3rd Article in the "Demystifying Game Components" series...
vs. Graphic Design!
the difference and how do I get/do it?"
Any single piece of visual beauty that is going into your game. (vs.
Graphic Design below).
are "painted" electronically
99% of the time (yes, it's still called painting, even with a computer
and a stylus). In the rare case they're made electronically,
they need to be converted to an electronic medium for printing.
is it made?
now I'm sure you've you've seen Article
#5 on Finding Artists, as finding the right artist is the first
step. Once that occurs, the artist you hire draws/paints art
according to your specifications using Photoshop and a host of other
programs and techniques that, frankly, don't concern you. You've
finally found 1 place that you've hired a professional to do it for
you... let them. : )
are my options?
Black and White-(No color = little eye draw, you'll need a good genre
courtesy of: iello's "Guardian Chronicles"; Gate Keeper Games' "Yhe
King's Armory"; Brown Eyed Games' "The King's Abbey"; Robb de Nicola's
"Pixel Guardians"; Artist Clémentine's "Thor"; Gate Keeper Games'
Color-(A big style choice, rarely done.)
Color-(Most games. Your color palette will reveal a lot about
that, it's all genre...
Traditional medieval fantasy art (varies by artist)
book style, Comic Strip, Anime, Cartoon (variety)
Video Game Retro, pixel art
mediums from Art Class: watercolor, charcoal, sketch, etc.
styles from Art History Class: Renaissance, iconography, fresco
and choose a style you like and that fits your game, then find the
artist that can do what you need. Chances are that you already
know what you want your game to look like, but these ideas might turn
are my size limitations?
should have all art painted at the exactdimensions you
need (ideally measured in pixel count) for the art's primary place in
the game ...or larger (you
can always scale art down with
little loss, but scaling up more
than 10 to 15% will destroy its quality). Make
sure you measure size while viewing at 300dpi (dots
per inch). A 16 inch image at 72dpi (internet resolution)
becomes about a 4 inch image when converted to 300dpi (standard print
bear in mind that all art needs to be made at least 3mm wider and
longer than the final game component, as the outer 1.5mm is subject to
be cut off by the die cutting. Having the extra 3mm on the
outside (called Bleed) you'll never accidentally have a cut component
showing white-space on the outside (very unprofessional). Your
printer will demand this anyway.
art at the size needed (measured in pixels) while at a 300dpi (dots per
inch) resolution; as all art files need to be 300dpi to print with a
full level of quality; the standard 72dpi that your art program's
default is good for electronic viewing but breaks down and looks
pixelated when printed. When you convert from 72dpi to
300dpi your image size (in inches/mm) shrinks to about 1/4 size.-So
be sure to commission
it at 300dpi from go.
paint art in layers, there may be 1, 2, or 100, the electronic layers
make design modifications and corrections much easier than traditional
pigment and canvas. Request your artist to submit .psd files to you
retaining as many layers as possible. By doing so, you can very easily
extract single images from their backgrounds, as they'll be on a
different layer. You can also easily export a .psd as a .jpg or .png or
any other format. Gimp can handle .psds but doesn't always
convert all of Photoshop's layering tools well, so you might have to
trouble shoot that with your artist depending on what tools he used.
possible, export files as .png's; they are "lossless" and have
transparent backgrounds; and since they are flat (1 layer), they are
far smaller files than .psd's. If you have to save as .jpg just be sure
to adjust your design program's export settings to 100% quality and be
aware that it will insert a background upon exporting as .jpgs don't
support the transparent "alpha channel".
3mm bleed is required on the outside of the art, 3mm bleed is also
suggested for the inside (between the die line and the nearest
important piece of the art or text), this is properly called Inner
Margin. By having that extra 3mm safety on the inside, even if the die
cut misses its mark by a whole 1.5mm the art/text/piece still looks
for close up view for comparison.
aware that art is electronically painted in the RGB (light) color mode,
but will be printed in CMYK (pigment) color mode. Light has moreand brightercolors
than printing pigment can achieve; so upon conversion from RBG to CMYK
your art will darken and lose a lot of contrast. Fear not! EVERYONE
prints in CMYK, so it doesn't look as bad as you'll first think when
you see it. Just be sure adjust every image's brightness level
before exporting for print. See example below.
headed to the presses I suggest importing every final art file you have
(ie: Fully designed cards, fully designed player boards, etc.) into
Adobe InDesign for conversion to PDF. Why? InDesign will
convert your files to a CMYK mode automatically upon export, and does
so with amazing quality. Files are required by your
printer/manufacturer to be submitted in CMYK PDFs, as their printing
factory won't do it for you. Vistaprint can and will, but
Vistaprint is a very different service to a very diff demographic.
