David Thompson
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All,

For the last year and a half or so, I've been using this cover for my in-development game, Skirmish Tactics Apocalypse.



Recently a BGG user commented on the image: " This cover doesn't do this game any favors. Im sry but you should just replace it with a black cover with white text or new art with correct proportions, a interesting and correct perspective, a nice color scheme and a tight finish. No artwork is better than bad artwork."

To be honest, I'm having a difficult time looking at the image objectively and with a fresh perspective because I've seen it daily for over 1.5 years! So I'm looking to the community here to give me a:

"It's good!" or a "It's bad!" I'm interested in specific aspects of the image too, but the ship has sailed on it being modified. I finalized the artwork with the artist long ago. So the issue now is whether it will or won't be used as the cover.

Thanks!
 
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Ian O'Toole
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Hey David. It's not as bad as that commenter made out, but it does have problems.

A few I'd point to:

• Compositionally, there is a huge empty dead space in the centre of the image which captures the eye. When your whole composition points at an area you need to either put something there or place some other element that leads the eye somewhere else. Either way, you need to guide the viewer's eye to the good stuff.

• The figures are very small and lost in the bottom right hand corner. They need to either be enlarged or given an important position compositionally (or both). Depth is a good way to get around scale issues, with smaller characters at the front and larger ones in the background. If you do this, though, you need to understand how to create depth through perspective and colour hue etc. It looks like you've got an understanding of that.

• There's no interaction between the two opposing sides. The pose of the mech in the foreground makes it look like it's not active (its weapon pointing down).

• The characters do have some proportion issues, don't be afraid to use photo reference for people. It is not cheating.

• The lighting is very flat and a little inconsistent. Always bear in mind where and what your light source is. In this case adding secondary light sources (fire/explosions?) might help you achieve a more dynamic result.

• The logo is crammed too close to the top of the image. It needs some space to float in. It's also a fairly generic logo, so it could stand to have more personality. I feel that the rusty block it sits on is overpowering the smaller letters.



Here is an example of a successful composition that shows some of the elements you have included in your cover (although the logo design placed on top is less successful). See how the composition leads the eye. The eye is drawn in an arc from the ship, to the mechs (helped by the curve of the mountains in the background) to the humans in the foreground. The rocks creeping into the image on the right hand side stop the eye from leaving the image.

Hope this helps!
Cheers,
Ian
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Sebastián Koziner
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What Ian just said it's just exact, and I want to add that the logo position an readability could be better.

If you want, I could try some tricks on this for free, just to help you have a different point of view.
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David Thompson
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Ianotoole wrote:

Hope this helps!
Cheers,
Ian


Thanks, Ian. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain this to me. IT amazing me how artists are able to articulate why and how an image doesn't and doesn't work. For people like me, all I can say is "I like it" or "I don't." I really appreciate your view, and the fact that you're always willing to take the time to help out.

Oh yea, and it's good to meet a fellow Cabalist!
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SebasKO wrote:
What Ian just said it's just exact, and I want to add that the logo position an readability could be better.

If you want, I could try some tricks on this for free, just to help you have a different point of view.


Thanks, Sebastian. I would love to see some alternative ideas for the cover. I have a gallery of the characters here: http://www.skirmishtactics.com/gallery/

The characters from the top two rows are in the base game. I really appreciate the offer, and I would definitely be interested to talking to you about a commission if we can come up with a suitable replacement cover.
 
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I don't think this cover is... "bad".

Of course an illustration can get more interesting depending on how you make it.

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I'm just going to second all the stuff that Ian mentioned.

A few rules of general composition:
1) Rule of thirds. Divide an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Where these lines intersect, there should be something interesting.

2) Tonal contrast. Think in grayscale for a second (like a b&w movie). Where the two strongest tones are closest to each other, the eye will be drawn to it. This can take a little bit to get used to. A shortcut is to see how easy it is to read black text on a white background. Its the two strongest tones (black and white) right next to each other.

3) The V.
Picture a huge red "V" that covers your image -- it starts in the upper left corner dipping down into the center of the bottom and then back up to the upper right corner. The main focus is everything inside that V.

4) Depth.
Images work best if they have a clearly defined fore/mid/background. Focus is typically in the mid-ground. They can be defined by either tone or color or both.

