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Art Update #1: Creating a Visual Style, Part 1

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Seems there's a lot of misunderstanding about what "rough" work is! Maybe a good idea would be to put a large disclaimer at the bottom of all DFA pics and vids that says "This is a rough work and not representational of the final DFA product" like they do we Oscar screeners and the like? It might not be pretty but it would surpress some of lesser informed.

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Seems there's a lot of misunderstanding about what "rough" work is!

There's no misunderstanding, I'm just saying that the certain style the character is drawn in (big head and eyes, thin long limbs, lacking expression) is a touch too "childrens book" for my liking. Sure it's placeholder art for now, but this could very well be the art style they end up choosing for the finished game! I'm just expressing my conserns for having the game end up looking like one of Stapley's paintings. His brushstrokes are well suited for this particular part of the early, iterative process, but I hope we're seing a more detailed "line art" approach being implemented later. I'm not hating the lumberjack as a character, i'm just not liking the "alternative" painted style - at least not in a game genre that weirdly enough has become "alternative" enough as it is, since its glory days of 1987-1998.

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Seems there's a lot of misunderstanding about what "rough" work is!

There's no misunderstanding, I'm just saying that the certain style the character is drawn in (big head and eyes, thin long limbs, lacking expression) is a touch too "childrens book" for my liking. Sure it's placeholder art for now, but this could very well be the art style they end up choosing for the finished game! I'm just expressing my conserns for having the game end up looking like one of Stapley's paintings. His brushstrokes are well suited for this particular part of the early, iterative process, but I hope we're seing a more detailed "line art" approach being implemented later. I'm not hating the lumberjack as a character, i'm just not liking the "alternative" painted style - at least not in a game genre that weirdly enough has become "alternative" enough as it is, since its glory days of 1987-1998.

Well and good just wait till there are at least some character sketches. ^__^

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http://www.nathanstapley.com/images/crowd.jpg

I was disappointed when Tim announced that the characters will be influenced by Nathan Stapley's artstyle. I looked at the portfolio several times and I still can't warm up to his style. Don't like them at all. To me, they keep looking bland and expressionless. (...) I gave DF an expensive carte blanche to make the game they want. That also gives me the right to chunter into my beard as long as I want to when I finally play the game. (...) I'm going to get on everyone's hate list here, but it's necessary since so many of you are pulling your punches or flat out refusing to deliver them in the first place; When DF invited us to participate and provide feedback they were asking for constructive criticism, not adulate worship. (...) The common element? Dead eyes. So very dead. The mouths are typically terrible as well, opening onto nothing. And red noses immediately evoke drunkenness or Santa Claus. Remember: criticism can be constructive, flattery builds nothing.

I wholeheartedly agree! This REALLY needed to be said, and Chibi Kami and Mowren are one of the few who dare to say it. "Criticism" is not a negatively charged word, and I think all of DF employees are professional enough not to take offense of a little constructive criticism. (BTW, this can't be the first time Stapley has heard this being said about his work!)

I think a lot of great ideas has come up in the forums so far, and DF will benefit greatly by reading through the them from time to time. The different level gradings of the character as he navigates through a scene has been done before (I remember I first noticed this being used in COMI), so nothing new there - but the "depth-scrolling" is a first for adventure games as far as I know, and I love the idea of having eastereggs hidden between some of the layers.

Stop being so defensive and protective of the work that has been posted until now, a lot of good things come out of criticism. All opinions need to be heard, even now at the very early stages of production.

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The "depth-scrolling" is awesome! I love the concept of improving on the traditional 2D adventure formula, while still keeping within the "rules".

The lumberjack is aw...ful - as someone earlier mentioned: "That hipster-character better not be in the final game!" :-D

I still don't understand why he's hipster? Is it because he wears flannel?

He dresses like a lumberjack, but he walks like a girl and have very thin arms. It's obvious he's not out chopping wood all day.

He's clearly faking it :P

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Having gone through Bagel's gallery of work, I'm going to have to be the dissenter here and say that I sincerely hope he is not in charge of the final art, at least not the characters.

The lumberjack looks creepy and lifeless enough--his eyes scream uncanny valley, and that smile is just terrifying. But the real thing is that throughout all of his works, nearly every character looks dead. They have no life to them at all.

If this art style is what's planned to go into the final game, it will end up visually no different from various moderately high-quality indie games made by a small groups. Such games often try to be "deep" and have secret meanings, etc.

The tweening provided by Flash and After Effects and programs of the like is nice and all, and in skilled hands can looks fantastic, but frame by frame sprite animation will always have a soul that cannot be reproduced in a Flash-like environment.

