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Old 08-18-2008, 03:28 PM   #11
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Sorry for coming off as such a mean dude. As to starting a new thread "just to bash somebody"-- didn't want the mostly positive thread getting overwhelmed with a lame discussion about art.

I thought my opinion was a little more self evident, but I guess not. Maybe it's a generation gap thing or something.... Some of y'all are misunderstanding what I was trying to say, but here it is just to be clear: Smif made Car Wars and GURPS (specifically 3e Basic Set & Compendiums & Vehicles) look cheap-- in the same way that Tanks made Car Wars look like a joke and the weird Art in GURPS Magic for 4e look like a really lame production, though he was obviously more talented than those artists. Smif had this sophmoric tone... and it [to me] he gave a subtextual message that GURPS was lame knockoff of what the other companies had to offer. (Like in vehicles where he had drawings of the classic "Unseen" Battletech 'mechs.) It said... "we are geeky gamers who spend more time quoting Montey Python than playing the game."

Yeah this is extremely subjective. I suspect that those that have many hundreds of hours of playing with these old 3e books probably feel the same way about them by now that I feel about the 80's. If he did Cyberpunk, then I have to say he did a good job there-- he was a good fit there. It's in the core books that I didn't think he was the right choice. (And his Car Wars art comes off like he's catering to the Munckiniest stupidest players.... Unlike the gritty art that graced the John Nowak stories, Smif seemed to communicate the whole three-autocannons-on-a-rocket-platform school of autodueling; you know, CAR WARS for people who drove division 80 subcompacts and always carried double barreled gyrosluggers.... Blech.)


This is not about art ability; it's about tone and subtext. It's about the same thing for me as waking up and finding what George Lucas had gone and "fixed" his Star Wars movies from the 70's and 80's. I feel just about the same way about Smif. Lucas and Smif both seemed to be completely oblivious to the things about my childhood favorite things that made them so cool to me.
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Last edited by Jeffr0; 08-18-2008 at 03:33 PM.
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Old 08-18-2008, 03:57 PM   #12
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

I beg to differ. The art of the 4e books put me off so much I stopped buying them. The books with Smif art (especially Robots) made the crunchy feel of GURPS for me, now they look like trying SOO hard to be D20 or something. Blair Reynold, Janet Alusio, Smif typically made illustrations that had some kind of connection with the text.

Eye of the beholder I guess but the new stuff coming out looks cheap and garish to me - Vargr merchandise.´Bring back Smif, and B & W books with softcover, and rulebooks goddammit!!!
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Old 08-18-2008, 04:06 PM   #13
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Originally Posted by A_Backman
Smif typically made illustrations that had some kind of connection with the text.
Have you looked at the 4e Basic Set recently? Hemophilia, Obsessive Behavior: Gambling, postures, heavy weapons, armor, the Pact limitation, and on and on -- all illustrated. Powers is just as good. So is Fantasy. Magic is as well, but with sub-par art. (I suspect there are other examples, but those are the books I've used recently.) If anything, 4e is better than 3e in this respect.
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Old 08-18-2008, 04:26 PM   #14
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Funny that you should mention this artist....

Kromm and I were talking about Smif just after I bought all 4 DUNGEON FATASY POD books that were for sale at GenCon and I noticed some Smiffy artwork in there.

With me, it all depends on WHAT is being illustrated. For example: in the old 3/e MAGIC book he did an illustration of a female wizard where she was on one knee and leaning on her staff, had a mohawk and tattoos. I always loved that illustration and wanted to make an NPC to match that pic.

