Week 8 Reflection – Ethics, Character Poses, and Research into Pixel Art

09/11/20

GAM701

During the GAM701 lecture today we discussed ethics which was really interesting to me, especially when we looked at some case studies, as I studied psychology during my A-Levels. Having this lecture reminded me to consider some ethical concerns with the game I plan to make with my team during week 9 and 10.

After the lecture, my team and I met, and we discussed some of these issues further. As we are making a game based in Japan, we need to make sure that if we include any kind of Japanese text in the background designs that we double check that the writing makes sense, as we do not want to include nonsense unknowingly.

Additionally, due to the story of our game relating to criminal activity in Japan of outlaws, we need to ensure that we respectfully represent these groups, which will come from detailed research into real accounts of Bōsōzoku girls. Furthermore, I noticed when collecting references for the character mood boards that a lot of the bikes and clothing included the rising sun motif. I will absolutely avoid using this motif in any of my further work as it is incredibly offensive to those who suffered because of Japan in WW2, such as China and South Korea.

For this week, we have been given the task of creating a presentation about our game outlining the ethical concerns and further details about our concept.

Presentation task

We have started creating this here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1_T5WnqZKii11ZpDaSx4zFmI9No7xj7XUaPfFKm2WsFw/edit?usp=sharing

I will be contributing to this presentation by adding the moodboards I created and also the game influences for our game. I will also be making sure that the presentation looks good!

GART702

For my character work, I started iterating further on the wing designs I made. I was able to narrow down the wings to 5 designs. I added detailing on these to further them.

Here is a speedpaint of the full process from the creation to the detailing of the selected five:

Speedpaint of the wing designs.
Here are the narrowed down 5 in greater detail.

I began painting in the details on the wings and working some iridescence into them, but I realised this was taking way too long and I hadn’t yet worked any colours into my character designs. I dropped this work on the wings and then developed the colour passes for the fairy and human form.

Colour passes of my fairy character.

The colours will correspond between each form so that she maintains a consistent colour scheme and her two forms don’t look too different so that she looks like a completely different person.

I sent this off for further feedback! Once I have narrowed down to one one colour scheme I will develop the wing designs to incorporate these colours and then send them around for feedback.

This was all I was able to complete today. I am proud of my progress, especially for the character colours. I believe previously what was holding me back from doing this sooner, other than other modules’ work taking up my time, was the fear of it being bad. Adding colour felt like a big next step that I wasn’t confident enough to make, but I found it was actually relatively quick to do and it was very satisfying to see my character design become more realised! In future I will try to prevent myself from being reluctant to continue by diving into the work and not allowing time to doubt myself.

10/11/20

GART702

During the break between the morning and afternoon lectures I quickly added the wings onto the final designs for my fairy character to test out what they would look like.

Test of fairy wings behind character in fairy form.

Additionally, I did a very quick layout design, based on this piece on FZD School.

(https://fzdschool.com/, 2017)

I would like to come up with further layouts in future, and after discussing this with my lecturer Ady during the lecture, he recommend to move the design iterations to another sheet and have more room for the different expressions and material callouts, which I agreed with.

Moving forward with my character, I now plan to start developing her different emotions sprites and expressions for my character. I am excited to start developing her face, as it is something which I feel I have left a little too long before working on. However, at this stage, I now feel confident that her design is strong enough to then move onto this stage. I rested for the rest of the day after the lecture ended!

References:

https://fzdschool.com/, 2017. Phupha Tara. [image] Available at: <https://fzdschool.com/galleries/gallery?tags=%5b%22term%203%22,%222017%22,%22characters%22%5d&uid=6266> [Accessed 28 September 2020].

11/11/20

GAM701

Today I worked on filling out the contents of the presentation with my team. I filled in the contents relating to moodboards and our inspirations, and I also filled in the details explaining what our game is about, which was taken from my teammate Phoebe’s design document she made. As well as this I organised the slides so that they look presentable and also changed the theme to more clearly reflect our concept visually.