Now these are just general rules to start building a image composition. Guidelines. And I really did give a very brief overview of some compositional tips. But if you are interest in learning more, go check out some covers of your favorite games, movies, or magazines. See how they use the above.
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gsimpson wrote:
I'm just going to second all the stuff that Ian mentioned.

A few rules of general composition:
1) Rule of thirds. Divide an image into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Where these lines intersect, there should be something interesting.

2) Tonal contrast. Think in grayscale for a second (like a b&w movie). Where the two strongest tones are closest to each other, the eye will be drawn to it. This can take a little bit to get used to. A shortcut is to see how easy it is to read black text on a white background. Its the two strongest tones (black and white) right next to each other.

3) The V.
Picture a huge red "V" that covers your image -- it starts in the upper left corner dipping down into the center of the bottom and then back up to the upper right corner. The main focus is everything inside that V.

4) Depth.
Images work best if they have a clearly defined fore/mid/background. Focus is typically in the mid-ground. They can be defined by either tone or color or both.

Now these are just general rules to start building a image composition. Guidelines. And I really did give a very brief overview of some compositional tips. But if you are interest in learning more, go check out some covers of your favorite games, movies, or magazines. See how they use the above.


Thanks, Gary. Great insight. I really appreciate you taking the time to put together those general rules...it helps me as I try to assess the quality of artwork moving forward! I think my weakness is that I'm so excited to see artwork of my game that I can't make an objective assessment of its quality.
 
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Indeed, in general very wise advice in this thread
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Lucas Smith
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the center looks empty: on the left side there are these robots, on th e right side there are these men but in the middle?? Look like the big hero has been cut out!
but in general it's not bad
 
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Lot's of good tips here.

I tend to agree with the image center looking empty, the logo being too high on the page and an overall lack of contrast. You need some darker darks and some brighter and more vivid colors- especially considering the theme.

I also have a problem with the figure in the lower right hand corner with respect to how he is cropped. This feels like a tangent and draws the eye into the corner, is a distracting or unpleasing alignment. You generally want to avoid placing lines in close to perfect ways tucking in to corners, meeting at points etc...
 
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Sebastián Koziner
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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:
SebasKO wrote:
What Ian just said it's just exact, and I want to add that the logo position an readability could be better.

If you want, I could try some tricks on this for free, just to help you have a different point of view.


Thanks, Sebastian. I would love to see some alternative ideas for the cover. I have a gallery of the characters here: http://www.skirmishtactics.com/gallery/

The characters from the top two rows are in the base game. I really appreciate the offer, and I would definitely be interested to talking to you about a commission if we can come up with a suitable replacement cover.


Thanks! I just made a half an hour quick sketch with some improvements concepts. Please if you are not an artist, understand that this is just an idea and not a finished work, ok?

I hope this may help you to see some of the things guys here where talking about:



BTW: I have a full time job and don't left me enough time for illustration freelance for now, but I do work as a graphic designer.
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SebasKO wrote:
Skirmish_Tactics wrote:
SebasKO wrote:
What Ian just said it's just exact, and I want to add that the logo position an readability could be better.

If you want, I could try some tricks on this for free, just to help you have a different point of view.


Thanks, Sebastian. I would love to see some alternative ideas for the cover. I have a gallery of the characters here: http://www.skirmishtactics.com/gallery/

The characters from the top two rows are in the base game. I really appreciate the offer, and I would definitely be interested to talking to you about a commission if we can come up with a suitable replacement cover.


Thanks! I just made a half an hour quick sketch with some improvements concepts. Please if you are not an artist, understand that this is just an idea and not a finished work, ok?

I hope this may help you to see some of the things guys here where talking about:



BTW: I have a full time job and don't left me enough time for illustration freelance for now, but I do work as a graphic designer.


Sebastian, personally I think this looks great. I realized when you posted your modification that I really did the original artist a disservice. I should have made it clear that I cropped a portion of his original artwork, and I added the text myself. This is the original artwork (which is what Sebastian used for the mod). So as you can see, some of the lack of artwork in the middle of the image was my fault due to my cropping job. So, even though everyone has been amazingly helpful and insightful in this thread, I guess I'd ask everyone to take a fresh look at this image - without the cropping and my crappy job on the text!

