my dream jobs, although more for CD Projekt than the literary part of the IP.
N. K. Jemisin is another author I love and who’s worlds would be an honor to work in. Although this list is sure to grow when I finish devouring my list of “pending” books.
Aside from books and video games that I’ve already mentioned, the IP of Wizards of the Coast (Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons) are other goals of mine. As a roleplayer, it would be a dream come true!
Cosmere.es: Thank you so much for the time you’ve dedicated to us today! Is there anything else you want to share before we say goodbye for now?
Thank you to you guys for this interview! It’s an honor that you like my work and want to share it. Talking about books and art is always a pleasure.
I’d only add that I’m currently on the hunt for job opportunities. Either freelance or in a studio! You can contact me via email, which you can find on my page.
Until next time!
And thank you for letting us publish this translation, Cosmere.es! Thank you to Bea for translating, as well as Ysondra for assisting in it and giving us all these cool images.
Edited by Chaos