5 Tips for Working with your Artist

1:24 PM Monday, January 29, 2018

This article is about working with artists. Whether you're hiring out or hiring someone you know, it's very important to develop a system that is clear to all parties so everyone knows what to expect. These are tips we employed but there are so many others that are effective and useful. Comment with your ideas!

1. Pay your Artist
This one seems like a no-brainer but I want to put it first. Respect the work your artist does by paying them appropriately. Having them involved in your game for free as "exposure" for them is absurd. They are doing you a favor by offering their skills to you. Value them.

2. Discuss Needs and Work Style
Talk to your artist about your mutual needs. Do you need them to create something very specific or do they have a lot of creative freedom in how they depict something? And, what do they prefer? How much art will you be needing and in what time frame?

Be sure you know their forte. Are they best at illustrating backgrounds, people, animals? Assign them work appropriate to their skills.

3. Develop a System for Edits
Once needs and work style is discussed you can develop a system that works for both of you. For example, after assignment, the client is returned with 3 or fewer rough sketches per assignment at which one is chosen to be moved forward to a finished image and edits are discussed.

The finished image is returned to client and a final round of edits is done before final approval.

Be sure you and your artist discuss a specific number of edits that is allowed by the client. There is nothing more frustrating than working on a single image and getting edits in one by one. The editing process should be limited to improve your pace and enforce the need for clarity by the client. If you aren't getting your message across, find better ways to communicate and use examples of what you are looking for if appropriate.

If you can, creating a style guide for your artists to work from can be an incredibly useful tool to ensure understanding and to more easily create a sense of continuity, especially when working with multiple artists.

4. Get it in Writing
Have your process written out so that either of you can reference it at any time. This is a good place to keep best practices as well. The standards, like the size of the image and keeping images numbered so they are easier to discuss and refer to together.

5. Try your System and Refresh it
The first round of working with an artist will help you understand each other a lot better. If there is something that needs to be changed for either of you, it's a good time to check in and make sure those changes happen.

I think one of the biggest edits for less experienced artists I've worked with was at the sketch stage. They would create these beautiful, detailed images at the sketch stage, sometimes even in full color, that were absolutely lovely. However, it's the sketch stage for a reason. If you're a hired artist, keep in mind that sketches are used to convey the idea, sometimes a color palette. Use your time effectively; your client hired you, they already know how skilled you are.

Well, that's all for now! Hope that was helpful and informative. If you have anything to add, drop it in our comments and thanks for reading!


Let's Design some Game Card Frames!

10:25 AM Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Hard Rules

In order to design a card suitable for printing, one must first understand a little about the printing process and what printers expect from images they will print. Each card (from inside out) has a:

  1. Safe Zone - This is the area where all important text, images, and design elements must be within
  2. Cut Area Line - Where the card will be cut to create the correct card size. Space between the safe zone and cut line is often one, solid color.
  3. Bleed Area - Area where the design continues to prevent any empty space or white lines appearing around the edges.
A great resource for taking a look at some templates for different card formats can be found at MakePlayingCards

For our cards, we will be using a Traditional Poker Card size to maximize horizontal real estate. This card format (2.5" x 3.5") is the most commonly used for card games.


Card frames house all the art and information necessary for game play. For our card game, we want our frames to meet all the following criteria:

  1. Be Logical
  2. Be Consistent
  3. Look Good
  4. Follow the necessary printing parameters
1. Be Logical
Being logical means that each piece of text serves a purpose, that the size of each component is relative to its importance, that space is used well.

Here is a simple template I made for our mob cards. What do you think, anything standing out? There is also one component missing to this card: faction. Where would you put the faction icon?

One thing that struck our team was how the Title position was a bit low, not taking advantage of all the available space. Regarding the faction icon, its position will be top left. Think about how a person holds a hand of cards, with the upper left exposed and faction is an important piece of information as you play.

We placed cost information in the top left because once the card is purchased and put into one's deck, it no longer matters.

2. Be Consistent
Consistency lends to overall cohesiveness of the game. This means that if you are going to change your formats, only do it with purpose and clear reasoning behind it.

3. Look Good
This is a little extra. Of course there are so many games that have very simply card frames that are amazing, fun games. A card game can be made with tables alone. But a well-designed card frame with well-done embellishment can further immerse you into the game world itself. Just be sure the design elements don't interfere with the clarity of your card information.

Here is the first round of mock ups for the physical card game.

This rough sketch shows the same template come to life. We'll be making a number of changes here but you can see the process taking shape.

Hope this article was informative and helpful! We are very excited to continue sharing our process.