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The Proper Use of Nudity in FRPG Art

UngainlyTitan

Hero
Supporter
I think the first work of art I noticed that looked ridiculous to my eyes was an issue of Catwoman way back in 1993 because the gravity defying proportions were just ridiculous. I do have a soft spot for a lot of the old art found in TSR products partly because I prefer the techniques used by the artist but there's a bit of nostalgia there as well. I much prefer Paladin in Hell over a lot of more recent work I acknowledge as technically better. But you're right, stuff that worked 40 years ago won't necessarily work today and vice versa. In 2035, what's acceptable or not acceptable might end up surprising us. Who knows?

Personally, I'll avoid RPGs with over sexualized images on the cover. Admittedly, most of the art from AD&D 2nd edition won't bother me and the image below is one of my favorites. I think the biggest problem with cheesecake in the 80s and 90s is their ubiquity. A lot of young women didn't seem put off by the art in Vampire the Masquerade, some of which was pretty sexy, but I don't recall many instances of art that was just ridiculous. If a vampire woman looked sexy it made sense in the context of the picture whereas in D&D is very often did not.

View attachment 149062
I dunno man. The lacks of pants by the female ranger always bugged me in that picture. What happened to her pants. Did the dragon eat them? I notice that the female fighter's pants are torn. Was that a pants thief but only from females?
 

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Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Pfft! The vast majority of artists aren’t successful, period! That’s no secret.

I think that in the "recorded history" thing, you're wrong. Until the industrial revolution, most art was made by artisans, as part of practical use objects of daily life. That beautifully woven Navajo blanket? That's art. It isn't "art for art's sake", isn't independent of the wants and needs of other humans. Art, but also, you know, a useful blanket.

Handmade, Tolkien elvish script around the edge there, ought to be sitting on Bilbo Baggins' countertop. Totally art. Also totally made considering what the audience will think of it, specifically of a form to be displayed in your everyday life. Beautiful, nontheless. I'm happy to have found it at my local sci-fi convention art show.

1640791490154.png

It seems to me that this whole drive for artists to create without consideration of the audience is kind of bunk, and likely acts to put distance between the art and appreciation by normal humans.
 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
"You might not, but (for example) using elements from a culture’s or religion’s sacred ceremony for a pop video certainly displays a lack of respect."

Where does it end? Any and every movie portraying a religious figure is considered disrespectful in some way by someone. And every cartoon portraying native americans is considered disrespectful by someone else. Whose standard can one use?

There are currently active religious ceremony in my opinion which should be illegalized due to endangering newborns ie just because something is "sacred" does not make it, something to honor. The label is not magical.


Right(still leaves us without a standard), as when you cannot take their own definitions of what is disrespectful as that is highly suspect you are left speculating and applying your own ... (How can you golden rule based on their assertions?) what they consider disrespectful is often itself just a demand we "respect" their desire for others to conform to their issues, whether it is being in the closet to continue the example, or to refrain from using certain words or clothes worn or whatever. To me it is part of their disrespect ie the one where they want, others to conform to their religions limits. And its not like that desire never ends up entrenched in law, when it is allowed like the illegalization of polygamy by one sect in the guise of government or the existence of blasphemy laws (or even tadah on topic reference ones about obscenity/nudity) or deeper the effective illegalization of abortion by the evangelical church across the south.

Do I lump the "sacred" of both small and larger cultures together yes. Generally because they arent really different save as a question of scale. In either case, it involves granting them arbitrary power. I would rather give less of it to both "sacreds" and not see bibles being used as a magic ceremony in courtrooms for instance.

It is another form of the conundrum about tolerating intolerance ... don't.
Some situations simply can’t be resolved with an easy, clear-cut, one size fits all standard. They’re messy. So all you can do is either start from a position of respect or be prepared to deal with potential blowback.

Look at the historical discussion of using Native American culture for sports mascots in North America, for instance. You have some organizations that straight up lampoon First Nations people or use racist epithets as part of their suite of actions & images.

