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Art and Design for 7th Edition Call of Cthulhu Rulebook

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Badger
Is it possible to not have the bugs / burned edges after all? It would do wonders for my hatred/phobia of insects in that I could actually run a game without being severely creeped out over the contents. :)

 

Yes! Promise. :)

 

-=b

 

- - - Updated - - -

 

What Boris listed is pretty much what i'm shooting for. :) As for colour plates and such...we'll just have to see.

 

-=b

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paladin2769

Thanks, Badger. I'm counting on you. ;)

 

And the suggestions made by Boris sound great to me. Color plates would be really cool, of course, if it is economically feasible. While I am sure we all want the book to look amazing, I am sure that cost is an issue to many of us. Hardcover would be nifty too, if that option is available.

 

I love it when a plan comes together.

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ShadowDenizen
The character portraits in the Spanish Masks are indeed awesome!

 

Agree!

Full-blown awesomeness.

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Cole

The Spanish books are so good they make me want to learn Spanish.

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Badger

And, lest anyone has any worries about this...while i understand the desire to have a pretty and fancy book, i am keeping in mind that this is, first and foremost, a RULE book. If the book isn't easy to read and navigate so that people can't find information quickly, then i've failed at my job, and no amount of attractiveness will rectify that.

 

I still remember talking to Lynn Willis one time about book design, and i still remember his words when describing a book that was very design-heavy; "Well, that certainly is an exercise in form over content."

 

 

It was not a compliment. It was, however, an excellent illustration of what book design should strive for.

 

-=b

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WiseWolf

Well, contratulations on the assignment, Badger.

 

Regarding the art, I like the Spanish edition art as well. I don't see a problem with nice handbooks that have the information I need at hand at the same time. In the end it is important to keep in mind that this should attract new customers as well as to satisfy the guys that have been playing this game since 1st. Ed.

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delrio
For me, Michael Kormarck is the best Fantasy/horror/cthulhu artist around.

 

http://www.komarckart.com/bk_cov14.html

Agree. Looking at his cover art gives an overpowering desire to read things that I am completely sure I will not like. He just makes them look soooooooo cool. :)

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ElijahWhateley

Okay, so I did a little more looking and found some much better artists (than the ones I posted earlier, not trying to compare them to everyone else's) on deviantart. It's funny, but I'd never really visited that site before reading this thread - there's so much junk there, but also some real hidden treasures. I hope you like a lot of links.

 

I particularly like the drawing of GOOs that show original, assymetrical, and genuinely alien-looking forms, instead of the old standby sinister octopus/guy with octopus on his head/writhing mass of tentacles. Here are a couple like that:

 

http://christopherburdett.deviantart.com/art/Great-Old-One-163124300?q=favby%3Aecologywizard%2F43374061&qo=32

 

The Unnamable

 

These are less awe-inspiring (partly because some of them show more minor creatures), but still have that subtle sense of wrongness:

 

http://briansoriano.deviantart.com/art/Rhan-Tegoth-Sketch-175329145

 

http://faxtar.deviantart.com/art/Shantak-182024718(a shantak)

 

http://xiven.deviantart.com/art/Mi-Go-181954292

(a Mi-Go)

 

http://ito-saith-webb.deviantart.com/art/Moon-Beast-Concept-117918344 (nicely surreal moon-beast)

 

I can't quite see a monster, but something Mythosy just happened:

http://alextooth.deviantart.com/art/Museum-285542838

 

Here's a charcoal sketch with a more restrained and vintage feel, also reminds me a little of a cruder Doré:

http://gregstevens.deviantart.com/art/The-cats-of-the-moon-326789380

 

Another nice B&W monster in case you need more non-color images:

http://girhasha.deviantart.com/art/Shoggoth-176980028

 

These GOOs look a little too like earthly/fantasy animals for my tastes, but the sense of scale in the images is really great:

http://shadow-net.deviantart.com/art/Cthulhu-93988981

http://velvetcat.deviantart.com/art/Dagon-209847056

 

The only drawing of a Yithian I've ever seen that didn't look totally silly:

http://ecologywizard.deviantart.com/art/Yith-Creature-Concept-186967358

 

You talked about photographs of props. Here's a good-looking Cthulhu idol based on Lovecraft's own drawings; I feel like it really makes it clear that the idol is an imperfect work of human art, but whatever it's trying to show is a pretty creepy thing:

http://zombiequadrille.deviantart.com/art/Lovecraft-s-Cthulhu-80242465

 

This is a horribly pulpy prop, but I like the aesthetics; I think if the creator was trying to make a cultist's equipment instead of an investigators, it might work really well:

http://rkem.deviantart.com/art/Deep-Ones-Protection-Kit-343073653

 

This is a stylized image that would be perfect for any sections on the Dreamlands (though it would look silly anywhere else). It just looks so...dream-like: http://creepyfish.deviantart.com/art/Bokrug-268716647

 

I thought this was a drawing at first, but then I realized it was an edited photo. I don't like it as much as the others, but it's a different approach.:http://digiwortex.deviantart.com/art/cthulhu-73087303

 

I hope at least one or two of these lead you to good artists.

