Crash course
Art style guide

Art style guide

The cover image on this article is not mine, but something I have found online. It resembles a feel for the graphics that I really like, although it is too toy-like.

Featured image © Timothy Reynolds

Now that I have been working on the project a while, a set of rules for the art has started to formulate in my brain. I will attempt to externalize it as much as possible. As I am the only artist in the game I am not going to produce much concept art. Instead I will concept things in the modeling process. This means that during preproduction there will be very little original artwork, but a lot of google image search collages.

Flat shading

I will only use flat surfaces in the game. I really like the chiseled look it produces. Especially combined with high quality, soft lighting it looks really nice!

Limited color palette

To really drive home the flat look, I will also use a limited palette with solid colors. I will not add any texture details or noise to the materials. Things that have similiar hues will be unified to use the same hue.

Varied mesh densities

Mixing areas of high density mesh details and really really low details brings a nice rythm to the images. It can akso be used to drive player focus. But mainly it will be just to bring rythm and give a feel to a surface.

Asymmetrical shapes

I want to avoid making the shapes in the game too uniform and ”clean”. I want to break the mesh patterns and make the polygons in odd and suprising patterns. I feel that this results in a much more interesting and ”organic” look. Naturally some shapes will stay mathematical and ordered, if it is required.

Lots of details

Even though the artwork will be blocky and simoplified, there will be a lot of it! As the assets will be so fast to produce, I expect to make a lot of them. I want the world to feel messy and lived in. Chaotic. This is how to get that done.

80’s / 90’s era

The game will take place in late 80”s / early 90’s. This will affect the details and shapes of things that exist in the world. There will be chunky monitors, there will be corded phones and phonebooths. No glowing screens everywhere, tablets, keypads, advertisements.

Simplified shapes

The shapes of the objects in the world will be simplified and somewhat abstract. I will try to create the ”essence” of an item instead of going for full on faithful representation.

Cartoony look & feel

I will not be aiming for realistic shapes either. There will be exaggeration, caricaturization of shapes. I simply like that look better. I have not thought about the art style’s impact on the story that much..

Advanced lighting

In. Ontrast to the sharp shapes and hard surfaces I want to make the lighting as advanced and round and smooth as possible. Bounce lights, soft shadows, and reflections, it will all be there. Almost if the game was a 60 fps origami stop motion piece.

Warm color grade

In line with the soft lighting, I also want the final image to feel warm and soft. This will be achieved by adding subtle glow and blur in the post process and applying a warm, filmic color grade on the image.

Writing this document has helped me focus my vision of the look I will be going for. I hope that once I have some locations properly populated with a gazillion wonky 3D blobs it will turn out to look majestic!

Some examples of assets I have already made for the game

I have not produced much art yet, but I am already liking what I see in the first few pieces. Here is a closer-up look at some assets I have already created. As I keep working on new assets and the style is polished, I will go back and rework the older pieces.

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Visual style references

I chose a visual style that is easy for me to create completely by myself. So it had to be 3D for me to manage it alone and stylized low poly for faster production. Stylized 3D means no UV mapping, no LODs or no separate collision meshes. It is a win-win-win! And paired with modern rendering techniques, extreme low poly stuff can look amazing.

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