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RPG Artwork Poll

Poll #660972 How Important is Art in Gaming Books?

How Important is Art in Gaming Books?

The most important thing
0(0.0%)
A very important thing
37(66.1%)
Eh, I can take it or leave it.
14(25.0%)
Not very important
3(5.4%)
Completely irrelevent
2(3.6%)

How Does Art Affect Your Purchasing Choices?

A good cover or interior art is enough to make me buy a book
3(5.4%)
I take art as an indicator of good production values all round
33(58.9%)
It doesn't affect my decision either way
7(12.5%)
I'm less likely to look at a game with bad art
12(21.4%)
Bad art means I won't look at a game at all.
1(1.8%)

What RPG has the best art in your opinion?

What RPG has the worst art in your opinion?

Is No Art Better Than Bad Art?

Yes
36(66.7%)
No
18(33.3%)

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
sea_of_flame
Jan. 27th, 2006 07:55 am (UTC)
Bear in mind that a lot of gaming books come sealed in plastic - so internal art can't always be *seen* freely before purchase.

Selected bits might be shown on publicity, but that tends to be analagous to judging a film's entire special effects by what you see in a trailer...if what they show off is dire, you can bet the rest will be worse - but just because they show you some good bits doesn't guaruntee that the rest will be of that quality, they may have shown you *all* the good bits!
davedevil
Jan. 27th, 2006 08:26 am (UTC)
Lack of art can be offset with good layout.

Nobilis is a game whichhas not very much art in it bu beautiful crisp and clearn layout which makes you feel art would let it down.
evilref
Jan. 27th, 2006 09:04 am (UTC)
Art to me is an indicator of bad production values: I want an RPG book to be easy to reference, and easy to understand, and the sort of people that concentrate on making it look pretty rarely seem to concentrate on making it easy to use.

I recognise that it is possible to have both, but it doesn't seem to be the case.

On the other hand, I'm a storyteller: I find the system to be a necessary nuisance, and the more time I have to spend looking system rules up, the more it irritates me.
zenmeisterin
Jan. 27th, 2006 09:51 am (UTC)
People are predominantly visual. Even crappy drawings interspersing large chunks of text helps 1) break it into more easily digestible chunks and 2) provide at least some sort of glimpse into the world presented therein.
omentide
Jan. 27th, 2006 12:09 pm (UTC)
Most of the books I read have no pictures.

I've always regarded the (usually pretty crap) artwork in roleplaying books as being there to fill up the space where the writer hasn't actually got anything to say.

I don't think I'm 'not visual' but I do think I am 'not visual to the extent that I need pictures in all my reading matter'.

oldson
Jan. 27th, 2006 12:26 pm (UTC)
The curiosity would stand as to whether or not you feel that a good picture can be a large enhancement to a book.

My theory is that if you take a picture which is wholly inappropriate, then it detracts from the image, but if you have one that's bang on the nose, it makes a massive difference.

IMHO anyway.
oldson
Jan. 27th, 2006 10:27 am (UTC)
I'll quantify my remarks, if there is no art, it suggests that the people behind the book both cannot draw and also cannot afford to have artists create things for them, which in turn suggests low budget, which in turn suggests less than mainstream. For those of us who've been around indies and don't mind such things, it's not a problem, but when trying to compete against the bigger companies, those that have budgets, it's a telling factor. Complete lack of artwork cannot be made up for with anything, because it puts the product in a league where it's only writers, and as anyone will tell you, "Anyone" can write...........

A fact which those of us who get paid for it often curse at :)
necropolis
Jan. 27th, 2006 11:53 am (UTC)
Monkeys, I forgot to put Tony D in my RPG Artists I like bit... but I think thats cos I don't see him as an RPG artist anymore. But well, anything done by him really. Even the *sharp intake of breath* MtG Cards.
(Deleted comment)
oldson
Jan. 27th, 2006 12:29 pm (UTC)
Excellent commentry, agree totally.
(Deleted comment)
_grimtales_
Jan. 27th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
See... I really didn't like most of the UA art. I thought it confused and messy. Not quite as bad as the nWoD corebook, but pretty bad.

