There’s is definitely a shift towards making MORE art directly on your tablet since Apple released the Apple pen for the iPad Pro. Many artists do like Ryan Goldsberry – creating most of their work on the tablet instead of their computer. I wondered if the tablet art could stand up to my demands for an art creation software? To find out – I went through testing the most popular painting apps and will share my experience with each of them here.
Yes I know. You visit the pretty little place called GreenHookGames to get a dosis of great art – but there’s NOTHING there! My fault. The short story is that all my time was filled up with other exciting things that I will list here for you.
Making new Hero art for Skrald that we now gave an english title
Making a few sketches on characters for a Uptimegames
Helping with protoype art on a game by the Designer Erik Sundén
Trying to fix some ideas for a more compressed Cathedraw
I will be working on art on a new upcoming game by Fabricio Leotti
and finally making art and design for my own game “Party Survival” that will be on Fastaval 2019.
There are usually not so many comments on this website – and I have considered it being the fact that interviews don’t demand for commenting. But it could be a huge motivation factor for me. Therefore I will ask you – who is your favourite board game artist at the moment?
I will soon show you some of the art I’m making for Fabricio.
Erik Sundéns game is called Whirling Witchcraft and will hopefully be featured in an article here soon.
World of Waste (Skrald)
will be produced in a small batch soon to be used with school kids. Were are planning to pitch some publishers to see if we can find someone that wants to have this awesome set collection game in their portfolio. To that we also made a game page you should chack out (currently only in Danish).
Party Survival or Survival Party?
My game Party Survival (that I have been told does not really qualify as a party game ) has undergone a lot of changes and could have its own article. I am really thrilled on how it plays now and will need to test test test before Fastavals deadline.
When you see a game like Brutality you immediately know that there must have gone a lot of time into making the world come to life. I was surprised to see som many artists on the credits list, so I really wanted to interview the designer Stephan Frost on his process. Let’s begin.
Tell us about yourself and how you got into board game design?
My day job is in video games, and at the time I was working on an MMO. These are massive games with complex systems and dependencies for development. I wanted to work on something where I could do everything by myself (mechanically), then when it was ready, get some artists involved. One night about two years ago I was about to fall asleep when I thought of an idea to make a straight forward PVP arena board game. I wrote down some ideas, thought of some characters and attacks, drew some rough sketches, and went to bed at 2am. About 2 years later, here we are with Brutality on Kickstarter.
Pick a team of two medieval badasses and go to war against two other badasses
Tell us what the game Brutality is about?
Brutality is a medieval combat brawler board game with grim-yet-high-personality characters that players control. Pick a team of two medieval badasses and go to war against two other badasses.
For the last couple of years I have participated in several design contests driven and curated by the community. The most recent one being the Hookbox challenge by The Game Crafter. I haven’t used TGC before – but the title of the contest just pulled me in. Again and again I wish I had done things differently and better and that is why I want to share a few thoughts on how to get the best out of board game competitions.
Understanding the premise
A contest is by definition a competition where there is one or more winners and entrants are rated by judges. This is some contest you might come across:
Contests that is community driven: This is like on Boardgamegeek forums or Bgdf. You will have a lot more openness and interaction during development. You and the other participants are the judges.
Contests facilitated by publishers with an intention of publication. This can be a publisher looking for a new way to play an existing game or need another game of a specific type.
If you want a game published you might be using your time better that entering design contest – but if you want to improve your design skills and challenge your passion it is a great way to interact with the community. Some games get picked up by publishers like the games of Todd Sanders.
Now it is time to conclude my experiment. I looked at all games before voting in this last article. Even if it NOT fair to only rate a game by the cover – this is what I did, to see if there is a connection between visual appeal and votes in contests like this. I wonder if the order of appearance on the site reflects the number of votes?
Mine, Mine, Mine
Empire of Swords
Do not open
A kings Jest
Crazy cat laydy
Games I choose that looks good and could be printed in colour.
Since 20 of 129 entries was selected it is 15,5 % of all submission. If I selected 10 random of the 129 entries approximately 1 or 2 of them would be selected as semi finalists. Now there is 6 (60%). This to me indicates that the looks is a huge factor. This should off course be held up against how good all games where to play… because maybe the art is irrelevant and these games just was better in play.
Games that I think looked good but did not have a free PNP download
Only 1 of these was selected and this could indicate that the community don’t vote on thing they can’t test or see properly.
Among the semi-finalist there is a couple great looking games that I oversaw, like Reign.
The conclusion must be
When entering a board game contest – Hooking up with an artist friend is a good idea and remember to share your files with the community
How big a role does good art play? I decided to select my 10 favourite best looking games from the 129 entries in the Game Crafters Hookbox challenge. Showcase them here to later see how many of them that advance to the semi-finals. Many designers did not put up a download PNP which I think will be going against them in the rating…or will it? To also investigate that I will select a few of the most visually interesting looking games and write in the end.
