From Concept to Cosmetic: Fog-Piercing Frog Lantern

Pierce the mists of the production process as we find out all about this fan favourite!

Our From Concept to Cosmetic series has a somewhat storied history when it comes to talking about lanterns that capture the imagination of players. Indeed, the very first instalment covered the creation of the original lantern MVP: the mighty Orb. Since that first step into the world of cosmetic design, we’ve branched out into all kinds of wonders, from punk fashion and Plunder Pass picks to ship signage and pirates’ most loyal companions.

We had a fine old time hearing about how these other cosmetics came together, but in Season 11, the time has come once again to admit that we’ll never fully escape the simple joy of a funny lantern. So this time it’s the round, ribbiting Fog-Piercing Frog Lantern that has stolen our hearts and, presumably, hidden them in a swamp somewhere. It really is lanterns all the way down. Who’d have thought?

Looking at this round boy, we just had to find out where he came from, so we called upon some the folks involved and recorded their responses in this neat little article. Enjoy!


Unlike many of the other items on offer to players who earn enough Renown throughout Season 11, the Fog-Piercing Frog Lantern isn’t part of a wider cosmetic set. Without the need to conform to an overarching theme, standalone items often enable the design team to spread the wings of their imagination, as Senior Concept Artist Tom Mahon explains:

“In general, I think it’s much easier to come up with a single one-off item, as the theme or unique element of the design only has to fit that item. It can be tricky when we have cool ideas for a collection that then have to be applied to every item type we have, getting those to sit well together and feel cohesive.

“Over time, of course, we’ve gotten better at it, so now when we’re pitching new themes, we have a good sense of which elements should be shared and which can be unique. With a music-inspired set, for example, we would try to incorporate different instruments into the designs rather than saying ‘let’s put drums on everything!’ – that would change the tone, and probably read a lot more like a war set (not a bad idea actually!)

“We try to carry materials and colours across a set as much as possible, but with motifs and symbols I think it’s good to have some restraint. We don’t want to be overly reliant on slapping a logo on everything to make it look cohesive. A set should feel tonally consistent, like the items were made by the same crew or craftsmen or coming from the same place. They need to be visually appealing and interesting by themselves, but still make sense in a larger context.”

Season 11 sees three standalone items included in the Renown rewards: the Musketeer Eye of Reach at level 51, everyone’s favourite frog at level 70, and the Banded Chaperon Hat at a lofty level 96. While we’d never pick favourites, and all three are rewarding in and of themselves, it’s safe to say that the Frog Lantern has captured players’ interest in a way almost unheard of for standalone cosmetics.

How, then, did this surprisingly simple yet endlessly entertaining little guy come to be? What is it about the lantern’s design that has made it so captivating? As Tom tells us:

“It was designed by an artist who no longer works with us (shout out to Artur Zima!), but as pirates in general have a connection with exploration and nature, drawing inspiration from animals is something we do often.

“This one was actually designed a few years ago during a cosmetic concept jam. That’s when our artists all get together and come up with fresh ideas for cosmetics with no set brief, we just brainstorm and throw ideas around. After we’re done, the work gets reviewed by our directors and producers and certain concepts are selected. Sometimes an item just works better as a single one-off cosmetic, while in other instances it can turn into a brief for an entire set.

“As for the Frog Lantern, every now and then we're asked to check out our previous jam work to see if anything pops out, and that one stood out as a fun one-off item. I don’t think any of us knew just how popular it would be!”

The lantern’s intense popularity also raises the question of how it should be obtained in-game. More popular or more elaborate cosmetics are typically tied to harder Commendations or are more expensive to buy, providing a suitably enticing reward for players who put in the work. Does this mean, then, that the Art team try to keep the end use in mind during the creation process, or does that decision come later? Tom tells us that reward allocation is often a different process entirely:

“Sometimes we know where something will be used. Work can come from concept jams with no set brief, so at that initial stage we just try to make something unique and appealing. Later on it’s decided where those concepts fit best, and sometimes we’ll go back to a concept and adapt it. However, we have a pretty regular cadence when it comes to releasing items, so the Concept team will receive briefs to design those. The brief for a Seasonal Renown cosmetic set would be tied to what’s going on during that Season, or as a reward for beating a specific Event.

“In the beginning of Sea of Thieves we had a fairly flat hierarchy in terms of designs, so usually the more shiny and golden something was, the ‘better’. But because the game is all about self-expression, we didn't want anyone to think less of themselves for rocking that Bilge Rat Shirt. We do give a sense of progression with some of our cosmetics though, so players feel like they have something to strive for, particularly when it comes to advancing with Trading Companies and becoming a Pirate Legend.

“As for our Emporium cosmetics, we like to think of them as belonging to pirates who have travelled far to the Sea of Thieves, so it’s okay if they’re a little out there, and most of our Emporium sets aren’t tied to in-game lore.”


In comparison to the intricate animations of Collector’s Pets or the many and varied models required to build a complete ship set, modelling and programming a lantern seems like it should be a relatively simple process. As Senior Level Artist Joachim Coppens tells us:

“A lantern is actually one of the more straightforward props to bring into the game. From a modelling point of view, we have our template models so we know exactly where the player’s hand will be and how large the lantern should be. We just have to make sure to stick to those guidelines and do a visual check that there’s no clipping of the player’s hand with the lantern, and that it works properly with our swinging animation shader.