As well as this I bought and briefly tried out Aseprite. Although I did not do much, I found the software to be very intuitive and easy to learn and this reassures me that it will not be hard to pick up at all! While looking a little further into Aseprite I was reminded of this useful tutorial online about importing Aseprite work into Unity! I will send over this link to my team in the future and get their opinions on it! (Rowe, 2017)

References:

Rowe, E., 2017. Unity Tutorial: Animate Pixel Art using Aseprite and Animation Importer. [Blog] redbluegames.com, Available at: <https://blog.redbluegames.com/unity-tutorial-animate-pixel-art-using-aseprite-and-animation-importer-5c4fe1e06985> [Accessed 6 November 2020].

12/11/20

GAM701

Before the lecture, we met as a team to discuss our presentation today. We discussed our future plans for the game and what direction we want to take it in. I plan to create some concepts for the environments and characters over weekend to then present to the team and get their opinions. This will give me a much clearer vision of what I am creating before I dive into creating pixel art. By concepting in a medium I am familiar with, I will be able to quickly come up with ideas and iterate on them before tackling a new medium, pixel art, which I have not tried before.

During the lecture today, we presented all of our artifact ideas. As always, it was interesting to see what people had come up with! Our game was received particularly well!

Feedback given during lecture #1
Feedback given during lecture #2

After the lecture we were given a new tasks.

My team and I decided to meet again tomorrow to discuss these new tasks in more detail.

13/11/20

GAM701

This morning, in light of the new task given to us yesterday, I made a short list of audio and art assets we will most likely need to include that we might not have thought about straight away.

Audio: 

  • Track for menu 
  • Track for first level 
  • Track for second level/boss battle 
  • Sounds of punching/fighting depending on weapon
  • Sounds of enemies getting hurt potentially? 
  • Different sound for when you get hit too.

Art:

  • Health bars – could have a special attack bar too – different for own and enemies – colours
  • Text boxes with continue icons 
  • Potentially loading icon? – Could be a motorbike wheel spinning! 

Continuing from this, today I plan to work towards preparing to create some rough concepts in procreate of potential background environment for the game. To do this, I took the moodboards into Procreate to have reference and colour swatches on hand.

While doing a bit of further research into Aseprite and pixel art I found this really useful youtube channel and video.

(YouTube.com, 2018)

Additionally, I found out through this video that this creator has also created a whole playlist on basic tutorials for Aseprite! I will be watching these in order to become more comfortable with the software.

(YouTube.com, n.d)

GART702

Before moving forward, I wanted to make sure that I was still making time for my character work for GART702. I decided to begin work on the face of my character and I downloaded all the images I had collected from Pinterest and collated them into a moodboard using Photoshop. I cropped out any unnecessary details and arranged them.

Face reference moodboard #1
Face reference board #2

I then took these images into Procreate and began drawing over them, much like how I had done with the flower pictures I had. This workflow is recommended during Jenny Harder’s Artstation tutorial ‘Designing Characters with Personality and Expression’.

While organising the reference I had collected I came across this website that has good reference for puff hairstyles! I may return to this when I am adding detail and refining my character further. (Pony Puff Set, 2020)

GAM701

Had meeting with team. Discussed the tasks we needed to do for next week and started filling out the document I created! I was able to find a few free sound sources for video game style fighting styles. (Punch Sounds | Free Sound Effects | Punch Sound Clips | Sound Bites, 2020)

May look into this to inform how I can speed up the creation of backgrounds in Aseprite. (“Repeat cels” (looping backgrounds) Concept, 2018)

We began filling out our Trello board in a Kanban style, as mentioned in the task image shown earlier.

GART702

After I had drawn over the face images, I decided to take some reference photos for the poses my character will be in for her different emotion sprites! Currently I plan on making drawings of three emotions: happiness, anger, and sadness. This is to ensure I have scoped this project suitably for the time I have left, while also covering the emotions I believe are most important. It would be nice to do more, however, I want to make some really strong final pieces, so I believe it is wise to limit myself to just three.

