As I write this, Lauren and I are ramping up on sharing new card art for Deck of Wonders! It's really fun to reveal the final art for all of cards, especially because there is months of work behind each one. Most of that hard work has been Lauren's, but the biggest contribution I've made was probably writing a strong brief for each piece of art up front. I have a 10 year background in brand strategy, and I thought it might be useful to share the template I used when writing those briefs.
Here is a link to the brief template, and you're more than welcome to take it and modify it for your needs! Here's a brief outline of each element:
Set: This was mostly a wayfinding piece of information. I wanted Lauren to be able to easily see what part of the game each card "belonged" to.
Card Name: Self-explanatory.
Dimensions/Framing: What size will the physical piece be, and what framing/layout does the art need to fit? You can usually do this once for all cards of the same size/layout, but it never hurts to keep that info top of mind, especially if you have multiple layouts or sizes.
Stats: All the functional information that needs to be on the card. Obviously customize to your game.
Gameplay: Context for the mechanical impact the card has on the game. Things like “this card will be used defensively” or “the effect is super powerful, but highly situational” or “I want the player to feel terrified when they turn over this card” can all inform the way the art comes to life.
Flavor: All the lore, ideas, and specific visual instructions surrounding the art. Link to lots of reference images, and be clear on any must-haves. Overall, though, focus on giving the artist lost of hooks and jumping-off points to create from.
Other: I’m a big believer in leaving room on any template for important stuff that doesn’t fit anywhere else on the template. There’s always something that defies categorization!
And that's everything! If it seems simple, great! Especially when you're briefing several pieces of art at once, it's important to keep these briefs digestible. Would love thoughts on how you've gone about briefing, what's been most useful, and how you might customize this brief template even further.