Standard Stock Art: Issue 1 - Places and Locations is the first product in the Standard Stock Art line of products from Small Niche Games. Each product in the series contains a selection of stock art, in this instance of places and locations for any campaign genre, and a license agreement whereby these images can be used in products or websites. All illustrations are by Rick Hershey.
The product comes as a single zip file that contains the license for using the images, as well as two interior zip files that contains the images. The first zip file contains 9 images of places and locations, while the second contains a bonus set of images of random items such as rings and potion vials or bottles. The images contained in this product are all black and white, 600 dpi TIF images that come in an assortment of 1/4 and 1/2 page formats when printed. The license incidentally also allows modification of the images contained in the product, as well as contains legal and usage guidelines.
Places and Locations contains nine images along with a selection of bonus images. These images can be used in modern, fantasy, or science fiction areas, although some locations will be more suitable to certain genres than others. The images contained include the following - a dark cave, an inn (house or tavern), a garden path (lane with trees), a blacksmith shop (for modern genres), burial ruins, a woodland path, a mountain path, the deck of a ship (fantasy or pre-industrial times modern), and a second dark cave. The bonus images include mundane or magical rings, pendants, a treasure chest, a lock tool set and several bottles, vials or potions.
My initial impressions of this product were that the art was good, and the artist had shown some creativity and imagination in putting the stock art images together. As black and white images, without any significant greyscale, they can appear quite flat and lack depth, but the artist has done a satisfactory job of overcoming this restriction. In some places the lack of greyscale means the image appears darker than it should be - rather than throwing a shadow, it's plain black. This also means that in some place it's hard to discern exactly what you're looking at, particularly if you take a quick glance at some of the cave images that are meant to be dark. The images are very detailed, down to the finest features, making for a more realistic and thorough image altogether. In the bonus items there's quite a bit of variety as well, making the images overall more useful. The high resolution means that these images can be used over the gaming table as well for props and the like.
Overall, I think many people will find these images useful, particularly because they are cross genre, and given some of the variety in the images. They will make useful additions to any product or website, although the lack of greyscale does hurt the depth of the image in places. Generally, good quality artwork at high resolution, with wide utility.
[3 of 5 Stars!]