Small Magic

Hello, my name is Paul Humphreys. I’ve recently posted a new mini expansion pack for 2nd edition Talisman online called ‘Small Magic’ which happily has received positive feedback. Because of the popularity of these designs I’ve been invited by Jon here at Talisman Island to write a small article explaining the process involved in creating these cards.

The 1st and 2nd edition Talisman artwork was created by the British fantasy illustrator Gary Chalk. Being a graphic designer myself, I’ve have always admired his unique artistic style which featured notably in the Lone Wolf series of gamebooks. I decided it would be an interesting project to create some new card artwork of my own, and I would like to try and replicate the style and ‘charm’ of the originals. Over many nights down the local pub and countless pints of beer, myself and a fellow Talisman veteran tried to devise new and interesting Adventure events, monsters and items. Armed with a sketchbook full of notes I set about producing the illustrations which would hopefully bring the card ideas to life…

The Adventure card illustrations in the original 1st Edition of Talisman are black and white images, for the 2nd edition these were simply given a colour wash. To mimic this production method, my designs followed the same process. I begin by producing an 8x8cm hand drawn pencil sketch, which is double the size of the finished card image. This is a more convenient size to work at and allows for greater level of detail. Once I’m happy with this I then use Rotring pens of various sizes to create the black and white version of the image.

Pencil Sketch Black & White Pen Image

Further changes can now be made by first scanning the artwork into my computer. This digital version of the illustration can then be cleaned up in Photoshop. I use this software application to combine extra sections I’ve drawn separately to the main artwork but also to improve the contrast, strengthen the quality of line, remove any imperfections and make any slight alterations. Separate layers are then created for each individual colour used, again trying to replicate the style and effects of the original 2nd edition colour washes.

This finished illustration is then exported to Illustrator as a high resolution TIFF file. This keeps the image quality as high as possible without any compression. The graphic is positioned onto a vector file Adventure card template I’ve created. The various text sections such as description, card type etc can then be entered. The completed card is then placed on a double sided print page and saved out as a PDF.

Digital Composite Image Finished Coloured Version

And that’s essentially it. I hope you enjoy using these cards. I’ve certainly enjoyed making them. I should hopefully be able to produce further new Talisman cards some time in the future. I’ll post them as soon as they are finished.

If you would like any further information or would like to give my artwork a ‘Thumbs Up’ (which is always welcome!) you can always contact me via Boardgame Geek.


Paul Humphreys

** UPDATE! **

Paul has just released the second part in the Small Magic series, which features 5 fantastic new cards for your game with some stunning artwork!

Many thanks go to Paul for writing this interesting article and allowing the cards to be put up as a download at Talisman Island. They can be downloaded here –

Small Magic 1
Small Magic 2