Veronica Kushnareva – AKA LadyShalirin – on using music as inspiration when illustrating for Disney Lorcana

Veronica Kushnareva, LadyShalirin, Disney Lorcana

How did you find your way into a career in art? Was it always on the cards?
To be honest, it was a long and difficult journey. Drawing has always been my passion, but the results of hard work have not immediately rewarded with good projects… For a long time, I was drawing just for myself because of my love of cartoons, fairy tales, and out of a desire to get closer to this magical world of art. Of course, Disney cartoons played a big role. I spent hours watching The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Pocahontas and other cartoons from this studio when I was a child… Not much has really changed since then!

It inspires me all the time. I am ready to spend hours thanking people for creating such wonderful cartoons! So, I had spent most of my life drawing, until people started to notice my work on social media. Many people started writing to me with job offers to various projects, and this is what happened with my invitation to Lorcana. Although it wasn’t always card games! I’ve worked in animation, book illustration, and concept art for computer games. I really like trying new things, so I’m always open to suggestions.

You mentioned being a big Disney fan. Lorcana must be a dream gig?
Absolutely. As soon as I was told that this job was related to drawing cartoon characters from this studio, I immediately agreed without hesitation. I would like to work directly at this studio one day… In fact, this is my dream. Therefore, it’s an honour for me to be a part of a project that is so closely related to my dream. I can draw my favourite characters, even come up with outfit concept arts! It’s just amazing… The tasks are always interesting; the world of Lorcana is very creative.

Lorcana is your first TCG project. Was there a big learning curve?
I didn’t know a lot, I didn’t understand a lot… A lot of things were new to me in the process of working with the team, but they were very kind to me. I studied with colleagues, and the art directors explained everything to me very clearly and positively! I’m actually a fan of board games, and the gaming industry in general. I’m not an active player on my own, but I like to follow the news in the world of games, watch streams, and sometimes play with friends. Games are a completely different facet of art. Players can influence the events of the game, unlike a movie viewer. The player is in the process, and not just an observer of the action. So, for me, it’s magic.

And talking specifically about Lorcana, card collecting takes a special place in the hearts of people. There are a lot of talented people working on the cards, so it’s not surprising that people collect them not only for the game. Many people ask for autographs from artists as a keepsake. It’s so cute, and it brings people together! Many games, especially board games, make us closer to each other, and that’s great.

Let’s dive into one of your cards: Ursula – Sea Witch Queen. What brief were you working from for this card?
Ursula should be placed in the centre of the composition. She was solemnly putting on the crown of Triton. She revelled in power, and around her were her faithful servants, Flotsam and Jetsam. I think many people would be interested in seeing such twist in the original cartoon, and here it is, realised in Lorcana! Ursula is the Queen of the Atlantic!

Veronica Kushnareva, LadyShalirin, Disney Lorcana

She certainly is! Can you talk us your design process? What did you want to capture and convey about the character?
An interesting element of many illustrations for Lorcana is the effect of the ink on the characters! In Ursula’s case, it was an Amethyst ink. I love the way Ursula was suited to everything related to this ink… Lilac-pink colours and spirals! It was interesting to work on her look. I also tried to portray Ursula in a turn, her tentacles in motion.

Due the work being vertical, I had a lot of space for additional details like Ursula’s cave, where she had been doing all her villainous deeds. Also, I liked the idea of adding a cauldron at the bottom of the card, because the bubbles coming out of it complemented the overall composition. The bubbles also help plunge the viewer into the depths of the sea world.

The main focus is on the action itself, with Ursula putting on the crown and everything going into a whirlwind of evil spells… This process is unstoppable and soon she will become the most powerful evil witch of the Atlantic Sea!

Your passion for the character shines through! Does being a Disney fan help your creative process?
Absolutely. While working on Lorcana cards, I reviewed many Disney cartoons to refresh my memories of scenes that could be suitable for working on compositions, silhouettes and new looks for the characters. I am happy to draw characters from classic Disney films so I can express my love, admiration and respect for my favourite stories. I often turn to official concept art in my work to accurately depict and get into the character.

I always think about how to make storytelling art… How to immerse the viewer in the action in the picture and how to draw a character reliably. Cinderella does not move and pose like Ursula, and vice versa. Also, I often listen to songs from the films. For example, with Ursula, I constantly listened to ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’. It helped get me inspired, it’s just incendiary! Ursula, like many Disney villains, is imposing and charismatic… It was a lot of fun to draw her.

You did a great job. Huge thanks again for taking time to chat.

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