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When I create a campaign, I generally create a whole new world. The problem with this is that even though I have a plethora of amazing ideas, I just can't handle all the drawing and visuals that I like to show my players while they play.

I usually just use Google to search for some images of monsters, castles, forest, etc. I then put these images on my iPad and display them when they are relevant. Do you have any resources or tips for finding images like this? Preferably images which all follow the same "style".

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Ah, you have asked the question "right" in that you're asking for technique and not a list of image sites. May I recommend that answerers follow this lead - "Here's a link to DeviantArt" is not an acceptable answer. –  mxyzplk Sep 9 '11 at 2:16
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Nonetheless, you may want to check out this closed question and its answers. ;) rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/9023/… –  OpaCitiZen Sep 9 '11 at 6:51

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Google has an option to find "similar images", as well as the ability to search for images by main color. This will often result in returning images of the same style.

There is also another service that I used many years ago, which I will have to find again, which allows you to search for images by comparing it to another image. (Or even by drawing vague shapes that you want)

Here are some sites, I can't find the original site I knew of from art school.

http://www.tiltomo.com/

http://www.systemone.at/en/ecosystem/labs or http://labs.systemone.at/retrievr/

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Pick a few favorite images and try to find out who created them (a large percent of them should have some kind of signature: look for it either on the image or somewhere near it (in its title etc.) For unknown painters/photographers and images, try TinEye.

Once you've got the name of the painter/photographer, google it (not the theme, as you say in your Q.) Finding the official portfolio site of a given artist is possibly the best way to find images of the same style and theme. ;)

Update:

There's also the option of going to art community sites that host thousands of images in galleries, and are, in most cases, searchable by tags/keywords. Examples include: drawcrowd.com, cgsociety.org, conceptart.org, the better galleries at deviantart.com (there's been too much "noise" on dA lately), and so on.

Another way to look for stuff is to (register and) use the search function on sites like tumblr.com or pinterest.com. Look for specific artists (as I've recommended above), or for themes and topics (like "forest", "monster", "d&d", etc.)

A warning

Note, please, that the results you get from these sites are practically never "stock" in the "you are free to use / republish / etc them anywhere online or offline" sense. The images are copyrighted works of their respective creators, and though you're free to show them to your gaming group on your device, you have no rights whatsoever to them, so don't use, republish, etc them in your publication, blog, etc, even if you're not doing anything commercial. To do that, you'd need to consult the licensing guides of the sites and the respective artists (and pay them.)

Sure, tumblr and pinterest are full of reblogged/repinned content, but it's a rather gray area of the net. A lot of artists and sites welcome and encourage sharing this way - going so far as to implement official buttons that help you do so -, but it's not true of everyone at all. Find, read, understand and follow the licenses before spreading art, that's the safest thing you can do.

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Computer game concept work sometimes is a great source of inspiration. Things that spring to mind are the Witcher, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, and so on... They can get you some nice drawn characters, monsters, and environments.

In addition, whatever source of inspiration for your game, do google image that. You maybe surprised. For example, google "spooky forest" or "pink unicorn" or "transhuman space ship". I find that the colour chooser can give you some nice artwork in the same shades.

Finally, there is a photo.net which has a lot of exposures that you can use for places, characters, scenes, etc... If you ask the author nicely, they may even allow you to photoshop their work to add features. This is the site I use to find characters' portraits if I need one.

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For excellent images, become used to Searching

I use two main sources for my stock images - Deviantart.com and Google's Image Search.

It's a skill like any other to find the correct search terms - I recommend developing it, though, as it's incredibly useful for many other things as well.

One specific trick that I find useful is to find synonyms of the thing you're looking for and search for them as well. If you want, for example, a female human rogue infiltrator, looking for 'female ninja', 'female spy', etc will often be useful. Being too specific with search terms is usually a bad idea - stay generic but change adjectives until you find the adjective that for some reason means 'fantasy female rogue' to artists when all the other adjectives really don't.

Deviantart is good for slightly more obscure character things, and fantasy stuff. Google is best for generic character pictures, landscapes, and layouts/scenery.

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