Thursday, 9 May 2013


Turns out I'm awful at saving screenshot progress images :(

Here are the ones I managed to salvage from various PSDs:
Ivar's cottage...
 ...and the Sneak image. I don't have progress for any of the others; I pretty much flattened the PSDs before exporting :(

And some references to top it off:
(The tunnel images are for the Shrink screenshot.)

This is all I have in terms of progress imagery, I think... I obviously have lots of images for mechanics but they are so boring to look at... And I don't have much development imagery for them either since they're quite simple. I'm going to dig through my folders one last time, but if I don't find anything else I'm saying goodnight and goodbye to this blog now. Toodles!

Elves and ghosts

Last batch of characters now, phew.

Some research to start with:
I wanted my ghost to look like a person rather than some kind of monster, so I looked at what farmers would wear in the 1800s. As for the elves, I would have loved to draw some dancing ones... Aah. Next time ;)

Posted this recently; the elf changed a lot.

Aaand some steps for the ghost:
Environments now!

Grár and Ísafold

Researching trolls couldn't lead anywhere but to John Bauer... I am so in love with his stuff. He illustrated the fairy/folk tales I read as a child and they've painted such a strong image in my head. So Grár and his trolls were all covered.

Ísafold is old, so instead of looking at the 1800s for clothing references - like I did for the ghosts - I went back to the vikings. Here's a reference sheet:

The following images all date back to... Ages ago! I was struggling with the visual style and in the end just decided to not try to force a specific style but to just draw what comes out.

These images of Grár show this quite clearly:
The workflow of this image was off since I never actually had a normal sketch to start with. Instead I just drew the lines on top of the leftmost image.
Awwh... I kind of miss his creepy smile and rosy cheeks. Oh well.

Some progress for my troll portraits (which I've posted recently, but still!)

I wanted Ísafold to look kind of regal, very strong, severe and with lots of authority. While I keep referring to her as a "Galadriel-style character" I didn't want her to look anything near a super-slender, long-haired image of perfect beauty. Here's a progress shot:
Next up is some R&D for the elves and ghosts, and then we've wrapped up the characters! Phew.

Yrsa Yrsa Yrsa Yrsa... And Ivar!

I think Yrsa is one of my super-favouritest characters. It was tricky to research the skogsrå though, because every single image you find look like this:
GAAAAHHHH. So I mostly looked at foxes and just winged it like a pro. Here's a little mood board with inspiration for her and Ivar:
I love the images of the tomte and the fox. Very fitting :) My tomte is a bit grumpier though... Cough.

Moving on, here are some progress shots of various drawings:

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

The map

I always wanted a world map in my document. I love game maps! They make you want to go and explore all these cool places you haven't been to yet... Icewind Dale had the best maps (and best character art) ever... Anyway!

Again - I did a map very early on. It was pretty - if a bit unfinished -and completely useless. It didn't have any relevance to the game's story (because it didn't exist yet) and was more suited to a high-level pitch document than a GDD. I never finished it.
Once the story was finished and I knew exactly what was happening in the game I drew five lines on a piece of paper, and those lines were far more relevant than the drawing above.
This had structure, specific areas and a flow. Perfect! So I refined it...
It stayed in this shape for a very long time, but obviously had to be improved for the final doc. The pretty patrol saved the day! I liked how areas of interest in fantasy/game maps are usually enlarged and highlighted, so I thought I'd give it a go again. I also thought I could use little snippets of the map to illustrate the locations in the game's chapters.

After looking at a bunch of references I started going over the previous sketch.
Lines, lines and lines...
...and finally some colour.

Edit: forgot these!


The final document also got some improved icons. Here are some before-and-after images:
For Kajsa's icon (bottom right) I looked for old pictures of farmers and found this:
I LOVE old photographs and I prefer ghosts that look like actual people, so I couldn't resist using it as reference. Anyway, here are all the icons in their final, slightly textured glory:
The icons were all done in Illustrator, with textures and effects added in Photoshop.

The background

I started working on the background very early on, and kept tweaking it for what felt like an eternity. It went from looking like some kind of neon-coloured 80s northern lights rave to bland weirdness and finally to a decent, functional backdrop.

This story begins in Illustrator, where Andrea thought it would be a great idea to create a sky by going wild with the gradient mesh tool...
It makes a bit more sense with some snowy hills and trees:
So far this is all vectors, but I kept working in Photoshop to add some stars and textures.
See, I don't dislike this. It's quite pretty in its own, slightly mental right. I was going for this kind of super magical night sky kind of vibe, but it didn't work at all as a backdrop. I desaturated it a bit and tweaked the colours.
Better, but still not great. The stars and colours are just too much.
See? Yep. I tweaked it more...
 ...and more...
...and it just ended up a bit weird. The good thing about vectors is that you can tweak things as much as you want. The bad thing with vectors is that you can tweak things as much as you want. :(
This worked a bit better, though:
...but in the end I got rid of the different colours in the sky, most of the stars and made it all blueish. It's a bit less interesting but it works a LOT better as a background for text and images.
Phew! I got there in the end...

Edit: forgot to post my little reference image sheet/moodboard! Here we go:

Doc done!

Today is a great day, because on my desk is a black and white copy of my finished document! Well, I say finished... I could spend forever adding pictures and polishing, but time's up and I'm quite pleased with what I ended up with.

Click to download the PDF.

Now that it's all done and dusted I want to make a series of post showing some progress shots and development. This will mainly be art-based, since the blog already covers a lot of my thoughts and progress regarding the game's story, levels and missions. What it lacks however, is some development work for all the visuals that came out of it. Let's do this thing...

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Updated doc!

Click here for a HUGE (58mb) high quality version of the doc.

Click here for a small (4mb) version that's less painful to download, but has terrible image quality and some rendering issues. It gets the idea across though.

This version of the doc has about 400% more iPads, lots of layout improvements, more polished art and a better flow.

I want to re-do and clarify the map on page 19 and polish the area setup image on page 24 before I create any extra images. I primarily want to flesh out Yrsa and Ivar with some more pictures and information.

Here are some before-and-after images for comparison:
I changed the elf a lot as I wasn't a massive fan of the pretty-girl-running-around-the-snow-in-a-nightie kind of thing. Plus, with the hair she looked WAY too much like the ghost icon:
She matches the elf icon much better now:
This guy got some shadows... did this lady.
I've also cleaned up and coloured the troll:

And here's a little Yrsa image, for the section in the document where she talks: