Am I alone in my dislike of real pictures on pins? Preferences?

(Topic ID: 32162)

Am I alone in my dislike of real pictures on pins? Preferences?


By DrewAVL

6 years ago



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  • Latest reply 6 years ago by scarybeard
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    #1 6 years ago

    I hate when I see unoriginal "art" on pinball machines. Actual pictures of characters messes up the art of the pinball machine aesthetically for me. How much cooler would the Avengers pin be had they actually added original drawings in a comic fashion?

    Just because a pin is based off of a movie does not mean the artwork should be pictures taken from that movie. If The Addams Family had pictures on the playfield of the characters I would not think as highly of it as I do.

    I would have considered getting the Avengers had it contained original artwork. I know pins are meant to be played, but it sure doesn't hurt when part of the package has awesome original artwork. I think original artwork may have allot to do with the prices we see associated with some pins. There is a decent list of games where allot of the lure comes from the art... CV, TOTAN, CFTBL, MB etc. I am not saying these aren't great games otherwise I am saying that the cool and original playfield art probably plays a factor in the pricing and how desirable those machines are.

    Does anyone out there prefer the pictures to original drawings? Is it that much cheaper to do? That Stern compromises and can justify it?

    Is it part of the licensing agreement so people recognize the theme, or does it make more on location because people better recognize the theme?
    If that is the case why not just use still pictures on the backglass and then allow the originality on the playfield. Preferences?

    #2 6 years ago

    Good points and good questions. Can you imagine the Addams Family done with photos of the actors? Or Twilight Zone with photoshopped stills from the series? If you think about it, the most successful machines in the history of pinball had hand drawn art on them.

    I would really like to see the return of hand drawn artwork like Jurassic Park, Baywatch or Lethal Weapon. The beautiful designs like Medieval Madness, Champion Pub, Cirqus Voltaire. The current trend of "photoshop hell" as some call it should be broken with as soon as possible. That's all my humble opinion though.

    I'm not sure how licensing fits into all of this. I don't think poor photoshopping is a requirement of the license. I'm pretty sure it's cheaper.

    #3 6 years ago

    +1 and tacky. It immediately turns me off when i see photoshopped "artwork" on a pf. It just screams LAZY to me. I imagine stern has their hands tied to some degree but sheesh, make an effort at least.

    #4 6 years ago

    That was my biggest turn off on Sterns from 2007ish on. Photoshoped playfields and DMD movie clips that you could barely make out the scenes. It was a HUGE step backwards and I just hated the way they looked.

    Fast Forward to Xmen with custom art and dots...was my first NIB machine in 7 years (since FGY)

    #5 6 years ago

    I couldn't agree more.
    My first pin was a SWE1 and even that had hand-drawn graphics.
    Pinball machines have always been functional prices of artwork and should be designed as such.

    I really want to like Stern but everything they now create seems bastardized.

    #6 6 years ago

    I have always prefered line art graphics over photo art on pinball playfields. Even in the Sega days the photos on the playfield did turn me off. Heck, if you look at Stern's Playboy: I think the sexiest women on the playfield are the ones drawn in line art. I could care less about the photo ones. This probably explains why I like the art on Whoa Nellie! Big Juicy Melons so much. However, not all line art is great. The line art playfield of LW3, and several other DE/Sega games, didn't do it for me either. What's even worse: the photo art in combination with licensing killed T&A in pinball art

    #7 6 years ago

    Bring back the Data East days.....games like JP, LW3, GnR, TFTC, SW, WWF, and LAH have really nice hand drawn artwork on the playfields.

    #8 6 years ago

    I like the way Tron looks, with the exception of Zuse's mug. Something about that theme cries out for hyper realistic.

    #9 6 years ago

    I think if you're working with a licensed property nowadays, you'll often be forced to work with a pre-approved image package, so quite possible Stern does not have much of a choice. I don't know for sure, that's just a guess.

    #10 6 years ago

    Depends on the game theme, but I do miss the days of custom original art. However I think those days are long gone. Licensing is part of our culture in America, marketers have hit us so much it is the only thing that gets a solid fan club right out of the box for any product. It's proven licenses products sell more hence worth the extra value. Sorry for the tangent.....but it's relevant because since most pins are based on movies now, real photos is about it right. Unless its a cartoon like Shrek or something

    #11 6 years ago

    Pinball IS art.The look of a game is part of the equation when I decide to buy a game for my collection.Case in point: I sold my LOTR to finance a Fathom restoration.I love LOTR as far as game play but I got tired of looking at it.It looked like a DVD box set next to my BoP and TZ.Now Fathom on the other hand is just an amazing looking(and playing) SS pin.I know alot on here would not agree with this type of move for their collection but if it's in my house it has to have that pop culture "cool' factor.I also have a Silverball Mania and a Fireball for these exact reasons.Scott

    #12 6 years ago

    While I love the hand drawn artowrk and wish for more of it as well, I also think there's a place for the Photo-type stuff. If you're doing a pin based off a movie, then yeah, I want to see actual images from that film. For example, Tron: Legacy. I don't think I'd like that nearly as much if it had a hand drawn representation of Quorra and Gem. I want the real high-res thing dammit!

