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art & font for Wilderlands of High Adventure products 
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Ungern

Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 90
Post art & font for Wilderlands of High Adventure products
James's new product, XXXI, is a fine example of a proper use of art and fonts.

First, I would dearly like for James to retain the Century Gothic font used in XXXI. That font fondly recalls the old pastel TSR modules, classics such as Tomb of Horrors, Vault of the Drow, Hall of the Fire Giant King, Village of Hommlet, etc. On Necromancer's boards James mentioned that he intends to use Garamond as a font instead. I hope he reconsiders. While both fonts are readable, only one adds "old school vibe" to readability.

Second, I would like to commend the use of art in XXXI. While there is but a single piece in the book, it is precisely the sort it needs to be: black-and-white, old school, and USEFUL. It depicts the Dragon Gate mentioned on p. 5. I can imagine that when players approach the Dragon Gate, virtually every Judge will hold up XXXI, point at the illustration, and say, "It looks like this."

Contrast that with the empty, shallow, and useless art so prevalent in FRPG products today. [sarcasm]"Oh, look, a party of adventurers. I always wondered what one of those looks like."[/sarcasm] I hope future Wilderlands of High Adventure products continue to stay away from such wastes of paper. You can't swing a dead cat anymore without knocking-over some fantasy art. We certainly don't need any more fantasy art whose only purpose is to (supposedly) look cool. Here are the sort of subjects that need art:

1. unusual architectural or natural features: We do NOT need illustrations of everyday sorts of things, such as are found on some of the pages of Necromancer's generally excellent Wilderlands boxed set: "Would you look at that! A drawing of an average village."
2. new monsters: We desperately need for pretty much EVERY new monster in a given product to be illustrated. What would you rather see? The FIRST (and perhaps ONLY) illustration of a new beastie, or the TEN THOUSANDTH illustration of a fighter? "Look at his cool belt buckle!"
3. weird or bizarre objects: I'm thinking here of hard-to-picture magic items, pieces of high technology, alien inscriptions, outre statues, etc. Give me something that I can hold up and say, "You found THIS."

4. We MUST have nudity, and we MUST NOT have nudity. "Huh?" Look at the illustrations in the 1st edition AD&D Monster Manual, Players Handbook, and Dungeon Masters Guide. They don't shy away from featuring nudity IN MONSTERS. Succubi don't wear clothes! Harpies don't wear bras! Etc. It would be a shame to illustrate them wearing clothes. You might as well draw a picture of a red dragon wearing a sweater. On the other hand, in the AD&D core rulebooks there is not a single adventurer running around in a chainmail bikini or similar nonsense. That is NOT how an adventurer dresses. (The only possible exception is the cover of the DMG, with that scantily-clad girl in the efreeti's clutches. I do not interpret her to be an adventurer, though. I interpret her to be a slave girl.) So no "adventurer babes", PLEASE. And no "pumped-up" men, either. Look at the adventurers in the old MM encountering that giant spider. Look at the adventurers in D2: Shrine of the Kuo-toa. Look at the adventurers in the AD&D Fiend Folio. All of them are lean and mean and roughed-up. They look like they are fighting their way through dungeons. They do not look like they just finished working on their six-packs at the gym.

In short, keep up the old-school vibe, James!


Mon Sep 10, 2007 4:08 am
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Ulthal

Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 724
Post Re: art & font for Wilderlands of High Adventure product
Quote:
Geoffrey wrote:
1. unusual architectural or natural features: We do NOT need illustrations of everyday sorts of things, such as are found on some of the pages of Necromancer's generally excellent Wilderlands boxed set: "Would you look at that! A drawing of an average village."



Thanks for the kind words! We were indeed going for the "Old School Look" with the fonts, and I believe that all art in a product should have a purpose... to provide the judge and the players with a launchpad for their imagination. Not just to take up space! So every piece of art in my products will have a reason for being there.

I am now seriously considering keeping Century Gothic. I like the Baldur/Garamond mix, but the B/CG mix looks good too...

Quote:
Quote:
2. new monsters

3. weird or bizarre objects:



I plan to have illustrations for every new monster and unusual or unique magic item... and especially the bizarre objects. In the Wilderlands, there are plenty of those!

Quote:
Quote:
4. We MUST have nudity, and we MUST NOT have nudity.



Well, originally I thought to go full old school on this, but the issue is that today, I could *go to jail* in some states because of full nudity in one of my books, if it gets into the hands of a child! I'm not that dedicated to my art, for better or for worse... so while nudity will be implied, it will be along the scale and nature of the old Conan novel covers.
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Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:22 pm
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Mist Elf

Joined: Fri May 12, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 28
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I am partial to Century Gothic, but as long as the product is clean and readable, I am not going to complain.

WRT illustrations, I would prefer cover art which lets me read my installment on a train without drawing stares from other people. So: tasteful, subdued and elegant. Beyond that, I daren't make suggestions, as my tastes are probably not parallel with most people who buy game products. I'd loooove to see Jugendstil artwork one day... but that obviously ain't happening any time soon.

But I would rather see NO art than generic art.


Tue Sep 11, 2007 3:49 pm
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Ungern

Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 90
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James, how expensive is Erol Otus? Is his art affordable for your products?


Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:30 pm
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Ulthal

Joined: Tue May 30, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 724
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Quote:
Geoffrey wrote:
James, how expensive is Erol Otus? Is his art affordable for your products?



Erol and I have discussed his working on art for AGJ; he is definitely interested, once I can afford his work. And his work will grace the pages of AGJ the moment I can afford it (and as long as he has time at the time). We're still quite a ways from that sales goal... but it will take time to build up to that level.
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James Mishler

Main Man, Adventure Games Publishing
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http://jamesmishler.blogspot.com


Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:42 pm
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Ulthal

Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 496
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I like art, I read technical manuals all day long without art. art tells me "this is fun, this isn't work" when my eyes are scanning the text.

However, I agree, art should be evocative, somewhat limited, and specific to the text at hand. keeping it B/W is good.

Cheers,

J.


Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:55 pm
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Ulthal

Joined: Thu May 11, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 428
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You might look into using the artists who did the interior work for Labyrinth Lord. Some of that is very nice old-school work.
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Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:55 pm
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Ungern

Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 7:00 am
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double post


Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:21 am
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Ungern

Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 7:00 am
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A couple more things I'd like to see:

1. If you can both find and afford him, track down Russ Nicholson ( http://www.pen-paper.net/rpgdb.php?op=s ... atorid=684 )! He did at least a third of the illustrations in the AD&D Fiend Folio (usually signing his name as "RUSS", but at least once as "NiCHOLSON"). I consider him the fourth member of the trinity of Sutherland, Trampier, and Otus. Look especially at his illustrations of putrefying and decaying undead (such as the sons of Kyuss). Nicholson would be ideal for illustrating any weird undead unique to the Wilderlands of High Adventure.

2. While I generally prefer black and white art, the one exception is the cover, and even there I do not prefer full-color. I LOVE the late 70s TSR monochrome covers. Full-color, while it can look very good, takes a bit of the fantasy out of the drawing for me. The closer a D&D illustration looks to photorealism, the less fantastic it feels to me. The following from note H to J. R. R. Tolkien's essay, "On Fairy-Stories" helps explain what I mean:

"It was an irresistible development of modern illustration (so largely photographic) that borders should be abandoned and the 'picture' end only with the paper. This method may be suitable for photographs; but it is altogether inappropriate for the pictures that illustrate or are inspired by fairy-stories. An enchanted forest requires a margin, even an elaborate border. To print it coterminous with the page, like a 'shot' of the Rockies in Picture Post, as if it were indeed a 'snap' of fairyland or a 'sketch by our artist on the spot', is a folly and an abuse."

The monochrome covers make it seem more as though the illustration is a part of an eldritch scoll, with only the exotic color of the scroll's material coloring the drawing made by some ancient scribe.

I can't imagine the cover of my favorite module (D2: The Shrine of the Kuo-Toa) being full-color. The shades of green suit it perfectly:
http://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/modpage ... first.html

I am also quite taken by the old Erol Otus monochrome covers of the various AD&D character record sheets:
http://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/miscpag ... dpcv1.html
http://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/miscpag ... 9fldr.html
http://www.acaeum.com/ddindexes/miscpag ... 81npc.html

If the above examples (as well as many others) were full-colored, they would lose some of their magic. So save yourself some money, James, and don't ever go with full-color covers.


Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:25 am
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Ungern

Joined: Mon Aug 28, 2006 7:00 am
Posts: 90
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Another artist whom I really like is David Day, who did the best work in the Wilderlands of High Fantasy boxed set.


Mon Oct 01, 2007 4:13 pm
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