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Old 08-18-2008, 05:19 PM   #15
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Originally Posted by MIB 1473
The biggest problem with Smif is that his style is incompatible with other artists'. It's hard to put his piece on the same page with another artists' without them clashing.
That's a valid criticism. That's why I liked the books that were entirely or almost entirely Smiffed. One of my gripes with GURPS is that it doesn't have a lot art that I find very evocative (fire-breathing Jesus, anyone?). Say what you will about RIFTS, but the Kevin Long art really made the setting come to life. In the same way, I think the Smif art in books like Black Ops and Cyberworld add significantly to the quality of those books.
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Old 08-18-2008, 05:48 PM   #16
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

I love Smif's art! I can't get enough of the chunky bold like art. I'm sort of bummed about the 4E books because they do have such high production values. (criticize me if you will) I loved the B&W art (That I can color in while waiting for the other players to show up for a session or when I'm bored and want to add a splash of color to my rulebooks.) I've also got a lot of my character concepts from art in the 3E books that never "popped" for me until I went hog wild on them with a box of color pencils and had the sudden thought that maybe that piece of art would make a cool character. I can't make the art in the new books my own like I could with the 3E books. I remember when I was running a game with fantasy folk monsters in it and I described a creature to the players (I forget the creature now) and one of the players told me point blank that the color of the creature's skin was all wrong. I just smiled and opened the fantasy folk book, showing off my color pencil handy work and told him "no. You've got it all wrong. In my copy they are that color." LOL! It's things like that I'll miss about the 3E books. (I haven't picked up any POD books yet but I'm hoping they are B&W!)
I'm not bashing the new 4E books. They are stunning and have great full color art that actually corresponds with the info given in the book. (most "other" game companies' color art doesn't always do this.) I'll miss the "color your own adventure" days of 3E though. :-(
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Old 08-18-2008, 07:19 PM   #17
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

I've LOVED pretty much all the Smif art in the 3e books and on - to the degree that I was somewhat unhappy about putting away my 3e rulebook and Compendia in storage, since I'd always been in the habit of leafing through and occasionally making characters based on his illustrations (GURPS In Nomine dude with horns in business suit, strong man, x-ray eyes woman, generic super and elf warrior that evidently teamed up at some point, etc., etc.). I liked his recent stuff on the Dungeon Fantasy PDFs, and would be quite happy if he got a gig as the line artist for GURPS. It would definitely have beat the computer-generated art in Magic, to touch on an already opened can of worms....
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Old 08-18-2008, 08:17 PM   #18
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Personally, I like his art. He isn't my favorite artist, certainly, but I think the style was appropriate for the books he was in. I was a bit surprised when somebody linked his work on another page and said they thought it was bad...

I draw a little myself, and some friends of mine do too, and the thing about drawing and art in general is that each artist has his "stroke" wich sometimes is better suited for certain styles. One of my friends has a very dirty, agressive stroke... I don't personaly "like" his style, but there's nothing wrong with it. And it becomes very appropriate and lends feeling when he's drawing very agressive things. He drew a "barbarian" charging with a bloody 2-handed sword with a heavy dark cloak over it's shoulders and a heavy horned helm that stuck to my mind to this day, it was a very ugly drawing, but it was perfect that way, it was raw, animalistic.

Another one of my friends has a very caricatural style, bent noses, excessive angles and curves, somewhat surreal. He wouldn't be a good illustrator where accuracy is relevant, but it's perfect for children's stories or some other exagerated medium.

My style is very precise and detailed, but isn't as expressive in terms of raw feeling or symbolic expression.

Everyone does things a little different, and we like what they do based on our personal preferences. Smif's art doesn't touch me in a personal level most of the time, but that doesn't mean it doesn't do that for other people. For instance, I simply love Luis Royo's arte, and Brom's I find rubs me the wrong way... they're both excelent artists though, and technically there's nothing wrong with either of them...
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Old 10-20-2009, 12:11 AM   #19
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Originally Posted by Jeffr0 View Post
is that he's no Loubet, Speed, or Chung.
digging up this old corpse of a thread...

I completely miss Smif's art from 5ed. more than any of the other car wars artists. is he (she?) still doing work?
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Old 10-20-2009, 12:19 AM   #20
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Default Re: The thing about Smif...

Smith's stuff was better suited to cyber punk but good. And unlkie a LOT of artists for a lot of game companies. He played the game, knew the rule and drew pictures which had context with the material it supported.

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