SI Illustration Style Guide

Savage Insider Illustration Style Guide

An ever-evolving guide to illustrating for Savage Insider.
Last Update: June 29, 2015.

Subject Matter

Cover

Covers are the most dynamic, challenging illustrations in any publication. They need to convey what the content is about, catch readers’ attention, allow for high enough contrast that text is readable without having to make it multi-colored, provide enough background that the main subject of the image doesn’t make it difficult to place text, and ensure that there is an invisible margin surrounding the main part of the illustration so that if it were to be printed, nothing important gets cut off.

Interiors

Interiors illustrate specific features and may be black and white or color. They aren’t used for every story or article, instead being assigned to a select few. Typically, one will be sought for an item in Equipment Corral, one or more people in Character Gallery, to convey the feeling of Stories to Inspire or Great Adventures, or to break up text in General Interest.

Technique

As a magazine, we have the ability to be flexible in our illustrations. Unlike in an RPG book, we don’t need to have a consistent style or commonality. That allows illustrators to use whatever techniques and styles they choose to illustrate our covers and features.

Style

Nudity

While we appreciate the human form, this isn’t the place for it to be on full display. Our readers are a cross-section of the gaming community, having various levels of sensitivity to nude imagery. It would be an unusual feature that required nudity for illustration, and unless the Call for Submissions specifically states the illustration should include it, which is extraordinarily unlikely, don’t.

Violence

Role-playing games often involve violence, whether in the form of fist fights, swordplay, or gun slinging. However, it need not be front and center, nor should it be gratuitous when presented visually. That’s not to say illustrating a blood pool or wounded person is taboo, just that the imagery ought not to be shockingly vivid. Savage Insider illustrations shouldn’t look like slasher film posters.

Image Specifics

All files should be 300dpi or greater. They may be presented as .jpg, .tiff, .png, or .psd. They should be created with the size assigned at the time of pitch acceptance or outlined in the Call for Submissions, whichever is applicable, in mind.

Physical dimensions of our standard image sizes are shown in the following table. The unit of measurement is inches, with width presented first and height presented second.

Cover 8 ½ x 11
Full Page, Interior 7.5 x 10
Half, Vertical 3.75 x 9.5
Half, Horizontal 7.5 x 4.75
Third 7.5 x 3.25
Quarter 3.75 x 4.75
Eighth 3.6 x 2.5

Covers

Covers are 8½” W by 11” H. Because they may be printed and we need to include information along the left edge of the cover, no important elements should occupy the ½” edge around the image. Avoid using borders, unless they are delineating that ½” edge. (See SI: Rebirth and Reinvention for a cover with a border that worked.)

The combined text box space for the header information is about 4.7” W x 1.8” H. That includes a blank area below “Savage” and to the left of “Insider” of about 1.6” W x .62” H. The ensemble is more or less centered at the top part of the page. Meanwhile, the Savage Worlds logo is always centered at the bottom of the page. It’s roughly 2.25” W x 1.65” H.

The cover should leave space for us to pop in titles and bylines of four-six features, essentially text boxes of varying sizes. Typically, illustrators will send a sketch that we can then pop into a template in order to see where everything envisioned will fall. We send a PDF of it back with notations so the illustrator has a visual guide for finishing the cover.

Cautions:

  • Subjects should be brought in close enough to each other and presented far enough away so they are complete while granting enough room for all elements.
  • Keeping the focus in the center as was done with SI: Rebirth & Reinvention draws the eye and allows room for preview text, the SW logo, and other elements on the cover.
  • If there’s too distinct of variation in the background’s make-up, it takes a lot more time for me to get colors for the text that work well across multiple image colors and textures.

Interiors

Most of our interiors are black and white. When they are in color, they need to have sufficient contrast that when rendered in grayscale they look good. We do not print all interior pages in color, and need to ensure the quality of the image comes through regardless of on-screen rendering or printed version.

Most interiors will be quarter-pagers. The size requires the image to have fewer details than something larger. We intend for interiors to accent writing features, where simple representations pack a powerful punch.

Some interiors might be ⅓ to ½ of a page, most typically horizontally. Those require a level of detail in between quarter-pagers and covers. Rarely, we’ll commission something that is a whole page, which is expected to have more detail than anything smaller, or commission something significantly smaller, ⅛ a page with very little detail.

Marking Your Art

Some illustrators like to incorporate their initials, name, or some other artist mark into their work. So long as such things are unobtrusive and relatively subtle, we are happy to have you do so. However, we reserve the right to place the image in our products in whatever way makes sense for the layout. That could mean that a mark is cropped, hidden, or otherwise not visible. While it is not our intention to eliminate the mark, it is possible that it could happen.

Copyright

License to Use

We are open to images that have been previously created and are being licensed to us to use. We must be made aware of previous publication at the time a pitch to use the work is made. However, we cannot accept images you have found online or elsewhere that are not your creation. If you are not the copyright holder, we cannot print your supplied image, and you will not be paid for the illustration.

Created on Demand

If you have created something for our use, you are still the copyright owner. You can still sell that image to whomever you want. We can use it for our purposes as described in the Contributor’s Acknowledgement as well.

Savage Worlds Licensees

If you are a Savage Worlds Licensee and hold the copyright on illustrations submitted, we need to know who to credit. Otherwise, only the company will be credited. If you don’t have the authority to grant us rights to print an illustration, please send a request to the artist who created the piece, copying business@obatron.com, and we’ll attempt to gain permission to print it. We don’t want any artist feeling we’ve infringed upon their copyrights!