Art tips for your Game Book.
I spent a good hour and a half learning all the Gimp Hot keys. I bought a notebook to write down all my notes for GIMP, Scribus, Inkscape and Blender. I was able to get most of the hotkeys down, at least all those I'll need when I'll be tracing or drawing over some art.
The hotkeys I'll need is all those that do most of the work without picking up the mouse. The work flow is, to do everything with the keyboard and tablet. Of course, GIMP and Photoshop is designed for this purpose in mind. The set up might require a mouse, so it is important to have an ide
Step 1: Learn all the Hotkeys. At least have them all down on a notebook or a print out where you can easily see them. The Drawing process (tool and selection hotkeys), including navigation of layers, basic manipulation of layers, saving and loading files.
Step 2: Work surface Preparation. Have an image in mind. You can sketch it out on a notebook or paper, where you keep your writing notes. Go online and download all the pictures that have elements or faces that look like what you want to accomplish. Have them all one folder.
Technique Tracing will cover some more details as you prepare.
Step 3: Know your parameters. Art for Books and Cards tend to be small. 400x640px already takes up more than 1/4 of the page, or 1/3 if you have generous borders. Small Pix are your friend. Details are painful and time consuming. When the image is naturally small you work with way less. Remember to Zoom out often to keep your eye on the "big picture". You might be wasting time with details no one can see.
Step 4: Set aside some time and manage Expectations. The advice from before: "If your standards are too high, your doing it wrong". Just get the job done in the amount of time you set aside. Its a learning process and expect the worse at the start and manage your expectations. If you want criticism you can go to 4Chan's Art/Critique page (warning for the material and 4chan's notorious reputation is well deserved) or set up a deviant art account. Expect thousands of hours before being professional. for inspiration look at Old-School RPG Art. It may look bad, but you can just emphathize the fun these guys must have had drawing it. Focus on the Fun and Enjoying the activity. In no time you'll get better at it.
Step 5: Learn by Doing. Its gonna take some time, so might as well enjoy it. All the techniques will sink in about 4-5 hours a week of frequent practice and note keeping (a process to concertize the ideas).
Well my credentials as it goes with doing this kind of thing.
Technique: Tracing. These days many great artists trace the outline and just improvise on the details. There are unforgiving deadlines and the job keeps getting more competitive. Not everyone has the most acute Spatial Awareness.
If you love GMing and RPGing you might tend to have other intelligences as your strong points, in the economy of abilities (aka trade offs). So there is no point to ever imposing unrealistic expectations.
For me, there is a lot of Psychological Preparation in Art. I'm studied art as my major, like many people. A lot of my best lessons come from the management of expectation in getting through with disappointment and criticism.
So if your probably got most of step 2 ready, one more thing to check out is watching quick sketching tutorials in youtube and deviantart.
Check deviant art for some artists that can be very helpful because they have a lot of tutorials or are inspirational. Here is the list of artists I'm following that may be relevant for viewing. Hopefully people won't get the wrong expectations, but they really do help in improving technique or ideas for angles and "shots":
http://le-mec.deviantart.com/ (le-mec has a Youtube tutorials)
http://inkthinker.deviantart.com/ (does a lot of work for RPGs)
http://sam4uk.deviantart.com/ (A really good costume designer and cosplayer)
http://atrox1.deviantart.com/ (really good evolutionary scifi/fantasy monster maker)
http://wraithdt.deviantart.com/ (you'll find historically inspired art)
http://vladimir3d.deviantart.com/ (great mech warrior/battle tech art)
I'll post a sample work a few days from now, when I find some sweet free time and know what I actually want. No expectations, if you see my deviant art its been YEARS since I've last drawn. The practice is good despite how crappy it may look.
Last note: When you get a "technique" it is best to write it down. Even if it may be trivial. even if the drawing ends up below "former standards" it helps remind you of what your building on and from where ever you are starting from.
Is it not pleasant to learn with a constant perseverance and application?- 1st quote of Analects of Confucius