So true.

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http://www.nathanstapley.com/images/crowd.jpg

I was disappointed when Tim announced that the characters will be influenced by Nathan Stapley's artstyle. I looked at the portfolio several times and I still can't warm up to his style. Don't like them at all. To me, they keep looking bland and expressionless. (...) I gave DF an expensive carte blanche to make the game they want. That also gives me the right to chunter into my beard as long as I want to when I finally play the game. (...) I'm going to get on everyone's hate list here, but it's necessary since so many of you are pulling your punches or flat out refusing to deliver them in the first place; When DF invited us to participate and provide feedback they were asking for constructive criticism, not adulate worship. (...) The common element? Dead eyes. So very dead. The mouths are typically terrible as well, opening onto nothing. And red noses immediately evoke drunkenness or Santa Claus. Remember: criticism can be constructive, flattery builds nothing.

I wholeheartedly agree! This REALLY needed to be said, and Chibi Kami and Mowren are one of the few who dare to say it. "Criticism" is not a negatively charged word, and I think all of DF employees are professional enough not to take offense of a little constructive criticism. (BTW, this can't be the first time Stapley has heard this being said about his work!)

I think a lot of great ideas has come up in the forums so far, and DF will benefit greatly by reading through the them from time to time. The different level gradings of the character as he navigates through a scene has been done before (I remember I first noticed this being used in COMI), so nothing new there - but the "depth-scrolling" is a first for adventure games as far as I know, and I love the idea of having eastereggs hidden between some of the layers.

Stop being so defensive and protective of the work that has been posted until now, a lot of good things come out of criticism. All opinions need to be heard, even now at the very early stages of production.

I don't think it's being defensive to say:

* Actually, a lot of us like the style, and plainly disagree with all this talk about 'dead' eyes and 'bad' mouths.

* None of the stuff we've seen is final, and especially the character we've seen is just a placeholder sketch used to test some lighting stuff.

How come when you criticise the work you're being constructive, and when we say we a) disagree with the criticisms or b) bring up the legitimate question about whether what we're seeing yet is far enough along to warrant such close scrutiny, we're being defensive?

And I think the thing about close scrutiny is worth dwelling on here. This unfinished, unpolished picture and accompanying placeholder character sketch has come under more scrutiny here on this forum than any of the actual art from the finished games that we played. There's only so much you can get from an unused piece of test art, and so if anything what we're saying is 'hey, okay, we hear you but a lot of the stuff you're talking about is really difficult to talk about until we've seen more.' For example - some people worried about how dark the scene is, but there are comparably dark and muted scenes in just about any LucasArts game, it doesn't mean they'll all be using that palette. Other people are criticising the animation, when it was clearly stated that they made a rough walk cycle just to get something moving on screen. Which in itself is another reason why we can't infer too much about the character design yet - they haven't been fully animated.

I guess we're just suggesting that a little more time could be had letting the dots fall before we can really make some sound judgements about them. While criticism is good, criticism which doesn't have enough context can end up just being noise. Finally, some people will just never be persuaded because they don't like Bagel's artwork at all. And I'm sorry they feel that way, but it's just sorta tough luck, he's the main artist working on the game, this has been known since before the end of the kickstarter and while I'm sure he's open to constructive comments, he's not going to change his whole way of working and his whole style just to keep a portion of the backers happy. His work has a particular character, and that's what we'll be getting. So complaining about the choice of artist itself IS pointless criticism, and I wish that would stop.

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Actually, a lot of us like the style, and plainly disagree with all this talk about 'dead' eyes and 'bad' mouths.

Finally, some people will just never be persuaded because they don't like Bagel's artwork at all. And I'm sorry they feel that way, but it's just sorta tough luck, he's the main artist working on the game, this has been known since before the end of the kickstarter and while I'm sure he's open to constructive comments, he's not going to change his whole way of working and his whole style just to keep a portion of the backers happy. His work has a particular character, and that's what we'll be getting. So complaining about the choice of artist itself IS pointless criticism, and I wish that would stop.

Yeah, yeah. I am rubber, you are glue.

