==== v1.1, updated 10/16 ====
CSO Artist FAQ
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Older Paint Schemes
Canonizations and NDA
Assembly of Minis
Interpretations of Schemes
Matters of Ettiquette
-------------- Quality control ----------
Q: How does quality control (QC) work on CSO?
A: When you upload a picture to the ACP, other artists can look at it
(also through the ACP) and start a QC thread if there is a problem. In
this thread, all QC issues should be resolved before the mini is released
for public viewing.
Q: Is quality control optional?
A: No. Every artist gets a chance to inspect every other artist's work.
If someone raises a concern, it should be dealt with in some manner (e.g.,
corrected if it's really a problem, or justified if it's not).
Q: Wait, so I'm expected to review other artists' work?
A: Yes. Anything that gets publicly posted on CSO reflects upon all of the artists. You should look through the Scheduled Minis in the ACP at least once a week, and check them for any problems. This is part of being a good contributing member to CSO, but there is no penalty for not doing it; you are on your honor.
Q: What sort of QC "problems" are we talking about here?
A: Basically, anything that makes the mini not worthy of posting on CSO. This includes:
<li> Poor quality artwork
<li> Incorrect assembly of the mini
<li> Bad mold lines on the mini
<li> Errors in the paint scheme
<li> Bad photo quality (focus, lighting, etc)
<li> Anything else you find issue with
Q: What do I do if other artists ask me to pull a picture?
A: Well, you should pull it if they have a good reason. If possible,
you should correct the problem, reshoot the photo and post it back up when
you get a chance. Of course, if you disagree that it needs to be pulled then
you should explain why on the QC forum. In general, if several artists think
it needs to be pulled, it probably does: the general public may notice the
same thing that those artists did.
------ Unseen and things we can't use -----------
Q: What minis can I <b>not</b> post to CSO?
A: You can only post Classic Battletech miniatures that are not "unseen". You can't use minis (or pieces of minis) from other game lines such as CAV.
Q: What about the left arm for the original sculpt Banshee? It looks like an unseen Warhammer arm, but the Banshee is not unseen.
A: That's right, and IWM still produces the part. It looks very similar, but it is slightly different. For now it's ok.
Q: What about the original version of the Jenner IIC or the 3058 version of the Longbow? There are reseen versions of these, but I didn't think they were unseen.
A: The Jenner IIC is unseen, though as of 2007 IWM still sells the original sculpt. It is best not to use that one. The reseen Longbow is replacing the "unseen" Longbow art, not the 3058 art. Either the reseen or 3058 version of the Longbow is ok.
Q: Can I use a "reseen" mini to represent and "unseen" 'Mech? For example, there's a unit I want to do that only has access to one variant of the Archer, the 3025-era ARC-2R. Can I use the reseen sculpt to represent it?
A: No, not at this time. Unfortunately, this means it is difficult for us to represent many 3025 designs on this site.
-------- Older paint schemes ------------
Q: Can we paint dead units, like the 11th Lyran Guard?
A: Technically yes, but they are very low priority. Dead units go to the bottom of our priority list, with longer dead units having even lower priority. If you find a long-dead unit in the fiction, we'd rather you painted something current instead (note that this is a "soft" rule). If the unit shows up in our list of unrepresented schemes, it is certainly fair game to paint.
With the current direction of CBT including the Jihad, many more units will soon be dead but you can still paint them.
Q: But we made a section for Clan Smoke Jaguar years after the whole faction was wiped out. Isn't that an exception?
A: It sure is. Sometimes we will have special projects like canonizing the Clan Smoke Jaguar schemes to cover some dead units. As previously mentioned, we can do dead units but normally we give priority to the unrepresented "current" units.
Q: Can we do obsolete paint schemes, such as the old style DBOG?
A: In general the answer is "no," though at some point in the future we may have a section for historicals. For now, stick to the most current version of the scheme.
Q: What about Clan Wolverine?
A: We won't touch that unless Randall gives us permission at some point.
Q: What if they change the scheme for a unit? Do we have to pull down the minis we already had posted in that scheme?
A: No. Often the new scheme is an evolution, not a retcon, allowing both schemes to co-exist (with proper notes) on CSO. If a retcon were to occur, it would certainly cause us a conundrum. We'll deal with it when it arises.
Q: What about extremely obscure units that were only mentioned by name once or twice in the write-up of other units? An example is the Thermo Police. Are these fair game for painting (or canonization if no scheme exists)?
A: Not generally. We may be able to address these things as a special project with Randall's permission, but for now stick to the units that actually have an important role in the CBT universe. In this sense, "important" means having a dedicated description in one of the source books.
