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Character Portraits


Character Portrait Preference  

16 members have voted

  1. 1. Which of these do you prefer for character portraits?

    • Pictures of real people
    • Artwork/Rendering

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Not ashamed of my vote:  I have never liked using photos of real people.  I am imagining a world that looks a certain way- let's say comic books, with latern-jawed heroes with their mighty seven-heads proportions-!


I do _not_ want to pop open Iron Man's helmet and go "Holy Hell!  That's Dennis Franz!"


More subtley:  I find the use of photos of real people and places (with the wxceprion of fantastic landscapes) to be extremely off-putting and it does hard damage to my suspension of disbelief-- and I am typically the GM!  It is like the _one_ thing that I just can't roll with.  I also accept that I am probably the only person on the planet for whom this is as big a deal as it is, and it stem,from the fact that I am an old fossil who has been gaming since before we could screenshot someone from the internet so art feels more "right" in the context.  Alternatively, it could be that I do not want that exact and detailed a face or body type; I have no idea.


If you can't draw- I know I can't- and dont know anyone who will whip something up for you-  screenshot a drawing off the 'net and show that to me.  Give me a stick figure done in crayon.  _Describe_ the character to me and I will block in a 2e character mannequin (badly) for you!


Just do not give me an actual photo of an actual person or an actual animal,or an actual car.....




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I might be art ludit (the best I can do is beefy stick figure people), but I do prefer artwork over photos. Especially when talking about cartoon/comic book/anime/manga inspired characters or settings.


If I'm playing a spy or a gun fighter or film noir detective, then it is ok to find a character photo.

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 There is a third option cropping up, with A.I. generated artwork. People using stable diffusion, installed on their desktops, we are starting to see on one of our gaming Discord servers the GMs generating NPC portraits using Stable Diffusion, by citing a few similar artists, to keep the style consistent. This had been a helper for non artistic GMs, but it also has been an impetuous for me to go whole hog into 3D art, lately*.  One of the big attractants is that A.I. art is rights free, So the user of the A.I. art generator can do what ever they want with the art.


(* recently I did three pages of vintage style comic art as an [expensive] art commission, and used the proceeds to pay for a new Desktop. However, completing that commission, using the old tools has completely soured me on traditional sketching and drawing. Intellectually, I have been more stimulated by diving into Blender, and getting back into 3D characters, animation, and dabbling in VFX. I am having more "fun" with 3D presently. I do admit it's a lot slower than sketching and drawing, but I would rather go bobbing for French fries, than sketch these days.)

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  • 2 weeks later...

I’m doing research for a Monster Hunter-type campaign set in Eastern Europe in 1922. For NPCs I usually prefer artwork or even period portraits, but there’s something about photographs from the very early 1900s. The Brownie camera had sold over 200,000 units by 1910. Millions of photographs had been taken. Most of what you find online are people posing with their best clothes and serious faces. But some times they are more relaxed. People at play, at work, or just going about their lives. The eyes of someone who is not accustomed to posing for pictures can be revealing. Even haunting.

l’ve started pairing NPC photographs with short descriptions. It has made a huge impact on the motivations and mannerisms I assign to NPCs. 


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I voted artwork, but it depends. For example in my last 5E game it was Artwork. In another game, I played a gunslinger so I had one of the characters from "The Good, The Bad, And the Ugly". I forgot his name, but it was the bad guy.   So it all depends as others have said.

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We played a League of Extraordinary Gentlemen style game where I asked players to pick an actor who would play the character if it was made into a film (and put those headshots on the character sheets).


It actually made visualising the characters easier for everyone (though I got tired of casting the bad guys).  🙂



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