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Subject: Brave the Elements: Design/Art Feedback Needed! rss

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Miles Ratcliffe
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After extensive playtesting/development, my latest game Brave the Elements is now ready and we're currently preparing to launch a Kickstarter for it next month.

I'll be posting more designs very soon for your feedback but let's start off with the box cover. In particular, what do think of the art, logo design and use of typography?

------------------------------

If you're interested, you can find our latest draft of the prototype rule book here:
http://chaospublishing.com/bte/bte-rules-booklet-v7.pdf

I'm currently re-working the final rule book based on comments from proofreaders although your feedback is very welcome. If you want to try the game out for yourself, send me a message and I'll reply with a link to the print 'n' play files for the game.

@ChaosPublishing
Facebook: ChaosPublishingLtd
 
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Miles Ratcliffe
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Also, here are the drafted designs for the elemental symbols which are used frequently in the game. What do you think? Do the icons clearly resemble Fire, Air, Earth, Water and Wild Energy?

Note: the '2' in the second image represents two of the same matching element.
 
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Paul Simmons
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I personally like the set on the right.

the lightning bolt feels a little out of place as everything else has a spherical feel.
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Jason Kotzur-Yang
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Relexx wrote:
I personally like the set on the right.

the lightning bolt feels a little out of place as everything else has a spherical feel.


Tend to agree on the lightning bolt, but I think the simpler set on the left are easier to read. Why not go with a multi-coloured sphere for wild (Something close to the Google chrome logo)?

Personally, the fire and earth symbols don't quite work for me. It seems like you're trying to something with the negative space but I'm not sure what.


Cover art looks great!
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Miles Ratcliffe
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Relexx wrote:
I personally like the set on the right.

the lightning bolt feels a little out of place as everything else has a spherical feel.

kotzuryang wrote:
Tend to agree on the lightning bolt, but I think the simpler set on the left are easier to read. Why not go with a multi-coloured sphere for wild (Something close to the Google chrome logo)?

As the basic icons will need to be imprinted on dice, I won't be able to incorporate more than one colour per icon. I was toying with the idea of using multiple colours for the second set of icons (which are to be displayed on the cards) although not sure it works quite as well. What do you think?



Another idea I was thinking of instead of a lightning bolt is some-sort-of cloud although didn't think it was as representative. What do you think? Note that disaster cards of the 'wild energy' type include the names: Lightning Bolt, Energy Pulse, Ball Lightning, Energy Burst, Lightning Storm and Cataclysmic Blast.

kotzuryang wrote:
Personally, the fire and earth symbols don't quite work for me. It seems like you're trying to something with the negative space but I'm not sure what.

The Fire symbol is meant to depict a simplistic swirling flame. Then again, do you think it should show more standard depiction of a flame and/or have more detail? Note that it can't be too complex so that it can be incorporated onto the dice.

Do you like the idea of using 'cracked earth' as the association to the earth element? (keeping in mind names of 'earth' cards like as Landslide, Fissure, Rockfall, etc) or do you think a tree, leaf or rock would be a better representation?

kotzuryang wrote:
Cover art looks great!

Thanks, we have to give credit to our artist Jordan Grimmer for such an incredible piece. What do you think of the logo? Do you think it could be improved in any way or do you like it how it is?
 
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Jim Andrew
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the cover art looks great

the logo is okay, but the title looked like using 3 fonts at once and it kinda bothers me
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Miles Ratcliffe
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Here's the cover art with the 'the' un-italicized and using the same font as the 'Brave'. Do you prefer these? (one lowercase, other capitalised and bold)



EDIT: Added second image with the 'the' capitalised and bold
 
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Sebastián Koziner
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golddmaster wrote:
Here's the cover art with the 'the' un-italicized and using the same font as the 'Brave'. Do you prefer these? (one lowercase, other capitalised and bold)



EDIT: Added second image with the 'the' capitalised and bold


All caps is better!
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Jason D. Kingsley
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If I were buying a game based off the cover artwork alone, I'd buy this one. But if I were buying it based on the graphic design, I'd pass. In short, the logo feels... pretty plain. It could stand to be integrated more / connect to the theme better.

Though you didn't ask, I'm going to throw out that the name sounds out of place with the artwork. "Brave the Elements" sounds like a survival game, not the strange, clam, mystical ancient society portrayed in the illustration.

Personally, I'd want to see a logo with more character, one that communicates the same atmosphere as the painting. There are a lot of options, but just as an example... you could make the type more closely mirror the clam, sophisticated feeling (You have the clam, but it feels too modern with the san serifs / helvetica). Contrast that with some light, magical flourishes, perhaps, or some small details that directly tie into the elemental part of the game (like the main symbols).