 

- - - Updated - - -

 

Oh, and I forgot to add these three alternate approaches to Deep Ones (3rd is my favorite):

http://nathanrosario.deviantart.com/art/Concept-Deep-One-205014344

http://eclectixx.deviantart.com/art/Deep-One-291991059

http://christopherburdett.deviantart.com/art/Deep-One-181923689

 

 

And a pretty realistic-looking Innsmouth Look:

http://mancomb-seepwood.deviantart.com/art/Innsmouth-look-131136703

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Shimmin Beg

I don't have any artistic suggestions; I can see the arguments both for a strong distinctive CoC style, and a variety of art to (for example) highlight the universal nature of the Mythos.

 

I'd reiterate the request for clear tabbing of some kind, so that I can easily tell where I am in the rulebook at a glance or flip to a particular section.

 

I'd also ask that any Spot Rules, Firearms Tables or equivalent pages not go arbitrarily in the middle of sections, where they break up text and are hard to find. I'd prefer reference tables (like firearms or insanities) somewhere really obvious like the end of the book.

 

Please also make sure all the character generation information is in the same place and in a coherent order :) Being able to run a group smoothly through chargen, and ideally them being able to look through chargen themselves and grasp how it works, is really important.

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ElijahWhateley

 

I'd also ask that any Spot Rules, Firearms Tables or equivalent pages not go arbitrarily in the middle of sections, where they break up text and are hard to find. I'd prefer reference tables (like firearms or insanities) somewhere really obvious like the end of the book.

 

Please also make sure all the character generation information is in the same place and in a coherent order :) Being able to run a group smoothly through chargen, and ideally them being able to look through chargen themselves and grasp how it works, is really important.

 

I actually prefer reference tables to be both in the back of the book and in the text. If I'm reading a section, I don't want to have to flip to another one to see something.

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delrio

This isn't meant as a comment upon any particular artist's work, or anyone's preference in Mythos art, but this I've seen a general trend that I can't help but wonder about. Has anyone else noticed the following?

 

Cthulhu is repeatedly and consistently described using adjectives that imply a fat, somewhat shapeless grossness, and the way that he moves is described using squelching / flopping / stumbling words:

  • "This thing, [...] was of a somewhat bloated corpulence"
  • "Hawkins thought he heard a nasty, slopping sound down there"
  • "gropingly squeezed Its gelatinous green immensity through the black doorway"
  • "A mountain walked or stumbled"
  • "Three men were swept up by the flabby claws"
  • "the mountainous monstrosity flopped down the slimy stones and hesitated floundering at the edge of the water"
  • "head on against the pursuing jelly which rose above the unclean froth like the stern of a daemon galleon"

This describes a creature with a squishy, flabby body and flopping, stumbling, ungainly movements, whose torso probably more resembles a garbage sack full of slops than the lean, muscled, Geigeresque Cthulhus that we often see depicted in art. Sometimes I wonder, do the artists just base their art on previous depictions or popular cultural ("hearsay") notions of Cthulhu without reference to the original text - or do they think that drawing a gross/bloated "Fat Cthulhu" just won't be as cool?

 

(edit: I probably should have put this in a separate thread, since it's only very peripherally related to the 7th ed book)

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delrio
I'd reiterate the request for clear tabbing of some kind, so that I can easily tell where I am in the rulebook at a glance or flip to a particular section.

  • Totally agree about tabbed page edges to indicate what rules section I'm in
  • Clear definition of how POW, SAN characteristic, Cthulhu Mythos, Maximum Sanity, and Current Sanity relate to each other, and how changes to any one impacts the others
  • Better description of movement and action (other than attacks) in a combat round

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The_Tatterdemalion_King
This describes a creature with a squishy, flabby body and flopping, stumbling, ungainly movements, whose torso probably more resembles a garbage sack full of slops than the lean, muscled, Geigeresque Cthulhus that we often see depicted in art. Sometimes I wonder, do the artists just base their art on previous depictions or popular cultural ("hearsay") notions of Cthulhu without reference to the original text - or do they think that drawing a gross/bloated "Fat Cthulhu" just won't be as cool?

 

There's a strange paucity of fat dinosaur reference photos to work from.

 

On the other hand, the terms above—flabby, flopped, jelly, gelatinous—might refer not to quantity of flesh, but of texture, as anyone who's handled octopus or other invertebrate seafood can attest. What I find most weird is that a lot of artists seem to assume Cthulhu has a skeletal structure.

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Shimmin Beg
I actually prefer reference tables to be both in the back of the book and in the text. If I'm reading a section, I don't want to have to flip to another one to see something.

I agree, both would be even better, if somewhere nice and logical can be found in the section.

