Sunday, August 4, 2013

Rant: What the Hell Is It With PDFs and the "Artistic Watermarking" (or whatever the f' it's called)?

I hate, with a passion that burns, PDF gaming releases that have artwork behind the text. WTF do you call it? Watermarking? Layering? An eyesore? A waste of my printer's ink? All this and more?

I hated it when WotC did it and I hate it even more now. It does NOT make your product more useful. It does NOT make your product easier to read. It does NOT make you product a piece of art (real piece of work is more likely). It does NOT make it easier for me to print a handful of pages out at home for my own legal use without killing my printer.

The above example is from Numenera, but it could have been from any number of RPGs that have come down the pike over the last few years.

Really makes a PDF much less useful than it should be.

Save the wicked annoying art shit behind the text for the printed version. In truth, I hate it there too, but at least I expect it there.

Maybe there are ways to turn off the layers, but I dont see it.

Whatever happened to KISS?


  1. I'm not to fond of that either. At least some of them keep it really light so it's a bit easier on the eyes. I remember the D&D 3rd edition core books with the lines behind the writing. It made my eyes hurt after a few pages.

  2. I thought it a wildly amazing innovation on the part of the Carcosa guy that you could turn all the art layers off for just f'ing printing it out.

    I yoinksed it for my own philosophy.

  3. I cannot stand it either, I tend to read most things on a tablet, and usually zoomed as well. Guess my old eyes are not what they used to be.

  4. Proselytizing to the Temple Singers...

  5. They do it because they can. Seems the Japanese principle in art design of balance and simplicity is a great mystery to many graphic designers.

  6. "Maybe there are ways to turn off the layers, but I dont see it."

    It depends from the pdf. If it allows you to manage layers you can see an icon on the left (Adobe Reader) above or below Page/Bookmark/etc. icons.

  7. I think they own the copy you purchase your printer's ink from.

    It definitely distracts from reading. I can certainly do without it. As an avid reader, I prefer black print on white paper . . . thank you very much!

  8. Sorry, meant to say "company," the "company" you purchase your ink from.

  9. turning off should be possible but not usually set up as option - i like white space - its how i found everything in 1st ed by space around spells ans stuff - for a book you use all the time it is painful - over design has made dnd 3+ unreadable for me - borders hat just used to reduce page area one of my pet hates - many games i looked at then rejected because of deliberate space waste and overdesign - good 80s design more like text books

  10. I often feel the same way about blogs with black backgrounds and light colored fonts. :) (Your's actually isn't that bad though.)

    1. Interesting. I like contrasted blogs, as long as there is the right ratio - no matter if the backgrounds light or dark, as long as the contrast is right.
      And, PDF-wise, I really like the kinda thing, where the text is free from background bullshit, but there is some art on the borders, fading out. Of course, I generally don't print my PDFs...

  11. Not only is the froo-froo art backgrounds a printer ink hog, the PDF files, which could be just a few megs, balloons up to a gig or two due to all of the embedded color artwork. My tablet chokes to death on these. Designers, take heed.

  12. Is the PDF at least layered?

    Eclipse Phase had tons of art some layered like this, the thing was that you could turn it off, either for quicker loading times, easier reading or most importantly printing.

  13. Formatting aside, since this means you have a copy of Numenera does this mean we can expect a review soon? I want to know if this game lives up to the hype.

  14. Nothing beats the textured white paper and black ink of the 1E books. That stuff looks as good today as it did 30 years ago!

  15. If this was done in InDesign there is no excuse for not having backgrounds as a separate layer. I honestly don't see the benefit to having all of the color and glossy crap that plagues the gaming industry these days. Don't get me started on horrible margins that are WAY to wide (page count bloat) with bright colors that fight for your eyes attention. I am reading this damn thing and trying to find info quickly!

  16. I hate it too, in print editions and especially, most painfully in PDFs. I often tempted to -buy- beg borrow or _steal_ software that will allow me to dismantle PDFs and delete such nuisance clutter.


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