    On the other hand, I agree that hand drawn art on a non-movie property is fantastic. Titles like TOM and TOTAN are no-brainers for their aesthetic beauty. Heck, even look at early Sterns like Ripley's or Monopoly. Those look great as well.

    I personally like both!

    Later,
    EV

    #13 6 years ago

    The art was a huge part if why I fell in love with pinball back in the 70's. Dave Christiansen especially, but also Paul Faris and all the 60's artists who drew those magical back glasses.

    Part of why the 80s/90s Gottleibs gave me the creeps was the photographs on the back glass.

    I would have a MUCH harder time limiting the size of my collection if the new Sterns emphasized original art.

    #14 6 years ago

    I agree that hand drawn is the way to go.

    #15 6 years ago

    actually Dave C really tied the visual kinetic of linework to the physical playfield parts like pop bumpers and ball lanes. He created movement and a dynamic power to the illustrations. On Voltan the spinner lanes are really amazing and make you want to shoot them.....

    http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=2744&picno=20326

    #16 6 years ago

    I agree, the art is a major factor in what I like, play, and buy.
    I can't stand Ironman because the printing is so lousy. They managed to make Scarlett Johanson in a leather jump suit irritating for me to look at.

    #17 6 years ago

    I am not a fan of real pictures and prefer original art on pins. Part of the reason I impulsively pulled the trigger on my first NIB XM Pro last August that and I really enjoyed the shot layout and features. One of my favorite pf artwork would be from Judge Dredd and thank god it was based off the comic instead of the movie at the time.

    #18 6 years ago
    Quoted from jpop:

    actually Dave C really tied the visual kinetic of linework to the physical playfield parts like pop bumpers and ball lanes. He created movement and a dynamic power to the illustrations. On Voltan the spinner lanes are really amazing and make you want to shoot them.....
    http://www.ipdb.org/showpic.pl?id=2744&picno=20326

    YES! Jpop, you know better than most that a pinball machine is WAY greater than the sum of its parts. When it all comes together they are a complete work of art. Genius artwork combined with great gameplay elevates the game to transcendent levels. It's why I spend so much of this great life in this massive world indoors playing pinball. Weird, but true!

    #19 6 years ago

    FYI, one of the reasons I cherish Future Spa. Dave C. Playfield art! And I for one think the Faris work on the back glass is awesome. far from thinking two different artists is a flaw (some have actually said that) I think it enhances the machine and makes it special. That and all the tits.

    #20 6 years ago

    Looking forward to the breath of fresh air, a new machine with it's own artwork for art sake and unlicensed theme for theme sake....

    #21 6 years ago

    In most cases, I agree. I think ACDC's PF could have been much nicer using the cartoon versions of the band as seen in the dots. I'm sure licensing plays a part in the photochop PF art sometimes.

    #22 6 years ago

    Agree 100%. Complete lack of imagination on the part of designers.
    Look at older pins (pre-SS) to see really stunning artwork on almost
    every pin. Not doing that now just shows how a lack of competiton
    changes things.
    Steve

    #23 6 years ago

    Part of the beauty and joy of a pin is fantastic art. Go original!

    #24 6 years ago

    If anyone on Pinside knows Pam Erickson please give her a big hug and a high-five from me.
    Her illustrations on Sorcerer are stunning.
    And the way she meshed the playfield artwork with the plastics to create a 3D feel was perfect.

    And if anyone here hasn't had the opportunity to play/see Sorcerer in person, come on over for a cold Wisconsin beer and a few games.

    #25 6 years ago

    Absolutely agree. IJ is an example of a good looking pin that uses original art but is based directly on three films. It can be done!

    #26 6 years ago

    I do agree and my favorite pins are non-commercial titles. I am thinking this is the case because they can't rely on an awesome movie or comic etc to create the title. A lot more creativity has to go into the pin itself, it can also lead to a mega flop as well on the flip side.

