With a little planning and organization, anyone can host their own art gallery website.
DreamGrafix is a growing online gallery that specializes in manga, 3-D art, and fantasy art. Within each section, there is the option of viewing by newest submissions or all artists. The manga and fantasy sections also have a series option, where you can find dragons, mythology art, or fan art for popular anime and manga series.
The site also features a new contest every 45 days for each section, where the members and visitors of the site vote on their favorites. Winners are featured on the front page news, as well as listed in the Hall of Fame section.
The site boasts a lot of interactivity, as members are encouraged not only join contests and to vote for their favorite art, but to join the DreamGrafix affiliate program, post to the site’s discussion forum, and comment on artwork. However, the only comments I saw on the artwork came from the site’s founder and moderator. This is encouraging in a way because it shows how involved she is with the site, but other member comments would help the site’s community aspect.
DreamGrafix’s current design works well enough for the size, although there could be improvements. The neutral color scheme helps make the artwork stand out, but the layout is very busy. Links are at the top, bottom, and to the left, making for an extremely cramped viewing area. While this is fine for reading the text based pages, it is impossible to view any of the artwork without scrolling down and sometimes to the side. I’m running at 1024x768, so I feel sorry for anyone trying to navigate through here using a smaller resolution.
One of the things I like about the site is that each piece of artwork is posted with the “Method of Making” and the reason why the artist did the piece. However, this information is only on the thumbnail section, and not with the full-size image. The images themselves are only posted with any comments left by viewers, and the voting buttons. It gets a bit tedious to view the art, as you have to keep clicking back and forth between the thumbnails and the full image. There are no “next” and “previous” buttons to help you out, even within individual artist pages.
There were a few things I found annoying. First, when you go to visit any of the art sections, you are greeted with a list of the rules for posting art. While it is a good idea to have this information ready for everyone, I would rather be seeing a list of artists there or thumbnails of the newest works. At the very least, the sub-sections should be what are highlighted here.
Another feature I don’t like are the extremely large contest winner badges that go directly over part of the image thumbnail. This is probably to get people to click and view the entire picture, but sometimes the badge covers half of the image content – not encouraging for viewing.
Finally, some of the images have www.dream-grafix.com emblazoned across the front of them. I don’t typically like watermarks in general, and while these do only cover a small, unimportant part of the image, I’m not sure why the website has the watermark and not the artist.
All in all, I think the site is off to a good start. Improvements could be made, but one can tell that the site moderator is working on those things. Hopefully with the upcoming redesign a few of the problem issues will be addressed.
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