Alce joined Oct 5, 2012

I tend to stare into space when I'm trying to think of ideas... Me? I'm a novice indie game dev currently working on Fountain of Life, a game where you only have seconds left to live and must gather the souls of the dead to survive.

Report article RSS Feed Fountain of Life DevLog #13: Looking for a art style

Posted by AlceX on Aug 3rd, 2013

This month I worked on two things: deciding the game's art style and a new prototype. I'll be uploading a video demonstrating the gameplay of the prototype tomorrow, or you can play it here. But, in this devlog I'll concentrate on the art style.

One of the things I had clear from the beginning of the game was that I wanted to have an art style that stood out, something that made people want to know more about the game simply by looking at screenshots. Doing traditional art was one step in the right direction, but it needed more than that. So, I've been trying to develop a style that's nice and feasible. Here's what I have so far.

Drawing Style

My original intention was to aim for something realistic-ish, but after a while I realized two things: there's no way I'll manage to make all the game assets in this style without taking forever, and my skill are far from good enough to draw in a style like this. So I started looking for inspiration. I wanted to switch to something simpler, but avoid doing anything that looked too cartoonish or unserious. I eventually started to look at the art style of Sword and Sworcery.

Sword and Sworcery.

After seeing it I started to play around with different ideas. I didn't really want to do something like S&S, but it managed to be simple and serious, so it captured what I wanted. Eventually by sketching and drawing, I reached this:

Art style tests.

At first look it doesn't really look like it tries to be simple, but if you look closer there are things that have no intention of being realistic at all, like the legs and arms. I've been liking this style so far for three main reasons: it's easy for me to draw it quickly, it still looks like people, and most importantly, it gives me wiggle space; since it's somewhat undefined, I can do messy things that'll still look right since it'll be coherent with the style.
I haven't really tested how it looks like in action, but I feel like it's going to be fine.

Coloring Style

My comic Encounters.

This is the only thing I had a better idea of from the start. I used to draw a comic in Japanese manga -like style, so I was comfortable with using a ink pen and grayscale. I decided to use this to my advantage, and do a game like this. It also fits the bleak the tone I want Fountain of Life to have. Games in grayscale and black and white are nothing new though, so I decided to add two twists: I'd do grayscale watercolors (something I was messing around with at that moment), and I'd add a small touch of color. My avatar is a pretty good example. I'm still looking for the best way to do the coloring, though. I've done a couple of experiments, but I'm not entirely satisfied with them yet. I'll continue with them and see where they lead.

Different test I've done.

Animation Technique

One of my first animations.This is one is still in flux, because I haven't really experimented much yet. But I still have an idea of what I want to do though. Just like I'm no artist, I'm no animator. I have general knowledge of animation theory, and have animated a few times before, but I never really got into it as much as I should have.

So, I've decided to go with rotoscoping. For those unfamiliar with the term, rotoscoping is the process of recording live action and then taking frames and tracing them to finally make an animation. You could say it's basically the traditional equivalent of mocap. So the workflow idea I have at the moment goes like this:

  1. Record myself doing something.
  2. Turn the video into individual frames.
  3. Select important frames and cut the rest.
  4. Print them.
  5. Rotoscope the "skeleton" of the body. (just mark where different parts are)
  6. Test it and make needed changes (add more frames, change old ones as need to add personality, etc.)
  7. Once I'm satisfied with the skeleton, start building the actual character on top of it.
  8. Ink and color.

As you can see, this is a lot of work (rotoscoping in general is considered to be a really time consuming process).  It's feasible since I'm doing a game, which requires much less animation than a movie or short, but still I'm doing my best to minimize the effort needed. For example, I cut frames right from the original video to avoid losing time rotoscoping, and only working with the skeleton until I'm satisfied with the animation. I'm currently working on a experiment to try out this workflow. Let's hope it works out well!

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