Design Contest FAQ for New Users
Chris Hansen
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UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Print and Play Design Contests are growing in popularity on BoardGameGeek. Every year there are new contests with tons of incredible entries. These contests attract all sorts of users ranging from BGG expert users to people who are entirely new to the site.

I've hosted six design contests on BGG and participated in many others. In each contests there are people who want to participate but are new to the site and don't know how to do everything they want to do. Those of us who are very familiar with BGG have spent a lot of time answering questions and trying to help those users. Of course, I'm happy to help them, but I started to realize that many of the same questions were being asked over and over again as more new users entered the contests. So I've gone through the questions that I've seen most frequently and put together this FAQ to help people quickly find answers to these common questions.

If you are already comfortable with BGG's formatting, you won't find very much new here. Once you become familiar with BGG it is very easy to use, but it can take some time to get familiar with how everything works. This FAQ is meant to ease that transition.

Much of this information could relate to other areas of BGG but I've written specifically from a design contest perspective. Any new user could benefit from this info but be aware that some of it may not relate to other areas of BGG.

Topics:
01. Where to Find Contest Rules
02. Creating an Entry Thread
03. BGG Formatting
04. Creating Links to Your Entry Thread
05. Adding Your Entry to a Contest Geeklist
06. Editing a Post and Updating the Title
07. Linking to External Sites (for game components)
08. Adding Pictures to Your Entry Thread
09. Subscribing to Your Entry Thread and Seeing New Replies
10. Replying and Quoting Other Posts
11. Optional: Buying an Avatar
12. Optional: Adding Your Game to BGG
13. Optional: Adding Your Game to the Contest Family
14. Optional: Adding Yourself as a Designer
15. Optional: Thumbing and Giving Geekgold to Posts
16. Optional: Choosing a License for Your Game
17. Optional: Free Art Resources for Your Game
18. Optional: Adding Your Game Entry to Your Quickbar
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1. Board Game: Rules of the Game [Average Rating:3.91 Overall Rank:14020]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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This list does not contain the rules for any contest. These are only general guidelines. For the complete rules of the contest you'd like to enter, please see the first post of the contest thread. All information specific to that contest should be contained there.
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2. Board Game: Enter The Arena [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
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UT
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To enter a game in most contest, you'll need to post an Entry or WIP (Work in Progress) thread into the Works in Progress forum.

That forum can be found here:
Works in Progress Forum





More information about how to write a post.
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3. Board Game: Let's Play Tag [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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I have seen several questions about how to format posts. BGG uses a variant of HTML tags to format text and links. Instead of using angle brackets (<> like HTML, BGG uses square brackets to define tags ([]). The most common tags are included with handy images above the area where you write your post.



More information on Text Formatting.
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4. Board Game: What's the Link? [Average Rating:6.00 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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Most contests will require you to provide a link to the WIP/Entry thread that you created either in a contest geeklist or a contest thread. To add a link to your thread, you'll need to know the thread id. Usually you'll share this link the contest thread to let the moderator know you are entering a game. Some contests may also require a post to a contest geeklist.



More information on Links to forum thread
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5. Board Game: Book of Lists Game [Average Rating:3.71 Overall Rank:14133]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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Some design contests want you to post your game entry to a Contest geeklist.

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6. Board Game: Agent of Change [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Many contests require you to keep the information in the first post of your WIP/Entry thread current. This means that as new rules, components, or other information is available, you'll need to edit the the post. Some contests want the title of the post updated as well depending on the current state of the game.



Editing a geeklist entry is very similar but the edit button is in a different place. Note, you cannot edit the type of link used by the geeklist entry. This means you cannot, for example, change a link to a thread to a boardgame link.

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7. Board Game: Drop Site [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:9197]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Until you have added your game to BGG, there is no way to store your game component files on BGG. This means that you will have to share the game's PNP files from an external storage site like Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft One Drive. To share a link to your files on these sites, use the URL tage on BGG.