"Miles Ratcliffe" should probably be centered (maybe above the logo if below is distracting) and put in a more sophisticated-looking font (a plain serif might do fine).
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Miles Ratcliffe
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spindrift wrote:
If I were buying a game based off the cover artwork alone, I'd buy this one. But if I were buying it based on the graphic design, I'd pass. In short, the logo feels... pretty plain. It could stand to be integrated more / connect to the theme better.

Thanks for your honest feedback, this was the first logo that, after putting a small amount of time into, I was happy with. I really want develop the best logo I can that will capture your attention.

spindrift wrote:
Though you didn't ask, I'm going to throw out that the name sounds out of place with the artwork. "Brave the Elements" sounds like a survival game, not the strange, clam, mystical ancient society portrayed in the illustration.

As well as developing your society by constructing locations and taking actions, players need to defend their locations from elemental disasters conjured by the other players, hence the name–you are literally braving the elements. For the cover, we felt it would be best to minimise the representation of conflict to create a stronger appeal; we also really wanted to showcase the wonderous setting–where the game will be taking place.

Here's a peek at the some of the disaster card art in the game:


Left to Right: Firestorm, Tornado, Landslide and Ice Storm


spindrift wrote:
Personally, I'd want to see a logo with more character, one that communicates the same atmosphere as the painting. There are a lot of options, but just as an example... you could make the type more closely mirror the clam, sophisticated feeling (You have the clam, but it feels too modern with the san serifs / helvetica). Contrast that with some light, magical flourishes, perhaps, or some small details that directly tie into the elemental part of the game (like the main symbols).

"Miles Ratcliffe" should probably be centered (maybe above the logo if below is distracting) and put in a more sophisticated-looking font (a plain serif might do fine).

I'll see what else I can figure out based on your input. Thanks. :)
 
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Miles Ratcliffe
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Here's a slight revision–texture added to the 'the' and author name centred with new font (nothing groundbreaking):

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Evan Derrick
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I agree with Jason: the art is lovely, but the graphic design and title treatment do not gel with it. You've got a few different fonts that aren't playing well together, which is a bit jarring. I would suggest a more classical, serif font, which will evoke "ancient times" much more than the modern fonts you've chosen.

Basically, that title treatment feels like it's for a different game. It doesn't look like it goes with this art at all.

Here are a few covers where the title feels like an organic part of the cover, and not something tacked on. In each instance the title is almost built into the art itself. They're cohesive, and everything works together to evoke a distinct feel.








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Miles Ratcliffe
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Thanks for the tips Evan, I guess I'll have to go back to the drawing board. :)

What do you think of the draft of the elemental iconography I posted earlier? (see below for reference)

 
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Jason Kotzur-Yang
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golddmaster wrote:
For the cover, we felt it would be best to minimise the representation of conflict to create a stronger appeal; we also really wanted to showcase the wonderous setting–where the game will be taking place.


This sounds to me like, "We wanted the game to look more like 7 Wonders because it's popular, rather than actually show what the games about" (just saying). It's not bad to associate your game with other successes, but considering your going to be crowdfunding, I think you really want to focus on your target player.
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Mr. Baron
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I don't like the Arabic number 2, I would rather take the Roman one: II. Seems to fit much better to the theme. Roman numbers are well known, other than Greek ones.
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Evan Derrick
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golddmaster wrote:
Thanks for the tips Evan, I guess I'll have to go back to the drawing board.

What do you think of the draft of the elemental iconography I posted earlier? (see below for reference)



Some of the icons are abstracted to the point where, if you hadn't told me the red one was fire, I would never have figured it out if I was looking at it by itself. That's not a huge concern, however, as the icons are distinct from one another and players will quickly grasp that the red one is fire, yellow is air, etc.

Without seeing how they'll look on the cards, however, it's difficult to provide clear feedback. However, going off of the disaster art you posted above (which looks great, BTW), if you laid these icons on top of that art, I feel you'll run into the same issue as the cover: the modern graphic design will clash with the classical art style. These icons and that art feel like they're from two different games.
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Miles Ratcliffe
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Roter_Baron wrote:
I don't like the Arabic number 2, I would rather take the Roman one: II. Seems to fit much better to the theme. Roman numbers are well known, other than Greek ones.

I find that numbers are always a better reference in this context although I have used a different font to fit in better thematically. Also, we're looking to use roman numerals for the phase order so wouldn't like to confuse things. :)

derrickec wrote:
Some of the icons are abstracted to the point where, if you hadn't told me the red one was fire, I would never have figured it out if I was looking at it by itself. That's not a huge concern, however, as the icons are distinct from one another and players will quickly grasp that the red one is fire, yellow is air, etc.

