Etchtober Gallery: Tabletop Games on Etch-a-Sketch

For the past few years, I’ve participated in Inktober, a month-long drawing challenge started by Jake Parker that encourages you to make one drawing a day. There’s always an official list of prompt words for each day, though now a lot of people come up with their own themed lists. (One of my favorites this year was the A.I.nktober prompts that were generated by a neural net.) I haven’t always made it all the way through the entire month, but it’s a fun exercise that gives me an excuse to do some drawing each year even if I’ve set it aside for a while.

Last year, I decided to do my own spin on it: Etchtober! I did each drawing for the month on my Etch-a-Sketch, and had a lot of fun. This year, I did it again, but with an additional feature: every drawing would be based on a tabletop game. I wanted to highlight games I liked, and it was fun to think about what games fit each prompt word. I shared these on social media during the month; here’s a look back at the whole set of drawings!

Etchtober: Ring

Day 1: Ring

Several games have rings in them, but I decided to go with one the 5-point artifact in Clank!, one of my favorite games. The ring is actually the least valuable artifact—you can see the 15-point golden bananas down in the corner. I was a little rusty and had trouble getting proportions right, but it turned out all right.

Etchtober: Mindless

Day 2: Mindless

I thought at first about drawing a game that didn’t require much thought, like Chutes & Ladders, but I really wanted to focus on games that I actually enjoy. So I went with the concept of zombies instead. This is from the cover of Good Dog, Bad Zombie, a cooperative game where dogs fight off zombies and rescue the hoomans. I love how the zombie turned out, and the top two dogs are pretty good—the dog at the bottom ended up with kind of a short neck.

Etchtober: Bait

Day 3: Bait

I considered fishing-themed games, but I don’t have a lot of those that I felt would make a good drawing, so instead, I decided to draw Fireball Island. There’s a big gem that sits right next to Vul-Kar, and to get it you have to cross over a rickety bridge that’s very likely to get hit if Vul-Kar explodes. I have to confess that after drawing the main features: the woman, the gem, the bridges, and Vul-Kar’s mouth, I got tired and didn’t put much detail into the lower right part of the screen.

Etchtober: Freeze

Day 4: Freeze

There were a few options for “freeze,” but I decided to go with an ice cream truck from Rocky Road a la Mode. Straight lines are always nice on an Etch-a-Sketch, though round wheels are a little tricky. This particular truck is driven by two kids.

Etchtober: Build

Day 5: Build

“Build” is one of those words that can fit so many games, so the hardest part was deciding which one to go with. I decided I liked the idea of drawing Rhino Hero, a game about building a tall tower using folded card “walls” and flat card “floors.” This illustration is from the cover—I decided to just draw Rhino Hero and not the brickwork (or the cat looking out the window) on the building.

Etchtober: Husky

Day 6: Husky

There are games that actually feature the dog version of huskies, but not games that I’m very familiar with myself. I decided to go with the other definition of “husky” instead, and Village Pillage had several good options. I love the range of characters in the illustrations: lots of different ages and ethnicities and body shapes. This husky guy is from the basic Wall card.

Etchtober: Enchanted

Day 7: Enchanted

You’d think “enchanted” would also be really easy to find in a game, right? Well, it turns out a lot of games that have magical things don’t actually use the word “enchanted,” so I kept looking until I found the Enchanted Bow in Vast: The Crystal Caverns. The card only has a drawing of the bow, so I put it in the hands of the Knight on her player board illustration. I’ve always liked Kyle Ferrin’s artwork for the game, though my reproduction of it gave the Knight a big head.

Etchtober: Frail

Day 8: Frail

Spirit Island is a colonization-themed game in which players cooperate as the spirits of the island to drive out the colonizers, who spread across the land and erect villages and towns. It’s an interesting twist on the usual narrative, and makes you look at things in a different light. The invaders are tiny plastic miniatures that are extremely skinny—I thought they would be a good example of frailty, both the physical model and their significance in the game.

Etchtober: Swing

Day 9: Swing

This is the only game in my Etchtober drawings that I actually haven’t played myself, but I’m fascinated by it. Stonehenge and the Sun is a game from the Japanese publisher Itten, and it involves a steel ball suspended from the ceiling that you swing through an increasingly crowded structure, trying not to knock things over.

