2009 Layout Contest Results!

 Announcing the winners of the 2009 Layout Contest. Thanks to our participants! We saw some some common ideas and some unique vision in each entries. Each needed a bit more polish — very understandable given the tough constraints of the contest.
The judges’ criteria were as follows:
  1. (40%) Information Design: Consistency, usability, & readability.
  2. (20%) Art Direction: Selection of artwork, contextual placement, cover design, overall vision, and original art or artwork modfications
  3. (20%) Use of Typography: Readability, composition, and “color”
  4. (20%) Aesthetic Appeal: Conveys color & atmosphere of the game, pleasing to look at

1st place: José Jiménez

Jose Jimenez cover
José Jiménez cover
Jose Jimenez layout
José Jiménez layout
Jose Jimenez character sheet
José Jiménez character sheet

Judges Comments

  • Has the design basics, but needs a few more passes. The Mouseguard size is an interesting choice, but doesn’t bring much to the layout. That said, there is a lot of promise in the layout overall and is just steps away from being cooked to perfection.
  • In general, composition of the interior pages is open and organized, it breathes. Good. Styles use strong contrast to set off sections of text. Folios on bottom are helpful. In general, use  of illustrations is effective and contextual. Creative cropping sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.
  • This person has a reasonable sense of design and a basic knowledge of layout programs. The layout shows promise.


  • Agon by John Harper
  • Dust Devils by Matt Snyder
  • Mouse Guard by Luke Crane
  • A print of artwork from Conspiracy of Shadows by Keith Senkowski
  • 2nd place: Micah Bauer

    Micah Bauer cover
    Micah Bauer cover
    Micah Bauer layout
    Micah Bauer layout
    Micah Bauer character sheet
    Micah Bauer character sheet

    Judges comments:

    • This entry is killed by random styles and page breaks with little consideration to the readability of the document. Nothing is seamless here. Some fluff, but no fire.
    • Nice work on the cover. While I like the texture of the interior pages, the layout lacks more helpful architecture. It has no folios or guides, which will make the reference-heavy text more readable and useful for players. Watch orphans, particularly on subheadings and headings.
    • This person looked at Mouse Guard and built a layout based on its form and look. They built four, maybe five, style sheets and then blindly (and blandly applied them throughout). This entrant has overlooked the crucial art of layout — to take all the parts that don’t fit and make them look seamless and readable. 

    3rd place: Bill Brown

    Bill Browne covers (Bill split the lifepaths into a separate book)
    Bill Browne covers (Bill split the lifepaths into a separate book)
    Bill Browne layout
    Bill Browne layout
    Bill Browne character sheet
    Bill Browne character sheet

    Judges comments:

    • It was a solid effort. Tried to layout the entire book to make it follow a single theme. Lacked nuance, but the effort was solid.
    • The general layout of the interior pages is dense — needs more room to “breathe.” Notably, the gutter — the space between columns, needs more room, as do the margins. Also, I like the colored boxes for player reference, but they need more padding between text and box edges.
    • This guy really tried. He tinkered with the layout for the whole book and really tried to make it work as a whole. The artistry is lacking, but the effort is clear and appreciated.

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