Monday, May 25, 2009

Style vs. Stylized

I've been working on this little side project for a while and I reached a critical juncture. I love goth art style in works by Edward Gorey, some Tim Burton, and very few other things. I'm quite particular about it. I love Lenore for example, but not many other comic books in that genre.

This project has a morbid subject (murder), but it is also light hearted. In the way Edward Gorey is quite morbid, but his wit makes it so entertaining. Anyway, the juncture I am at is exactly how stylized am I going to make the art. This was my first pass (okay, more like 21st pass):


Well, my wife made some great observations, particularly about the general flavor of the project and suggested I push the crows to have a little more personality - to be a little less realistic. I agreed and took another pass. Then realized everything else had to be just as stylized - the trees, the character, so on. This was my second attempt:


I definitely like the crows better. I think the design is stronger. I can draw a better character then that and will have to just practice more to get them right. But I'm wondering if this is an improvement, or is it merely different?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sketch monsters


A page of monsters and stuff from my sketchbook. I just finished a huge commission of 40 drawings and needed to wind down and relax a bit. Getting that 40th drawing done was like lifting the weight of the world off my back. whew!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Goliath vs. Gnoll

Establishing scale without any of the classic "scale symbols" such as a person, or doorway, or a car is hard to do. Here the main character is a "goliath". Not that you can tell it is any larger than an average person, or can you?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

RPG Card Face Improvement

On the left is the classic Demonic Adder from the Tomb of the Lich Lord set, on the right is the RPG version. Making revisions is always hard, in particular something as important as an established interface design. But the classic card face design has been needing an overhaul for some time.

When I first designed the card face my main concern was showing art much larger than your typical fantasy card game had. In this end I bled the art behind the text. While I thought I was being clever, it made creating the art extremely challenging. Every composition had to have an enormous "dead space" that didn't compete with the text. In addition that space had to be dark, since the text was always white. This has hung on my neck like an albatross through the various sets.

Since the RPG is such a radical departure, I wanted to make the cards distinctive as well. This is an RPG that uses cards - not just another Dungeoneer XCG set. So I took the opportunity to redesign the face. I've posted earlier versions of this design, but this has been polished even more. The mechanical information is all grouped together now and there is more detail. This time I show it side by side with it's XCG counterpart so that you can see the RPG is 100% compatible.

I'm not saying this is the final design - I may play with the art to text ratio a bit more, there probably is room for larger art, the text hear is still a bit large. But I like the legibility.

One improvement you may notice is the text stating "inflicts 1 wound" is gone. It has been replaced with a little "hit" symbol next to the stat. This cleans up the card as well as providing better information. The other thing you may notice is that I've been enhancing the melee/magic/speed symbols. These are still being worked on, but I feel these are more contemporary in their quality.

Here is another classic card, Spell Focus:


In this one you may notice the border is green instead of blue. This is because we found that generally the Boon/Bane/Encounter/Treasure identification was clear enough by the symbol placed next to the playtime - duration - category text, and that the Peril/Glory identification was critical on first glance.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Ink splats

I've been playing around with creating ink splats to make Photoshop brushes a lot lately. I must have made a dozen pages worth of these:


This quick sketch was painted in Photoshop entirely using ink splat brushes:

What is a roleplaying game?

Just about every RPG ever written has tried to answer this question. Usually devolving into discussions of childhood cops & robbers games. I don't know that anyone has written the perfect answer. I'm working on that section of the Dungeoneer RPG, and I've borrowed from various sources to come up with this:
A Roleplaying Game is a game in which the participants assume the roles of fictional characters and are rewarded for making choices that are consistent with the character's motivations or further the plot of the story. Participants collaboratively create stories by determining the actions of their characters, and these actions succeed or fail according to the rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players can improvise freely; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.
I don't know if I've succeeded, in fact posting it here has made me aware of how esoteric this sounds. Your thoughts?