In this post we will show you the first attempts at finding the style for the characters. The research part can be read here “Art Style #1: Search for the Style“, also new readers might want to start with the introductory post “Infamis: Legends of the Arena”.
After researching and forming the idea of how the characters and the overall art style should look like, I started by drawing up different versions of the characters. In this post we will go through the first sketches and talk a little about what is the idea behind them and what should be improved. These are the first sketches ever for the game, so it is highly likely that they won't be even close to those that will end up in the game.
Let’s see where we will end up!
How to start, that's the hardest part. I started with human characters and tried to maintain realistic proportions. I picked a few of the drawings here to show you how they looked like.
They're not too bad, but perhaps a bit too realistic. I liked the idea of having a big difference on the characters' size and it could be used to emphasize the attributes of a character. However, the proportions would mean that in the game the heads would be quite small and it would be hard to see facial expressions, if there would be any. The characters are not drawn straight from the side, which gives us a better view of them. It will be seen which angle will be the best, since we also have to think about what looks the best while keeping in mind that they will be animated.
Never settle with just one option, so we decided to try out another style.
In animation it would be easy to have characters that would be straight from the side, plus they would be easier to draw since you wouldn't have to worry about the angles. For the second version we went with more cartoonish style where the character's body is drawn with a slight angle but the face is from the side.
This style was more to my liking, but still felt like it was missing something. It was more comic- / cartoon-like than the first, but I still liked the character size variation on the first one. Still, I was wondering if the heads should also be drawn with a slight angle. It could make drawing some of the more fantasy-type characters more difficult, but it might end up looking way better.Still, I feel that we made some progress here.
Version #2 Color test
Since I was quite happy with these, I decided to see how they would look like with cleaner lines and added color. Color always gives a more finalized look and would give a better idea of how they would actually look in-game.
The colors are simple and there is only one shade for shadows. There should probably be a light layer too, for all the shiny metal parts. The overall style is simple but the armors and weapons do bring some detail to the characters. In the end, even the heads might have to be made from multiple parts, so that we can give them expressions and animate parts like the ears and hair.
Side note: If the characters would all be made of similar parts that could be mixed and matched it would be easy to create a lot of them. Of course, this would mean that while making the parts, there would be restrictions, so that they fit with any other part.
Back to the drawing board. The previous versions have given me a lot of ideas and some of those might affect how the characters should be done. I think by using certain kinds of parts that fit together we can give the players the ability to customize the units, plus make it easier for us to create a larger variety of characters. So, the next step is to try out this idea and improve the drawing style.
Now we are getting somewhere! I must say I really like how these fellows are looking. Plus, the human heads are the same set, they just have different hair and facial hair parts. The parts are quite simple, so there should not be too much difficulty with the animations, but still I will have to test the parts early on to see if there are any obvious problems with them.
Side note: Yes, the characters and the drawing style might still change during development, there's always room for improvement. Still, I believe that the art style of the game won’t go too far from this version.
Currently, the art is based on the ideas and style of version #3, but there have also been minor changes since then. The current art also decorates the header and banner images.
As you can see it is almost the same, but there are two things that have changed. First, we added eyebrows and will put eyebrows on every character, because they really help with giving the characters expressions. Second are the round eyes for everyone! We ended up with the round eyes since they work really well with the eyebrows. Once we have a better idea of what kinds of characters inhabit the Infamis universe, we will see if the round eyes will work with all of them.
The coloring is still the same as it was on version #2 and it looks kinda good!
Side note: The lights and shadows are a bit problematic, since some of the parts move a lot, and the drawn-on lights or shadows might be in the wrong places in some situations. We have also been thinking about using dynamic 3D lighting to create shadows and lighter areas on the 2D characters. This way they would always be shaded correctly.
This post ended up being a bit longer than I first planned, but I was able to show you all the stages and rant a little about each of them. In the next post, I am planning to talk a bit about the animation and show you some of the earlier animation tests, as well as share some notes about our plans for animating the characters.
I hope you like these little write-ups and please comment, so that we can improve these in the future.
In the next one, we will test out some animations! You can read it here "Art Style #3: First animation tests".