I talked a lot in my last two blogs about all the things to do with adventure text when you’re done with it. One of the last steps I do here at work when I’m done developing an adventure is to write up an “art brief.” This is the direction for the pieces of art to appear in the text. There are a couple things to keep in mind when doing this, and I’ll talk about the first one today: where to place your art in the adventure. 

Note that you’ll be ordering art before you layout your adventure, so you won’t yet know exactly which art goes on which page. But you can estimate this; we do so by creating a proposed pagination document. We assume there’s 900 words on each page, but art “counts as” some number of words—150 words for a portrait image or spot illustration (like an item), 400 words for a full-body illustration or similar (like a stand-alone image of a building, statue, or fountain), 550 words for a half-page illustration or map, and so on. I’ve also learned that I need to count a page with a sidebar or wide header on it as only 800 words long (including the words in the sidebar; that “lost” 100 words is the space for the text to drop a little lower and the sidebar’s border to push other words around).

Some of the art placement is easy and set: a full-page illustration is used for the cover, of course, and chapter introductions might have a full-page or half-page illustration with each one (or even a splashy double-page one!). Those tend to be expensive, though, so there’s fewer of them in most products than there are portrait illustrations, spot illustrations, and full-body illustrations.

For everything else, one of the reasons to wait until an adventure is developed (or mostly developed, if I have to, based on the art team’s scheduling and deadlines) is that you don't want to mush several pieces of art together on the same page. If you’re illustrating a goblin sorcerer and a goblin barbarian and a feral goblin dog, but they’re all appearing in the same encounter, that’s bad—your art is either all jumbled onto one page or spread out on pages far from where the art is relevant.

You also want to make sure you’ve noted any sidebars, headers, or anything else that is going to cause strange effects in layout, and avoid ordering art that appears right with those. The exception, of course, is if you want to—we sometimes put in a sidebar presenting a new magic item and an illustration of that magic item with it. 

I drop a tag right in the developed text to say “Art: A-11 Goblin Sorcerer (portrait image) goes here.” I prefer to have these tags at least 600 to 700 words apart from each other, so I know the art team doesn’t have to overlap them in layout. 

Technically, I’ll put this as “Art: A-11 Goblin Sorcerer (portrait image)[CAPTION: Firefinger the Mighty]” to let our art team know what to put in the image’s caption. Captions for portrait illustrations and full-body illustrations are useful so the reader understands immediately who they’re looking at.

Invariably, art will move around in layout. But it doesn’t generally move around a lot if you’ve been careful in where you place it in the developed adventure.