I dressed in the most similar clothes I could as my character’s fairy form and took some photos with a bouquet of fake flowers as a prop! In order to progress from these, I plan to draw over these using a similar method to how I created the initial body silhouette for my character.

I will be re-watching the speed paint of this to refresh my mind on how I did this. I will start by blocking in the poses in a solid colour and then I will draw the stick figure like construction lines over it to establish the key areas where the body is placed. I will then refine the solid colour layer and finally draw over some rough lines of the details.

Once I have a solid base for a pose, I will send this for feedback. Once I am confident that the poses themselves are good, I then plan to roughly draw over the outfits for my character.

I will need to research further into the meanings of flowers in order to establish what flowers my character will be holding for the human form emotion sprites. I will also need to decide how the butterflies will be acting for the fairy emotion sprites, but I believe that this will be quite easy to rapidly concept and get feedback on. Today I also created a few more layout options for the final presentation of my character. Much like the one I created previously this week, these are very rough concepts that I will then narrow down and test out later.

The rough layout thumbnails I created.

References:

YouTube.com, 2018. Let’s Pixel BACKGROUNDS ► Q: ASEPRITE TO UNITY? [ Aseprite| Speedpaint ]. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bz6xmOOabc0> [Accessed 13 November 2020].

YouTube.com, n.d. Aseprite Tutorials. Available at: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Md6W79jtLJM&list=PLR3Ra9cf8aV2Zl8LIqT93rsgnpkSvmevk> [Accessed 13 November 2020]

 Artstation Learning, 2020. Designing Characters With Personality And Expression. Available at: <https://www.artstation.com/learning/courses/pDK/designing-characters-with-personality-and-expression> [Accessed 8 May 2020].

CityRepublik. 2020. Pony Puff Set. [online] Available at: <https://www.cityrepublik.com/products/pony-puff-set> [Accessed 13 November 2020].

Soundbible.com. 2020. Punch Sounds | Free Sound Effects | Punch Sound Clips | Sound Bites. [online] Available at: <http://soundbible.com/tags-punch.html https://www.freesoundeffects.com/free-sounds/fight-sounds-10034/> [Accessed 13 November 2020].

Aseprite Community. 2018. “Repeat Cels” (Looping Backgrounds) Concept. [online] Available at: <https://community.aseprite.org/t/repeat-cels-looping-backgrounds-concept/844> [Accessed 13 November 2020].

14/11/20

GART702

Today I worked on the colour blocking in of the poses from the reference images I took yesterday. While doing this, I realised that the images I had took were not suitable! While it was good that I had dressed up as my character for later stages of concepting, I was unable to discern where certain body landmarks were because the clothes were too obscuring! To remedy this, I dressed in more suitable clothing for reference taking and took some more photos.

I actually found that the images that I had took turned out a lot nicer and expressive than my previous ones, so I am excited to work on these!

I struggled quite a bit with this stage as getting the proportions to look correct took a while. I found myself held back a bit by the fear of getting them wrong, but I soon realised that the quicker I completed these forms, the quicker I could seek critique on them!

I managed to finish all three happy, sad, and angry forms!

Angry, Sad, Happy and Neutral.

I then sent this off for critique and then rested for the day as I waited for responses.

15/11/20

GART702

Today I took a look at the feedback I had been given so far. I had received positive responses for the happy pose, but it was suggested that I look more closely at the shoulders of the angry pose.

Feedback n the shoulders of the angry pose given by a friend.

In addition to this, Ady gave some really useful feedback on how I could exaggerate the poses further!

Advice given by Ady to push these design further!

This reminded me of a resource I had discovered in the very first week of the course, and I will be using this to influence my work as I had intended to!