OTOH, other organizations have gone to the tribal leadership and actually asked if what they were doing was OK or not, and if not, what they could change.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
I think that in the "recorded history" thing, you're wrong. Until the industrial revolution, most art was made by artisans, as part of practical use objects of daily life. That beautifully woven Navajo blanket? That's art. It isn't "art for art's sake", isn't independent of the wants and needs of other humans. Art, but also, you know, a useful blanket.

Handmade, Tolkien elvish script around the edge there, ought to be sitting on Bilbo Baggins' countertop. Totally art. Also totally made considering what the audience will think of it, specifically of a form to be displayed in your everyday life. Beautiful, nontheless. I'm happy to have found it at my local sci-fi convention art show.

View attachment 149067

It seems to me that this whole drive for artists to create without consideration of the audience is kind of bunk, and likely acts to put distance between the art and appreciation by normal humans.
I’m making a distinction between craftsmen who are artists vs those we’d view as pure artists.*

Craftsmen who master their craft have definitely made an indelible mark in history. “Tony from Cremona” (Stradivarius) springs immediately to mind.

But history is also littered with canvases signed by names nobody cares about, and stories of impoverished masters whose greatness was not apparent to their contemporaries.



* and no, it’s not a bright-line distinction
 

Smackpixi

Explorer
The resources required to make art used to be rare, valuable, and the luxury of time to make art similarly rare and valuable, daily survival not so easy. Even artists famous and successful in their time, say Rembrandt, only had the luxury of doing side projects like self portraits because the dedicated most of their time performing for patrons. Say what you want about him and his contemporaries, other artists of the time, for peasants like we would have been then, the luxury of even a pencil and sheet of paper would have been just that, a luxury, a waste of resources better spent on an orange.

Just saying, sitting around and doodling whatever the hell you want is a recent invention.
 

Voadam

Legend
I dunno man. The lacks of pants by the female ranger always bugged me in that picture. What happened to her pants. Did the dragon eat them? I notice that the female fighter's pants are torn. Was that a pants thief but only from females?
The elf on the left? The brown on her legs are a distinctly different color than the skin on her neck and face, indicating to me that she is wearing leggings/tights/pants.

The female fighter's pants are more torn than the big guy's, but his has three clear claw mark tears as well. It looks like the two torso armored fighters were front line in melee with the dragon with no leg protection.
 

Smackpixi

Explorer
As to noods in game art, I mean, it’s a game, not a wall, not a museum, what are you making and for whom? Is it designed to be the most popular rpg of all time, maybe you fill it with pedestrian colorful art wherein people have their cloths on. You making something niche, with dice rolls for @#@! then sure, why not Heavy Metal or more. It’s ok to be naked. We’ll, some people don’t think so, but I do, it does matter when and why though. And chicks lying naked on a dais like treasure while some knife battle takes place in the other half of the room is always gonna be weird, but if that’s what you’re selling, ok. Just, I’m not buying that, cause that’s not the game I want to play.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
The difference being is that romance has never been a thing in DnD. There’s no rules for it. It’s barely mentioned in any game book. It’s almost never central to any storylines. And it is something you likely will never come across in a published work.

OTOH, pinup art at one time was pretty prevalent. Gracing covers of Dragon magazine and lots of interior art in game books.

So not quite the same thing.
In not quite sure I follow.

There are as many rules for romance/sex as there are for how much skin you show with your clothing.
 

MGibster

Legend
I dunno man. The lacks of pants by the female ranger always bugged me in that picture. What happened to her pants. Did the dragon eat them?
I don’t think she went into the fight wearing pants.


The elf on the left? The brown on her legs are a distinctly different color than the skin on her neck and face, indicating to me that she is wearing leggings/tights/pants.
I think the color difference is because her face is in the light and legs in shadow.
 




These things are sometimes hard to articulate if you dislike both sexism and prudery. And don't get me wrong, the former is obviously a far greater issue, but still. Especially in America nudity seems to always be associated with sex, and sexual themes are frowned upon far more than violence.