More information about sharing external links
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8. Board Game: Picture This [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Most contests want you to include a picture of your game. There are two ways to share an image.
1. By hosting it on BGG.
2. By hosting it outside of BGG and linking to it.

To host an image on BGG, you will need to upload it to your personal gallery.



After the image is uploaded to your gallery, you can share it in your entry thread or geeklist item.



If you do not wish to host your image on BGG, you can link to it from another location.



More information about Image Tags and Sharing External Images
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9. Board Game: It's News to Me! [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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When you have created an entry thread, it's important to subscribe to it so that you can know when people have commented on it. That way you can quickly answer questions and respond to feedback which will help generate more interest in your game. Many people also subscribe to the contest thread or geeklist so they can be aware of new entries or updates to the rules.

When you post a thread or a geeklist item, the option to subscribe is usually checked by default. When posting to a geeklist you can either subscribe to the entire geeklist or to just your entry.



If you'd like to subscribe to the contest thread or another game entry, simply click the subscribe button. The location of the subscribe button for geeklists, geeklist items, and forum threads is shown below.



Once you have subscribed, you'll get an alert any time someone replies to the post. This alert will be a small red number in the upper left of your screen by your username. You can click on the number to see your subscriptions and click on the individual items to be taken directly to the new items. Once you click on an item it will be removed from your subscription page until someone else replies.



More info about subscriptions
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10. Board Game: Quote Unquote [Average Rating:4.67 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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When replying to another user, you will often want to quote what they said. This can be done using the "q" tags. By clicking the Quote button on a post, all of the text is copied and formatted for you in your reply. You can edit the quote if needed to show only relevant parts that you wish to reply to. If you wish to reply without quoting, just click the Reply button.

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11. Board Game: Avatar: The Board Game [Average Rating:4.54 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Many new users have asked questions about how they can get an Avatar with their profile. Avatars allow you to include a small picture next to your username. My avatar is the New Pornographers album cover for Challengers. Avatars can be purchased from BGG for 30 Geekgold. You can earn geekgold by submitting reviews, session reports, pictures, and other information about boardgames. Within the contest community there are several uses willing to gift geekgold to new designers participating in the contest too.



Once you have geekgold, you can buy an Avatar by clicking the links on your profile page.



More information about Geekgold
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12. Board Game: Add On [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Once your game is complete, many designers want to add their game to the BGG database so that other gamers who don't follow design contests may more easily find it. Adding your game to the database means that people can comment on it, write reviews, add photos, and other things that are difficult to do in an entry thread.

Adding your game to BGG is optional and shouldn't ever be required for any design contest.

To add your game to the database you'll need to click on the Misc button in the menu bar and then select Board Game from the "Add to Database" section.



You'll be taken to a form where you'll fill out all necessary information about the game. After you've submitted your game, an admin will review it and either approve it or ask for more information within a few days. Please note that BGG has a rule about PNP games requesting that they be playtested and complete before adding them to the database. That's not to say that components can't be upgraded later, but the game should not be in playtesting when added to the database.

BGG Guide to Game Submissions wrote:
For self-published games and user-designer efforts, a game is ready to be added to the BGG database after the game has undergone play-testing and is available in its final form. If details about the game are still being resolved and the rules are still being changed over the course of the play-testing, the game is not sufficiently finalized for a BGG entry.


Once your game is in the database, you can link to it your contest entry thread or geeklist items.



More information about submitting board games to the database.
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13. Board Game: The All in the Family Game [Average Rating:3.81 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Some contests may have a Board Game Family on BGG. A "Family" is just a group of games united by a series, theme, or other common factor. Some contests use families to unite games that were entered. For example, the Solitaire Print and Play Contest Family has every game that was entered into the contest and added to the BGG database.

You can add your game to a family when adding it to BGG or by submitting a correction later. Not every contest has a family. You can find out if there is a family from the contest thread or the contest host.

