Ask the Game Master: How can I draw my character when I can’t actually draw?

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This week, we’re talking about character commissions and limiting rules at your table.

 

I have this vision for how my Pathfinder character is supposed to look, but I can’t find anything online that looks like him. And I definitely can’t draw. What should I do?

Welcome to the club.

Most of us aren’t artists, certainly not good enough to create anything as good as the amazing paintings we see in every single D&D and Pathfinder rule book.

Sure, you can do a Google Image search for “half-orc bard with lute,” and you might get lucky. And if all you’re doing is throwing a piece of art on your character sheet, something generic will probably work.

If you’re looking for something unique, you want to create your own game token or you’re simply in love with your character, I recommend commissioning an artist to draw your character for you.

Tons of artists do it, and it usually doesn’t cost too much depending on what you’re looking for.

I had my long-time Pathfinder character, Wilster Moonshadow, half-elf magus, illustrated for me by the wonderful Rose McClain. Lucky for me, Rose was doing single color line drawings for charity.

Wilster Moonshadow
Art by Rose McClain

How do you find an artist? I found Rose on Twitter when someone else RT’d her post about commissions, which she was donating to a suicide prevention charity. It was easy to set up, and she did a fantastic job.

You can search Twitter, Tumblr, Reddit, DeviantArt or Fiverr for artists with open commissions. You’ll find plenty of artists in every price range.

If someone doesn’t have prices listed, ask them. If it’s too much, say thanks and keep looking. Respect that artists ought to get paid well for their work. You’ll find someone that fits your budget.

Also know what you want. Describe your character’s appearance in detail. Don’t be afraid to provide references to other artwork including movies or shows.

For example, Wilster is similar to the Pathfinder iconic character Seltyiel, but has dark hair. As an in-joke at my table, he wears an extremely deep V-cut top. He also wields a black scimitar inscribed with runes. I told all that to Rose, and she did something awesome with it.

Last, make sure to establish with the artist what rights you have to use the artwork.

Pay your artist, sit back and wait for your character portrait to roll in.

Then show it off to everyone.

Just don’t forget to recommend the artist that drew it for you.

 

I’m running a D&D campaign, and there are a few monstrous races I want to ban my players from using. It doesn’t fit in my campaign style, and it won’t fit well in my campaign either. My players are a little edgy about me limiting them. What should I do?

I always like to tell GMs the following: It’s your game. It’s your table. It’s your rules.

If players don’t want to follow your rules, they don’t have to sit at your table or play in your game.

I personally agree that not every rule or race or option fits in every campaign or setting, even though some players consider any officially published option is open to them.

Your setting world might be low magic, so having a sorcerer PC in the group might not work. Your campaign might be about killing orc invaders, so having an orc or half-or PC might cause serious problems. Or maybe you just don’t want rules bloat and want the characters to stay focused.

If players can’t handle that, maybe they shouldn’t play in your campaign.

Of course, maybe they’re close friends or maybe you don’t want to go through the effort to recruit new players.

In that case, explain it to them. If you have good reasons for placing limits, they should understand.

You should also explore why they might be upset with those limits. Some might chafe at having any limitations at all, while others might have a strong connection to one of the races or classes you’d like to leave behind.

I’m sure when you both calmly state your case, you’ll be able to figure it out together.

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