You’re making a game! You’ve been playtesting that mechanic for ages and you’ve finally nailed it. You found an amazing theme that matches your mechanic and an illustrator that developed some sweet images. You are ready for mass production. Or are you? Have you thought about packaging design? Iconography and color? Are your files set up for four color separation? If those questions sent you Googling, you may need a graphic designer.
A board game graphic designer is a trained specialist responsible for the digital preparation of printable files and can be responsible for these elements of that preparation:
- Logo development
- Visual streamlining of the user interface
- Development of iconography
- Font selection
- Packaging design
- Determination of exact sizes and shapes of components
- Layout of illustrations, icons, and text
- Ensuring that files are prepared for four color printing
Maybe you can do some of these things or perhaps your illustrator was able to assist with the more illustrative aspects of those responsibilities. That’s great! You may still benefit from the services of a graphic designer. A graphic designer can make sure that your game looks great and is ready to print in an efficient manner. Save yourself the time and hassle (and Adobe membership fees) of doing it yourself. It will be much faster, and you may even find that it is ultimately less expensive, if you hire a graphic designer that specializes in board games. More importantly, you can be confident that your game will look its best.
How do you know if a graphic designer has the unique skills that you need?
- You can start by sending them a copy Panda’s Design Guidebook and ask if they understand and feel comfortable working to those standards. Even if you ultimately decide to get your game printed elsewhere, those standards are an excellent starting point for all four color presses.
- Choose a designer that is comfortable in Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign. Each of those three programs have a very important role to play in the graphic design for board games. Photoshop is the correct tool for the development and adjustment of raster illustrations (your illustrator most likely provided you with raster images). Illustrator is there for vectors (this covers all iconography and some other design elements). And InDesign is where everything is put together and exported for print.
- Take a look at a perspective designer’s portfolio. That will help you to gauge if their aesthetic is a good match for your vision and illustration as well as give you a general idea of their technical chops. If they do not have board games in their repertoire, make sure that they have dealt with packaging and long-format text layout (like your rulebook).
- Hire a fellow gamer! A crucial aspect of graphic design for board games is understanding and enhancing the user interface created by the game designer. This will be much clearer to a graphic designer who is also an avid boardgamer.
Panda’s Layout Service can accomplish a portion your these graphic design needs. As a department within Panda, we can guarantee that all files will be perfect for Panda’s printing specifications! We can help you determine the optimal materials and dimensions for the printed components of your project with the understanding of the cost/benefit ratio of each. However, Panda’s layout service does not include any UI development or illustration, be that a logo design, icon development, or background art.