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14. Board Game: Craftsmen [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:3058]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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If you are a new designer, you will need to add yourself to the database as a designer when you add your board game. This is done in a very similar way to entering your game.

From the menu bar, click on Misc and then Person from the "Add to Database" section. You can include your BGG username in the "Note to Admin" section to get the designer badge added to your avatar.



After your designer page is approved, you can use your designer id to link on your contest thread and geeklist items.



Note that you can add yourself as a designer even before your game is approved. Simply add yourself and leave the game field blank. Add an explanation in the "Note to Admin" field that you are adding a new game as a first time designer. After you've submitted yourself as a designer, you will be able to add your board game and search for your name in the designer box - even before it is approved. The game will be linked to your designer page as soon as both are approved.
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15. Board Game: Big Thumb [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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When you are interacting with people posting on your entry thread (or other threads you like) it is fun to to thumb and give geekgold to posts you like. This is optional but is nice thing to do.

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16. Board Game: Get That License [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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When entering a game into a contest, it is important to consider the license you want to release it under. Artwork and the text in the rulebook can be released three main ways:
1. Under copyright protection which gives you full control of distribution and reuse
2. Public Domain which makes the game totally free to everyone
3. A Creative Commons license, which gives other people certain rights to reuse your work.

While a specific license type is never required for a contest, more open Creative Commons licenses are becoming a more popular option. The Creative Commons website can help you craft a license that is right for you (such as restricting commerical use). After you've chosen your license you can get images and links you can use with your game.

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17. Board Game: Masterpiece [Average Rating:5.58 Overall Rank:11707]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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Some designers are artists but others have no talent in that regard and need art resources for their game. Thankfully, there are several sites that offer images that designers can use for no more cost than crediting the artist in the rulebook.

Here are a few popular sites. Most of these site require attribution for the use of the images.
1. Game-Icons. This site has almost 2,000 icons that can be freely used by any game designer. Many games entered in contests use icons from this site.
2. Flaticon. This site has almost 100,000 icons that can be be used in any sort of project.
3. Freepik. Rather than icons, this site features actual vector art that can be used in any sort of project.
4. Noun Project. This site isn't game specific but has thousands of icons that can be used in games. It requires an email address to access the downloads.
5. Pixabay. This site has almost 500,000 images that are either in the public domain or released under a Creative Commons license. Check to see if you need to give attribution in the rules when downloading an image.
6. Inkwell Ideas has several free tools available for creating game maps. Hexographer can be used to create hex maps for wargames, Dungeonographer creates dungeon maps, and Cityographer creates a city map. Each of these tools has a free version with limited features and a premium paid version.
7. Finally, you can use sites like Google Images to search for Creative Commons and Public Domain images that can be used in your game.



A sample search on Flaticon and Freepik for space related images.
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18. Board Game: Double Quick [Average Rating:7.20 Overall Rank:8021]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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It can be hard to keep track of multiple threads, so BGG offers a feature called Quickbar that you can set to your most used pages. The Quickbar is basically a set of custom hyperlinks to your favorite pages in BGG (or outside of BGG if you want). Personally, I like to add a Quickbar link for the game projects I'm currently working on so I can easily find them.

Here is an example of how I would add my 18 Card Contest Entry, 8 Horrors, to the my Quickbar:



You can store any sort of link and update the links at any time. You could even add a link to this geeklist until you feel more comfortable using BGG.
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19. Board Game: Artisans [Average Rating:6.93 Unranked]
Chris Hansen
United States
Riverton
UT
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If given the option, I would prefer to play with the green pieces, please.
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In an earlier item, I linked to resources with free artwork that you can use in your game, but now I'd like to share some links for creating artwork yourself. I have tried to focus on free resources but some of the tools I've listed here have a small cost associated with them. I am not associated with any of the products.

Even if you think you aren't an artist, give some of these tools a try and you may be surprised by what you can create!