    #27 6 years ago

    To be fair - the characters on The Avengers playfield aren't poses of real actors...they're artistic renderings. Painted in Photoshop for sure, but renderings none the less. My issue w/ Avengers art is more the fact that it's all style guide art for products (toys, stickers, shirts)...just plopped on a playfield. It could have been SOOOO much more interesting with some kind of actual action scene...Ironman blasting a laser & Thor throwing his Hammer at Loki...Loki dodging. Captain America & Black Widow fighting an alien. They could have incorporated inserts into the art. Ironman's eyes and chest are SCREAMING for inserts!!! They didn't do it on IM and didn't do it on this game!

    In any case, "product art" can look good if implemented well. I think Tron looks beautiful. Stark, stylized, clean lines to guide the shots. It works for that game. I think LOTR looks really good, too. Sure, that one is literally the actors...but it's incorporated in an artistically cohesive way with the map of Middle Earth, the ring inserts & all the other details. Sure it looks different than a 90's B/W game...but I think it really stands out - in a good way.

    #28 6 years ago

    JPOP's games have had the best artwork on average IMHO

    #29 6 years ago

    Yeah it can be done well, Avengers isn't cutting it close though...horrible looking. EDIT: Horrible probably too strong. Not looking good I should say.

    #30 6 years ago

    It boils down to cutting costs and not wanting to invest in art work. Even Kiss and Capt Fantastic were line art. They could have made it pictures if they wanted to.

    Stern releases dot printing graphics on their PF to save money then it becomes their norm.

    I have hated it 100% since they first did it.

    JJP is mixing it but it still takes away from the game. Their is no art in using a photo.

    Take t-shirts for example, how crappy do real pictures look? Line art is call "art" for a reason.

    #31 6 years ago
    Quoted from jpop:

    actually Dave C really tied the visual kinetic of linework to the physical playfield parts like pop bumpers and ball lanes.

    This is so, so crucial to great playfield art. Doug Watson did a fine job of this as well, albeit with more of a rectilinear style. His striking BK2K orbits & lanes set the stage for the best aspects of nineties "fan game" playfield art; bold lines that highlight the shot map and draw your eyes into each shot. I swear my aim is better on a Doug Watson playfield.

    #32 6 years ago

    Yep, it reminds me of my first year in college. I was majoring in graphic design and was taking one of my first computer design courses. We had to come up with a product and then design the packaging for said product. I used Photoshop (all I knew of at the time) and came up with what I thought was a sweet design for action figure packaging using scanned images and text and then laying them out collage-style. I then saw other (younger) dude's presentations looking all crisp and clean, integrated and simply much better than mine. I asked a couple of the guys, "how'd you make that look so nice and professional-looking?" They said "Oh I vectorized everything in Illustrator." I was like "Illu-what?" This was 1994-95. Over the course of the next 5 years I learned how to effectively use Illustrator and never looked back. Its now 2012. Stern's refusal to upgrade their design software is what is hindering their design process.

    #33 6 years ago
    Quoted from coasterguy:

    I agree that hand drawn is the way to go.

    This is nitpicky, but 'hand drawn' is rarely done by anyone. There's a difference between illustrating and photo-compositing (sometimes called photoshopping), but hand-drawing has largely been replaced by WACOM style tablets/digital pens, and a lot of the newer designers and artists solely use a mouse for illustration. Adobe Photoshop is used by almost all artists. All art is digitally manipulated and it makes the art better.

    The line has blurred for sure. I think people's objection is to stylization vs realism. There's some great artwork done in photoshop. for instance, http://sharpwriter.deviantart.com/art/Ronald-Reagan-Riding-a-Velociraptor-312025579 ...looks drawn, but is all digital and probably done 100% in photoshop. Very Stylized.

    The arguments against photorealistic or photo-composited artwork are valid, but there's not much you can do when the licensor demands it. If Disney doesn't want artist X potentially tarnishing the brand by drawing art themselves, you can't do it.

    For instance, if your fast food chain wants to do a tie in with Wreck it Ralph, you can't just draw Ralph yourself. you need to use one of the library of images of the character that Disney provides. That's the nature of licensing properties today. Not pinball makers fault.

    #34 6 years ago
    Quoted from Phetishboy:

    Stern's refusal to upgrade their design software is what is hindering their design process.

    You assume the license allows them to draw or interpret the art themselves. Many licenses do not allow that, you must use the assets they provide.

    #35 6 years ago
    Quoted from Richthofen:

    All art is digitally manipulated and it makes the art better.

    it *can* make the art better, it can also make it much much worse.

