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Author Topic: Worst Old School Art?  (Read 15864 times)

Voros

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Worst Old School Art?
« on: May 28, 2017, 04:57:29 PM »
Not to be a downer but I actually get a peverse kick out of the shittier examples of old school D&D and other RPG art.

One of the perfect examples for me is the first MM cover. I remember looking at it as a kid and finding its primitivism very odd. And not in a Erol Otus underground comix way.

I was kinda shocked to find out David Sutherland did it, his style was always a bit rough and ready but I'm not sure what went wrong here. Perhaps he has a ridiculously short deadline and wasn't comfortable working in colour yet? His maps I think are particularly strong.

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Shemek hiTankolel

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Worst Old School Art?
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2017, 05:15:32 PM »
Quote from: Voros;964895
Not to be a downer but I actually get a peverse kick out of the shittier examples of old school D&D and other RPG art.

One of the perfect examples for me is the first MM cover. I remember looking at it as a kid and finding its primitivism very odd. And not in a Erol Otus underground comix way.

I was kinda shocked to find out David Sutherland did it, his style was always a bit rough and ready but I'm not sure what went wrong here. Perhaps he has a ridiculously short deadline and wasn't comfortable working in colour yet? His maps I think are particularly strong.

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I agree.
I'm not a big fan of his AD&D stuff, but his Tekumel art was really top shelf, IMO.
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Omega

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Worst Old School Art?
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2017, 05:29:34 PM »
This is one of those moron threads that comes up regularly. Usually posted by some idiot who couldnt tell what good art is or isnt in the first place. And a pointless debate much like whats the worst/best setting because its all subjective, even moreso with art.

Personally I think all the monster art in 4eD&D GW is an abysmal failure. But only in that it uteerly fails to capture the ha-ha slapstick image that was originally presented. These are circus freaks and the art would be better of in a Post Apoc Horror RPG.

I also have a personal grudge with Trumans art in d20 GW and quite a bit of the rest as A. Truman draws some animals well and the rest anything but. Yet someone gave him all the worst things to draw. On top of that its like half the artists didnt even read the damn descriptions. The art looks good. But it utterly fails to represent whats described or take advantage of the artists true strengths.

And then theres the 5e PHB halflings. ugh these things are deformed! The arts good. But for freaks sake dont give these people halflings to draw ever again!

Then theres the 3e Monster Manual. I really disliked the art because half the monsters looked like anorexec stick figures and others only barely looked like what they were supposed to represent. Again the arts good. But its the execution that fails.

Sanguines Albedo is another irk. The irk here being that they inserted art that is blazingly NOT Steves art. In an RPG based on a comic series. The arts good. But it has no place in the book.

Im on the fence with the artist for revised AD&D. The arts really good. But the artist loooooves to use stills from movies and such to prop up his work. But then this is an artist who uses models and stills so it makes sense. Its just a little jarring sometimes to recognize what he was using. Same with some of the art in OD&D. Except there they just used another image as a pose refference and did their own thing mostly... mostly.

I am not a fan of style of the artist who did most of Dark Sun. But his art isnt bad. Just not my thing.

Holloway s art is another odd one. Some stuff he does really well. Some others just really turns me off. Yet damnably still is done well.

Alot of people seen to despise the artist who did Rules Cyclopedia. Personally I really like the immense intricacy of alot of his art and the diversity of people he represents. But he seems to have an occasional problem with perspecta and so limbs sometimes look off kilter. Exact same problem with one of the artists for Pathfinder. His perspecta are frequently off kilter somehow. Or things just dont align.

Gurps art I tend to not like much, but thats usualy only because the style and sometimes simplicity used just isnt my thing.

So usually my gripe is when an artist is either used badly. Or the artist is just being plain lazy and not even bothering to read the description of what they are supposed to be drawing. Followed by just personal flaws that creep into pieces like perspecta flubs.

One of my players doesnt like the character art from 3e. But is ok with the monster art. Another one didnt think much of Willinghams art for some reason. I've heard a few people decry Otus' art. Personally I like his very organic style, but wish hed pay more attention to the descriptions.

And so on.

Dumarest

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Worst Old School Art?
« Reply #3 on: May 28, 2017, 05:46:43 PM »
My favorite "old school RPG art" is 1977 Traveller, so my taste may not match yours, but I'd say the cover of the first Monster Manual was laughably bad to the point that it's embarrassing to be seen with it.

Voros

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« Reply #4 on: May 28, 2017, 05:55:22 PM »
I like the Traveller art I've seen but I can't recall what edition it may be for. I'm not a fan of most 3e or 4e era art and most of the 5e covers are too close to that slick style but I find the interior 5e art pretty excellent. Not really interested in debating endlessly, more posting some goofy looking pics.

