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Public Domain Art

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Geikamir
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Joined: 10/20/2011

I am not really the best artist as far as concept painting and such, I am however pretty decent at photo editing. Also, I'm broke.

What's the general opinion of using creative commons/public domain art for a game? I have plans to alter the way anything I decide to use looks, but was wondering if I invest the time and effort into doing that would my game be looked down on because of it?

I will very likely use it for prototyping purposes either way, but as far as trying to get it Kickstarted where would I stand?

lodus
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Joined: 10/22/2011
I don't think it matters

I don't think it matters where the art is from as long as it looks good. What are the chances of people knowing where it's from anyway?

I think what's more important is what style the art is in, which I would normally select based on the game theme.

ilta
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Of course you can always put

Of course you can always put in a note on the Kickstarter page that you don't intend to use the images shown for the final game. If an artist finds out and objects then you're in a bit of a sticky situation, and in any case "it's only a problem if you get caught" is a lousy and unprofessional way to go about doing business.

But yes, if a game looked slapped together artistically I would be less inclined to support it. There are plenty of other games on Kickstarter that look like they are being made by game professionals with the money to see things through. You might consider asking an artist to make work for you on spec, with the understanding (and contract!) that when/if the game is funded you'll be paying them properly for the finished product.

Additionally, Creative Commons licenses vary. Just because someone uses CC doesn't mean you can just take their image and use it for your own purposes. Some CC licenses are for non-profit use only, for instance. Most don't allow modification of any kind, even for non-profit use. You'll have to check the individual images for the details on their particular CC implementation -- the nice thing about it is that it's standardized, so you can see at a glance which images using CC will let you do what you want.

Public Domain images are freely usable of course, and you can change them as much as you like. So I'd stick to those if you can't get an artist to make some preview art for you.

Geikamir
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Oh well, yeah.

Of course. I have completely no intentions of stealing anything. I'm speaking specifically about stuff that is completely free to use/alter/make profit from.

And if I could find an artist that does the art style I'm going for and is willing to, I'd have no problem with that. Though I don't know where to look, and would imagine they are hard to come by. Since I would not be able to provide any profit guarantee to them at all if it's not Kickstarted (though I wouldn't use their work in that case, of course).

PierreNZ
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Joined: 10/01/2011
.

My take:

If it's for a prototype (as in: limited to you and your local group of playtesters): use whatever you want.

If you're submitting to a publisher: try to layout the cards/boards as best as you can, use free cliparts to illustrate as needed, no need to go into any expense since art will most likely get redone (although scoring free art from artist friends can't hurt)

If you're submitting your game as a free PnP: Make up your own "art", so long as the game mechanics are tight and the overall look isn't entirely offensive, peopl will try it out (and that's the point of a PnP release right?)

If you're looking at self-publishing: Find and hire an artist. Trawl through BGG and Devianart and pay your artists real money. I hate to say this but working for free isn't really motivating. But you never know, some artist might get pumped about your game and offer free artwork. Still I wouldn't expect timely results, if I'm not paying for it.

If you're looking at Kickstarter: Find an artist and present him your project. Make him/her a partner in your endeavour and stress the fact that the Kickstarter campaign will (mainly) pay for his/her time spent on the artwork. Ideally, the better the sample art provided for the KS campaign, the better the chances the game has to get funded and so the better the chances that artist has to get a paid gig.

infocorn
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Joined: 07/30/2008
Transmogify!

PierreNZ wrote:

If it's for a prototype (as in: limited to you and your local group of playtesters): use whatever you want.

I'm reminded here of the beta stuff I saw in an old Scrye Magazine article about the history of Magic: The Gathering. One of the demo cards Garfield and his group printed off used a frame from Calvin and Hobbes to pretty good effect. In my own stuff, I've definitely done this kind of thing for a little comic relief (and depending on the "heaviness" of your game's theme, a little chuckle to break the tension might be good.)

As always, if you're using something of a somewhat historical or present-day kind of theme, I point you to CLKER.com for general clip art and some photos, morgueFile for photos exclusively, and even iStockphoto (though lots of theirs are NOT free). All of those have art that are royalty free. Actually, the guy from CLKER is a very nice dude; not only did he respond to a customer email, it was same day and he was thrilled to have game designers checking out his site.

larienna
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Watch out for public domain

Watch out for public domain art, because the photograph has copyright on the picture of the art. I even stumbled on a site that sells rights to public domain, which is a bit absurd.

Else, even if you have not talent, you can manage to do some art yourself if you like to do art. Here is an example I posted some times ago.

http://www.bgdf.com/node/2631

I have not descriibed the technique in detail, but the basic idea is that you take a picture that exists and paint over the pictures with various kinds of brush. Using layers makes it easier too. When the picture is shrunk down, all the flaws simply dissapears because they are now too small to see.

The second, idea is to do impressionist style of art which requires you to stain your painting at the right place to give the impression of seeing the objects on the painting. Google impressionist art for some examples.

pelle
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Joined: 08/11/2008
Wikipedia's lawyers at least

Wikipedia's lawyers at least have interpreted us case law to mean you can not claim copyright on a simple 2d photo of a pd painting. In other countries it might be different or unknown.