    #36 6 years ago

    Have you ever looked at some of the modern Sterns close up? The graphics (including much of the text) are pixelated, blurry, fuzzy, etc. Blame it on the resolution of the files they worked with or blame it on the printer, your choice, but they're obviously doing something wrong. Disney may decide which photos and images they use, but they sure the hell don't expect the 'artists' to use low res jpgs of those images. I agree, Photoshop can allow you to do amazing things, but you need to know how to use it first.

    #37 6 years ago

    Nothing beats spot color graphics for artistic. Once they started down the raster image route it was all over.

    Boils down to cost cutting and getting it out the door. Take a few mins to grab a picture of Mick Jagger and slap it on a playfield then have the playfield CMYK Raster printed.

    Way more work to do art and spot colors, etc.

    Early 2000 I cannot blame Stern as they tried to keep pinball alive by cutting costs. But now for 7k a machine lets get back to art and not some toy.

    #38 6 years ago

    In the minority on this, but I like both. LOTR's PF, cabinet and translite looks great IMO.

    #39 6 years ago

    My JD and CFTBL are beautifully drawn. Two of my favorite art designs in pinball. But my BSD, while hand drawn, looks kinda cheesy. On the other hand, while I'm not a fan of the pictures on my AC/DC playfield I think LOTR and Tron look great.

    So, for me, I can't make such generalizations. While I prefer original art I don't dislike real pictures if the overall package is well done.

    #40 6 years ago

    Absolutely agreed. A bunch of photoshopped images is not art. It's called being lazy, or cheap. I feel this way about movie posters as well. Imagine what Amsel's "Raiders of the Lost Ark" iconic poster would have been without his skilled treatment of Indy and his cast of characters. The best, "new" artwork I've seen on a pin lately was "Woah Nellie! Big Juicy Mellons".

    As an aside, I also think the backglass artwork needs to be on GLASS. Translites are hideously ugly.

    #41 6 years ago

    I agree. I also dislike Stern's photographic artwork. Something about it just feels hammy and also rather empty in places. I much prefer detailed hand-illustrated artwork. For example JD looks a lot better than X-Men, but both look MUCH better than Iron Man.

    #42 6 years ago
    Quoted from Phetishboy:

    Have you ever looked at some of the modern Sterns close up? The graphics (including much of the text) are pixelated, blurry, fuzzy, etc. Blame it on the resolution of the files they worked with or blame it on the printer, your choice, but they're obviously doing something wrong.

    It's the printing. Now the files might be low rez crap too, it's obviously impossible to tell with such horrible printing quality, but I doubt it. All of those assets exist in nice high rez formats. The Tron LE I saw had all the print quality of a '50s comic book ad, it was pretty shameful. I'm sure it's all about cutting costs. Still sad.

    Disney is notoriously difficult to work with when it comes to IP, and if you stop and think for a moment Stern's worked with them a lot. X-Men, Avengers, Iron Man, Spider-Man, PotC, Tron ... all Disney properties (I guess even IJ is now too!). It would hardly surprise me to find that they were forced to use official photography for all of the assets. I agree though, it's a giant turn off, and frankly makes the games look cheap.

    #43 6 years ago
    Quoted from robin:

    . Can you imagine the Addams Family done with photos of the actors?

    Funny you would mentioned The Addams Family. I can't stand real picture art on pinball machines. That being said, if TAF would have been based on the show and not the movie, I think it would have looked great with a pic of the family on the BG. Especially if it was done in black and white.

    #44 6 years ago

    I wonder how many of those who prefer line art over photos also prefer separate color silk screening over 4 color silkscreening. Back in the day each color used to have it's own silkscreening layer. A game would have like 8 colors on the playfield or backglass and these were printed on top of each other. All the modern day Sterns are CMYK images. History shows games have pretty outstanding artwork with limited use of colors. BBB side art comes to mind...

    #45 6 years ago
    Quoted from Richthofen:

    This is nitpicky, but 'hand drawn' is rarely done by anyone. There's a difference between illustrating and photo-compositing (sometimes called photoshopping), but hand-drawing has largely been replaced by WACOM style tablets/digital pens, and a lot of the newer designers and artists solely use a mouse for illustration. Adobe Photoshop is used by almost all artists. All art is digitally manipulated and it makes the art better.
    The line has blurred for sure. I think people's objection is to stylization vs realism. There's some great artwork done in photoshop. for instance, http://sharpwriter.deviantart.com/art/Ronald-Reagan-Riding-a-Velociraptor-312025579 ...looks drawn, but is all digital and probably done 100% in photoshop. Very Stylized.