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Sebastián Koziner
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I'm glad you like it!

Please remember that making art and design it's not about learning to use the tools, that's not even 1/3 of the knowledge needed to be a professional, and therefor a piece to look really cool.
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David Thompson
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Ok, so thanks again to everyone who provided (amazing) insight, constructive criticism, etc.

Sebastian did a great job of improving upon the existing artwork, but I think that everyone posted that it might be better to start over fresh with a new composition.

As such, can everyone give me some recommendations about seeking out a new commission?

Here are the realities of the situation:

- I can pay for commissioned work, but I can't break the bank.
- I like the designs of covers like Dust Tactics, but I'd be open to other ideas.
- I suppose I also need to investigate a new game logo, since it also received some criticism during this review.
- Optimally I'd like a few different options. Is there a website for illustrations like this that work similar to the idea used for crowd sourced logo designs? In other words, is there a place I could go, pitch the idea, and receive multiple options from different artists?
- If so, what I might entertain is having BGG users vote on their favorite among the proposals. Would something like that work?

Thanks!
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One recommendation: first have the artwork done, then think on the logo.
You can use something like 99designs.com, or some sites like that.

If you are interested, I can make a proposition for you after you had the artwork done, and do it as a "pay if you like" job.
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If you're looking to get multiple logo options to choose from, you could always use a site like Crowdspring (http://www.crowdspring.com/), where you submit a project and how much you want to pay, and if it's intriguing and you make it worth so designers' time, you'll get a bunch of submissions. You choose the one you want and get the logo that you like the best, but you have to choose and pay for one.

I'd throw my hat into the ring if I weren't so busy, since it's a genre of game that I enjoy designing for and playing (http://www.peterwocken.com/blog/game-graphic-design-4/) The best of luck to you.

–Peter Wocken
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Thanks for the info and recommendations, guys. Is there something like Crowdspring that is more focused on illustrations rather than logos?
 
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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:
Thanks for the info and recommendations, guys. Is there something like Crowdspring that is more focused on illustrations rather than logos?


No way, an illustration has a lot more work and is more specific than a logo, if you want artwork for that, you will have to get a good artist, no choices there.

But my advice, think about the logo before you already got a good artist for it.
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SebasKO wrote:
Skirmish_Tactics wrote:
Thanks for the info and recommendations, guys. Is there something like Crowdspring that is more focused on illustrations rather than logos?


No way, an illustration has a lot more work and is more specific than a logo, if you want artwork for that, you will have to get a good artist, no choices there.

But my advice, think about the logo before you already got a good artist for it.


That's what I figured - thanks for the advice, Sebastian.
 
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SebasKO wrote:
Skirmish_Tactics wrote:
Thanks for the info and recommendations, guys. Is there something like Crowdspring that is more focused on illustrations rather than logos?


No way, an illustration has a lot more work and is more specific than a logo, if you want artwork for that, you will have to get a good artist, no choices there.

But my advice, think about the logo before you already got a good artist for it.


Only if you want a thrown together logo. Logo design can be as much a skill full and time consuming craft as illustration when given the right approach.

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Ianotoole wrote:
SebasKO wrote:
Skirmish_Tactics wrote:
Thanks for the info and recommendations, guys. Is there something like Crowdspring that is more focused on illustrations rather than logos?


No way, an illustration has a lot more work and is more specific than a logo, if you want artwork for that, you will have to get a good artist, no choices there.

But my advice, think about the logo before you already got a good artist for it.


Only if you want a thrown together logo. Logo design can be as much a skill full and time consuming craft as illustration when given the right approach.



That's pretty much what I was thinking, Ian. I was wondering why the Crowdsourcing trend was limited to logos, when both illustration and logo design seem to require so much knowledge and talent.
 
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Any luck on what you want to do with the cover yet?
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JefferyB wrote:
Any luck on what you want to do with the cover yet?


I decided to hold off on a decision. Basically I'll stick with what I have for the print and play version and let the publisher worry about revising the cover for the final version of the game.
 
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Looking forward to your game.
Don't worry too much about the artwork now.
Thanks for asking us.
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