Creating artwork on your PC (Free Apps)

Wacom Intuos Art Tablet
If you're going to draw on a PC you'll probably want to invest in a graphics tablet. These tools replaces your mouse with a pressure sensitive pen. This allows you to draw in a variety of applications just as you would on paper. They are much easier to use than paper. I've linked to the tablet that I own, but they have a large variety of tablets in different price points. Wacom tablets are generally considered top-of-the-line and are compatible with most software packages but other brands are available as well for more affordable prices. I like this tablet because it supports some of the familiar gestures from your phone such as pinch-to-zoom and dragging the canvas with two fingers. This tablet includes free access to a professional drawing application.

Krita
This is probably the most full featured of any of open-source free drawing program. This replicates many of the features of drawing programs that sell for hundreds of dollars. However, the downside of all the features is that the learning curve is fairly high. This is a complicated program, even for simple drawings. Krita sells educational tools but there are also many free tutorials to help you get started. Once you get comfortable with this tool, you'll be able to create incredible works of art very quickly. This is my favorite drawing program. This tool is available for Mac, Linux, and Windows.

My Paint
This tool is available for Mac, Linux, and Windows. You can paint with a mouse or with a graphics tablet. The software is free. It doesn't feature as many options as some of the other tools, but the interface is pretty easy to use so you'll be drawing quickly.

Fresh Paint
This a painting application developed by Microsoft. It is designed to be a realistic replication of painting so you can mix colors on the canvas with wet paint, blend your own colors on a palette, or use a dirty brush. The tool replicates this experience very well, but unfortunately lacks some of the common features found in other art programs, such as moving or adjusting the size of elements of your painting. This tool is free and is available for Windows machines.

Paint.NET
This is an easy-to-use painting application originally developed to be a replacement for Microsoft Paint. It supports multiple layers, transparencies, special effects, and many different plugins. This program is free but only available on Windows.

GIMP and Gimpshop
These tools are well-known open-source alternatives to Photoshop. In addition to the photo manipulation tools, these programs include hundreds of brushes and can be very useful for drawing. Both applications have the same features but Gimpshop has a rearranged to make the interface feel more familiar to Photoshop users. There is a fairly high learning curve but there are many resources for learning the tools available online. These tools are available on Mac, Linux, and Windows.

Inkscape
This is a Vector based drawing utility. Vector based art is quite different than the other tools (which are raster based) but can create some stunning images. This is the type of artwork used by Todd Sanders and is very useful since it can be infinitely resized. There is a learning curve with Inkscape but it includes many of the tools found in professional programs. It is free and available for Mac, Linux, or Windows.

Creating artwork on your Smartphone/Tablet (Paid Apps)

These software programs are all available for your smartphone or tablet. They can all be used with your finger or a stylus. Many of them support pressure sensitive pens, such as those found in the Samsung Galaxy Note or iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. If you don't have a device that supports pressure sensitive pens, I recommend investing in a microfiber stylus as it offers better accuracy and lasts longer than the rubber tipped models.

FYI: I have tried all of these apps on Android but I do not own any iOS devices. I'm listing links to the iOS apps where appropriate but I am not familiar with them and can't comment on them in great detail.

Infinite Painter
This is, in my opinion, the gold standard of drawing apps on Android. This app has the fullest set of tools I've seen on an app. It includes a wide-variety of brushes, as well as user-created brushes so you'll never run out of options. This app is the closest thing I've found to the features of a desktop app. In addition to the painting tools, it also includes photo editing tools and pattern creating tools. This is my most frequently used application and the one I most enthusiastically recommend. Due to the many features, this app has a bit of a learning curve but a classroom is built in to the app and the designers is active in the Google+ Community for the app. The app is free to download and you can use all features free for about a week. After that, you'll need to purchase the full version of the app for about US$8.00 (you get a discount if you buy it during the trial week. Currently available only on Android. An iOS version is coming soon.