Freddy Ulate’s ‘Improving My Gestures’ Post. (Ulate, 2016)

I began to iterate on the happy pose. Firstly, I went over the initial form I had drawn in an exaggerated way.

First step, exaggerated form over happy pose.

Then I exaggerated this further, keeping a close eye on the shape language I wanted to convey with this pose.

Even further exaggerated shape over happy pose.

I wanted her to seem very round and flowy as to convey a happy and friendly state to the viewer.

I then drew over the top of this.

Pose drawn over the exaggerated shape.

I liked this, but I felt like it could have been pushed further. I tried using shapes more akin to the ones Freddy Ulate used in the blogpost above.

Further iteration, now simplifying the shapes even further, while still keeping the initial flowy nature of the pose I wanted to maintain.

I then drew over this, which I thought was a lot more successful at exaggeration!

Drawing over the very simplified forms.

I decided to fill this drawing in to get a better understanding of this exaggerated pose.

Silhouette version of this exaggeration.

As you can see, I also erased areas where the features of the body were so I could understand them better. I liked how exaggerated I had taken this pose and it was quite fun to experiment with this workflow and not worry too much about proportions at this stage.

On a funny note, the pose did remind me a bit of the Happy Mask Salesman from the Zelda franchise.

Although perhaps my character isn’t as creepy as this one, she is very passionate and enthusiastic about her wares as the Happy Mask Salesman is!

While discussing this alteration with a friend, she suggested that I add some other details to the final design such as hearts surrounding her when she is happy. This reminded me of the reactions in the Animal Crossing game and how the ‘Joy Reaction’ involves the player being surrounded by a halo of flowers!

I will consider this later down the development line when I am filling in the details on these poses!

I continued to iterate on the sad pose for my character. I wanted it to feel a lot droopier and like she was more curled in on herself. Here is a gif of this process.

Gif of the sad pose creation!

As shown in the gif, I was torn between two sad poses at the end.

I decided to move onto angry poses in the meantime. During this, I was sent some useful links to visual novel references by a games academy student! These designs in particular are ones I really liked! (Code: Realize ~Sousei no Himegimi~ | vndb, n.d.)

I found that creating the angry poses was a lot easier! I created two variants of an angry pose.

Although I do like the pose with crossed arms, I believe the front facing angry pose is more successful and more in line with what I had in mind originally.

To further develop these poses I took more reference images so I could then make them more proportionally and anatomically accurate! I drew from these, and here are the results!

Happy pose exaggerated upon!
Sad pose exaggerated upon.
Angry pose exaggerated.

For the angry pose, I got advice to tilt her fists outwards instead as this would extend the details out from her body.

Angry pose with fists turned outwards.

I like this a lot more and agree it is more successful!

After completing these I rested.

References:

Ulate, F., 2016. Improving My Gestures. [online] Medium.com. Available at: <https://medium.com/@freddyulate/gestures-5144585e5b2d> [Accessed 16 September 2020].

Zeldapedia. n.d. Happy Mask Salesman. [online] Available at: <https://zelda.fandom.com/wiki/Happy_Mask_Salesman?file=Happy_Mask_Salesman_Artwork_%2528Majora%2527s_Mask%2529.png> [Accessed 15 November 2020].

Williams, L., 2020. Animal Crossing: New Horizons Is Simply Perfect. [Blog] Kotaku.com, Available at: <https://www.kotaku.com.au/2020/03/animal-crossing-new-horizons-review/> [Accessed 15 November 2020].

Vndb.org. n.d. Code: Realize ~Sousei No Himegimi~ | Vndb. [online] Available at: <https://vndb.org/v14908/chars#chars> [Accessed 15 November 2020].

Posts so far:

Week 1 Reflection

Week 2 Reflection

Week 3 Reflection

Week 4 Reflection

Week 5 Reflection

Week 6 Reflection

Week 7 Reflection

Week 8 Reflection

Week 9 Reflection

Week 10 Reflection

Week 11 Reflection

Week 12 Reflection

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