When I’m not playing/designing games, I’m a comic artist (shameless plug: my comic Kickstarter is going on until May 16). Which means people love to ask me:
Can you illustrate my game?
I’m happy to help when I think I’m a good fit, but sometimes I’m not. So I’ve been looking at portfolios of all my art friends a little more closely, trying to find illustrators to hire or recommend to board game designers in need. There are a lot of diverse styles for board game illustration, but there’s definitely a trend in what I tend to look for.
Here are the top 5 things that will make me INSTANTLY want to recommend an illustrator for a board game project:
1. Character portraits
Portraits are almost always great; especially if you can show more than just flawless-looking folks in street clothes. Historically, occupationally, and culturally diverse portraits are ideal. If you have a lot of stylistically distinct pieces (cute and cartoonish, comic book, historical portrait, caricature, etc.) show it for sure. And sci-fi or fantasy flavor is useful here, too.
2. Random Objects
Objects! Not exciting, I know. But even if all you have in your portfolio are drawings of 8 various weapons, 8 fictional coins, and 8 random objects (trumpet, shoe, soda bottle, carrot, bicycle, etc.), it helps a lot for game designers to envision illustrations for the various components of their cards/tiles/tokens. Bonus points if they shrink down to icon size particularly well.
3. Landscapes and Maps
Going from place to place comes up a lot in board games, either as a map on the board or location cards in a deck. If you’re looking to build up this part of your portfolio, try rendering postcard-like images of different cities, alien planets, farmlands, or tourist attractions. And maps. Maps in your style are absolutely wonderful.
4. Strong Composition
We need engaging art with strong composition to put on the front of our boxes, on our cards, and in our Kickstarter campaigns. A good composition will guide the eye with characters and elements of environment, and be able to convey the tone and theme in a single image.
5. Your email address
I don’t want to use a form, I don’t want to send you a message on DeviantArt or Etsy or Tumblr, and I certainly don’t want to try to tell you about my game in 140 characters. An email string lets me review how many people I’ve approached and what I’ve told them, because chances are, I’m reaching out to more illustrators than just you.
If you’re concerned about spambots farming it from your portfolio site, run it through an obfuscator, and/or get a separate Gmail address just for your portfolio that forwards everything to your main inbox. But this one’s really crucial, because even if your art is amazing, I can’t hire you if I can’t talk to you.
Have you hired illustrators for your game?
How do you hire illustrators, and what do you want to see in their portfolio/sample work? And if you’re an illustrator looking for board game work, feel free to link up to your portfolio below!
A special thanks to our featured artists! Keep them in mind if you’re looking for illustrations for your next game!
|Beth Sobel||Jeff Brown||Erebus||Nicoleta Stavarache||Eric J. Carter||Erin Fusco|
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