Etchtober: Pattern

Day 10: Pattern

“Pattern” felt like a perfect fit for Calico, a tile-laying game about making quilts that was on Kickstarter during October. It turns out that drawing fuzz is tricky on the Etch-a-Sketch, and I had a bit of trouble drawing the hexagonal tiles in perspective. I’d originally entertained the idea of drawing in the patterns on the hexes, but decided that (1) it would make the drawing too busy and might make the cat harder to see, and (2) it was going to take way too long anyway.

Etchtober: Snow

Day 11: Snow

When I was in Taiwan this summer, I picked up a game called Yukidama Zombie that’s about knocking down the advancing hordes of zombies using giant snowballs. (The actual game has you rolling steel ball bearings down a tilted board at the zombie meeples.) You can also put pegs into the board to redirect the balls, pachinko-style, which explains the rabbit with the mallet and the big wooden stake in the top corner.

Etchtober: Dragon

Day 12: Dragon

Ah, another word with plenty of game choices! I really love the dragon in Vast, but since I’d already used Vast earlier, I got this boss from 5-Minute Dungeon: A Freakin’ Dragon! The unfortunate thing is that parts of the body are covered up by game text and symbols, so after I drew the head, I kind of had to fudge parts of it.

Etchtober: Ash

Day 13: Ash

Unfortunately, some of the obvious suggestions for “ash” that I’d gotten (like Pokemon) were games that I hadn’t actually played myself, so I went in a different direction: the Scoundrel from Root has a “scorched earth” ability that lets him burn down an entire clearing and makes it useless for the rest of the game. Presumably, there’d be a good amount of ash there. I also figured this mask-wearing, jack-o’-lantern carving vagabond would be a nice fit for Halloween.

Etchtober: Overgrown

Day 14: Overgrown

I had a game that was a perfect fit for “overgrown”: Skulk Hollow. There are giant creatures made up of rocks and trees and plants, so I got both meanings of “overgrown” at once. This one is Grak, the giant bear.

Etchtober: Legend

Day 15: Legend

I’d recently reviewed Time of Legends: Destinies, so that seemed like a good fit for the prompt. But I wasn’t sure what from the game to draw: one of the miniatures? A card? I finally settled on the cover, and decided to do an experiment. The background shows a huge Abbadon towering over a castle, somewhat shrouded in mist and smoke, with figures in the foreground in sharp relief. I drew the background first, and then erased it lightly before drawing the foreground so there would be more of a contrast.

Etchtober: Wild

Day 16: Wild

This is Nepeto the Gardener, one of the leader cards from Mystic Vale: Vale of the Wild. He’s a tree person, and I really liked all the lines and branches on his face.

Etchtober: Museum

Day 17: Ornament

I wasn’t sure what to draw for “ornament,” but then I remembered Museum, a game about collecting various items from around the world to put in a museum. (Yeah, there are some colonizing problems with how collections are built, but the game doesn’t really get into that.) I went through the whole stack of cards and found two that were called “ornaments,” a jade ornament from China, and this one: Tiki Vaka, Boat Ornament from 3rd Century Polynesia. The game is illustrated by Vincent Dutraite and looks amazing; it was hard to capture the color details in a line drawing.

Etchtober: Misfit

Day 18: Misfit

I debated whether to draw a misfit character from a game or to go with the idea of a piece that literally doesn’t fit, and decided on the latter. Silver & Gold is a new flip-and-fill game where you’re filling in map cards using polyomino shapes. The card on the left is the piece that will need to be X’d out on the map; the card on the right shows a map that doesn’t have any room for it.

Etchtober: Sling

Day 19: Sling

This is the slingshot from Fire in the Library, a press-your-luck game about rescuing books from a burning library. The slingshot is kind of nasty: it lets you fling a book that caught on fire at another player. They get the book (if they survive), but they start with more fire.

Etchtober: Tread

Day 20: Tread

When I saw the word “tread,” there was one game I thought of immediately: Wasteland Express Delivery Service, with its Mad Max–inspired armored vehicles. Choosing one to draw was difficult, but I picked Zero’s tank-like vehicle because it was a good shape for the Etch-a-Sketch screen’s proportions, and also because it had those big chunky tires (plus a couple of spare tires)!