Fair enough, there's no doubt that the "dark palette" of the picture and the clearly rushed walk cycle animation is nothing to worry about at this point. We all know that the animation will be excellent, either it's done the traditionial way or the "Flash" way. What IS worrying though, is the thought of Bagels characters inhabiting these scenes. It's clear that people are visiting his webpage in order to understand what his artstyle is like, and Bagels webpage is crowded with drawings of characters with eyes that are mere random placed dots that just seem ...waaait for iit... Dead and Lifeless - and sort of feels like "the easy way out". It's not just the eyes, it's the nose and the mouth as well.. Every character has that same constipated expression, and it have diffculty accepting that the main character could look something like this. It kind of reminds me of the way these two guys are put together:

6a00d8341bf93e53ef010536afae5b970b-800wi

..and I can't shake the feeling that Bagels style of characters are way too simplistic for this adventure game. This should not be some indie-game made (or funded) by fans, nor Braid for that matter. This should be THE ONE game that brings the genre back from its hiding place, and thus should appeal more to mainstream tastes.

I just think that the decision of using Bagel for both backdrops AND characters, is sort of spitting in the face of Steve Purcell and the high quality artwork previously created for the 2D LucasArts adventures from the first half of the 90s, and the high quality style that we (..or at least I) come to expect from this a game of this caliber.

Somebody show me some of Bagels artwork (preferably line art) that can convince me that this is the right guy for the job...

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..and I can't shake the feeling that Bagels style of characters are way too simplistic for this adventure game. This should not be some indie-game made (or funded) by fans, nor Braid for that matter. This should be THE ONE game that brings the genre back from its hiding place, and thus should appeal more to mainstream tastes.

I just think that the decision of using Bagel for both backdrops AND characters, is sort of spitting in the face of Steve Purcell and the high quality artwork previously created for the 2D LucasArts adventures from the first half of the 90s, and the high quality style that we (..or at least I) come to expect from this a game of this caliber.

Somebody show me some of Bagels artwork (preferably line art) that can convince me that this is the right guy for the job...

Adventure games have always been niche, it's just that everything else was also niche. I don't think they're ever going to be much more popular than they are now. And I got news for you: it kinda IS an indie game (Double Fine aren't owned by anyone) funded by fans (surely you realise this, because you're here). So what? Loads of indie games are super-awesome, and even the old adventure games didn't become super-awesome by sticking to a mainstream, 'safe' art style. I mean, the Grim Fandango characters? And believe me, DOTT's wacky super-deformed angles aren't to everyone's taste, either. Tim's always been about bold visual design, so I'm baffled as to why this suprises you, and even more baffled as to why you think it spits in the face of anything.

You are also making an unfair comparison in the first place. You're comparing static, non-animated art that's not been drawn for use in a game, to actual adventure game art. Of course the former isn't going to stack up. Which is why we're suggesting to wait until you see some actual character art, preferably in motion.

Still, you wanted some line art for some reason, so:

ns_522.jpg

ns_512.jpg

ns_489.jpg

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DOTT's wacky super-deformed angles aren't to everyone's taste, either. Tim's always been about bold visual design, so I'm baffled as to why this suprises you, and even more baffled as to why you think it spits in the face of anything.

You are also making an unfair comparison in the first place. You're comparing static, non-animated art that's not been drawn for use in a game, to actual adventure game art. Of course the former isn't going to stack up. Which is why we're suggesting to wait until you see some actual character art, preferably in motion.

Still, you wanted some line art for some reason, so:

When I mention "indie-games", I don't mean "indie" in its technical sense - I mean "indie" in its worst possible sense. Sure, there are a few diamonds in the rough out there, there are also some REALLY crappy ones as well.

I think it's weird how you fully embrace Bagel's style when you're so eager to remind us that all we've been shown so far is placeholder art - you obviously have a lot more faith in this guy than I have. I think I have a lot of people with me though, when I say that DOTT's wacky character designs are way more easy on the eye than any of the characterdrawings I've seen by Bagel. (Notice how I'm emphasizing characters - the backgrounds are great (except the naiive way he draws some of the trees, but that's a different story..!) I also loved the similar style used in Leisure Suit Larry 5 and 6. (Toon Struck not so much!)

I wanted to see some line art, because that is one of the presentation forms that separate the really talented artists from the lesser ones. Bagel's talent clearly lies in his overall weirdness and understanding of color, not so much in the other departments. The comics from your previous post would be best unshown. They remind me of scribbles made by children (or "helt rævva dårlige!" as we say in Norway), and I reckon it's an easy path to choose to hide ones shortcomings. I know I'm being unfair when I compare Bagel with Steve Purcell - they're operating in two entirely different leagues.

I initially started posting in this forum hoping to persuade DF to go in a different direction with the character art (because I was shocked too see that terrible lumberjack - placeholder or not, he was really terrible, like something out of a low budget Czech childrens TV-show from the early 80s - I'd even prefer RedBot! - and don't get me started with the little guy/girl? with a stick in his hand, I won't go there!) ..but it seems like that train has left, and I guess I'll just have to come to terms with the art style of this adventure game being Bagel all the way.. I can't be the only one thinking that this might suck a little.

