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resources for free or low cost art?

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NewbieDesigner
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Joined: 01/20/2011

I'm interested in submitting a game to Gamecrafter that can be purchased. Can anyone recommend resources for decent art that is free or reasonably priced?

How does that usually work? You purchase an image that can be used for commercial purposes? Are some sites subscription based? Thanks.

radioactivemouse
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I got my art from a student.

I got my art from a student. Granted, I work at an art college as an instructor, so it was easy.

But I'll be honest, art should come after you've solidified the game (and after you've play tested it some). I'm not sure of how far into development you are in your game, but if you have a product that's good, you can have any potential artist play it and they will volunteer to do it if it's good. That's probably the best way. Show the product and the artist will come.

Your other option would be to do it yourself. Use Photoshop, Illustrator, whatever to get what you need done. Personally, before I searched for my artist, I just did my own cards. I didn't even use pictures from a paid site; I just used icons I lifted from Google.

Soulfinger
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Yes, the images are either

Yes, the images are either public domain or you pay a fee for commercial use. It is worth noting that some sites charge for public domain images that you could find for free with a little work. These are usually illustrations from old books. Some places sell you rights to use an image, but the rights aren't exclusive. If you commission work directly from an artist and purchase exclusive commercial rights, you will pay more than for a private commission, but you get the rights for reproduction. Make sure you draft a good contract though.

There's a guy at http://recedingrules.blogspot.com/ who posts up public domain art for gaming, plus silhouettes that he generates himself, which are free for commercial use. That inspired me to start making silhouettes of my own for some projects, which work out phenomenally well.

Dover also puts out a line of clip art books that come with CDs of image files. You can check many of them out at the library. I think they have a caveat that you can only use ten or so images from a given book in a commercial work, although its hardly enforceable seeing as how they are public domain compilations. The actual images are readily available elsewhere, and there are plenty of similar books.

For commissions, you can often name your price if you live in a college town. Put a flyer up in the art building, but get to know the artist, get a good look at their portfolio, and have a signed contract in hand before any money changes hand. Likewise, lots of hungry artists on deviantart. On top of that, some big name industry artists do accept commissions from the public and give surprisingly reasonable rates (biggest hurdle is usually their overbooked schedule). I had good luck approaching an artist who was doing stellar work online but clearly getting underpaid because of the genre of her work.

I found it helpful to lay out specifics for myself and plan out what I was looking for, which informed my search. What established artists inspire your vision for this particular game? For my most recent, Will McLean, Jim Holloway, and Ushio Shinohara. Is there a style of art that best suits your game, like the pointilism pen and ink you see in a lot of older Cthulhu game art, Manga, Art Nouveau, etc.? Is there a color palette that you envision? I picked a cover artist partly because they did great work with a purple palette, which fit my game. Figuring this stuff out can save you some time in the long run and help you maintain a consistent aesthetic throughout your work instead of being all over the place with the art (manga on one page, Soviet realism the next).

NewbieDesigner
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Thanks for the helpful info.

Thanks for the helpful info.

Zag24
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Joined: 03/02/2014
From Google?!?

radioactivemouse wrote:
I didn't even use pictures from a paid site; I just used icons I lifted from Google.

Are you under the impression that the pictures you find on Google are public domain? This is not even almost true. Very little of what you find on Google or other search engines is free for commercial use.

There are a few sites that offer free clipart. It's mostly pretty bad, and the free stuff is only teasers to get you to come to their for-pay sites. However, if you are willing to be patient looking, you can find decent art for around $3 or $4 per image, where you have a single-use license that is not exclusive.

I made my game Jelly Bean Farmers this way. (I don't want to put a sales link in order to avoid being a spammer, but you can Google it if you're interested.) Here are all the cards. http://zag.net/farmers/ You can see that the quality is not as good as if I had hired an artist, and there are two or three different styles being mixed. However, since it's the first game I made, the only one I've actually published (self-published) and it was all done before I even knew about this site or BGG, I think that the (many) mistakes I made are forgivable. Anyway, I'm still pretty proud of it.

Glide5
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Joined: 09/02/2014
Thanks for the information

This is really good info, thanks for it. A lot of us have the artist problems and we all worry about when and how to take care of it.

In my case, the game I'm working on is in the playtesting phase. We have our characters solidified and they aren't changing so we would like to get them some art so we can have something to show for them.

So for myself, should I just go on Deviant Art, find someones whose art I like, tell them what I'm doing and ask for art help, or is there a better way to approach an artist?

LordBrand
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Joined: 12/27/2014
Glide -While this isn't

Glide -

While this isn't fully comprehensive, this is a great post on getting started with finding artists:

https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1000737/tips-soliciting-artistdesigners...

I'd try to have some of those things thought out before I reach out... And important, especially since you are low-no budget... Don't be offended when people turn you down. It's not personal. Even with cash, sometimes artists are busy, and sometimes they just don't resonant with your project. Be willing to keep trying until you find the person who you connect with.

But make sure your game is mostly finished from a mechanics perspective! It sucks to commission art that you can't use... And it sucks for an artist to spend time putting together a piece that gets dropped (regardless of whether or not they were paid for it).

questccg
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My dealings with artists

Usually when I involve an Artist is because the game is in it's final stages. That's NUMBER #1.

But I often want to show Publishers what the game could look like. So what I do is setup a Project Budget with the Artist.

So let's say we agree that for X pieces the amount will be Y. What I will do next is advance some cash in return for a few pieces I can show to a Publisher or showcase them on the web, etc. That amount Z gets deducted from amount Y.