Etchtober: Treasures

Day 21: Treasure

“Treasure” is another word that could fit a lot of games, but the cover of Wreck Raiders had a nice big treasure chest with a waving tentacle and it was sitting right there. When I do a drawing like this, I start seeing a lot more details that I gloss over otherwise, so it makes me appreciate the game artwork even more.

Etchtober: Ghost

Day 22: Ghost

For this day, I drew ghosts from three different games: Ghost Fightin’ Treasure HuntersGhost Blitz, and Shaky Manor. The Ghost Blitz one was the hardest because it’s a face on a white cone, so it’s hard to get to those features in the middle of a surface with a connected line, but I think it turned out all right.

Etchtober: Ancient

Day 23: Ancient

Carcassonne isn’t actually ancient, but it’s one of the games that first drew me into the hobby, and it’s one that I still play regularly (albeit usually on my phone rather than on the table). So it’s definitely part of my early personal tabletop history, even though that’s only about 16 years ago.

Etchtober: Dizzy

Day 24: Dizzy

I wasn’t sure at first what to use for “dizzy” because even the real-time games I play don’t usually involve a lot of spinning around. Then I thought of Loopin’ Chewie (a Star Wars version of Loopin’ Louie), in which Chewbacca rotates around and around, knocking over Stormtrooper tokens, and you try to protect your own Stormtroopers as long as possible. Okay, he’s not actually spinning fast enough to get dizzy, but that’s the closest I could get. I do wish I’d left enough room for Chewie’s meaty paws, but I wasn’t going to draw the Millennium Falcon again.

Etchtober: Tasty

Day 25: Tasty

There are lots of games about foods, too, but the first one that came to mind for me is a family favorite: Go Nuts for Donuts! Though once I started drawing it, I realized how many of the faces were just floating in the middle of a space, so I had to get creative with where I put the lines. The sprinkles on the bottom right were a particular challenge, which is why the strawberry frosted donut (top left) doesn’t have any dot sprinkles.

Etchtober: Dark

Day 26: Dark

Nyctophobia is the fear of the dark, and uses blackout glasses so that the players can’t see and have to navigate the board by touch. The cover is black, with a lit silhouette of a vampire, so I reproduced that by coloring in the entire screen and leaving the silhouette. It wasn’t actually as hard is it might sound, but was pretty tedious.

Etchtober: Coat

Day 27: Coat

I really love the player pawns in Villainous, which represent various Disney villains using just a few iconic parts. Captain Hook is a plumed hat, ruffled collar, and swooping coat.

Etchtober: Ride

Day 28: Ride

For “ride,” I had to draw Tiny Epic Zombies, which includes two meeples—a police car and a motorcycle—that the meeples can actually ride! Though, as I discovered, it’s a little harder to do if the meeple is also holding two items, so in my drawing the meeple is armed with a shotgun, and headed toward a zombie meeple.

Etchtober: Injured

Day 29: Injured

Yet another term that works for a lot of games: “injured.” I picked Robinson Crusoe, a cooperative game about being stranded on an island: you have a health tracker on your player board, but there’s also an illustration of your character where certain body parts might get injured: your head, arm, leg, or stomach. You really hope you can get rid of that injury before the corresponding event card is drawn, or bad things will happen! (Okay, bad things will happen regardless, but it gets even worse…) This is the carpenter, currently with an injured arm.

Etchtober: Catch

Day 30: Catch

I always love Ryan Goldsberry’s illustrations for Tim Fowers’ games, and Sabotage is no exception. The game involves hidden movement, with the spies trying to disarm doomsday devices, and the villains trying to catch the spies. I really like how this one turned out.

Etchtober: Ripe

Day 31: Ripe

The last prompt of the month was “ripe,” and I struggled for a while. There are plenty of games that involve fruit or vegetables, but in most cases, you just collect them whenever you want, and there’s no sense of waiting for them to be ripe. The Aquicorn Cove Board Game, a cooperative game aimed at younger players, does involve planting vegetables, which you don’t get to harvest until the fall, so I thought it’d be a good fit. Unfortunately, Lana’s facial features are small and in the middle of her face, so that’s why she has no nose (or freckles!) in my drawing.

Well, that’s it! I had a lot of fun with it, and I’m considering doing something similar again next year, though whether I stick with board games or maybe try comic books is still up in the air. Hope you enjoyed the drawings, and watch for Etchtober next year!

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