“Once we bring it into the game, we manually set a specific point from which it will be casting its light (marked SPOTLIGHT__Socket in the image below).”

That’s not to say bringing a lantern to life is an easy task – by their nature as sources of light and vessels for the Flames of Fate, they can present a complex challenge when it comes to effects. Fortunately, with many years of lantern wrangling behind them, even a design as powerful as this frog wasn’t enough to throw the team off their game. Joachim explains:

“There have definitely been discussions about the Flames of Fate for various lanterns. Some designs that our Concept team come up with would be nice to do but wouldn’t play well with the way our lanterns work, because you need to be able to read their colour clearly.

“We always look at all our props on a case-by-case basis and try to find the coolest-looking, best-feeling compromise for gameplay and visuals. We do try to push it sometimes, by developing a new bit of technology for a specific lantern and carrying that forward to future designs. If I’m not misremembering, our very first lanterns didn’t tend to have open flames, that came later – and once we’d done one, it became easier to do more.”

And push the limits the team did with this lantern, designing a unique addition in the form of a little swarm of glowing insects that buzz around its face. A cute touch they might be, but as Technical Artist Emmett Green explains, it took a lot of careful work to get just right:

“The Frog Lantern definitely posed a fun challenge for the Tech Art team in terms of adding firefly effects! We aren’t able to add particles to sets or uniques due to performance constraints, so it’s been a personal challenge of mine recently to make them with billboard shaders instead.

“Luckily, I’d already created a similar effect for the Labyrinth Looter ship’s fake embers rising from flames, so I reused and improved the material to support our firefly flipbook animations. This included tilting them in the direction they’re moving, figuring out how bright they should be when the lantern is turned on or off, and adding the Flames of Fate colour shift. As for the internal effect, we reused a material previously made in Season Four for the Firefly Lantern.

“Of course, this came with a new issue where the external fireflies were moving upwards with the lantern when raised, so I tried to carefully balance whether they were following the lantern or the player’s height to hide it as much as possible. I even made custom LOD stages to hold off deleting the poor fireflies when the player walks away, isolating them to prevent a jarring transition in the level of detail and stop them vanishing too soon.”

Fortunately, Emmett didn’t mind the challenge one bit: “All in all, it was a fantastic lantern to work on, and I’m glad it’s become as popular as its predecessor!”


Prior to the Fog-Piercing Frog Lantern’s reveal, its concept art had made the rounds within the studio, so the community-facing teams already had some idea of how popular it was likely to be. And upon its release with Season 11, players across the globe became instantly enamoured as they raised their Renown to claim a vibrant amphibian of their very own.

Twitter began to fill up with exclamations like “FRORB OBTAINED!” from spikee_j and PostOfSouls realising their dreams with the statement “I finally got the FRORB”. Underlining this community-wide desire to share the moment they joined the ranks of frog-flaunting freebooters, HeSlashThem simply proclaimed “Obligatory I have the FRORB lantern now post”. Nice.

This lantern’s instant appeal could also be measured beyond mere in-game excitement. Pieces of art from regular names like Hull Lariash and Zookie, real-world props from ChloeSauras, ColourMeFun and SwordLordStu, memes like this one from CheeckiBreecki and even proclamations of forming a cult dedicated to this adorable lighting device (starting with Nomezilla) meant that it was easy to see its impact at a glance.

So powerful was the Frorb that it ensnared our own Community team too. As anyone who follows official Sea of Thieves social media accounts will know, the release of Season 11 was accompanied by a slew of frog-based festivities. We even hosted a themed Community Hub update celebrating a multitude of amphibian artworks in all their froggy glory. There was also… this, but perhaps the less said about that, the better. Even if he did inspire some even wilder fan art.

And that, dear readers, is how the phenomenal Fog-Piercing Frog Lantern came to be: a little guy that captured imaginations in a way you probably wouldn’t expect from a roughly carved block of wood. Remember, if you want to get your hands on this fine froggy friend, all you have to do is reach Renown level 70 before Season 11 comes to an end. After that, who knows when we might see it again?

Well, fortunately, Producer Louise Roberts does know, and she was kind enough to tell us:

“The lantern will be returning after Season 11! We are cycling Seasonal progression track cosmetic items back in, currently with a gap of around seven Seasons. When it does come back, it will likely be priced in Doubloons.”

Which brings us to the end of another From Concept to Cosmetic article. Season 11 is packed with exciting rewards to get your hands on before it ends, including a whole host of Trading Company costumes for players dedicated enough to raise their reputation to new, loftier heights. If you want more of an idea of what’s up for grabs, check out the Season 11 Content Update video for all the highlights!

In the meantime, let us know what you think of our beloved Frorb (and perhaps the rest of Season 11 while you’re at it). Find us in all the usual places on social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch and Tiktok, as well as on our official Forums and Discord server. If you’re hankering for more behind-the-scenes glimpses at how Sea of Thieves cosmetics come together, you can read some of the previous entries in this series in our News archive.

Now we really need to stop thinking about frogs for a while to preserve our sanity, so get sailing! Season 11’s rewards are only available for a couple more weeks, and that lantern’s not going to unlock itself…