I'm really looking forward to Art Update #3 - to see where this is going. Fingers crossed that Bagel delivers.

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When I mention "indie-games", I don't mean "indie" in its technical sense - I mean "indie" in its worst possible sense. Sure, there are a few diamonds in the rough out there, there are also some REALLY crappy ones as well.

Well, don't do that. I mean, do I really have to explain why it's extremely rude and disrespectful to anyone working either in their spare time or not as an indie developer to use 'indie' as a blanket term for 'crappy, low quality work.'? I hope I don't.

I think it's weird how you fully embrace Bagel's style when you're so eager to remind us that all we've been shown so far is placeholder art - you obviously have a lot more faith in this guy than I have. I think I have a lot of people with me though, when I say that DOTT's wacky character designs are way more easy on the eye than any of the characterdrawings I've seen by Bagel. (Notice how I'm emphasizing characters - the backgrounds are great (except the naiive way he draws some of the trees, but that's a different story..!) I also loved the similar style used in Leisure Suit Larry 5 and 6. (Toon Struck not so much!)

Actually, you're slightly off-base. I like Bagel's style, and I'm excited for future updates, but since I haven't seen anything even approaching final art for the game, yet (particularly when it comes to characters designs), I really don't know how much I'll like it in any solid sense of the word that would require 'faith'. I suspect it'll end up looking fantastic but that suspicion has as much to do with Tim as it does Bagel. Tim has a very good track record of working with artists to create something that really suits the story he's trying to tell, possibly better than any other game designer I've seen, and I'm reasonably confident that'll be the case again.

I wanted to see some line art, because that is one of the presentation forms that separate the really talented artists from the lesser ones. Bagel's talent clearly lies in his overall weirdness and understanding of color, not so much in the other departments. The comics from your previous post would be best unshown. They remind me of scribbles made by children (or "helt rævva dårlige!" as we say in Norway), and I reckon it's an easy path to choose to hide ones shortcomings.

Do you have any idea how ridiculous this sounds? They ARE sketch comics, they're not something that was laboured over for hours on end, so it's obviously not going to be highly polished work. But even taking that into account, if you think that they look like scribbles made by children, then wow... I say Double Fine just outsources all their artwork for the game to Norwegian children, because clearly they've got some talent there.

I know I’m being unfair when I compare Bagel with Steve Purcell - they’re operating in two entirely different leagues.

I didn't say you're being unfair comparing the two people. I said you're being unfair comparing not-fully-animated art that's not in a finished game or even intended to be in a game to art that is part of a finished game. How do you know how expressive Bagel's characters will be when they are fully animated and put into the context of a polished game that's been worked on for a year? You don't, and I don't either, but I'm willing to give the people involved some credit.

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why all the hate for the beady "dead" eyes?

I thought lucas did a pretty good job making them alive...why couldn't it be the same with Bagel's style?

SamAndMaxScreenshot.jpg

Grim_Fandango_artwork.jpg

same goes for the mouth. If in most of his paintings the characters have a neutral expression, it doesn't mean they can't be animated to smile and have a powerfull expression.

Hell, with animation you can even make a stickman feel alive and seem to have emotions. Wall-E is also a good example.

Anyway the charadesign hasn't even started so the debate seems kinda useless...

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Do you have any idea how ridiculous this sounds? They ARE sketch comics, they're not something that was laboured over for hours on end, so it's obviously not going to be highly polished work. But even taking that into account, if you think that they look like scribbles made by children, then wow... I say Double Fine just outsources all their artwork for the game to Norwegian children, because clearly they've got some talent there.

I'd like to see some finished comics of his, because this was not impressive.. I'm sorry if I come of sounding like a jerk, but I have a hard time warming up to Bagels style regarding characters. Again this has nothing to to with the way they're animated, it's the fundamental way he draws them that just dissonates with my liking. "Tough luck" as you said in an earlier post.

How do you know how expressive Bagel's characters will be when they are fully animated and put into the context of a polished game that's been worked on for a year? You don't, and I don't either, but I'm willing to give the people involved some credit.

Well, I have a pretty clear picture in my head, of how it'll all turn out if Bagel is given final say on the character style. I'm basing this on all of his work (finished paintings and sketch comics) I've seen so far. Hopefully this will be a collaboration among multiple artists, and that the style is tweaked into something less "alternative" (in lack of better word) and into something more eyefriendly further down the line. I don't think I'm being overly negative here, I wouldn't be in this forum if I didn't give DF (and 2player) some credit.