I'm peverve enough to have picked up a used copy of Cyborg Commando recently and may post a seperate thread for it soon but while most of the art is uninspired it does have a certain comicbookish energy I appreciate, this one though...

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rawma

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« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2017, 07:45:53 PM »
Quote from: Dumarest;964906
I'd say the cover of the first Monster Manual was laughably bad to the point that it's embarrassing to be seen with it.


Compared to the art in 0e D&D? In 1977 it was quite a step up in quality. And today it has that old school cachet, too.

Dumarest

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« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2017, 08:20:36 PM »
Quote from: rawma;964940
Compared to the art in 0e D&D? In 1977 it was quite a step up in quality. And today it has that old school cachet, too.


Well, I wasn't comparing it to even worse art...just saying it's pretty bad, especially if you assume you'd want a really nice cover piece to help sell your book, but then maybe the market for Monster Manual in 1977 was starved enough with no alternatives that the art didn't matter; you were either playing D&D and probably going to buy it no matter how the cover looked.

Baulderstone

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« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2017, 08:34:40 PM »
The dragon is the thing on the Monster Manual cover that makes it completely off-putting to me. We are supposedly looking at a cross-section of a scene,  but the dragon seems to be significantly in front of the tree, and the tree is clearly in front of the unicorn. It takes it beyond simply being crude into something that actively bothers me.

CRKrueger

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« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2017, 08:39:55 PM »
Quote from: Baulderstone;964951
The dragon is the thing on the Monster Manual cover that makes it completely off-putting to me. We are supposedly looking at a cross-section of a scene,  but the dragon seems to be significantly in front of the tree, and the tree is clearly in front of the unicorn. It takes it beyond simply being crude into something that actively bothers me.

Yeah, but do you see the Giant Spider in the tree?  I know people who have had the damn thing for 40 years and never saw the spider. :D
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The Scythian

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Worst Old School Art?
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2017, 10:48:21 PM »
The art on the covers of the Monster Manual was pretty rough, but I grade it on a curve because it was produced by hobbyists who stumbled into the world of professional publishing for the first time, were out of their depth in some ways, but tried to reach for the stars anyway.  Sutherland probably wasn't cut out to do a painting of the scale necessary for a full-color wraparound that used pretty much every inch of space on both covers, but the fact that they had the ambition to do a full-color wraparound that used pretty every inch of space on both covers is remarkable in and of itself.  (The fact that those covers and the binding were nigh unto indestructible makes it more remarkable.)

And while there's a lot not to like about the Monster Manual's cover, I find the three-level schematic composition extremely charming.  A more professional publisher and more accomplished illustrator would have never taken an approach like that.  They would have gone with a more dynamic, or dramatic image.  But the people at TSR's were amateurs coming out of the wargaming hobby cobbling this stuff together as they went, so they approached the (full-color wraparound nearly indestructible) cover to their first hardcover book in this really blunt and functional way.  

By the time they published the Players Handbook, they were well on their way to become more professional (and conventional), but for this one book, they were weirdos charting their own course.

JeremyR

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« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2017, 11:30:30 PM »
To me it always looked like the above ground scene was simply originally painted blank and then the various monsters were taken from elsewhere and simply stuck on, like a sticker.

Underground, you can see the Troll sitting down and the carrion crawler crawling over a mound and the orcs running from the purple worm. But the above monsters are almost just random, even the spider seems like he was added to the tree afterwards. Only the manticore looks like it was painted before the rest of the terrain (part of it is behind the grass).

But eh, regardless of its artistic merit, it's certainly eye catching with that topaz sky and weird looking dragon (which always reminded me of our local monster, the Piasa Bird, more than actual dragon)
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David Johansen

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« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2017, 12:18:55 AM »
Have you ever seen the original cover for High Fantasy?  Or the interior art?  Well have you?  What about KABAL?  Don't talk to me about bad art until you have.  :D
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Nerzenjäger

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« Reply #12 on: May 29, 2017, 02:14:20 AM »
Bad black and white illustrations are part of the fun of old RPGs. They define the DIY aesthetics of games that basically had no budget.

Now the 1E Monster Manual on the other hand...
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finarvyn

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« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2017, 07:04:30 AM »
Quote from: rawma;964940
Compared to the art in 0e D&D? In 1977 it was quite a step up in quality. And today it has that old school cachet, too.
I agree. Putting things in context for the time, the only RPG books out there were pretty primitive. The OD&D brown books and Traveller black books were top of the line, and then this color-cover D&D hardback came out ... well, I never felt it was an embarrassment or anything like that. It was cool, and the interior art was a lot better than OD&D's as well. I've owned the MM for 40 years and never even thought of the art as bad.
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Shawn Driscoll

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« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2017, 07:45:11 AM »
Traveller (all versions/editions/3rd-party) had terrible human art. Except for the work done by David R Deitrick, and the artist that did Chthonian Stars. They could draw human races just fine.