Jochem van Gool on how a career in animation guides his approach to illustrating Disney Lorcana

Jochem van Gool, Disney Lorcana, Film & TV, Toys & Games

Jochem, it’s great to connect. Before we dive into your work with Disney Lorcana, had you worked in board games before?
I studied animation and work in animation, but I had worked on board games before Lorcana in between animation projects… I did the artwork for Pixie Queen, Paranormal Detectives, Yummy Yummy Monster Tummy – and I also did the artwork for an amazon-exclusive version of Hasbro’s Monopoly Junior.

You mention working in animation. What sorts of things have you been involved with?
My main focus is traditional 2D animation – like the old school Disney movies. That’s why I love working on Disney Lorcana! I worked on the Netflix film Klaus.

Klaus! Brilliant film!
Thank you! It was made by The SPA Studios – Sergio Pablos Animation. He worked on Disney movies like Tarzan and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. A real veteran of 2D animation. I feel very lucky to have worked on Klaus. It brings me joy every time I watch it.

Me too! Right, let’s dive into one of your Disney Lorcana cards… Donald Duck – Musketeer Soldier. What brief did you get given for this?
We get a PDF file with a mock-up of the card with text, but without any illustrations. We get a description, so for this card it was: ‘Donald Duck running over flagstones, using his hand to keep his hat in place, with a sword in his scabbard.’ We also wanted to align it with the other musketeers, and I did the Goofy – Musketeer from set one as well… So I was familiar with that style!

Jochem van Gool, Disney Lorcana, Film & TV, Toys & Games

You’re the go-to for musketeers!
Ha! Maybe! I did the Mickey Mouse – Musketeer from set one too! Then after the brief, we made a few quick sketches to articulate our ideas for the card in terms of pose and composition.

Did you have many different versions of this card in mind at the start?
I did four different versions initially. They all featured the same pose, but had different backgrounds… One in a village, one in a courtyard, one in a park and one in a forest. The forest is the one that was chosen.

You’ve managed to convey a lot of motion in this image. Did you lean on any of your experience in animation for some of that?
Absolutely! This might sound a bit technical but in animation there’s this thing called a ‘run cycle’. In a run cycle there’s always a moment where the character floats… The feet won’t be touching the ground. We call it the ‘floating pose’. It doesn’t really land a character that well, so I used the moment just behind it called the ‘contact pose’.

Jochem van Gool, Disney Lorcana, Film & TV, Toys & Games

You can see Donald’s heel is touching the ground. That’s the pose you’d usually start a run cycle with… The legs are the farthest apart and the legs are straight, so it’s the most dynamic pose out of all the frames in a run cycle. It’s a key drawing in terms of animation, so I felt it would work for this card.

Terrific insight Jochem. I’m glad I asked! Now, you mentioned being a fan of Disney movies earlier. Does being a Disney fan help your creative process when it comes to creating for Lorcana?
I think so. It steers those little choices that end up making a card punchy. When you know the history of a character, you know what they’re like and try to include the more subtle little things that a character does. It also applies to what we do with the backgrounds… It helps to authentically capture the look and feel of the movies if you’re already a fan.

For example, I did the Shenzi – Hyena Pack Leader card from The Lion King. The character is standing in the location where they threaten Zazu. I know that environment very well from being a fan of the film, so designing that came very naturally to me.

Jochem van Gool, Disney Lorcana, Film & TV, Toys & Games

And when it comes to that character, I know it’s Whoopi Goldberg doing the voice and it helped to just imagine her face when drawing the face… And I think the Disney animators watched voice actors deliver their lines and took subtle aspects of the performance into their animations. That’s what I’ve tried to do with my card. And even down to Shenzi’s pose… She uses her paw to explain stuff and hit the other hyenas, so I wanted to lift that paw and have her use it in a similar way to how she does in the movie.

I can see that. Great example. And how many cards have you done for Lorcana so far?
12 that have been released – and I try to improve with every card! I did the Rapunzel – Gifted with Healing card from set one and that’s proved quite popular because the game mechanic is really good. It was also one of the first cards I did for Lorcana and it looks great even now… Usually I get sick of my own work after a while but I still like that!

Jochem van Gool, Disney Lorcana, Film & TV, Toys & Games

That’s also one of the rarer cards. Do you find you get more fan interaction when you’ve worked on a rare card?
Yes, it’s true. With Rapunzel – Gifted with Healing, I had people reaching out wanting to get it signed and stuff like that.

Ha! Must be nice knowing your signature adds value instead of cheapening it!
One time, a fan of the game asked me to sign three cards and I was so nervous that I signed each one in a very different way… It’s all very strange!

Jochem, this has been fun. Before we wrap up, have you got a favourite card that you’ve worked on to date?
My favourite actually hasn’t come out yet, so I can’t mention that one! But away from that, I really like Mickey Mouse – Musketeer Captain. It’s a rare card and I also got to design the costume, because it needed to be different from the first Mickey Mouse – Musketeer I did. So this one has white fancy gloves with gold detailing, and the cape has some nice details on it too.

Jochem van Gool, Disney Lorcana, Film & TV, Toys & Games

And the environment I created for this card is inspired by Annecy, a village in France that hosts an animation festival each year. I loosely based it on that place as a little nod to my past in animation… And Mickey is the most iconic animated character of all time, so I felt it was appropriate.

Absolutely. Jochem, thanks again.

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