Kickstarter Lesson #160: The Main Project Image

17 August 2015 | 19 Comments

main image with logosIf I met with you for the first time wearing either a crisp, clean, button-down dress shirt or a ketchup-stained, unwashed, torn t-shirt, would my choice of clothing impact your initial impression of me?

Most likely it would. First impressions are incredibly important. That’s why the main project image–the first thing backers see when browsing on Kickstarter or arriving at your project page–is arguably the most important image you’ll create for the campaign.

When preparing your project image, you should read this post by Tyler James at ComixTribe. It’s a fantastic article with lots of great examples, and it’s the inspiration for several of the points I’ll make below.

Here are the top 10 things you should keep in mind when designing your project image:

  1. The main project image should be distinctive, iconic, and attractive. Use an image that represents the thing you’re trying to create, not just a logo.
  2. As with all art and graphic design, hire a professional! Do not attempt to do this yourself. Your dream is worth the expense of hiring someone to make your project look as attractive to backers as possible.
  3. Use a high-resolution PNG image at a 4:3 aspect ratio. Kickstarter recommends an image of “at least 1024×576 pixels. It will be cropped to a 16:9 ratio.”
  4. Keep it clean–don’t make your project image look like a race car covered in lots of banners and badges. I recommend limiting these types of additions to shipping icons and duration. If you want to add more icons over the course of the project, remove older icons. Other options for icons are those that tell people how quickly the project funded or those that highlight the core reward price.
  5. 2015-08-17_1056Place important text off-center, as the middle will be covered up by the “play” button for the project video.
  6. Any text on the image should be big enough to read on the project thumbnail, not just on the project page. You can test this out when creating your project.
  7. You can change the project image over the course of the project (you might want to use this space for special announcements at key times), but keep the core image the same so it’s not confusing to backers.
  8. Backers can’t easily determine the length of the project when they arrive at a project page, but they generally tend to assume it’s a 30-day project. So if you’re running a shorter campaign, newcomers might think you’re struggling at the halfway point of the project when really it’s only been live for a day or two. Jason Glover suggested the clever idea of including “Day X of Y” (see Scythe example above) on the project image, updating it daily so there’s no confusion as to how long the project is and how much time remains.
  9. If it’s a tabletop game project, I recommend using an image of the box (a 3D render or a photo). As one of our ambassadors, Craig Moore, says, “Seeing a box makes it feel more like a real tabletop game.”
  10. Near the end of the project, add a note to the upper left of the project image that shows potential backers how much bigger and better your product is now compared to Day 1. For example:

main image with sketches

I’d love to hear your thoughts about the project image. If you have an example of a project image that is particularly compelling to you, feel free to share a link in the comments.

Also read: Anatomy of a Great Kickstarter Project Page

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19 Comments on “Kickstarter Lesson #160: The Main Project Image

  1. Is the image of Fantasy Football intended as a warning of how things can look with the play button covering them? Because its probably a good thing to beat in mind.

  2. Hi Jamey! Thank you so much for this and the whole series. I am barely half-way through but the amount of knowledge you have imparted already is incredible. I hope you’re not bored of hearing that yet!

    Btw – I noticed a small error above you might want to correct. Tiny thing – point 3 says: “Use a high-resolution PNG image at a 4:3 aspect ratio. James suggests aiming for 1920 x 1140”
    I assume that’s *1440* not *1140* for 4:3? Cheers!

      1. I was just on Kickstarter and it says, “Your image should be at least 1024×576 pixels. It will be cropped to a 16:9 ratio.” Elsewhere on the internet, someone recommends “an image that is 1920 x 1140, 300 DPI, PNG,” so I’m guessing that’s where your original 1140 came from.

        In other words, it’s supposed to be a 16:9 ratio, not 4:3, so your original writing of 1920 x 1140 was right. Is that correct?

  3. Jamey: thanks for article, as always very good one!

    I compared Scythe’s image and Euphoria’s image. What do you prefer now? Do you prefer to go for a simple and clean image like Scythe or go for Euphoria’s more complicated image showing all the components?

    1. Mateusz: I think my ideal image is one that is clean, but it features the most visually exciting component in the foreground. Euphoria’s image has been updated since the original project, where it was just a 3D box (Kickstarter lets you update the main project image even after the campaign ends).

  4. One thing that you didn’t explicitly mention, but is largely covered by having a professional do the image, is to remember to keep contrast in mind. I have seen several projects across Kickstarter, not just in board games, that I can barely tell what the project image is due to the color choices or lack of distinguishing shapes. It isn’t going to drive me away from a project, but it isn’t going to bring me to your page on a good note. Coming to a page already excited or interested is going to make me much more likely to back a project than if I am already grumbling when I arrive.

  5. Thanks for the mention. I agree on all counts. I always try and use a white backdrop and a really nice box rendering. I keep the text to a minimum on the main image as well. Maybe the base price and days in the campaign.

    More importantly, when is scythe going live?

  6. I agree, using a box as an image makes me think “Wow, this could be a real game!” I only back campaigns that look professional–having messy artwork and typos makes me think the creator hasn’t put much thought into the project.

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