Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition - Be the Next Face of Baldur's Gate

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since Beamdog released their Enhanced Edition of the original Baldur's Gate. It's more believable, but no less impressive, that the game itself launched a cool 25 years ago.

And in order to celebrate these colossal milestones, Beamdog got in touch with Mike Sass, the artist behind the iconic portraits you see in the game, and came up with an interesting contest.

Essentially, between now and March 6, 2023, you can send your photo together with some additional information to Beamdog, and that will get you a chance to have that photo turned into a character portrait for the Enhanced Editions drawn in the original style by the original artist.

Here's more on how that's going to work, as well as a letter from Mike Sass:

This year we're celebrating the 25th anniversary of Baldur’s Gate, a game by BioWare that is so dear to all of us at Beamdog! In 1998, a legend was born, and this legend continues to live today thanks to an amazing community of Baldur’s Gate players.

And just this past November we celebrated our own small anniversary – 10 years since the release of Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition. All these years YOU (yes, YOU) have been with us, sharing stories about your adventures on the Sword Coast, providing feedback, and showing how much Baldur’s Gate means to you. We want to give you something special in return, and at the same time pay respect to the original game.

We reached out to Mike Sass, the original artist who had created all the portraits of your beloved Baldur’s Gate companions: Minsc, Dynaheir, Jaheira, Khalid, Edwin, Viconia, the list can only go on! Mike kindly agreed, and now we want to give back to you, the players. We want you to define and be the Faces of Baldur’s Gate I & II: Enhanced Editions. Our community members are the true faces of the Baldur's Gate world and we want to honor that.

Starting TODAY, we'd love it if you submitted your Photo to social [at] for a chance to be selected as one of two community members immortalized in a character portrait by Mike Sass. He will create your portrait in the original Baldur’s Gate style and your face could be added to the games! In your email, answer the following questions for Mike to draw inspiration from when creating his portraits:

1) What is your character’s race, class, backstory?

2) What is your most proud accomplishment in the 10 years of playing Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition?

3) If you played the original game over 20 years ago, how did it feel coming back to the Enhanced Edition?

Feel free to add/attach any additional materials, design concepts, and more.

*By submitting your Photo, you grant us, without any compensation of any kind to you or others, the exclusive right and license to use, copy, distribute, display, publish, perform, sell, sublicense, modify, edit, adapt, translate, transmit, create derivative works from, and otherwise exploit all Photos in any form, medium or technology that we elect, whether now or in the future. Without limiting the foregoing, you agree that, without further approval from you, we may exercise the rights you grant us herein for any and all purposes we deem appropriate, including, without limitation, for the promotion, marketing, and publicizing of our services and products. The right and license you grant us is perpetual, irrevocable, exclusive, royalty-free, unrestricted, worldwide, and transferable without your further consent. You understand and agree that we have the option, but not the obligation, to use the Photo you submit to us, and that if we exercise our license rights, we may also use your User Information in conjunction with such Photos. You agree that we and our third party service providers may use your email address to contact you about your Photos and for other administrative purposes related to your obligations and our rights.

The submission period is from February 13 to March 06. The photos we select are at our sole discretion. If Mike Sass chooses your portrait, he has the absolute creative freedom to design it away from your description.

Here are guidelines to consider when submitting your photo:
  • Every photo must be your original work
  • We accept photos in digital format only
  • One submission per person
  • Photos must use a neutral/light background & match the lighting below

We will not use the following:
  • Photos depicting persons that are identifiable
  • Copyrighted material
  • Photos that contain elements that are unlawful or that we may not lawfully use or publish
  • Photos that contain your name or nickname, any other symbol or device that identifies you to others, or a copyright legend
  • Photos that contain personally identifiable information such as, but not limited to, email addresses, URLs, phone numbers, physical addresses or other forms of contact information
  • Digital image files that contain anti-copying or tracking devices
  • You must be at least 18 years old to submit a Photo to us
Please check out the letter by Mike Sass below—it has more recommendations to increase the chances of your photo being selected for the in-game portrait! Good luck, adventurers!


Hi Everyone!

I'm excited that Beamdog has asked me to revisit Baldur’s Gate and create two new portraits of community members for the game.

25 years ago, BioWare was lucky to get the D&D license from Interplay to attach to the “Battleground Infinity” demo and create a special game that re-invigorated fantasy PC gaming.

Back in the day, as a 90s startup based in Canada, most of the BioWare employees were generalists, and we were all learning on the job.

When I started at BioWare my tasks included concepting and texturing 3-d models. Baldur's Gate needed some character portraits, and various employees tried their hand at photoshop-painting these characters. Since none of us were experienced artists at that point, nobody could seem to craft a professional-looking painting. Using photoshop version 3, my attempts seemed to be passable, so I became the portrait artist. Little did I realize, BG would be a hit, these images would resonate and I would have a 25-year career painting art for video games!

The BG1 portraits were my first digital paintings ever. Back in the day, there was no standard to copy, no instruction to follow and no inspiration to aspire to. This was the first project for all of us, and we just used intuition and experimentation for everything. Illustrative game art in the early 90s was sometimes created by the programmers or outsourced to traditional advertising agencies. In-house art talent wasn't really a thing.

In 25 years, I have learned much about traditional portraiture and digital painting techniques. These two new portraits give me the chance to create quality images using the knowledge of a seasoned professional. (To me, this is like going back to college when I'm 50 and correcting mistakes from my youth. Haha.) The past number of years I have focused on painting card art for Blizzard's Hearthstone game. I now use Corel Painter, and have a totally different process and standards. It will be interesting to see how this new portraits compare and if they even look like the same artist did them!

As you likely know, the original BG portraits were based on real people. I had taken some photos for reference for various projects in college and knew this is what professional artists did to inform their paintings. So I asked around the office for people to pose for the BG characters. I also used wives and girlfriends, as BioWare was probably 90% male. I didn't even consider using actual, paid models as it seemed like a big ask to get the bosses to pay for that. It’s also weird to go around telling random people that you want to photograph them for your fantasy project.

In retrospect, I think people like the BG1 portraits because the dialogue and voices combine with a living, realistic picture of the character. Taking photos of specific poses and expressions allowed me to break from generic stereotypes and portray these characters in a manner where the portrait communicates a character's motivation or background. I aimed to have the model's hands be in the frame holding, doing or expressing something that furthered their character.

With new BG portraits, I intend to use the successful aspects of the original BG1 set. I would like an object, prop or gesture to be included in the frame. (not totally necessary) These elements have to be close to the face so it can be cropped tight and consistent. (holding something in an outstretched arm to the side won't work) The main thing is I need faces that look like fantasy characters. There is a need for all types, from a portly dwarf to a delicate elf. I can change colors and add whatever details are needed. I will be enhancing the characterization a bit more this time, so it won't be verbatim the photo you send in. Don't photograph too dark or too light and washed out. Keep lighting simple and descriptive.

The original portrait references were taken with a film camera and lit by a table lamp indoors. The lighting should match the mood of the figure. Take photos with a neutral/light background to avoid confusing detail. Get some basic costume, a good prop, even a hamster!

If you are inspired to be included for posterity in this game, go ahead... take some photos, become your character and see if you can make it to be one of community-sourced models.

I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Mike Sass