Infinite Design
This app is released by the same developer as Infinite Painter but focuses on vector graphics. It uses a very similar interface as Infinite Painter but is one of the few mobile apps I've seen to really do vector graphics well. The learning curve on this app can be a little higher than the painting app, especially if you are unfamiliar with how vector images work. However, I've found this to be an excellent app for creating unique artwork. The app is free to download and you can use all features free for about a week. After that, you'll need to purchase the full version of the app for about US$8.00 (you get a discount if you buy it during the trial week. Currently available only on Android.

Procreate
This app is consistently referred to as the best painting app available on iOS. I'm not familiar with it but the people who use it love it. From what I've read, it has the best set of features available on any mobile painting app. It is available for about US$6.00 and is only available on iOS.

ArtRage
This is one of the most popular mobile painting applications available. This app is focused on realistic painting and replicates how different paints will interact with each other on a canvas. The app features a wide variety of brushes (each of which are fully customizable), layers, large canvases, and a full color palette with optional metallic shine. This app is available for Android or iOS and costs about US$5.00.

Sketchbook Pro
This is a very popular mobile drawing program. The app seems to focus a lot on different types of pencils, but paints and a few brushes are available too. This app has tons of features and is very intuitive to use. It includes all of the most common features such as layers, editing elements of your drawing, and guidelines. One of my favorite features of the app are the drawing challenges. You can work on improving your skills by doing a quick challenge every day. I've found that to be a lot of fun and have also designed some game artwork through the challenges. This app is free to download but comes with a very limited toolset. To really enjoy this app you'll need to buy the full version for about US$5.00. Available for Android or iOS.

Corel Painter Mobile
This is a full featured painting tool based on the popular desktop tool. This app is free to download but has a very limited feature set unless you purchase upgrades. You can buy all of the features for about US$6.00 or less if you purchase within a trial period. This is an excellent drawing program but it isn't worth using unless you buy the full version - the basic tools are just too limited. You can also use this app to transform photos into paintings using a variety of styles. Available for Android or iOS. The iOS version does not support free painting - just changing photos to paintings.

Creating artwork on your Smartphone/Tablet (Free Apps)

Serious Painter
If you're looking for the best totally free painting app this one simple cannot be beat. It includes many of the features found in the paid drawing apps, including layers, tons of brushes, and transformations. The app has a terrific interface and is very easy to use. It isn't the most realistic painting app I've seen (paint doesn't mix on the canvas, etc) but it works extremely well for a free app. There is a paid version available for US$4.00, but the only feature you miss out on in the free version is customizable brushes. The free version does include the cat brush, which allows you to paint entirely using images of cats. This app is currently only available on Android.

ArtBoard Creative Drawing
This is a free painting application with a pretty full set of features. The app includes many brushes that can be customized, up to 15 layers, and text tools. This app lacks some features like paint mixing on the canvas, but it does include a blending tool. There aren't as many brushes as some other tools but there are enough to make a wide variety of images. Currently available only on Android.

ArtRage Oil Painter Free
This is a free trial version of ArtRage. As the name implies, the app is limited to the Oil Painter brush set from the full version. This is a very simplified version of the app that lacks many of the features of the full version, such as layers, brush customization, and reference images. You are also limited to a very small canvas size so unless you are illustrating cards, it probably won't be useful for creating game artwork. I look at this app primarily as a test to see if you'll like ArtRage. This is currently available only on Android.

Artecture
This is a simple drawing application with an easy interface. It is very simple compared to some of the other Android apps but it is in active development and improvements and new features are released often. I like many of the tools, but I get frustrated by its limitations. This is a Samsung developed application and it works nicely on the Galaxy Note devices. Currently available only on Android.



I hope this list is helpful to you for creating art for your games! Obviously there are many more, including tons of free drawing apps, but I've really tried to focus on the best ones. If I've missed one of your favorites, let me know and I'll add it to the list. I'm especially in need of the best free painting apps on iOS. (You'll notice that all my free paining apps are currently on Android.)
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