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View Full Version : Opinions on adventure front cover layout...



mearrin69
08-29-2010, 03:45 AM
Hi all,
Hoping to get an opinion on this basic layout. The harbor scene artwork is temporary (waiting for my freelancer to come through for me) so leave that out of your thinking if you can. What about the rest? Too dark? Too grungy? Wrong font? How can I improve it? Thanks in advance!
M

tilt
08-29-2010, 04:47 AM
I like it :)
I have only two comments - the first is about your logo, so feel free to ignore it :) ... I'd move the letters out of the tree, it would look more calm that way and the text would be easier to read. I guess its in the tree to "connect" the two, but the connection is already established by standing under the tree ... just my 2 cents :)
The warrior should be grounded - ie his feets should have a shadow under them.
Other than that - perfect - I like the fonts :)

mearrin69
08-29-2010, 05:08 AM
Yep, the logo's sort of fixed in place. If I redesigned it I'd probably do something different altogether. The shadow thing, however, I can do. Thanks!
M

tilt
08-29-2010, 05:11 AM
a little anecdote... many years ago Colgate in Denmark decided (or probably main office) that the logo should match the international logo ... it took them 10 years to change the logo, with minor changes so people wouldn't notice much :)

mearrin69
08-29-2010, 05:19 AM
Consumer products companies are clever like that. I don't have so much tied up in the logo (its alter-ego is associated with our market research business (link (http://www.acaciarg.com))) but I paid a guy a lot of money to design the original way back when and I'm holding on to the notion that he knew what he was doing. Maybe I will play around with it though and see what happens. I've got the original AI files around here somewhere (which is how I made the Acacia Games version). BTW, I really appreciate all of your feedback lately (across my *many* recent threads!)
M

Ghostman
08-29-2010, 06:11 AM
The main title text should stand out a bit more. I'd also question the decision to replicate it with a different font below the cover picture; having the title appear twice on the product cover seems very redundant.

tilt
08-29-2010, 06:39 AM
Consumer products companies are clever like that. I don't have so much tied up in the logo (its alter-ego is associated with our market research business (link (http://www.acaciarg.com))) but I paid a guy a lot of money to design the original way back when and I'm holding on to the notion that he knew what he was doing. Maybe I will play around with it though and see what happens. I've got the original AI files around here somewhere (which is how I made the Acacia Games version). BTW, I really appreciate all of your feedback lately (across my *many* recent threads!)
M

I like the original logo, although I wouldn't have made the text cross the tree there either (made my fair share of logos (http://www.catapult.dk/logoer-catapult.htm) also ) but that is always a matter of opinion and personal style - and I would say that the only correct solution is the one that makes the customer happy (without compromising once artistic values to much *lol*).
I'm glad to comment, and gladder thats its appreciated :)

and I agree with Ghostman - no need for the title two times on the cover ... and it looks like I didn't actually read the text or I should have caught that :)

Marken4
08-29-2010, 07:41 AM
I think it's a bit to much .. sorry. No place where I can rest my eyes, other than that the fonts and colours looks all right.

Steel General
08-29-2010, 08:46 AM
Just as an idea, maybe make the entire cover the jade of the current title and make the title (and other text) look as though it was 'chiseled/carved from the jade. *shrugs*

mearrin69
08-29-2010, 08:57 AM
@Ghostman: Heh. I question it myself and, now, am not sure why I did it. I did this referencing an earlier comp I put together...and I'm not sure why I did it there either. I remember looking at several covers from other publishers so I must have seen it somewhere and thought it made sense to me at the time. Now it doesn't really so I'll try it without.
@Marken4: That's okay...I asked for feedback. Can you give me any specifics? I think I agree with you; it doesn't really flow somehow but I don't know where the problem resides.
@SG: That's a good idea and it was my original concept but I wasn't really able to execute a "sheet" of jade so I went with the metallic thing I have now. I couldn't even find a reference pic showing what jade looks like in a large flat surface. :) Another issue is making the text stand out if the materials are the same...but maybe that can be accomplished by making the background dark and the text lighter. I'll give it another go.