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delrio
There's a strange paucity of fat dinosaur reference photos to work from.

 

On the other hand, the terms above—flabby, flopped, jelly, gelatinous—might refer not to quantity of flesh, but of texture, as anyone who's handled octopus or other invertebrate seafood can attest. What I find most weird is that a lot of artists seem to assume Cthulhu has a skeletal structure.

I see your "texture" argument, and raise you one "bloated corpulence". :8E:

 

The "lack of reference material" makes some sense... although I am still suspicious that a lot of artists are painting based on what they've seen or heard 3rd hand rather than referencing the text.

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The_Tatterdemalion_King
I see your "texture" argument, and raise you one "bloated corpulence". :8E:

 

Picture an octopus head, shot from below. Also, that was the description of the statuette, the accuracy of which is an interpretive choice by the reader.

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delrio
Picture an octopus head, shot from below. Also, that was the description of the statuette, the accuracy of which is an interpretive choice by the reader.

True enough about the accuracy of the statue, so scratch that argument, which leaves this: there is not a single word in the text to support the kind of muscular leanness with which C is so often portrayed, while there are many that indicate a kind of gross, squishy, flabby, jelly-like, flopping looseness.

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The_Tatterdemalion_King
True enough about the accuracy of the statue, so scratch that argument, which leaves this: there is not a single word in the text to support the kind of muscular leanness with which C is so often portrayed, while there are many that indicate a kind of gross, squishy, flabby, jelly-like, flopping looseness.

 

Just so.

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ElijahWhateley

This describes a creature with a squishy, flabby body and flopping, stumbling, ungainly movements, whose torso probably more resembles a garbage sack full of slops than the lean, muscled, Geigeresque Cthulhus that we often see depicted in art. Sometimes I wonder, do the artists just base their art on previous depictions or popular cultural ("hearsay") notions of Cthulhu without reference to the original text - or do they think that drawing a gross/bloated "Fat Cthulhu" just won't be as cool?

 

I much prefer fat Cthulhus to muscular or lean ones, although the closer we get to amorphous and non-humanoid, the better, in my opinion - and of course, a fat Cthulhu is closer to amorphous. There's very little scary about a muscley guy with an octopus on his head. Dangerous, yes, but not scary.

 

I don't think it's a trend limited to Cthulhu, though. Far, far too many depictions of monsters end up as muscley guys with weird color skin, maybe claws and big teeth. Heck, look at depictions of Godzilla over time; the original ponderous dinosaur is now sometimes depicted as something with a clearly human body, with biceps and abdominals and all sorts of other musculature and joints that are far more human than reptilian.

 

One possible culprit may be art education. A lot of graphic artists spend a lot of time learning to draw the human body and looking at human anatomy, and a bit less time drawing eldritch abominations.

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delrio
I hope at least one or two of these lead you to good artists.

A boatload of them actually - it seems the amount good Mythos art has exploded over the past several years. :D

I'll be making a list of some I found besides the ones you pointed to.

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Badger
I don't have any artistic suggestions; I can see the arguments both for a strong distinctive CoC style, and a variety of art to (for example) highlight the universal nature of the Mythos.

 

I'd reiterate the request for clear tabbing of some kind, so that I can easily tell where I am in the rulebook at a glance or flip to a particular section.

 

Yup.

 

I'd also ask that any Spot Rules, Firearms Tables or equivalent pages not go arbitrarily in the middle of sections, where they break up text and are hard to find. I'd prefer reference tables (like firearms or insanities) somewhere really obvious like the end of the book.

 

Please also make sure all the character generation information is in the same place and in a coherent order :) Being able to run a group smoothly through chargen, and ideally them being able to look through chargen themselves and grasp how it works, is really important.

 

Yup and yup.

 

-=b

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ElijahWhateley

Still on the topic of art - although I'm getting the feeling the art might have been finalized already - what about using some works by artists actually mentioned in Lovecraft's tales? Some of them might be public domain by now.

 

I started going through Pickman's Model for examples. but then I found this list: http://www.hplovecraft.com/life/interest/artists.aspx

 

Obviously, they won't work for every illustration, but they might be good for a few. I do know by experience that if you find an online gallery of some of those older artists, they have a lot of blander (as far as their gamebook illustration value goes, not necessarily their interest to an art lover) pieces to go through before you get to the nice eye-popping Lovecraftian stuff.

 

Oh, and how about on-location photographs? Innsmouth is supposed to be based on Marblehead, etc.

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StephanieMcAlea

I shall be the map artist.

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HomoLupusDomesticus

May there be lots and lots of floorplans and maps! I love that stuff.

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paladin2769

Badger, another vote, please, for No White Text on Black Background. As in those tables that made my eyesight worse with every edition. I should ask Chaosium to go halfsies on my new eyeglasses this year. :)

 

Also, will "fancy, cursive" fonts be used this time around, or something easier on the eyes. Sorry to keep kvetching but as we are making suggestions here...

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