CD PROJEKT RED
GWENT®: The Witcher Card Game
Anna Podedworna is a concept artist and illustrator at CD PROJEKT RED, where she is currently working on GWENT: The Witcher Card Game. While studying architecture and engineering, she discovered you can actually draw monsters for a living and decided to put her talent to work in the game industry. Besides art, she also loves biology and astronomy.
Please give us your name, company, and position.
Hi, my name is Anna Podedworna and I’m a Concept Artist at CD PROJEKT RED. Before I started work here I was a student of architecture. While attending university I did a ton of work as a freelancer: book covers, fashion designs, comic books, tattoos, and an assortment of private commissions. Eventually I started working on an indie game project, which I greatly enjoyed doing, and that’s when I decided making games is what I want to do for a living. I've profiled my portfolio for the game industry and by some miracle got into CD PROJEKT RED, where I’m currently working on GWENT: The Witcher Card Game.
Tell us more about your winning Into the Pixel piece – what does it showcase? What was the inspiration behind it?
It’s a portrait of an elven sorceress — Ida Emean. She doesn’t play a prominent role neither in The Witcher books, nor the games, which is a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you aren’t confined to a specific interpretation of the character, but on the other — you don’t have much to work from. I decided to loosely base my illustration on a quote from Baptism of Fire: "Ida Emean aep Sivney, elven sorceress, one of the free Aen Seidhe from the Blue Mountains, during the audience shrouded by an invisibility spell, materialised in a corner of the library, and smoothed down her dress and vermilion-red hair. The ocelots only reacted with a slight widening of their eyes. Like all cats, they could see what was invisible and could not be deceived by a simple spell.”
Ida Emean is one of many pieces that you’ve worked on for Gwent. Do the cards’ intended power and abilities in the game have any impact on the art process and your portrayal of the characters and creatures?
Our designers and writers help us by gathering information on the characters and items for card art, or by preparing a brief for the illustrators. Sometimes the design and abilities of the card factor into the illustrations, sometimes they don't. In some instances the abilities of the card change from the original design. One such example is my illustration for the Vran Warrior card, which depicts a humanoid lizard creature on top of a snowy mountain of all places. The reason for that is very simple — originally this card was intended to be immune to the Biting Frost weather effect. Over time the design changed, so now we’re left with a giant lizard man freezing his tail off in a snow storm. Because of situations like this, we prefer to have the illustrations loosely inspired by card abilities or gameplay mechanics — it's better when the art is more universal, and not weirdly specific.
What is a random/unique fact about yourself or your work on the game that others may not know?
I always listen to audiobooks while creating illustrations, so each one is sort of connected to a particular book section I happened to be listening at the time. I kind of consider the illustration I end up creating being my bookmark.
What/who are some of the biggest influences on your art? Whether it be from games/TV/movies/books?
Honestly, there are way more inspirations than I could ever list. Just the few off the top of my head would be the brilliant anatomy illustrations of Eliot Goldfinger and Bammes Gottfried. As I mentioned previously, I really enjoy listening to audiobooks while working, so I also get heavily inspired by books, fantasy and science fiction for the most part. Among my favourite authors are Frank Herbert, Jacek Dukaj, George R. R. Martin, Brandon Sanderson, and Patrick Rothfuss.
What tips would you give to students/aspiring artists that want to enter the gaming industry?
Start building your portfolio and applying for entry level jobs as an artist like crazy, even if you’re still in school. If you have at least one eye, one hand, and a curious and attentive mind, you have way more than enough to make it. Artists are always super hard on themselves, so even if you think that your portfolio is not good enough, go ahead and try. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Where can fans follow your work online or via social media?
You can find my works on my ArtStation and Instagram profiles: