January 1, 2013

Happy New Year everybody, I hope this year treats you better than the last. Last year we've witnessed many new feats in the Naruto CCG, design wise, and I'm sure there is more to come. Despite this great amount of design, good and bad, put into the past few sets, many people still do not like what we are getting. I'm 100% positive that this dislike stems from simple ignorance. This, my friends, is where the Picture Book segment comes in. Hit the jump to be educated in card design, theory, and everything else in between.

If you haven't entered our Holiday Contest yet, check it out here. The deadline for entries is 1/11/13.

Before we get into it, let me start off with some disclaimers. This is most likely going to be the first of many segments; Picture Book won't just be me teaching you about design, it will also be me sharing my experiences, whether successful or not, with you guys. Also, you'll probably see more of these during times of low activity within the Naruto CCG. That's pretty much it. My goal with the Picture Book segment is to educate you guys and hopefully change the way you look at card games. Let's get into it.

Card design is more abstract than you might think it is; there are many factors that one must take into consideration. Seven out of ten times these factors limit what you really want to do, this is probably worse when you are on a professional level. The one that's been stirring up something among forum members is actually the one that I, personally, hate the most and think is the most limiting: Art.

Most designers will agree with me that art is a huge roadblock on your creativity. Unfortunately, many people do not understand. The common player thinks that there are thousands of images out there that can be utilized at any time. This is a huge misconception. On a unprofessional level, art is a huge dilemma in that you have to work with what you get. The most talented of card makers might take the time to actually learn how to vector, line art, and color just to make their card (you must do all these well mind you). It's hard to convey the frustration I have when I can't find good art. For example, just the other day I was working on Set 4 of my One Piece FMCG. I needed art for the Blackbeard Pirates. But guess what? There's no good art for them. So what happened? I dropped it. 

Yes, lack of art is that frustrating. It doesn't matter what you designed, without art you don't have a card. On a professional level this isn't too bad. Sometimes you can request custom artwork, however there is a great financial cost involved. Other time you can't even request custom art and you have to look through various art books for pictures. The Naruto CCG has come a long way, and it shows in the art it uses. Just ten sets ago we had cell shaded (this means it looks like it's straight out of the anime) art.

This is what we are used to. Card makers, as far as I'm concerned, love this type of art and aren't willing to use anything else. This proves to be problematic most of the time. Nonetheless, we have been given cards with various art styles as the game progressed. Here are some examples.

We've even gone to rendering artwork out of the actual anime, a process that isn't always the best thing to do. You may notice that the render job isn't too good. Just look at the lapses in the solid black stroke around the images.

And then we have this...

See what I mean? Art is a huge limitation on card design. What I've shown you so far is the "good" side of the art struggle. Bandai's been using what they have to actually produce cards. While I do not agree with some of their art choices, they did what they had to do and continued. I commend them for that. Before I go on to the "bad" side, I should let you know what the Miracle Battle game in Japan has opened many doors as far as art goes, assuming Bandai can get their hands on it.

Now for the bad side. The bad side is what everybody complains about. 

Why don't we get any of the Sound Ninja trio? Why don't we get Yoroi and Misumi? 

Go look for legitimate art for them. You won't find any. I'm surprised there were that many Dosu's already printed. The point is, and I'll be blunt, the art just doesn't exist. Whether it's due to the popularity of the character, the quality of the image, or any other reason, it just doesn't exist. Ignorant players can complain all they want, but it's not going to change anything. It's not Bandai's fault; they don't have the resources to obtain  good images for them. Trust me, I'm sure they'd love to reintroduce the characters into the game, but they just can't. 

So the next time any of you ignoramuses wish to publicly complain about art, do us all a favor and actually know what you're talking about. That's it for today guys. I'm sorry this was a little short, and a bit boring, I wrote it in a fifteen minute burst of passion. Hopefully the next Picture Book segment will be more interesting for you guys. Until then, enjoy your new year.

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