I wonder if my stand-in "art" (which is a scribbling by me in lieu of an actual cover painting) isn't detracting from the thing. The painting I invision is an action scene - either an allyway ambush or the adventure's grand battle at a monastery, neither of which I am capable of rendering well enough to even serve as a placeholder. Man. I hope my artist hasn't flaked on me! :)
M

Jaxilon
08-29-2010, 10:04 AM
I think you might want to wait until you get the cover art. Unless it's going to be the same sepia tones ink levels it's hard to see how it will play with the rest. Also, I guess it depends on what you want the main focus to be. At the moment the first thing my eye focuses on is the figure, then it slides down to the bright yellow tree, then reads the title, and then looks at the picture of the ships. My wife now, I asked her to let me know what she saw as she looked at it beforehand: the figure, Title, Logo, then picture.

So, the figure is clearly the prominent item and the Logo jumps out stronger than the picture.

I think the Title could jump out at you more so it'll be good to see what you come up with. Shouldn't there be some Bamboo somewhere on this cover? Maybe as a border or you could put a Bamboo mat behind the Title to help it jump out? Anyway, I'm not an expert in marketing but there you have my attempt to help.

mearrin69
08-29-2010, 01:28 PM
@Jax: I have no ETA on cover art alas, so I'm hoping to have at least an idea of what I'm going to do ahead of time. Neat idea with the bamboo. I'll play with it. I've got a DVD of Chinese stock art that I've used in places in the adventures internal layout. Maybe I can raid it to see what's in there. I bet there's a border or something in there I could maybe figure out how to use.

Thanks everybody, for your comments. I can't address all of the issues raised just yet but did some playing around. I think this version's easier on the eyes. The title pops more, there's no second title, logos are more pleasingly placed (to me), and the statue is a bit less prominent (though it *is* the eponymous Emperor's Stone, so it's supposed to be pretty prominent). Suggestions welcomed.
M

Edit: Wow. Side-by-side, the difference is pretty dramatic.

Jaxilon
08-29-2010, 06:03 PM
This one is way better, it really pops imo.

Steel General
08-29-2010, 07:06 PM
I agree, this is significantly better than the first one.

Ramah
08-30-2010, 06:00 AM
I also like this one better. Although having said that, I'm not sure about the jade statue you have on it. It just looks stuck on as if it doesn't belong in this composition. To me the whole thing would look better if that statue was just removed. I guess it would look too boring then though as a game cover? Probably, although personally I think it would look lush. :)

mearrin69
08-30-2010, 06:38 AM
Hmmm. You make a good point. I actually took the basic idea from the Paizo practice of putting a key element of the adventure as a "callout" on the cover. Issue #1 of their AP Rise of the Runelords, for instance, places their iconic fighter, Valeros, in that position (link (http://paizo.com/image/product/catalog/PZO/PZO9001_500.jpeg)).

Their modules (link (http://paizo.com/store/byCompany/p/paizoPublishingLLC/pathfinder/modules/pathfinderRPG)) go for full-page cover art and campy titling (like B movies - Invasion of the Ant People!) and it works well. Of course, *they* have good art. I don't (yet anyway). :) Have to think about it. If I can get an artist that can generate a really good piece of cover art I think I might be able to lose the statue. I have a couple of scenes, illustrating the action of the adventure, that would probably stand alone. Maybe the statue could become an ominous shadow or something...or go away altogether.

I was working with a freelancer, who generated some really great concept portraits of a couple of my NPCs, but I haven't heard from him in a while. As a back-up, my co-DM is hooking me up with her old friend, who has apparently done work for both DC and Marvel. I'm a little excited about that concept...if I can afford him and if he can do non-comic art.
M

Marken4
08-30-2010, 08:11 AM
Wow. Thats alot better! I wish the coverart had been bigger tho, alot of green here...

mearrin69
08-30-2010, 08:18 AM
Noted. Assuming I get an artist to create something that I feel good about taking up more cover space with I will certainly expand the size. Thanks!
M

tilt
08-30-2010, 10:03 AM
its looks really good, much better composition. Concerning the statue I guessed that you were going for that Paizo look - but I agree that if you can get a cool cover picture you don't need it - so I hope you will get just that :)

Ramah
08-30-2010, 11:20 AM
I think the image of the junks and the sunset etc. looks great and I love how it's grungily blended in with the green backdrop. To me it's very evocative but I guess maybe it doesn't say "exciting rpg."
To me the difference between this and the Paizo cover with the big guy is that he is larger, taking up more of the image, he's more detailed and in a much more dynamic pose. He is obviously the focus of the composition but also, he could be and I suspect IS part of the background image. Like it was originally one full image and they masked of the top and bottom thirds and then put a glow around him to lift him from the image.