Tim has a very good track record of working with artists to create something that really suits the story he's trying to tell, possibly better than any other game designer I've seen, and I'm reasonably confident that'll be the case again.

At least we're seeing eye-to-eye on this one..

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Late to the discussion, but I really don't like the gimped\awkward look of the lumberjack in the original demo vid.

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Late to the discussion, but I really don't like the gimped\awkward look of the lumberjack in the original demo vid.

Either you're trolling or you just lost the thread.

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Or you reduced the choices to a false dichotomy... that's probably the truthful answer, it's one of the most common ones found in forum discussions. I didn't go through the thread yet, but I saw the art demo on youtube.

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Getting a headache from trying to read the thread. Anyways. Just wanted to contribute by saying the first concepts look ok, not really mind blowing. A return to old skool 2D adventure games should perhaps try to combine a distinctive art style with retro vibes. I'm a huge pixel art fan, so that's the direction I would love. Not pure 8bit, but something new, like Sword & Sworcery would be interesting.

Anyways. I'll trust the guys at DF. Rough first drafts and all are just that. Please show more :)

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Lacking soul is one of the words that came to my mind too. It's just not something that clicks with me, as presented in his work. *shrug*

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Yeah, awful character design, and terrible music too.

By the way, did you actually read the OP? It is mentioned time and again that this one does not include any character design. I guess there's just a need to rant about something.

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Will we see some other styles too eventually? This is great but I'd love to see some variety here when you are testing your different 2D techniques ^^

EDIT: Ah, never mind. I just clicked the part 2 and that answered my question perfectly. Thanks for these little pieces of art.

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First post in these forums, and I see I'm kind of late to the party. I found both the drawings and parallaxing and colouring techniques quite interesting. Just a quick comment though, not sure if this was mentioned somewhere in the past 20 pages or so. The colors of the layers, as they should, seem to fade away with the distance. In the real world it's like this because of atmospheric absorption and dispersion accumulated on large distances. Thus, when depth-scrolling and approaching the layers on the back, it seems to me that the colors should become more vivid as we progress, since the distance is diminishing. I guess the color fading could be implemented using filters that could change pretty much like the lighting gradient.

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First post in these forums, and I see I'm kind of late to the party. I found both the drawings and parallaxing and colouring techniques quite interesting. Just a quick comment though, not sure if this was mentioned somewhere in the past 20 pages or so. The colors of the layers, as they should, seem to fade away with the distance. In the real world it's like this because of atmospheric absorption and dispersion accumulated on large distances. Thus, when depth-scrolling and approaching the layers on the back, it seems to me that the colors should become more vivid as we progress, since the distance is diminishing. I guess the color fading could be implemented using filters that could change pretty much like the lighting gradient.

Great observation! This is actually something that is taken into account in more recent pre-vis, so it should be apparent in a future art update.

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Old Post by me:

Kind of looks like cut out 2D... Not exactly how I imagined the classic point-and-click adventure genre coming back, but i guess hoping for the weighty and fluid animations of Day of the Tentacle was a little too much. :/

To be honest this is kind of what I expected before it became a multi million game.

I mean, when all the jokes are told all the gorgeous images are seen, what's the re-play value if it isn't awesome animation? You can always have screenshots of the artwork and pass on jokes, but animation has to bee seen.

I really hope this is only the pre-vis stage because I don't want to hassle...

Edit:

Sorry for speaking to hastily; I realized that that disclaimer in the OP just then and kind of rushed through the images and videos without thinking about reading. So hopefully all my wishes still will come true.

Now when it comes to character design, Bagels style is nice, but it has a tough line that might not be very animation friendly. If they go for this I have to say good luck to the team at DF unless they're just planning on 2D rigs in Toonboom, After Effects or similar... I really hope not.

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This character look freaky, with his static smile and HUGE bead-eyes. Especially when he looks left and right, that's the stuff of my nightmares guys. :S

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Hey guys, I work at Blur Studio over in Los Angeles, and one little trick that can really help integrate foreground characters (i use it for atmospherics alot) is to take the background, gain it up (possibly saturation aswell) blur it heavily and then multiply it over your foreground character. this is a fantastic way of faking radiosity from say a background plate. its a film compositing trick that might go along way - enjoy!

looking sweet!

- Matt

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just get into, It's like going to wonderland without eating mushrooms!

I just got sooo much to read I won't go outside for the rest of the week at least!

seriously, my highest expectations in life is becoming a game concept artist/art director. this is not just awesome, this is fantastically useful!

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