Today, we're introducing you to Rachel.

Oh hey, that's me!

I'm Dice Envy's newest team member and the artist who made several new dice designs we’ve put out in the past year. On top of that, I run all of our social media accounts, so if you’ve interacted with Dice Envy on Twitter or Instagram recently, there’s a good chance it was me you were talking to!

I'm not as crazy as I look, I promise.

Here's a little Q&A conducted by Maria (AKA Team Mom):

So Rachel, how long have you been playing TTRPGs, and when did that interest intersect with design?

TTRPGs hit me a little later in life than I would have liked! My first was a D&D 3.5 campaign alongside Dice Envy’s Ian and Dylan, where I played a half-orc barbarian and instantly fell in love because I got to be SO BIG and SO STRONG. That was in March of 2015, and I’ve been absolutely addicted since. Intersecting with design just came naturally since I went to school for graphic design and have been tinkering with visuals since I was a wee lass.

What was the first set of dice that you worked on?

I had to dig to figure this one out; there’s been so many since! My first Dice Envy set was Snowshoe, a white acrylic set featuring a pale blue, engraved bun-bun. Love that little guy. Do not recall why Dave (Dice Envy’s big boss) commissioned it from me, but I jumped at the chance to create a tiny, cute thing.

Do you have any favorite sets from the Wild Shape collection?

Yes! I am hard in the paint for cats, so Felis and Bengal definitely stand out, but being able to tap into my witchy side with Strigidae and Vampire was sooo much fun (especially with Vampire’s colors)! I have least favorites too, haha, but only because their silhouettes were extra tricky to figure out. Designing for small things can be hard!

How did you decide which animals to feature?

Having recently played a druid in a Saltmarsh campaign, I initially shot Dave a list of wild shapes I thought would be good to show off, which included a ton of sea creatures. We adjusted and went back and forth a few times, toning down the ocean and most notably adding bees. I was originally against Bumble as an idea, since it’s not really 5E canon, but I’ve come around since the artwork turned out to be pretty dope. Overall, we wanted to try to include as many people’s tastes as possible, and a fair range of CR ratings, to boot.

How about the Three Goblins in a Trench Coat set? Where did that idea come from?

That set was 100% Dave’s idea, but the second he spoke it, I knew it had to come true. A classic trope, and one I hope to continue in the future with other D&D troublemakers.

How long does it take to design a set of dice from sitting down with a blank file to sending them off for production?

The empty canvas stage is the toughest part, for sure. I come from a graphic design background, not an art background, so I feel very secure in executing an idea using tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. Freehand-generating that idea on Procreate or with pencil can be a little more tricky. Occasionally, I get lucky and the concept is obvious to me immediately, like with our Let Loose set which probably took me a day to complete from start to finish. Other times, I’m at the drawing board for days before figuring out how to represent something well (looking at you, Thorn to be Wild).

Given that die faces are such small surfaces, have you had to deal a lot with the limitations of manufacturing vs the details of your designs?

Oh, yeah! Fortunately, being a graphic designer kind of sets you up for taking on client challenges. Recently, we even had to work with our manufacturer to allow for a more detailed engraving, blowing up our Infinity dice to be the new-and-embiggened Chonkfinities. Being able to trigger a response in someone’s brain with limited resources at your disposal is the name of the game. Finding the right silhouette, color, or accent that will elicit that shared concept floating around in the zeitgeist can be extremely tricky, but is also a lot of fun. It’s why I try to stay in-tune with meme culture and absorb as much popular art and media as possible, so that I can use elements as touchstones in order to connect with our customers. That all sounds really fancy considering some of the sets we’re talking about, but in essence it is a giant funneling and editing process that results in cat butts on a die face.

How does the design workflow differ when working with metal dice? 

Metal dice are indeed a beast of a different feather. I have to give the lion’s share of credit to Dylan for this one, he’s well-versed in 3D modeling and has been able to take my very 2D renderings and convert them into something our metal pourers can use. It’s been interesting to design using line weight as depth indicators and having to hold each face in your head as you move on to the next in order to make sure they’ll line up on every plane. I still feel more comfortable with the flow of designing for engraved acrylics, but I’m excited to keep learning more from Dylan and put out some additional heavy metal work.

Do you have anything else you’re working on that you might like to give us a little sneak peek at?

Speaking of metal dice, I am slowly but surely working on a set that will feature a feminine bird lover who may or may not be from Shadowfell (shout out to my Shadar-kai homies). It’s definitely the most texture I’ve ever attempted, so that should be interesting for Dylan to put up with, erm, figure out! Also, since we’ve already struck a bargain with our manufacturer to produce Chonkfinities, I have a ton of plans in the works for fun d4 illustrations to slap on all that empty die face canvas! That includes a brilliant alcoholic beverage concept brought forth by Maria, which I hope will be a big hit with old-school Tapper fans.

January 20, 2023 — Rachel Ferrell

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