I’ll be honest. When I first signed up to review table-top material for Diehard GameFAN, I had no idea that people even sold artwork for gaming. I always thought that was sort of the purview of Deviant Art or a simple Google Image Search. I figured that if someone attached a price tag to something that’s widely available for free, it must be something pretty good, right?
You learn something new every day.
So this will be the first of what I fear may be many reviews of the various images available for your downloadable gaming consumption. Take a deep breath, as things may get ugly.
CG-Stock Art Vol 2
Publisher: Cobra Games
Page Count: 4
Release Date: 07/15/2011
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
Our initial offering: the innocuously titled “CG-Stock Art Volume 2“Â. This was the piece that first sucked me into this new feature. Judging a book by it’s title, I thought this would be a nice portfolio of images to incorporate into my game, or at lease have some nice desktop backgrounds. When I saw the price of $4.95, I thought I’d found my inital thoughts to be confirmed. “Five bucks for some stock art is a nice price, let’s see what they’ve got!”Â But then, as soon as they were raised, my hopes were dashed. The description read “2 pieces of art for you to use in your personal and professional projects”Â. Two! That’s $2.50 a piece! What glorious works must these be? What kind of… oh.
So we’ve got this… robot… guy. And he’s… well, to be frank he’s not doing very much. He’s just standing there. He’s got a cool kinda targeting eyeball thing, but um. Alright, let’s be honest. This is not the most professional work I’ve seen. There’s some nice shading and reflection lines, and the composition is decent, but… it’s a robot dude standing there. For two-fiddy. And he doesn’t even have a gun! He might have missile launchers on his shoulders, or they could be jump jets. But still. I’m just disappointed by this. But there’s more.
Page 2! This piece shows us a bit more of the artist’s skill. There’s a neo-punk futuristic tattooed guy leaning against a car. (Not all of a car, just enough for some background, but that’s a step in the right direction.) In all honesty, this piece would not look out of place in a Shadowrun sourcebook. Just a tattooed “Ëœrunner leaning against his ride. Maybe he’s a rigger? Maybe he’s a sam? At least he has a gun.
And all this can be yours for only five dollars! Twist ending time, ready? I can’t really recommend it. (Ooooh! You didn’t see that coming, did you”Â½) Maybe if it was a dollar, but at five bucks, I expect better quality or at least more quantity.
Art of Michael Wolmarans, Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Publisher: Avalon Game Company
Page Count: 15
Release Date: 07/17/2011
Get it Here: DriveThruRPG.com
Object d’art number two: Art of Michael Wolmarans, Nightmares and Dreamscapes. At a hefty $9.99 you’d expect this collections to have at least four black and white pictures. But no, instead you only get 10 full page, full color illustrations as well as the same pictures again, but shrunken down and in b&w. There’s a nice selection of fantasy/horror going on here. There’s the bloody-mouthed woman from the cover, a hellish landscape, odd skeletal remains, even the Bride of Frankenstein dressed in her 50’s housewife best holding a fresh-baked apple pie. My favorite is a somewhat original take on what I assume is Baba Yaga.
While some of the art is a bit too wacom-tablety for my taste (wide, soft lines that don’t look like anything other than a computer made it) each piece is good in it’s own right. Not just nice to look at, but seeming to convey a story, or a part thereof, all by itself. Good art is inspirational , and you could easily work these into your campaign, or even use them to create a new scene you hadn’t thought of before.
So is it worth ten bucks? I’d have to say that’s up to you. It’s a bit much for my taste, but you could certainly spend your money in worse ways.
HHG Free Clip Art 4
Publisher: Headless Hydra Games
Page Count: 1
Release Date: 07/16/2011
Get it Here: RPGNow.com
Now for our final drawing. Drake Disk Ornament is free from Headless Hydra Games. And what do you get for free? A surprisingly well drawn and detailed ornamental piece. With drakes on it. (the lizard kind, not the bird kind) The piece has a nice pseudo-celtic/nordic theme with two large drakes prowling around the border. In fact, they look suspiciously life-like, as if this was a piece of treasure you’re not certain you want to keep.
As I mentioned above, I think good art should mean good storytelling. In this simple piece, you have several possibilities, from a simple bit of clip-art for theme, an intricate ward or lock, or even a missing piece of a larger whole, the beginning of an epic quest.
And all this for the stately price of nothing.
You can see how difficult it can be to assign worth to these pieces when something really nice is free, and smudgy the robot sets you back a few bones, but stick around. We’ll be back soon with fish-demons, mechas, and boobs (not the bird kind).