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Author Topic: Shoujo Story Cover Art  (Read 6511 times)
Tony Irwin
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Posts: 333


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« on: April 11, 2006, 06:02:41 PM »

Hi

I've been able to go from this: http://www.apricot-ink.co.uk/shoujostory.pdf

to this mock-up here: http://www.apricot-ink.co.uk/123421_cover.pdf

Once I recolour the woman on the back cover (want more of a water color thing like on the front) and I sort out the text resolution then I'm going to call it a day.

For my little hobby game I think what I've done is adequate. Even cute. But still I wanted to throw this out here in hope of getting the following kind of reply:

Quote
Tony, despite your clear lack of artistic talent and your incredible ignorance of layout it occurs to me that there is one simple thing that even you could do to really give your cover some buzz. I know you've got photoshop and microsoft publisher. I'm now going to tell you what to do in English so plain that even you could understand it. I've followed your threads about the problems that you had with the scanning and the dpi and the pixellation and the confusion and the crying and the rescanning. Thanks for the laughs. I'm going to bear in mind how little you know about all this. The very simple thing you need to do is...

Thanks folks.

Tony
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Bankuei
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« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2006, 06:12:35 PM »

Change your font for the back cover.  It's too heavy.  You want the font lighter so that it doesn't outweigh the image in terms of the reader's eye.

Chris
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Andy Kitkowski
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I LIKE GAMES


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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2006, 10:15:19 AM »

Hey dude.

Hmmmmm.... It looks like you really worked hard on the art, but are you sure you want to roll with that?

Reason I ask is because my wife used to draw shoujo manga before (she's Japanese). If you're looking for something specific she might be able to put something together for a rather small price:

http://www.kneko.com/ (at the BOTTOM of the page, click "Illustrations").

PM me if you're interested.

-Andy
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The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.
Keith Senkowski
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On A Downward Spiral...


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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2006, 11:10:12 AM »

I'm not as nice as Andy.  Hire an artist.  Be it Andy's wife or some other fucker.  The cover is the first thing people see and needs to be taken fuck'n seriously.  I cannot stress this enough.  Good art is priceless and bad art will fuck you hard.  So hire an artist.
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Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
Adam
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2006, 12:03:47 PM »

Personally, I'd suggest adding to and revising the back cover copy a little, so the first paragraph talks a little more about the story and characters -- the "hook" -- and then follow up with a second paragraph that uses the first two sentences of your current BCC to talk about the game as a game.
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MatrixGamer
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2006, 12:23:48 PM »

Well you've made a definite improvement with the cover. The drawing is better and color always helps. The back teaser told me a little about what was going on so I have a clue if it would interest me - and that is good to.

As to hiring an artist. Do you have the money to do that? Do you plan on selling hundreds of copies. If the answer is no (especially if it is no to both) then your cover looks fine for a small amatuer game. People will always want more, but we are not always able to give it. Instead view the project as a step towards improvement. Next time you will know more and do better. As you know more you'll be able to get more out of $ you spend on art. Right now you might not be able to make good use of a truely great picture.

Getting comfortable with scanning, book design and the programs used to do that is a better investment of you cash than buying one great piece of art.

We are developing out personal human resources as well as making games.

Or that's my oppinion anyway.

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
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Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
http://HamsterPress.net
Thunder_God
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Still Here.


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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2006, 12:41:42 PM »

I don't like the back cover art, I do like the front cover art though. Gives me certain Changeling: the Dreaming vibes.
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Guy Shalev.

Cranium Rats Central, looking for playtesters for my various games.
CSI Games, my RPG Blog and Project. Last Updated on: January 29th 2010
ejh
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2006, 06:54:40 PM »

Tony -- I must admit up front my prejudices are contrary to Keith's.  I like seeing creators of games do their own art, so that the art comes from the same heart as the games.  I'm willing to forgive some amateurism if the author did his own illos.  That's just me.

I have never been a genius at composition, but I'm a little iffy about the placement of text and stuff on both covers.  I agree with Bankuei that the font used for the back cover text is unnecessarily heavy.  It also looks kind of lonely sitting there in the middle of the page (vertically) -- aligned with the left side of the page in the horizontal dimension but not with anything in particular in the vertical dimension.  I'd like to see it either start at the top of the page or end at the bottom of the page.  I would also like to see it narrowed, because I think a strong vertical would interact well visually with the swordswoman's sort of zigzaggy form, better than the kind of blocky blob that the text forms now. 

With regards to the front cover.... oh man, that font is totally not doing anything for me.  It looks straight out of the seventies.  More modern font please!  I guess the reason it's a problem is that you have two different fonts, both of which are fairly "showy."  I learned from reading the great "non-designers design book" by Robin Williams (not that Robin Williams) (BTW, that book is highly recommended for an intro to page design.  There should be a sticky post about that somewhere!) -- anyway, I learned from reading there that a good basic rule is to use as few fonts as possible, and if you're using more than one font, make them part of different families -- to simplify it, don't use two different sans serif fonts, or two different serif fonts (which is what you've got here), and definitely not two different fonts that kind of call attention to themselves (which is what you've got here). 

I actually dig the font you used for the spine a lot and I suspect I'd enjoy seeing it used for all the text too.  It's kind of showy, but not that much.  And it doesn't remind me of hand-outs I received in elementary school in the seventies.

OK, anyway, front page -- you've got a figure who's really heavily attached to the *right* side of the page.  I would like to see all the text aligned on the *left* side of the page, left-aligned instead of centered.   Or at very least, do that to your name.  And skootch it up so the bottom of the text is aligned with the bottom of the image.

As for the art, like I said, I personally enjoy game-designer-created art, and I would cut this game some slack on the art 'cause it's your own, but there are definitely a lot of people out in the world doing "better" anime-style art.  (I put scare quotes around "better" because it should not be taken literally -- by "better" I mean art that looks more like existing professionally produced art from Japan. Art that is "better" in that sense is not necessarily "better" in all senses.)

Anyway, like I said, there are a ton of people doing outrageously good manga art, if you choose to go that route -- browse around Elfwood or DeviantArt and you'll find tons of really talented folk.

But staying with your own art -- the things that strike me as capable of some quick improvement would be -- the foreground hand on the front cover girl, I would suggest either looking hard at your own hand in the mirror to get the gist, or else have someone hand-model for you, or maybe even just find some existing manga that you like that uses a hand in a similar position -- who'll complain about ripping off a hand? :)

The second thing that might buy quick improvements is trying to use a greater variety of line widths in the figures.  Make outlines of major body parts noticeably thicker than the detail lines.  I think of this as the "Liz Danforth Effect" but it goes back long before her (I think art nouveau used it a lot).

The final thing is just a little secret -- make your drawings as big as you can get away with, and then shrink them.  Little mistakes disappear, making your stuff instantly look more professional.  It looks as if the back cover girl has been shrunk, and therefore has a "professionalism" advantage over the front cover girl.  I used to do this with copy machines long before I ever heard of such a thing as a "scanner" or "paint program."

Anyway, last note -- don't take my word for *any* of this.  I could be wrong about any of this for a thousand reasons; this is all off the top of my head and might not turn out the way I think it would in actual practice.  Everything written above, just like any advice in a creative endeavor, should be construed not as rules to follow in the hopes of getting the Right Result, but as tips for different directions in which you may experiment and see if the results please you in the context of this particular project.

Anyway, rock on man!
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Tony Irwin
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2006, 02:11:18 AM »

Chris, Adam, ejh, thanks that's exactly what I'm looking for.

Andy, Keith, I do appreciate your sincerity but you've drifted my thread. Given your knowledge of art and layout is there a simple step you recommend that would improve what I already have?

Thanks,

Tony
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Keith Senkowski
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On A Downward Spiral...


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« Reply #9 on: April 13, 2006, 07:25:27 AM »

Tony,

Simple?  Dunno about simple, but I can give you some advice.  If you plan on keeping the images, the front image is floating out in space and cuts off at the bottom.  There is no connection to the text or really anything.  Don't get me wrong.  I love fucking white space, but you got so much that nothing seems connected at all.  Same goes for the back, but you can get away with that more.

I don't know dick about Shoujo stuff, but I did do a little looking on the web.  I recommend checking out the layout and font usage of this crap.  I think your best bet is to steel some of their layout practices.  It makes sense that that if you are making a game about something that exists to adopt that shit.

Oh and totally blend your colors on the figures.  I can see the photoshop brush.
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Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel
Tony Irwin
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Posts: 333


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« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2006, 06:46:06 AM »

Cheers Keith, that's really helpful.

Tony
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Shreyas Sampat
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2006, 09:18:11 AM »

I don't feel like either image is complete. Girl-with-a-sword needs something to cut. Girl-on-drugs needs some reason to be high as a kite.
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Selene Tan
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2006, 12:09:31 PM »

Lots of shoujo manga covers: http://shoujomagic.net/update/projects.php . There's definitely a lot less white space than you have.

If you can't or don't want to find other things to fill the space, I suggest at least putting the front girl in a frame of some sort. Maybe an oval frame if you want to get fancy, a rectangle if you don't.
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