-------- Canonizations and NDA ------------
Q: What is an "NDA"?
A: It is a non-disclosure agreement between a person and Wizkids / Catalyst Game Labs. It is a legal document that sets up terms for the person to be granted access to confidential information, and describes restrictions put on that person in return. If a person were to expose information covered by an NDA to the public, it could harm the company financially and the person involved would be held liable. Wizkids / Catalyst Game Labs will often require an NDA for people such as playtesters to work on product development.
Q: What is the CamoSpecs NDA for?
A: It grants the artist access to upcoming product information, and allows CSO to help develop official CBT material such as paint schemes featured in new products. There are a set of forums on CSO for people who have signed the NDA, where we discuss involvement in these projects (e.g., <i>Mercenaries Supplemental</i> 1 and 2, <i>Total Warfare</i>, etc.).
ALL CSO artists <u>MUST</u> have an NDA on file.
Q: Is the NDA needed for an artist to develop a paint scheme for a unit with no canon scheme?
A: Yes, you are helping to define future CBT product. Your draft work and the discussion of it leading up to canonization are covered under the NDA.
Q: How many schemes do I get to canonize?
A: Our current policy is that every artist that joins CSO and has signed an NDA may canonize one scheme. Furthermore, for every two previously unrepresented schemes an artist posts to the site, that artist is granted the privelidge of submitting another scheme for canonization. Note that this policy will only hold so long as there are canon units without canon schemes.
Q: Can I immediately start canonizing things, or is there a trial period for NDA?
A: We would like a new CSO artist to interact with us and participate in painting for about 3-6 months before getting involved in canonizations or special projects. However, as of now this is not a hard rule.
Q: Do I need to be a Battletech expert in order to canonize a scheme?
A: Not necessarily. However, you <b>do</b> need to have a good understanding of what types of schemes are already out there, as well as a good feel for the background and styles of the faction and unit you want to create a scheme for. If you don't have the basic background, you are not yet ready to canonize anything for the CBT universe.
Q: How much do I need to know about a unit before I canonize a scheme for it? I figure I should be able to do it just based on the unit's name.
A: You need to do some amount of research first. At a very minimum, you need to have read that unit's write-up in the appropriate Field Manual or Merc Supplemental. You should also read up on background material for the faction the unit is from. Given this info, you should try to make an appropriate scheme. For example, if the unit description says "This unit is very conservative and prefers stealth operations" you should avoid bright, flambouyant schemes. If the faction description says "All units in this faction use black, gray, and blue paint schemes" then you should restrict yourself to that palette.
Q: What should canonized write-ups look like? I mean, how long are they and in what format?
A: In general, keep them short and concise (50 words max). For terminology, you should refer to the CBT authors' style guide http://www.battlecorps.com/BC2/static.php?page=15. As an example, it is <i>'Mech</i>, and not <i>Mech</i>, <i>'mech</i>, or <i>mech</i>. When describing your colors, use standard terms (e.g., "light" green, "dark" brown) whenever possible. If there's a more precise color you want, try to be as descriptive as possible but avoid brand names or modern references. For example, "blood red" would be fine, but avoid "Vallejo Bright Red" or "McDonalds red".
Q: Randall's going to edit my canonization text, right?
A: Probably not. Though he reserves the right to do so, Randall seldom modifies submissions. This means that it is <b>your job</b> to make sure that the text is typo-free and as good as possible before you submit it. Get the help of other CSO artists to make the wording as good as possible.
Q: Where can I learn more about canonizations?
A: Here is a thread about the rules and procedures for canonizing: http://www.camospecs.com/Forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2608
-------- Ownership of the images --------
Q: Who owns the pics of my minis?
A: You do. This means that you have the right to pull down any pic
you've posted to CSO whenever you want to. However, we ask that you
be considerate and only pull pictures down if there is a problem with them.
Q: So if I need to pull down lots (or all) of my minis, I could do that?
A: Yes, though you should never need to do that.
Q: Who owns the pics for NDA stuff I do?
A: If you submit pics for an NDA project such as <i>Total Warfare</i>, Wizkids / Catalyst Game Labs owns those pics as soon as you send them. You surrender all rights to those pictures by submitting them to Catalyst for consideration and review.
Q: You said an NDA is needed to canonize schemes. Does this mean Wizkids / Catalyst Game Labs owns the pics I send in for canonization?
A: When you canonize a scheme, it's the text that you are actually submitting. The pictures you send are just to illustrate it. You still own the pictures you send in.
