Roaring Shoots and Ladders (2022)


Video Walkthrough of the (Framed) Original

Inspiration for Roaring Shoots and Ladders abstract artwork

Snakes and Ladders is a worldwide classic board game originating in ancient India as Moksha Patam.

Moksha Patam Snakes and Ladders game board design

It was brought to the UK in 1890s as Kismet. The game is played by rolling a die and making your way from the bottom left of the board to the upper left, being helped by climbing ladders and hindered by falling down snakes.

Kismet Snakes and Ladders gameboard 1890s

The historic versions of the game had roots in morality lessons for children – a player’s progression represents a life’s journey which is complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes). A more modern version, Chutes and Ladders was published in the United States by Milton Bradley in 1943.

Chutes and Ladders Milton Bradley 1943

The ancient Indian version of Moksha Patam was associated with traditional Hindu philosophy, where karma (destiny) and kama (desire) are contrasted. Moksha Patam emphasized destiny, where other popular games such as Pachisi (known in English as Parcheesi) focused on life as a mixture of skill (free will) and luck. This ancient version – and the ones introduced to Victoria England in the late 19th century were all covered in symbolic images. Ladders represented virtues such as generosity, faith, and humility. Snakes represented vices such as lust, anger, murder, and theft.

Interestingly, the ancient Indian version of the game had less ladders than snakes as a reminder that a path of good is more difficult than a path of sins. The English counterpart had equal numbers of each.

The widely known edition by Milton Bradley replaced snakes with chutes and was rebranded as Chutes and Ladders. This edition replaced a die with a spinner. The artwork shows children doing good deeds at the bottom of ladders and receiving a reward at the top of a ladder. Conversely, the artwork shows children doing mischievous behavior at the top of a chute and receiving consequences at the bottom of a chute.

So here we are in the 2020s. 100 years since the ‘Roaring 20s’. Will this decade see a similar epic rise and tragic fall scenario? That was my inspiration for this art piece. Adapting the Chutes and Ladders board game to current day. Further inspiration includes watching some 1920’s documentaries and The Great Gatsby movie.



Color-corrected digital


Picture of the original

Development of Roaring Shoots and Ladders

Roaring Shoots and Ladders initial sketch
Initial sketch
Roaring Shoots and Ladders initial outline
Early outline
Roaring Shoots and Ladders early coloring
Early coloring
Roaring Shoots and Ladders late coloring
Alternate color palette and icons in top right and bottom right ended up getting scrapped
Roaring Shoots and Ladders different direction
With final silver detailing


Golden high flow acrylic paint

Posca acrylic paint pens

Molotow acrylic paint pens

Westcott ruler and shape templates

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