Personally speaking, I don't like the modules covers with their full images. I think they look a little tacky. Hehe.

torstan
08-30-2010, 11:28 AM
I like this version better. The jade statue is a bit of an issue - it's in a very different style to the rest - almost photo-real. It has a white outline on it too that needs to be removed - at the moment it looks like it's been badly cropped and that hurts the overall look. Perhaps give it a drop shadow as well to connect it to the cover a little? I like the use of an overall gradient glow on the background to add interest - but at the moment it's highlighting Acacia Games rather than the title. I'd change the glow to the title to bring the viewer's eye in.

The text looks good, and read better now. It works at the thumbnail size - which is important for use on Drivethru RPG and other online pdf sites. I'd move it down a little and give your name a bit more spacing to fill out some of the dead space on the bottom half. Also - perhas up the opacity of your stock art silhouettes on the cover - they're pretty cool, but I totally missed them the first time round.

mearrin69
08-30-2010, 11:39 AM
Thanks for the comments.

TBH I also sort of copied the glow surrounding the statue from the way Paizo calls out its figures on its books. Will try a drop shadow to see how it works...might make it feel a little more integrated. I think the semi-photoreal style (I used a real statue as a ref for the painting and probably should have stopped rendering sooner) may be less of an issue with more developed cover art in place.

Good thought on the glow. It doesn't need to be so bright at the top. I left it bright so the black text on the logo stood out better but you're right that it calls it out too much. I'll play with it a bit. The text spacing as well. I'd like to have the art be a larger part of the cover so that'll push the spacing a bit.

On the stock art thing, do you mean the characters that are overlaid? I bumped them down that far so that it wasn't too distracting. I didn't want to be garishly overt with the "THIS IS CHINESE" thing. You think it's okay to bump it up? BTW, this is a scan of a calligraphy piece my Chinese teacher made for me after I made him a gift of a roll of nice rice paper. It's an aphorism that means, essentially, "Where there's a will, there's a way" along with my name and some other things. It's really cool to be able to use it this way. More personal than stock art! :)
M

Edit: BTW, I didn't see Ramah's comments when I was making this post. Definitely want more action in the picture. This one, more fully rendered, is supposed to be a chapter opener...not the exciting cover art! :) You guys are going to help me make the best adventure cover EVER! Thanks again for all of the feedback.

mearrin69
12-26-2010, 10:44 PM
Long time coming back to this thread. If you've seen my other art preview posts you'll know I hired a veteran comic book artist to do some illustrations for this adventure. I decided to take one of his finished illustrations and redo the mockup. The results are below. I like it but want to wait until he finishes another scene before I decide to use this one - this one is an ambush scene, pencils attached below. The current one would be sorta epic but the ambush scene would make the viewer wonder what was going on and hopefully be interested in learning more. What do you guys think?
M

Jaxilon
12-27-2010, 12:23 AM
Well depending on the adventure...the first one looks like a mass combat is going to be at the heart of it all. The other illustration gives the feeling of more cloak and dagger ninja type stuff. I guess it depends on what you are going for. As a GM it would depend on what my party is made up of. Personally, we don't do a lot of mass combat because well, it tends to not be as fun and it bogs the story (this is just my opinion however). They both seem good, just depends on how you want to pitch it.

Midgardsormr
12-27-2010, 02:50 PM
I like how we get to see all of what I presume are the PCs doing something appropriate to their class in the first one. Plus, if the ambush is going to figure into the module, I'm not sure you want to spoil the surprise by putting it on the cover.

mearrin69
12-27-2010, 06:56 PM
Midgardsormr, that is a *very* good point.
M