RGB = Red, Green, Blue;
the primary colors, it's what we see.
CMYK = Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key
(which stands for Black); the colors of printing pigment. It's
Notice that your Inkjet printer has 2 cartridges: Black &
"Tri-color" (C, M, & Y).
No quality loss on export. .jpg's are such small files, they can lose
quality/integrity over time and multiple saves. You can mitigate
this by following the advice above.
vs. Export = Saving saves the program's
document file; Exporting turns the image into the .jpg or .png you need
/ DPI = Dots (pixels) Per Inch. 72dpi is
standard web browsing resolution; 300dpi is standard print resolution;
vinyl banners print anywhere between 100-200 dpi depending on the
Full Color, both sides.
Full Color on main side, black & white reverse side.
Full Color on one side, no printing on the reverse side. (It will
remain white or greyish depending on the paperboard color).
revisit some of these after "Graphic Design".
Art for use in Graphic Design
we come to...
The assembling of
the above Art into a final layout, including the addition of text,
symbols, charts, and frames, that will result in a final printable
it is referred to in noun form, "The graphic design on these stat cards
is flawless." What they are referring to is the result of
the Verb, the assembled. Though
this can also rightfully be seen as a compliment to the choices that
were made when directing the art so that it matches, accentuates, and
flows with the other art in any given final game image. See the
next image below for 4 examples of what I mean by this.
is it made?
on the item, some projects are designed in Photoshop (or Gimp), while
others require Adobe InDesign. The pieces are layered on top of
each other, text is added on, in, or around it, and a final item is
exported in PDF format.
are my options?
text headings with beveling and drop shadow. Text boxes for the body of
text with no beveling or drop shadow (nobody said the text box can't be
a parchment or your unique design). No use of symbology to keep
appearance uniform by color. -Regarding text quantity, each card
is likely to be held a differing amount of time, therefore the text
quantity and size is relational to the card's usage; the Reward Card is
used quickly, so its design facilitates that, while the Armory Card is
one of the end-all-be-all cards that the game is named after, so its
text is plenteous and self-contains all of its rules.
information needs to be used quickly, discarded, then replaced.
The stocky consistent design facilitates the style of gameplay.
your options are endless, limited only by you and your designer's
imagination. So find a designer you like. But we want to
get your wheels turning, so here's some options:
boxes or free text?
or full text?
fluid, or abstract?
text or beveled text?
shadow around or drop shadow far removed for depth or none at
all? (Perspective shadow?)
are my size limitations?
a game who's graphic design (not art, but graphic layouts) are
appealing, with text that matches the genre, is well centered, well
spaced, looks clear, readable, and not too "busy" to the eye.
Contact the designer, and ask them for their graphic designer's
is physical (including
electronic) pieces of art, while "Graphic
Design" is the process of assembling the
pieces of Art into an aesthetically pleasing and visually functional
it be known: As the art industry hasn't
officialized these clear lines universally, it behooves Artists to call
themselves "Artist and Graphic Designer", though not all Artists are
skilled Graphic Designers, and not all Graphic Designers are good
enough Artists. It's kinda like a seamstress calling herself an
interior decorator and an interior decorator calling herself a
seamstress. Yes, each is remotely skilled at the other's trade,
but that doesn't make them a specialist at it.
sure you find one of each that truly specializes.
Those that are really good at both are diamonds in the rough.
to assemble the final Graphic Design.
be using our flagship TKA Hero, Valcor, as our example.
lot of heavy thought goes into each step, and the general layout should
be something you already have a solid concept of (self-invented, or
invented by your graphic designer) before doing the assembly.
You'll also need all Art in hand as the assembly is the final phase
before exporting and lightening for printing.
that same template we duplicate the Statistics box for use as a smaller
Special Actions box (as
we don't want unused grey space), and sliding it over, we build
Zoe; but let her cheat the graphic design by popping out of frame a bit...
...adjusting the design further we now
build Artaxerxes. He likes to break the rules and cause chaos, so
we added darts all over his stat card and let him outright hang from
the Graphic Design so that his final image well illustrates his style
To see how we used the templates here,
while swapping out the different sized Stat and Attack Options boxes,
visit our "Meet
the Heroes" page to see all the layouts.
for reading the "Demystifying Game Components" series!
we miss something? Have a tip? Share it in the comments.