    As one of those "not actually hand drawing" "WACOM style tablets/digital pens" digital artists you're talking about, I need to clarify that we utilize the same techniques, arm movements, blood, sweat and tears someone working on a canvas with a brush utilizes. I even still utilize traditional T-Squares and triangles on my massive WACOM. The only difference is that our paint and ink are digital and when we fuck up, we can decide with a keystroke if that is a happy accident we want to keep. You can put a piece of paper and a pencil in front of me and I'll draw just as well as on my tablet. You put a tablet in front of a techno-phobe artist and they'll stare at you with a giant confused blank look on their face, then push it aside and claim "this isn't really creating art".

    I get that you're not claiming that we aren't actually illustrating and painting, but the "not actually hand drawn", "solely using a mouse" comments raised my neck hairs.

    You're right about the style guide issues and dealing with licensed properties. These companies spend a LOT of time and money developing a cohesive look for their IP's. From their perspective, there needs to be NO mistake that this is a 2012/2013 Avengers based product. The movie poster, the Happy Meal, the toy line, the video game packaging and the pinball machine need to be unmistakably Avengers: The Movie. Fonts, color codes, stances, costumes, skin tones, light source color, etc. has all been agonized over by other artists and guys in suits way before someone like Stern or JJP got a hold of the assets. That's especially how a huge entity like Disney rolls.

    On the flip side, it doesn't mean you can't create your own art assets for a licensed product. It just becomes a pain in the ass getting approval for the assets from the license holder (Marvel/Disney in this case). Depending on the scope of the project, it could just not be worth the hassle.

    Side note: Avengers Pro, from the normal res pics I've seen, looks nice and clean compared to X-Men because there is significant unity and cohesiveness in the assets. X-Men would have looked incredible with "hand-drawn" artwork if it was all consistent and from one artist (or a team of artists working together under one cohesive art direction). Some of the assets on X-Men come from radically different sources.

    So, stylized "illustrated" art? Yeah. Could look bad ass in the right hands. So does photo-realistic art, even when created from a license holder's art folder when in the right hands...but here is the tricky part: it's all in the content. Some ideas translate better with one art direction, some the other.

    P.S. Capcom could have slaughtered the illustrated pinball art in the 90's if they put all their world-wide resources into it. Capcom of Japan had one of the strongest group of concept artists in the video game industry at the time (for arcade junkies, think late cps-1 into cps-3 era) and it really says something about Stan Fukuoka that he held up that high standard alone in the states. Kingpin is one of my favorite stylized art packages in pinball and BBB is no slouch.

    #46 6 years ago

    @ sosage ^^^
    To much to quote, but +1,000,000 on the Capcom comment! There's a reason the art books for Capcom video games are made. People love them!

    #47 6 years ago

    I own a JD and super mario and love the comic book style artwork and theme. The next pin I'd like to get is CFTBL. I'm more than a little put off by the photo and even photorealistic stuff (like Baywatch). I prefer out and out line drawings.

    #48 6 years ago
    Quoted from sosage:

    I get that you're not claiming that we aren't actually illustrating and painting, but the "not actually hand drawn", "solely using a mouse" comments raised my neck hairs.

    Perhaps I was unclear. I just hate when people use 'Photoshop' as a pejorative term. It's a tool. And I've seen beautiful, 'hand-drawn' artwork created in Photoshop. The ability to 'undo' a stroke/color choice/design decision is so amazingly powerful that I believe it lifts up art and opens the art world to a larger set of creators. But that's just my opinion

    I work for a firm that has a partnership with a company that has a partnership with Disney, and we're created content featuring Wreck-it Ralph, among other licenses. I'm not an artist but I work with designers. No one here has been allowed to re-draw the characters, but in general I think we all believe that Disney has done a really good job and we're fine with it

    #49 6 years ago

    I love the art layout on TFTC and don't understand why some hate it. I enjoyed the shows and never got into comics but feel they did the design right. Even the back glass is not bad like some say. Yes there is an alternate by I think I will keep the original for awhile as my first game to get the feeling of how it was back in the day. I did have to do LED's to make it feel new.

    #50 6 years ago

    I don't care much for the photograph type imagery on pins, but not so much as the use of photos, but so much of it looks like simple "Cut and Paste". No real style to the layout, mixed images that don't complement each other. But Hand Drawn, whether done on traditional media or done digitally, defiantly outshines pretty much all the photo style (photoshopped if you want) artwork out there, not to say that photos shouldn't be used though.

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