And off course like in life it is what is inside that matters most – but this is an art investigation. Sorry.
Art is generally a problem if you are a solo designer with no art skills. Many designers will find good places of royalty free images they can use for the cards – and that is a great idea to do for your prototype. In many cases I feel this unfortunately make the game impersonal and generic – but it depends also of the graphic design. But how important is the looks of a game? It is safe to say that people will generally agree on good art but in the many cases also be very affected by taste in themes. This is a few reason you need to find someone to help with your art.
The theme and story of the game will be more saturated – making the game more immersive
If you got good art – you probably invested time in the game, making it more likely to be tested
The game will be more unique and memorable
The art can be explanatory, and help players to understand the game rules.
Maybe increase your chance on a vote in a competition like this – we will see?
You could have a very illustrative game with few graphic elements, visa versa or a combination. I consider myself as an versatile artist that is quite good at both but definitely not the best (The best artist out there you will find in the Interview section). Sine I like game designing I usually tend to do a more clean graphic style in the game art because it is quicker and more flexible to work with and it can be pretty & functional at the same time (like the classic Innovation) . Unfortunately this usually sticks with the game and it is hard to find time to redo the art. There are many of the games that got handdrawn or more of an amateurish style but this can actually be really cool and authentic. Just be sure to keep it consistant.
For my own game I payed for the community art review that you can get on TGC. I payed because I was sure to score high and I wanted the badge to be an eye-catcher on the shop page. I only scored 80+ which first surprised me but when I thought about it made good sense. I have no story telling and different artworks on my cards. They might be pretty but when you see 9 almost equal looking cards on a page with no real motif it is not better than 8or9 of 10.
Now let’s get to the top ten – there was a lot of close ones to get to the list like, DomiNations, Commons, Canyon Racers, Heist, DuelofTheDungounDesigners, Starfighters, Shilds Up, Armour Up, Inconceivable,
The top 10
Nr. 10a A King’s Jest
Even it this is not high quality final art – it really shout ‘indie game’. And the work is detailed and consistent – which make is vey appealing.
Nr. 10b Do not open
Absolutely gorgeous illustrations. Also a bit ‘naive’ – which I like.
Nr. 9 Turris – City of Giants
I do not know how much of this was painted for the game. It seem like a lot of collages with paint on top -BUT hey! it looks fantastic. And there are so much going on it really triggers your curiosity.
Nr. 8 Battle Stations
I was in doubt with this game. I think it really captures a war atmosphere. The design is very nice – and I LOVE the water.
Nr. 7 Empire of Swords
The use of glow, colors, hard lines and grunge brush strokes creates a very strong and appealing visual style.
Nr. 6 Dueling Dinos
This leans to how I would normally approach a competition. It works graphically and got some cute looking Dino’s. I like!.
Nr. 5 Gluttony 18
This oooze of fun and gameplay. I get digital associations especially to “The Fat Princess!” on my Playstation.
Nr. 4 Smuggles n’ snuggles
This is really fantastic character design and linework. It lacks a bit in the graphic design and colouring IMHO.
Nr. 3 Mine, Mine, Mine
Art by: Moy Shin Hung
Strong illustration. No outlines and in your face coloring. It really pulls you in.
Nr. 2 Mission Control
Spectacular style. Even if it might be a collage of images that has been given an series of effects it is consistent and very cool looking.
Each year the game developer Chris Hansen host the Children’s Game Print and Play contest on Boardgamegeek.com. A contest where you can make a game for kids — together with your own kid. This year I really wanted to take part in the contest again this year. The beauty about this contest is that since you have to make a SIMPLE and FUN game that even kids can play it forces you comply with an important design concept – simplify towards the core experience. Which too me can super difficult.
The idea I chose to work with is based on a behaviour rooted in human nature — “the Hunt”. I have always wondered why most kids instantly get the adrenaline flowing, smiling and shouting when we shape our hand as a claw and say
now I am coming to get you — you little rascal!!
sometimes you don’t even need to say anything! My goal was clear; could I translate the excitement of a chase or a Hide and Seek to a board game?
What adds to the feeling? When I see my kids feet stick out under the bed I usually stomp hard and heavy in the floor while slowly moving closer. So times I mutter “ Wheeeerrree is she hiiidinng?” The fact that the kid feel like she is hidden but know any movement or sound could giver her away and let the beast capture her and then… Well that’s another thing — they don’t think rational on what happens if they are caught. Is anything happening ?— will I be tickled….eaten maybe?
In my search for a core mechanic I found — Onomatopoeia! Words that imitate the sounds they refer to, like purrr or bang. Not only would using Onomatopoeia make a fun hidden move game but it would build on the imagination of sounds which I later realised is a perfect match when trying to build immersion in a paper game.