The game shone through in spite of the art.
blue_cat
Jan. 27th, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC)
internal art does a number of things:
- it gives visual clues to the section when you are desperately flipping through trying to find that *(&(*^&& bit on guns (helpful: Art of gun toating / guns / not helpful: bint in bikini)
- it breaks up the text so you don't feel you are just reading some boring text book that goes on and on and on and on
- it sparks the imagination, 'oooh, look hot rod chick with a chainsaw - neat, now I might play her but with a sword instead...
- you can use it to show others your ideas, or thoughts (I was going to play this guy *points to art of suit with gun a la MIB* but thought that it would be neat if he could be carrying this *points to sci-fi gun*) for those who are not as able to explain their ideas verbally and can't draw.
- it sets the game world (is it sci-fi or fantasy, space or planet based? what is the ~feel~ of the game?

Good art, or even mediocre art helps the above. I distinguish poor quality art from innapropriate art (eg, bad drawing of gun in gun section vs good quality drawing of a speedboat in gun section) - Id rather the poor quality art than the innapropriate art.
nmonkeyj
Jan. 27th, 2006 12:39 pm (UTC)
A couple of thoughts
I'm at work just now so I can't check the books I own but I don't think there is any RPG I have that I like but has artwork I can't stand. I love Unknown Armies and it's artwork, same goes for Delta Green. I also like the artwork on the cover of and in the SLA books. I've found that the artwork first/second ed. vampire books has aged very badly.

I may buy a good book with artwork I don't like but if it's got an unreadable or cluttered layout I'll not stick with it. These comments above are actually useful as I'm at the stage of working out what artwork to put in of our own books.
snowlynx
Jan. 27th, 2006 02:19 pm (UTC)
I would find it hard to buy a roleplaying book without some sort of art.

Firstly, I'd never be able to find anything in it, because I don't remember page numbers (though I do remember to look a few pages after picture "x").

Secondly, text heavy books with lots of charts are rather hard to read (and white space might substitute for pictures in some cases, so long as the book wasn't crammed full of text with no space to breathe.)

There are also some cases where the illustrations might be neccesary to explain the text- the D&D monster manual might have some silly pictures, but I'd rather describe in my own words based on the illustration of the monster then use their descriptive text.
king_kaboom
Jan. 27th, 2006 06:21 pm (UTC)
In my opinion the primary function of art in an RPG should be to help set the mood. Privateer Press' Iron Kingdoms and Games Workshop's Warhammer 40K are very good examples. The art captures the imaginations of the readers as much if not more than the text. It conveys a sense of the cultures that are being detailed that cannot easily be put into words.

Bad art has a similar effect. Rather than sucking in the reader and giving them a more immersive experience it distracts them. Wayne Breaux's illustrations from Rifts always did that to me. I'd be flipping through reading about something cool and there would be this crappy pencil drawing that didn't hold a candle to the written discription. It annoyed me.

A trend I've seen in lower budget productions lately has been the use of actual photographs. This bugs the crap out of me. I suppose if they were dramatic, well composed, works with a high production value including costumes and makeup they could work, but I'm pretty sure that would cost even more than good quality black and white line art.
sirlarkins
Jan. 27th, 2006 08:37 pm (UTC)
Crap! I forgot about Cyberpunk V3--I don't own it, so I didn't think about it til I saw other people mention it. I mean...action figures???
lordameth
Jan. 27th, 2006 09:19 pm (UTC)
I've always felt that White Wolf's art could use some work; D&D generally tends to have pretty art, but it's very generic. Which, I suppose, is what D&D is.

But that's besides the point. I think that for the most part the games with the prettiest pictures and otherwise high production values are the more obscure, smaller-run games. Doesn't mean they're bad. I just wish that White Wolf and AEG and D&D put the effort into their art that they do into their game worlds and systems; and that a game like Nobilis, with stunning art, put more effort into developing its system, its world, and its supplements to make it a serious competitor with the former.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )