Monday, May 9, 2011
Underground Comic Art for RPGs
I think artwork is very important for tabletop games and can really set the mood for the shared narrative world the players are creating. Dark, gritty artwork will encourage a similar style of play, while more whimsical art might sway things towards a cheerier more light-hearted approach.
Perhaps the styles of art we see en vogue in RPG publications reflects the most common way people are approaching RPGs. Or at least the way RPG publishers are. As James points out most publishers include the kind of art THEY want (or can afford). If you don't like mainstream RPG art... don't put it in your books, and choose something different.
My suggestion to OSR publishers who want the aesthetic for their games to be different from the mainstream would be to find some artists working in a style you like and hire them to do some work for you. If you don't have a budget for that... why not pick up a pencil and do it yourself? You're doing it as an indie game designer, why not do the same as an indie illustrator?
Personally, I would be 10x more likely to pick up a book with 'amateur' artwork someone actually drew than uncanny valley Poser 3D art I'm seeing on the cover of a lot of indie RPGs these days. No offence to anyone doing that kind of work intended... I just can't get into it. Maybe that's just my personal tastes, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels like that.
Anyway, if you're really into Underground Comic Art and RPGs you really should check out Tim Sievert's work.