MEET THE STAFF: Dylan!
Today we'd like to put the spotlight on Dylan!
He was Dice Envy's first hire and wears many hats (including, occasionally, berets with feathers). Aside from helping pack and ship, as well as photographing all of our product, Dylan is also one of our talented in-house designers, responsible for our very popular Sigil design, which you can find on Bifrosting, DaVinci's Sanctum, and Elysium.
As a designer, Dylan has taught himself to use 3D modeling software that allows us to create molds for our metal dice from scratch. Neat, huh?!
So Dylan, what was the initial inspiration behind the Sigil design?
Oh, that was probably Aabria [Aabria Iyengar, a former Dice Envy employee] screaming “ALCHEMY CIRCLES!” at me during a creative meeting. I wish there was an actual story here, but, for anyone that knows Aabria, that sentence tracks.
How long did it take you to finish it?
I couldn’t tell you when they were first brought up, since we usually talk about things a long time before we make them, but it took me about two weeks from when I started working on them to submitting the final design. Probably half of that time was just me settling on a look for them. That’s usually the hardest part. Lots of trial and error. It was also during a period of time that everyone considered my work ethic desperately unhealthy, so it probably should have taken a little longer.
Were there any details you had initially that had to be scrapped due to manufacturing limitations?
By the time I got around to designing Sigil I was well acquainted with the limitations, so I never really dreamed too big. Of course, I would have loved it if I was able to use thinner lines to really flesh out some of the details. Adding tiny runes and flourishes would have been fun, but at the same time it would make the die a little more inscrutable, so I’m happy with how they turned out, given the limitations.
What was the first set of dice you designed for Dice Envy?
It was actually a little while until the first full set of dice I designed. For engraved dice, we initially only did a single die, since they’re so much more expensive to produce and we were a very small company that had really only been around for a few months. Before a full set I designed was ever actually produced, I had designed a Healer d8 for Pathfinder, a very different Healer d4 for D&D, a d6 with gears on it, and a Commemorative d20 for our first 100 subscribers that I managed to fit “DiceEnvy.com” on the 20 of. Not a lot of people have those dice. We reprinted the d20 in different colors later on, but the originals are a lot harder to come by in the wild.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently, now?
It would have been nice to use my screenwriting degree, I guess. Seriously though, I haven’t been unhappy with much of my work here. People don’t usually see the stuff I wish I’d done differently because I trash it and do it differently. I’d say that the one thing that we’ve released that I should have trashed but didn’t was the Shamrock set. I’m not a fan of how that one turned out. I’d say more, but I’m trying not to curse.
Alpha was the first full set of dice that I designed. Dave (our fearless leader) had “space opera dice” on his calendar, but he wanted things like blasters and spaceships on them. I had only been designing dice for a little more than a month at that point, so I wasn’t very confident I’d be able to pull that off and like the result. Instead, I decided to focus on space travel and designed the sides to look something like entering hyperspace in Star Wars. I really wanted to keep a uniform look for all the dice in the set, which is part of my design philosophy that I’ve really clung to since, and I think they turned out pretty well for a first full set. But I don’t recall anyone ever looking at those dice at a convention and saying they look like space. Those turned into a Kickstarter for budgetary reasons and didn’t end up getting produced for the better part of a year.
How did the Infinity d4s come about?
It was actually Dave that had the initial idea. He kind of drew it on a piece of paper, cut it out, and folded it up. All I had to do was make it digital. I think that was our second Kickstarter. The first 3d model was a bit long, but it was pretty easy to put it together and work out the sizing. The hard work was designing the specially engraved Infinities for the Kickstarter, which I actually did on vacation on my brother's laptop. That’s where the Pixel Heart Infinity d4 design comes from. We also did a Magic Missile Infinity, but I don’t think we ever did a second printing. Originally, both of the designs wrapped around the curve of the die, but it turns out we definitely couldn’t do that on acrylic and metal ones would require a level of knowledge that I didn't possess. I still hope that one day we’ll put out metal versions of the original designs, but who knows.
You’ve recently shifted gears into designing metal dice. What has that process been like?
It actually hasn’t been an overly difficult transition, since I’ve been a hobbyist in 3D modeling for more than half my life, using the same program that I still use today, just a much newer version. There used to be a video on the Alpha Dice Kickstarter that used 3D models that I made of the dice floating in space, since we didn’t have them physically yet. That was the first time I did 3d modeling for the company. It only took another four and a half years to do it for real. I’m definitely still new to practical 3D modeling (that can’t have glaring issues that can be hidden with camera trickery), so I’d say I’m still on a learning curve. It’s different, in a good way, with a higher ceiling for creative expression. It’s been a fun change that’s allowed me to reexamine things I designed before or couldn’t design before.
What was the first dice set you created for metal?
I’m not sure I can talk about the one I actually designed first, since it falls under the things-I-designed-before-I-knew-the-limits-but-might-still-redesign-it-so-secrets-I-guess category. The first one we actually had manufactured was the concave set we named Oath of the Ancients. It came out in the sub box a little while back and is the first set of dice we released that I designed every part of, so it’s really special to me. Usually, when I design an engraving it’s just carved into a standard-sized pre-existing die blank. The majority of our polymer or metal sets come with a font that I designed from scratch on them. But every vertex of Oath of the Ancients was designed by me, and that’s a neat feeling.
Do you have a favorite, of all the sets you’ve created?
That would probably be the first metal set I designed that’s too cool to actually be manufactured, but if we’re talking about released dice, then I would have to say Midnight Sigil, the set that originated the Sigil design. We’ve never done a second printing for complicated manufacturing reasons, so it’s the only set of its kind in the entire Dice Envy back catalog. I don’t even know if we’ll be able to do it again, especially in the exact same way. The design itself has gone on to be super popular on stone, but the original black acrylic with gold foil was something special. I actually have one of the original sets on my desk for referencing the number array while designing any other dice.
Do you have anything you’re working on now that you want to give us a little sneak peek of?
I don’t know exactly what I shouldn’t show you, but I can show you where to dig for the answers…