It’s time to talk about card game artwork.
Since Great Scott! is our first game, we wanted to reduce costs as much as possible without ending up with something that looked too plain. Of the ~150 cards in the game, 60 of them really need to have illustrations, while the others are more suited to tastefully laid out text, icons, and ornaments.
We talked to a few artists and quickly realised that having original art done for everything was going to increase the budget beyond what we were comfortable with. This is not a complaint about artists’ fees in any way – nobody quoted us anything that was unreasonable, and we can’t wait to work with some of the amazing creators we’ve spoken to. That will happen on later projects. For now, we’re just trying to break into the boardgame business without throwing heaps of cash around. Maybe that’s an unreasonable goal, but time will tell. At the very least, if we fall flat on our faces we won’t have to sell our organs to buy food.
We’re actually very lucky in that the Victorian theme of our game lends itself to the use of existing artwork from the period, but the sourcing and licensing of such images can be tricky. This is where a certain Great British institution comes to our rescue. It turns out that our very excellent British Library has a Flickr account with over a million images taken from old out-of-copyright books. We checked with their Permissions department and the Flickr images are indeed intended as free use for anyone who wants them, including for commercial use. This is a massive bonus for Great Scott! We just have to include a copyright notice on the cards, crediting the British Library Trust, aka, an incredibly small price to pay.
We were never going to commission a full set of art before our Kickstarter campaign – just enough to show off the flavour of the game, plus a logo & box mockup. But now, with the illustrations taken care of and the card design well underway in-house, it means that we can launch the campaign with a lower goal, and a shorter time between funding and fulfilment (assuming we fund successfully, of course!). We have pretty much decided to put our hands in our pockets and pay someone to do the box. It needs to look great on the shelf, and heavy work like this needs to be done by a professional. That just leaves us with the not insignificant task of designing the cards and the game logo. Dave C is reasonably handy with Photoshop & Illustrator, so he gets the job of doing the logo & layouts.
Here’s a few examples of Dave’s early iterations of the cards, guided in part by the good people on the Art & Graphic Design for Tabletop Games group on Facebook:
You can see some more of Dave’s work in the production gallery on the Great Scott! page.
We are still in the middle of playtesting the game, so individual card names & effects are all subject to change, but it’s a trivial process to edit the files. The card layouts are pretty much done at this point, so we’ll be printing up a more-or-less finished looking prototype set, hopefully in time to playtest at the UK Games Expo next weekend. Maybe we’ll see you there?
Meanwhile, Dave will be grinding away by gaslight at the rusted gears of his faithful fruit-based difference engine to bring Great Scott’s artwork inexorably closer to its final form, punctuated no doubt by the occasional boisterous bout of bawdy boardgaming. For Her Majesty, and for science!
Before we sign off, we’ll give you a look at what is currently considered the “final” version of some of our cards.
Until next time, dear reader, we bid you adieu.