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DF Chris Remo

Art Update #2: Creating a Visual Style, Part 2

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(Somehow Nathan's original post of this got deleted! So I'm reconstructing it--apologies to anyone who was unable to access it from the TOC recently. Not sure what happened there.)

Hello everybody! I am Nathan Stapley. I am an artist for DF and I am working on this game and I am really excited about it! There’s not even a name for it yet! Nuts! I am going to write a post on these forums to fill you all in on what’s been going on with me lately and what kind of things I’ve been doing for this awesome project all you great people made happen. Let me say again that you are all great and thanks for backing this project. It’s going to be super fun to make and see unfold!

So! A post!

As you read in Lee’s previous post about creating a visual style, Lee and Tim picked out a scene from some of the early brainstormy sketches I was bombarding Tim with early on. We used this to get things mocked up, tested and ready to start playing around with. The guys picked this cabin scene. It was from some weird thing I made up about a lumberjack. I decided to go with the sunset vibe of this sketch I did around the same time.

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So Lee asked me to put together a pan shot setup—separating layers out for the background, middle ground and foreground, as well as in-between grounds (I just made that phrase up). You saw that in Lee’s previous post. That parallaxing technique gave me a few guidelines for me to work with. For one thing, I know I’m going to have to paint all these layers separately, which is cool because that in itself is something for me to grab onto and think about. I may have taken the parallax concept a bit too literally at first, as I went in more of a paper cutout style. It was just a quick painting for the purposes of getting something for Lee to play around with in After Effects. But we liked it and it looked really great moving around!

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That’s still sketchy, but it was the first go. So then it was time to experiment and build to really try to find something cool we might want to explore further. I knew I wanted to get rid of all those hard edges, so I started doing some looser paintings and experimenting with different textures, and even painted some stuff with actual paint and brushes like a caveman (jk, actual paint and brushes are awesome).

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As it happened, we all agreed that the last image here was the one we liked the most. We decided to build on that. I focused in on a section of the painting and started adding details and rendering things out more. I worked on trying to make some sense out of this process: Where should there be texture, where there should be brush strokes, and which edges should be hard.

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We liked this, so the next thing was to start setting up the scene. We started with the mid-ground hill area and the cabin at the largest scale you will see it on screen. Again, I was adding details and building up the picture. I put a little guy in there holding a stick, to show scale and because we’re going to test out some interaction here. Ha, look at that guy with two teeth holding that stick. (I don’t think he will be there for long.)

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So here is where I am with it now. Lee’s going to take it from here and start mocking it up. We’ll do some more molding and playing around! The guy with the stick is not there anymore, and has been replaced by a mailbox. Mysterious. We are also playing with different ways to light things. We might go with a combination painted/dynamic kind of style, but that is for another update.

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Well, okay. Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed my ramblings, and I hope you guys are liking the updates so far. We are having a good time making the game. And thanks again! You guys are all the best!

-Nathan

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I think I love your writing style just as much as I do your phenomenal painting style. Which is a lot.

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First post in these forums.

Beautiful work. The colors are great. I'm glad it's not too saturated and childish. Great ambiance.

I just read in another post that someone did not like the hipster lumberjack, and I agree. A charming character, but that dude has never done physical work in his life. The good thing about him though is that he's not the regular scruffy lumberjack type.

But again, great art style, and looking forward to more stuff!

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Nice one, Staples! It's hectic how many revisions you go through of these concepts. If it was me, I would like paint one, it would take forever, and I'd be all like "That's the one! I'm done! Get away from me!"

The HipsterJack is cool. I think he needs an agrarian hipster girlfriend!

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