I will send my readers a PNP of the game when it is done. If you haven’t already – you can sign up here
In my further search for sound words to use, I realised how important the use of sensory detail can be to game design. Sensory words is words related to all our senses like sight, hearing, touch etc. Using sensory detail in your text will light up different parts of the reader’s brain compared to non-sensory words. Like writing ‘The dark n’ damp Catacombs’ compared to just ‘The Catacombs’.
Read the full story on Mediumhere and give it a clap 🙂
GenCon is far away when you live in Denmark. That is why I liked the idea of the GenCan’t Roll&write contest and felt I should make a design for this incredible fun format. This is how I got to start on Cathedraw. It is a game where you draw a Cathedral in 9×9 grid. After finishing the game I wonder if it can be called a Roll&write since it does have some cards that needs to be cut out (optional though). The game is purely about optimising the use of your dice rolls to create most victory point value. If I should do an expansion I would definitely make some bad stuff the player needs to avoid. I will happily try to answer any rule questions you got – just mail or tweet me.
GenCan’t release all games for you to play on their page – and it is a magnificent collection. I am looking forward to play the winning game Welcome to DinoWorld by James O’Connor but I also had an eye on the game ‘Raise The Shields‘ by Lucas Gerlach.
I hope some of you will give Cathedraw a spin and I would love to get any type of feedback.
7 visual styles I would love to see used for board games
The visual style of a game can make just as much of a difference as the choice of theme that a creator choose. Within animation and video games, there have been a wide exploration of different visual styles.
Board games has a tradition for classic illustrational work topped with some graphic design. Probably because games must be decodable for the viewer -high contrast between flavor and information is great.
It is much more important to make good sketches than good inking. You could either sketch directly in color or start in greys. Fix proportions, composition, anatomy as much as you can in this phase before moving on.
Start broad and stay broad
Starting out very rough can improve the final product a lot. Make a small canvas in the proportions that you plan to do the final artwork in. When I say small, I mean like 10% the size of your final image. Take a simple brush that can put down a thick line. Often it fuels imagination if you set the brush to use pressure-sensitive opacity, but not necessarily variable size at this point.
In this step, you should do several quick sketches of all the different ways you can think of composing the image. Work quickly with shapes and composition – draw loose lines, use the lasso tool to quickly create shapes, or fill your lines. You may insinuate detail, but only very roughly. Try to make a lot of scribbly lines quickly when you draw. Often the eye will later see shapes within these lines.
Do not hesitate to quickly select an element and cut, flip, scale, position, or rotate it to get a better composition.
Since we are talking about images for board games, you will probably be doing more than one image. Maybe you need 22 hero items or monster cards.
Try designing several at a time, thinking about how they are all part of the same visual language. This may include size, distance to the viewer, details, and colors.
In the example above from Samurai Swords, there are two characters, two role cards and two weapon cards. Apart from the motif do you spot any similarities on icon positioning, background patterns, element behaviours? This might seem obvious but it is a great benefit to think game readability in designing series.
Series have rules – too much deviation from these rules will break the benefit of the series.
Remember that elements of the game can be tied together using the same type of composition or colors. Series have rules – too much deviation from these rules will break the benefit of the series. If all item cards have a red color palette, you cannot suddenly make one card another color unless there is a specific game-related reason.
Play with series of images. My favourite example is Dutrait’s character cards here. You can also give the players stuff to discover, like the vials in Apotheca by Del Cid. This is the power of game art – often there are multiple of the same type.
Have you ever done a nice drawing and hung it on the wall? If you have ever tried making 5 similar drawings, but with some variations, then you probably know how awesome a series of images look together (even if it is stickmen).
If you are working on a series of images it might be a good idea to start up several illustrations at the same time so you can jump between them with “fresh eyes.”
If you normally tend to do very precise inking of your sketched drawings before coloring I would advise you to try and skip the inking. Maybe just ‘clean’ your sketch.
If you are going to ink your piece, I would select one or two brushes beforehand to use. I would make one brush, that is a little rough on the edges to add life to the painting. Try to have a lightsource in mind when inking so you can make the edges towards the light thinner. If your tablet causes jittery brush lines, I recommend HejStylus, a small mac software that can steady your “mouse” across all your applications. Some programs like Clip Studio Pro or Zbrush has this feature implemented. I found that it is a strong tool to have in the bag to turn on/off with a simple shortcut for making awesome linework.
Getting another artist brush can sometimes inspire you to paint in a new way. Here is a small selection of my brushes for Photoshop that you can download and try out. There is a sketch brush thick, a sketch rough, a lineart brush and a paint brush.
Here is a small selection of my brushes for Photoshop that you can import and try out.
A good B/W is “easier” to color, but more graphic than a non-outlined color painting.
One of my greatest inspirations was the Danish artist that me and my family travelled with when I was younger. On every trip we made abroad, he constantly drew images with his Rotring inking set. He taught me the importance of building up contrast between all elements to pull the audience closer and make the elements stand out.
Stay tuned(best option for this – is the one signal button in the lower right corner) for the next part of this series where I will touch on painting.