An example: if my budget is $10,000 and I ask for an advance of 3 pieces. I will pay $500.00 and deduct this from the remaining amount to be paid. So there is $9,500 left to be paid.

This is good because if it's artwork for a Kickstarter, I don't need to invest too much - just enough to show backers what the game will look like. Same goes for Publishers, a few sample cards are enough to have them understand what the finished product will look like.

About budgets that varies - it depends largely on the amount of work being asked for. For commissions, from my artists that is usually $150-$200 per piece (depending on the artist)... And this is more expensive because it's a one-at-a-time proposition.

I know some designers inquired about some of my artists that I have dealt with. While they are great - they are busy. Obviously larger projects attract them more but still they do commissions (when recommended). Most of them have other work that keeps them also busy (Comic books, teaching, fan commissions, etc.)

So that's my experience in a nutshell! :)

Glide5
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Joined: 09/02/2014
Haha oh ya, I'm expecting to

Haha oh ya, I'm expecting to get turned down a bunch by artist. Part of the fun of it all, right?

Glide5
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Joined: 09/02/2014
Ya, I'm sure you know what I

Ya, I'm sure you know what I mean by the fact that I want to get some art so I have something to show for our main characters but the game's not done enough to go all in yet either. It's a balancing act for sure. One day I'll have a budget like you haha

Soulfinger
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Glide5 wrote:So for myself,

Glide5 wrote:
So for myself, should I just go on Deviant Art, find someones whose art I like, tell them what I'm doing and ask for art help, or is there a better way to approach an artist?

For the game I'm working on, I first approached Jim Holloway, because his had shaped my vision of gaming since I first started playing 1st ed. AD&D at the age of 5. Plus, from a commercial standpoint, he did hilarious illustrations for the older Paranoia books, which fit my game and would appeal to my target demographic. I know that Mr. Holloway did commissions, so I contacted him through his website. I received a nice email from his agent with a follow-up by Mr. Holloway himself, who shared some kind words but turned me down on account of his busy schedule. It was a nice experience.

After that, I remembered some illustrations I'd seen a long time ago by a niche market artist. I am not a fan of her subject material, but her style was a perfect fit for what I wanted on my cover, and I knew that my RPG wouldn't be a genre outside of her ken. I shot off an email through her site and received a response within an hour. We discussed things, I gave a timetable for funding and production, and I'll be receiving an initial sketch sometime soon.

The gist of what I wrote was:

"Hello. I was curious if you do commission work for commercial use. I am finishing up a tabletop role playing game and am in need of an artist for a full-color [B&W, etc.] cover illustration. The product deadline is X if that suits your schedule. I am very impressed with your work [citing some familiarity and how it is compatible with your needs helps]. This is my Xth project of this sort, and I have Y and Z credentials [to a) demonstrate that I'm not some Internet creep, b) give assurance of an amiable relationship, and c) ensure that the product is likely to be completed, artist will be paid, and work will grace a cover seen by more than 2 people]. Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you."

I don't bring up rates, revision policies, and other fine details right away because the artist may not be interested anyway but also, because the character of their response will help me determine how to negotiate terms.

My biggest suggestions are that you visit clientsfromhell.net so that you can get a picture of what graphic designers, artists, and the like deal with on a regular basis, and that you inform yourself about art and graphic design enough that you are easy to work with. For example, it's frustrating to have to explain what 300DPI means to someone who says that they plan to publish a book.

Short answer: Yes, just email people on deviantart and see who is interested, but if you aren't ready for production then be straightforward about your timeline. Tell them if you are six months away from starting a KS, for example, after which you could contract the work and would then require it within one or two months. Not only are you being up-front, but you have the opportunity of making a reservation in their busy calender. Never jerk people around, because the artist who turns you down today may be the one who illustrates your next game.

Glide5
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Joined: 09/02/2014
Great info Soulfingure

Hey Soul, thanks for the information. This really helped ease my mind about the process some. Being a newbie to all of this, I wasn't sure when to start putting precedence on an artist. This project started as a for fun idea, but about a month ago it hit me that this thing was going to get finished at some point. The fact that we are in the prototyping phase made me concerned because we had no artist involvement, but it sounds like that is ok. We all know that the gameplay must be great, no matter what the art turns out to be.

Can we even go as far as entering it in competitions or the like with no real art direction, or will that be an automatic knock against us?

Soulfinger
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Glide5 wrote:Can we even go

Glide5 wrote:
Can we even go as far as entering it in competitions or the like with no real art direction, or will that be an automatic knock against us?

Probably everyone here can tell you more about entering competitions than I can, but what I've noticed overall is that good game mechanics retain your players but art brings them to the table. Worse still, whatever style of art you do select won't appeal to everyone. There are three reasons I don't want to buy Dominion, and the bland artwork is one of them.

Glide5
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Joined: 09/02/2014
Ya, art is such an important

Ya, art is such an important aspect to bringing people in. If it looks unappealing, people won't play it. Oh well, I'm a mechanics and writing guy, so I will always be at the mercy of an artist haha.

firstcultural
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Joined: 09/11/2014
What kind of game is it and

What kind of game is it and what kind of art do you need? I might have some art you can reuse for a nominal cost (such as a copy of the game).

Glide5
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Joined: 09/02/2014
It's an RPG style game. Big

It's an RPG style game. Big things we could recycle is art for the board (That way the tiles aren't just blank haha), and art for treasures. What all do you have available?

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