------ Assembling Minis ------------
Q: How important is it that I assemble minis correctly?
A: It is extremely important. We will not post incorrectly assembled minis on CSO.
Q: Can I modify minis?
A: Sure. When you post the mini, explain what the mod is in the comment box, so our readers can see what's different between this mini and the original version. You can custom-build components, but you cannot use pieces from other game lines (e.g., CAV).
Q: If I have a complicated mini, how do I figure out how to assemble it?
A: Usually, you can look at the TRO art with a critical eye and figure out
how the mini goes together. If there's an example of that mini on CSO already, it will (hopefully) be assembled correctly. Alternately, you can ask people here or on other
fan sites (<a href="http://www.classicbattletech.com">CBT</a> and <a href="http://www.lordsofthebattlefield.com>LOTB</a> are good choices).
Q: You didn't mention IWM's website. Should I look there?
A: IWM's website is infamous for having misassembled minis. However, we are working with them to improve their catalog.
Q: How does the PPC on the Black Knight's arm go?
A: The barrel of the PPC should be perpendicular to the upper arm. You'll see
that the piece fits better that way, and matches all of the canon art (e.g.,
TRO 2750, TRO 3025 revised, Fall of Terra, etc.). This is frequently done incorrectly, with the barrel parallel to the arm. If the right arm was cast bent at
the elbow (as it appears in all the art) instead of straight, the correct assembly would be obvious. Update: the art in <i>TRO 3050 updates</i> shows the Black Knight with the gun parallel to the upper arm, so there is now a canon precedent for assembling it that way too.
---------- Interpreting Paint schemes --------
Q: How much freedom do I have in interpreting paint schemes?
A: This is a hard one to answer because it must necessarily be vague. You have the freedom to choose any details that are not specified. In general, this means you get to decide the color of the numbers, the patterns for "highlights", etc. You can choose the details you like, such as hazard stripes and checkers.
Q: What takes precendence, published text descriptions or published pictures?
A: At CSO, our policy is that the text takes precedence. Usually, the text and pics match but there are some cases where they don't and this causes a conundrum for us.
Q: What if the text is vague, but the actual pictures are very specific? For example, FM:LA says the Lyran Guards are simply "blue and white" and FM:FS says
the Davion Brigade of Guards are "red, white, and blue striped". Can I pick thepattern of the stripes?
A: This is another subtle point. In general, you have as much freedom as the text gives you. However, with certain well-known and highly published schemes, you need to follow the established pattern. In the case of the Lyran Guards, the scheme is blue with about a third of the torso white on the right side, the outer half of the right leg white, and portions of the right arm white (see the old CamoSpecs book or FM:LA). For DBOG, the 3025 scheme is blue with a thin red and white stripe running down the left torso and left leg (see the old Camospecs book). The modern
DBOG scheme has a red strip down the center, white stripes on either sides, and blue stripes on the outside (see FM:FS).
Q: How much flexibility do I have in color choice? For example, how much leeway do I have in the "pale blue" called for by Lyran Militia?
A: Use your best artistic judgement. Pale Blue is not Dark Blue, and it is not Gray. It's somewhere in between, which could be anything from a light blue-gray to sky blue. If you aren't familiar with a term, look around on the internet or in an art store for examples (but keep in mind that different people will have different definitions for the same color).
Q: Do I have to use decals for insignia?
A: The artist is free to use decals or hand-paint insignia, as long as the final product looks good. Note that if you want to use decals but can't afford the ones you need, you may be able to trade with other artists to get what you need.
Q: Are there restrictions on insignia placement?
A: Please see this thread: (http://www.camospecs.com/forum/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=2103). In general, it is suggested (but not mandatory) that you at least put faction insignia on your work (numbers, warning stripes, etc are not required). For other insignia, the only thing that makes sense is that insignia are required when the reference material specify where they go. For example, the 4th Marik Militia specify the MM crest goes on the left arm, and the 4th MM logo goes on the CT. The House Marik logo is optional, and the artist can choose its location freely.
---------------- General Questions ----------------
Q: How many minis can I paint in a specific scheme? I have a battalion of 1st Genyosha I want to put up.
A: You can paint as many as you like, but you can only put up to 5 minis for a given scheme. CSO is a gallery for units, not your personal gallery. The exception to this is the upcoming large unit gallery, where the specific intent is to show a large number of units from one or more units.
Q: Only 5 minis for a given scheme? Surely we have more disk space than that!