Without seeing how they'll look on the cards, however, it's difficult to provide clear feedback. However, going off of the disaster art you posted above (which looks great, BTW), if you laid these icons on top of that art, I feel you'll run into the same issue as the cover: the modern graphic design will clash with the classical art style. These icons and that art feel like they're from two different games.

Thanks for the great feedback Evan! I've been working on icons a bit and have been figuring out the disaster card layout, see below:


The '+2' in bottom-left is the support bonus it adds to disasters you play (as configured). The card ability is in the bottom-right (there'll be an icon added to show the timing also).



I've detailed the icons a bit more and added more bulk to the fire icon to (hopefully represent fire a bit better–trying to keep the spherical look). Then again, I'd really like to hear what you all think of the disaster card layout. There's a few more things I'll need to adjust/add but, still, what do you think?
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Evan Derrick
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Alright, I wrote more than I intended to. Here's the TL;DR version: Your cards look pretty good. Your art is great. I'd definitely work on a better title treatment, but overall you've got a decent looking game.

Ok, here's the longer version.

So I think the cards look fine. Information is presented clearly and they don't look bad. I would put these on par with the card design in 7 Wonders, and that game was obviously a huge hit. These are good enough. These things take time and money, and perfectionism can stand in the way of something that is perfectly fine.

That's my common sense response.

If I was to be more picky, I'd say that the graphic design, while very good on its own, still doesn't mesh with the art. I would say the exact same thing of 7 Wonders, a game with absolutely gorgeous art that is marred (in my opinion alone) by so-so graphic design. The ultimate goal is to have something beautiful that is also functional, a goal that very few games succeed at (mainly because it just costs so damn much and ultimately won't affect the bottom line). Many games are too beautiful for their own good, sacrificing playability (see the gameboard for Small World); some games are truly horrifying to look at (see the original Glory to Rome); but most are just so-so, because graphic design and art perform a supporting role to the gameplay. If a publisher is going to invest time and money into a game, they really should be investing in the gameplay first and foremost and the graphic design second.

Additionally, most games have artists/illustrators working separately from the graphic designer. While that makes complete sense, they rarely get a chance to work together which means there is often a disconnect between the two.

So... with all that said, I'd cite Last Will as a game that accomplishes both functionality and beauty.

Rather than commissioning the art and then attempting to layer graphic design on top of it in a way that makes sense (which is what 7 Wonders does and your design to an extent), you get the impression with Last Will that the art and the graphic design were created in conjunction (there's a good chance the artist and the graphic designer were one and the same person). There's an overall vision that is cohesive, functional, and beautiful all at once.



These things are subjective and it's really impossible to make any kind of authoritative pronouncements. In our game group, I rail against graphic design all the time in games, and my buddies roll their eyes - they just don't care that much. I firmly believe that if you were to present the same game to them, one with gorgeous aesthetics and one that just "makes do," they would choose the gorgeous one every time, even if they can't put their finger on it. So, art and design matter in game publishing, but not as much as I might personally wish they did.






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Miles Ratcliffe
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Thanks again Evan. I really appreciate the feedback (and I'll take the comparison to 7 Wonders as a compliment, though I can see the slight disconnect you mention with the art). Last Will is a great example of a marriage of art and graphic design. I also agree that, a lot of the time, it's quite clear when the artist is also the graphic designer. Take Josh Cappel and his art as a prime example–games like Belfort for instance. The discussion on this image of the Pegasus Spiele cover is a good example example of the disconnect between the cover and the graphic design when they had another artist re-do the cover for their edition.

Nevertheless, having high quality art and graphic design in our games is very important to us so I'll be discussing the re-working of the game logo with our artist to better fit in with cover art. :)
 
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Miles Ratcliffe
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Since my last post, we've had our artist work a bit on a new logo design for Brave the Elements. What do you think?



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corwin riddle
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I like the new logo, but the way it's presented in front of the light blue/white sky, it seems to kind of fade into the background. Maybe it's because of the many white/light shiny areas on the logo, with that similar white being behind it as well.

It looks much better than the old one, I must say! I wonder if a darker background might help it pop out, right now it doesn't feel like my eyes are drawn to it...
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Miles Ratcliffe
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That was an initial concern of mine as well. There are still a few minor adjustments that will be made although we'll also see what we can figure out to make it stand out a bit better. :-)

Any other minor suggestions/things to improve?
 
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David J. Mortimer
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I much prefer the new logo. I think it captures the theme/feel much better and fits with the artwork.

I guess the balance between blending in and standing out is a tricky one!
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Evan Derrick
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MUCH better! I agree that some of the finer details of the title (the mist and energy lines) don't show up with how it's blended with the background, but overall it's a huge improvement.
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Miles Ratcliffe
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Here's the final logo! I hope you're as pleased with the final result as we are.

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