Funny anecdote from my time as a freelance illustrator for White Wolf's Exalted. They wanted an artwork of some beasmen preparing a human baby for food for a naked woman reclining on a divan, holding a heart (or perhaps a liver, I can't remember.) That was the description, that's what they wanted, I didn't invent this. So I drew the picture, containing the desired elements. They however asked me to tone down the nudity (which they had asked for) as the woman's crotch was (barely) visible. Baby eating was perfectly fine though!

Now nudity or sexual themes don't bother me. Granted, if done poorly, it will just seem tacky. Like the Avalanche Press covers. But thing's like Frazetta's art are of course just pure awesome. However, in this day and age, if such themes are depicted, there needs to be equality. The double standard of realistically armoured men and scantily clad women simply is not acceptable.

And of course such themes are not appropriate for every product. That should be obvious. I'm perfectly fine with the core D&D being pretty family friendly. But not everything needs or should be family friendly. There needs to be room for stuff like Exalted or Sword & Sorcery. And even in D&D Ravenloft must be allowed to do horror and people in Dark Sun to be scantily clad pulp adventurers. Just make sure that there are also pictures of musclebound warrior ladies protecting silk-thong-wearing lads in distress!
 
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S'mon

Legend
These things are sometimes hard to articulate if you dislike both sexism and prudery. And don't get me wrong, the former is obviously a far greater issue, but still. Especially in America nudity seems to always be associated with sex, and sexual themes are frowned upon far more than violence.

Funny anecdote from my time as a freelance illustrator for White Wolf's Exalted. They wanted an artwork of some beasmen preparing a human baby for food for a naked woman reclining on a divan, holding a heart (or perhaps a liver, I can't remember.) That was the description, that's what they wanted, I didn't invent this. So I drew the picture, containing the desired elements. They however asked me to tone down the nudity (which they had asked for) as the woman's crotch was (barely) visible. Baby eating was perfectly fine though!

Now nudity or sexual themes don't bother me. Granted, if done poorly, it will just seem tacky. Like the Avalanche Press covers. But thing's like Frazetta's art are of course just pure awesome. However, in this day and age, if such themes are depicted, there needs to be equality. The double standard of realistically armoured men and scantily clad women simply is not acceptable.

And of course such themes are not appropriate for every product. That should be obvious. I'm perfectly fine with the core D&D being pretty family friendly. But not everything needs or should be family friendly. There needs to be room for stuff like Exalted or Sword & Sorcery. And even in D&D Ravenloft must be allowed to do horror and people in Dark Sun to be scantily-clad pulp adventurers. Just make sure that there are also pictures of musclebound warrior ladies protecting silk-thong-wearing lads in distress!
I liked your post, but IME female players don't want their musclebound warrior ladies PCs protecting silk-thong-wearing lads in distress (maybe some gay male players might want musclebound warrior male PCs protecting silk-thong-wearing lads in distress, but I've not really seen this either). I definitely have seen (in S&S settings) female players play nearly nude musclebound warrior lady PCs, with scantily clad and attractive male youth NPCs as their sidekicks, but IME it's very important the youth be a brave, competent Gabrielle or (young) Iolalus type, someone worthy to bask in and reflect the glory of the PC. :)
 


Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
I want to have D&D inclusive to all, including children. I don't want my kids to think they have to bare all to properly play a barbarian.

D&D has been appealing to younger and younger audiences and I want that to continue, but when the game reminds me of an R-rated movie, it makes it harder to feel comfortable with children using it as a basis. Like how concerning it is for children to roleplay viciously violent scenes.
 


MGibster

Legend
But there are FAR more examples of gratuitously showing skin than any depictions of romance.
[Channeling Maxwell Smart]Would you believe that being unburdened by armor or conventional garments leaves her mobility intact allowing her to dart in and out of her opponent's reach making her a more effective combatant? No? Well, would you believe that she needs all that exposed skin in order to absorb the energy of the sun so she can photosynthesize? No. Well would you believe it's laundry day? [/Maxwell Smart]
 

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