A: The limit of 5 is to prevent an artist from watering down the site. We want to show diversity, so we'd prefer a few samples from many artists. An artist can convey their style clearly with only a few minis. Furthermore, when a user clicks on a unit, they will typically only view a few images. If one artist has 36 minis for a unit and everyone else has only 1 or 2, it is unlikely that the users will even see the alternate interpretations.
Q: How many pictures can I put up of each mini I paint?
A: You can use 1-3 pics per mini. You should never need more than 3 to show all angles of a single work, and limiting it at 3 prevents a lot of redundant pics that take up disk space and clutter up the site.
Q: Is there a minimum frequency that I can post minis? Am I going to get kicked out of the Artists' group if I don't paint anything for a few months?
A: No. We respect your right to work only when inspired. We do NOT want people posting sub-par work just to meet some sort of volume requirement. We certainly like it best when you're more active, but there will be no requirements for you to do so.
Q: Does it matter what mini I put a paint job on?
A: Yes, both the class and specific type matter. At CSO, we try to only present 'Mech or vehicle types that are plausible in a given unit or faction. Some units will call for specific classes (e.g., "only hovercraft" or "no assault 'Mechs), and these should be followed as closely as possible. There are sometimes also restrictions on specific types of minis (e.g., Inner Sphere units typically do not have access to Clan designs). However, we do NOT attempt to show the "most representative" 'Mech type for a given unit.
Use of the faction list (see Combat Ops or look online at http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~lacasse/factionlist/) is strongly encouraged, though not mandatory. Alternately, any of the published Random Unit Assignment tables (e.g., in the FMs or BMR) are good sources for what should go in each faction. The reason that the faction list isn't mandatory is that there are tons of instances in the fiction where a unit will field a 'Mech it shouldn't normally have, and these are fine for CSO as long as the unit could plausibly get that 'Mech somehow. Note that the "plausibility" test includes equipment from a faction's current or former enemies by way of battlefield salvage, which is pretty common in the Battletech universe.
Q: What do I do with units who only use "Appropriate Camo" instead of a parade scheme? I could paint them many different ways, and I see that there is also a generic camo section. Where do I put them?
A: It depends on the circumstances:
<li> If the unit uses "appropriate camo" but also some other characteristic detail (e.g., Tooth of Ymir), put your minis under the unit's header as normal.
<li>If the unit just has appropriate camo, with no other distinctive elements, then the artist can submit one mini for that scheme under the heading. All other entries go in the Camo section.
Q:Where do we go for references about cockpit location? Where does it go on the Blood Kite or Hunchback?
A: Start with the TRO picture, and analyze it for a while. This will answer most questions. For ones that aren't clear, look for what we have on CSO and ask around. There is open debate on the Assassin, Blood Kite, and Hunchback because different artwork seems to show it in different places. TPTB haven't pinned the location down on these units.
---- Image Requirements ----
Q: What size images should I upload?
A: Maximum width is 450 pixels, and the file size should be less than 100k. You should be able to get a great-looking picture to come in around 30k.
Q: What about thumbnail sizes?
A: Use 100x100 pixels. Be sure your image is perfectly square or it will be distorted.
-------------- Matters of Ettiquette ----------
Q: When can I post my minis elsewhere on the internet?
A: Technically, whenever you want to. However, we prefer that you not post them until they are available to the public on CSO. We like to "premier" new art here as a feature for our visitors, and this is less interesting if the pics have appeared elsewhere.
Q: Can I talk about things from the Artists' Forum elsewhere on the internet?
A: Absolutely not. The artists need a place where they can discuss ideas, CSO policies, etc away from the public. By sharing these discussions with others, it ruins the confidentility that the forums were made to create. Don't even share comments about which artists don't get along; if it's on the Artists Forum, it is only for the CSO artists and no one else. You are explicitly prohibited from discussing NDA-related things elsewhere as part of the terms of NDA.
Q: Are there restrictions about what I say on other Forums?
A: Yes. By joining CSO, you are become a part of the CBT development community. If you contribute to a book, you will be listed in the Credits. Anything you say from the point you join will reflect on the CBT establishment in general. You are still free to have and air your opinion, but you will need to be more careful about it. Do not share any details about CBT or CSO development activities or plans with the public. Do not publicly air your disagreements about specific CBT or CSO policies. Refrain from anything that can be construed as overly emotional or "flaming" in public. And finally, try to be as polite and professional as possible when dealing with the public. Also remember that there are a number of staff forums beyond CSO that are private, and any of those forums, including CSO, are an appropriate area to vent your frustration. Provided you don't attack another person on the development or volunteer teams, we would prefer to have your frustrations vented in private instead of public. Additionally, it improves the odds of the issue actually being addressed.