One reason I like old books is I can scan any illustrations and use however I like. Have a pair of 19th century officer handbooks that I'm using for a wargame prototype now. Beats having to wrestle with licenses and confusing international laws.

Well CC is nice, and sites like openclipart.org or wikimedia, but you need to look out for photos that might be uploaded without permission.

War Prime
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Joined: 11/06/2011
Dont do it....

It is very dangerous to use "Placeholder" art for something you intend to publish. It far to easy to forget where it came from at ship. It would be sad to watch all your hard earned profit be lost because of an oversight.

I just use card layouts that don't have any art...or if I need art I use something ether I have made or I have no intention of the final art being in that style (i.e. very cartoony or bright pink).

On the flip side, if you are just doing this for fun then it doesn't matter. Do what you like and use any art you want. As long as no one but your friends and family see it, it wont matter.

Eric
http://warprime.blogspot.com/
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/Warprime

jzylkin
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Joined: 10/13/2011
I think its totally fine to

I think its totally fine to use public domain art in a board game, as long as you do it creatively! Have you seen the Road To Canterbury board game that was up on Kickstarter a few weeks back? It is a very classy graphic design that uses Heironymous Bosch paintings almost exclusively. It looks very professional -- original even! The use of the famous artworks is a cool feature of the game, actually.

robertburkejr
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Joined: 02/27/2012
Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.

pelle wrote:
Wikipedia's lawyers at least have interpreted us case law to mean you can not claim copyright on a simple 2d photo of a pd painting. In other countries it might be different or unknown.

One reason I like old books is I can scan any illustrations and use however I like. Have a pair of 19th century officer handbooks that I'm using for a wargame prototype now. Beats having to wrestle with licenses and confusing international laws.

Well CC is nice, and sites like openclipart.org or wikimedia, but you need to look out for photos that might be uploaded without permission.

See Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.

In 1999, US district court ruled that you CANNOT copyright photographic reproduction of work in the public domain.
Seems pretty cut and dry to me. Does anyone know of any opposing court rulings to this precendent?

This is an important subject to me for my next project. http://robertburkegames.blogspot.com/

gameogami
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Joined: 03/20/2012
War Prime wrote:It is very

War Prime wrote:
It is very dangerous to use "Placeholder" art for something you intend to publish. It far to easy to forget where it came from at ship. It would be sad to watch all your hard earned profit be lost because of an oversight.

I just use card layouts that don't have any art...or if I need art I use something ether I have made or I have no intention of the final art being in that style (i.e. very cartoony or bright pink).

On the flip side, if you are just doing this for fun then it doesn't matter. Do what you like and use any art you want. As long as no one but your friends and family see it, it wont matter.

Eric
http://warprime.blogspot.com/
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/user/Warprime

I completely agree with this. If you are going to be putting your project on Kickstarter, or showing it to anyone but your friends and family, then use original art. For a prototype, it doesn't matter if the art sucks, as long as it is functional. For Kickstarter, however, the quality of the art DOES matter, because showing off good art (even if it is only a small portion of the total art that is needed for the final product) can make a big difference in your campaign's success. In that case, take the time to make some good art yourself, get an artistic friend to do it for you, or find an affordable freelancer through websites like DeviantArt.com.

SlyBlu7
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Joined: 03/15/2012
Currently Looking for Art

I'm currently looking for art for 2 different games - Forgotten Gods, in the long run, and in the present I'm looking for art for my jousting game 'IronClad'. For Ironclad I need a few specific things - unridden caparisoned horses, some loose armor, and jousting grounds, plus miscellaneous bits and bobs. It's difficult to get everything together - right now for the prototype I'm using chess-style pictures for everything - a helmet for armor, a chess Knight for horses, etc.

I will caution you that even if an artist seems massively interested in your game, don't count on them to pull through. Don't count on someone to pull through on a "promise" either. I'm a writer - I was working on a tabletop wargame with a fellow from Australia, who promised me $500 plus a small royalty for writing for his game. The problem was, it was all *after* the game was published, and I just couldn't trust that he could pull through. So I dropped the project cold. He has gotten in contact recently and said the he found another person to do the writing, but that it cost him several hundred dollars up front. I was a bit angry, because if he had offered me the $500 up front, he would have gotten quality work from me emailed to him within the week.

You see, you might have high plans for your game, but most writers and artists don't have your "I'm successful" tinted glasses on. He thought that his game might someday rival Warmachine or Warhammer. I thought that his game would be lucky if it rivaled Heroclix. I didn't tell him that, but it meant that when he was talking about 10% royalties, I sort of wanted to laugh. He wasn't going to make money on this game, I didn't really want to cash a check for 25cents.

Pay your artists up front. Or find friends. Be careful though, if you're going to self-publish, make sure that your friends are clear on your intentions before you do. Without written documents to support your deal, your friend could easily turn on you and sue you for using their art in your best-selling game just as easily as anyone on the internet could.

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