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How Much Does Art Matter?

Game Design

Hello there! I'm an illustrator stepping my foot into board game art and hoped I could gain some insight from this community.

1. How much does the quality of art influence your decision to buy a game/backing a game on kickstarter?

2. Is there a game you absolutely love to play but has horrible art?

3. What are some examples of games that out-do all others in aesthetics/art?

4. I personally love illustrating in painterly style, but often see well polished designs as a trend (since well-polished also means good readability especially since board game components are small in scale). Can you think of board games with a painterly, brushy style that still works/is well received?

Feel free to respond to any of those! Would love to hear from anyone and am also curious if there are other illustrators in the community too. Thanks in advance!

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22 months ago

To be honest, I have played prototypes and have loved them just the same without the art just due to the mechanics.

Owner22 months ago

I can relate to that, definitely had games that I enjoyed even when they were prototypes without the extra visuals. I guess it's more like I have zero qualms about playing games that other people bought but I'd probably never purchase a game that looks visually off haha

22 months ago

That makes sense

23 months ago

1) Art can influence a game right away, i feel. games are very much judged by their cover! (and what it says on the back... but the art first)

2) As I've mentioned before, I don't think Saboteur has good art, but its an amazing game in the right hands!

3) Near and far, Clank, Scythe, and Betrayal all have well done and unified art styles that help draw you into the game!

4) I can't point you to any specifics, but I think any art style can work in board games. what types of games they work best for differs depending on the style of game it is! For instance, Codenames, a simple game with simple design, works best with the simple, icon-like art. Scythe, on the other hand, is very extensive, so it works better with complex art.

Owner22 months ago

Great inputs, thanks for taking the time! I can never get past bad artwork when I look at kickstarters so I was curious how others feel about them. 

I looked at each game you mentioned and it really does stand out right away how the art sets the tone even when I don't know a single thing about the game. And wow... Scythe looks amazing, love the twist on the classical painting style

22 months ago

If gameplay is really good, some art can be forgiven. I find it really important in cards though.  Art can really excite a theme though. Take vindicate for example. Very good aesthetic appeal and it’s why I was first drawn to the KS

Owner22 months ago

I remember seeing it and it's definitely an eye catcher.

If I had to make a decision on buying a game without any word of mouth and purely based off looking at the gameplay mechanics and art, I would probably never purchase one with bad art 😅

22 months ago

However my main qualm with games is minis. If you are going to have unpainted minis (which is fine) at least try to make them distinguishable.

22 months ago

I'll give a crack at this as art is extremely important to me with board games. 

  1. I don't support Kickstarters personally, but good art will decide if I even click on it to look at it more. If the art is poor I don't even click through.
  2. I don't own games that have horrible art. I keep my collection small and only keep games I know I like. Poor art sometimes prevents me from playing certain games. If I'm sitting down for an hour or two I need the game to be appealing in multiple ways
  3. Scythe for sure. The North Sea and West Kingdom games are also good examples. Their cohesive art style binds the games together and brings you into the world. They also have consistent iconography that makes picking up multiple games in the series easier to learn.

In this day and age there's too many games and too many good games that also look wonderful. Having the total package is very important to me. I've been called an art and component snob by my friends, but that's OK. I only have so much time and money and space.

Owner22 months ago

Like you mentioned, there are games coming out left and right these days that I feel like looking at the quality of art serves as a good filter. I personally think that those making quality games tend to invest in the art as much as the other components of the game since it is so crucial to drawing the player into the world (though it may be unfair to assume that for those who just don't have the budget). And then there's the other part of me where I can really appreciate the details of the art when there's an obvious effort put into it. Oh and your point about consistent iconography is definitely something I should keep mind for my future works. Thanks for your inputs!

22 months ago

Then again there are plenty of games that look phenomenally but suck lol. I would rather have a good game regardless of the art factor. 

Owner22 months ago

Please feel free to name a few if they come to mind! It would be somewhat good research too haha. In those instances I wonder how tough it would be on the artist's end to try and illustrate something really good and cohesive for a game that isn't put together well (like trying to fit together a puzzle that doesn't work) 

Owner22 months ago

Have you seen Iwari? This is probably the biggest example of my own hype for a game simply based on the art.

Owner22 months ago

Especially when it comes to digital painting, I like seeing loose, painterly pieces more than tight, completely polished renders that look great but still subpar to real life images. Anyhow, Iwari looks great! I also like that it gives off a calm/peaceful vibe and the art isn't so busy with too many things going on.