So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

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Deji
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So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#1 Post by Deji » Wed Sep 26, 2012 6:41 pm

So you want to make art for a visual novel.

If you do, congrats! It's going to be fun! And maybe painful... but it should mostly be fun (:

First, you may want to know what kind of art-pieces a Visual Novel needs:

  • Character Sprites/Portraits:
    This is the most basic component of a Visual Novel you will have to draw. They're used to show the character currently present and/or talking.
    Most character sprites are shown as just standing there from the thighs or waist up and they change facial expressions according to the mood of the characters.

    Image

    They may have different arm positions or different body poses altogether to showcase different moods/Emotions and the may have different clothes and/or hairstyles that vary during the course of the game. All this is not a requirement, though.

  • Event Illustrations/CGs:
    This is the second most important thing you will have to draw. A VN *can* go without event CGs, but they're a nice addition, like pretty illustrations in an old book.
    They illustrate crucial moments in the story (the VN).
    They usually show one or more characters doing something against a background.

    Image

    Event Illusts/CGs may have variations, like the sprites. The characters could change facial expression or pose, for example, like still keyframes from an animation.

  • Backgrounds:
    And this is the last element you'll have to take care of.
    Many people just use photographs that may or may not be filtered. You can also use stock free backgrounds that may be available around in the web.

    Image

    You can "cheat" and trace a photograph instead of drawing the background from scratch.
    Backgrounds may also have variations, like full of people versus empty, day/night, weather or season changes.

Now, there are other assets that may be needed for a VN but may not fall on the tasks of a VN "artist".

  • Marketing and promotional pieces:
    Posters, Banners, Wallpapers, etc.
    All the material you use to make "hype" and promote a VN, usually depicting the main characters in group pictures with the logo in them. You can also use some of the Event Illusts/CGs and Sprites for this purpose, but it's better if you make separate pieces.

    Image

  • Logo:
    All games need a logo! Now this is something that's more of the work of a Graphic Designer than an artist, since the skills required to make one are different than what you need to draw characters and backgrounds.
    The Logo must be easy to read and easy to remember and communicate and/or reflect the key concept, theme or mood of the game.

    Image

  • Graphic User Interface (GUI):
    While you can get away using a "default" GUI provided by the program you're working on, having a customized and unique GUI is always the better option.
    Again, this is more of a Graphic Designer work rather an an artist's.
    The GUI should be clean and non-intrusive, and may, like the logo, reflect the theme, concept or mood of the game.

    Image

  • Special Effect Graphics (SFX/GFX):
    If you're working on an action-orented story, or one with supernatural elements or magic or other similar things, you may consider creating Special Effect Graphics.

    Image

    They can be used for magic, powers, attacks, energy rays/orbs, particles, slashes of weapons and a long list of etceteras. If you're planning to go commercial with such a game, consider this sort of graphic as a requirement!

------------------

Now that we have that out of the way, let's see what kind of skills do you need to draw to draw each kind of asset.
BASIC skills are bare ones you need in order to produce an asset.
INTERMEDIATE are the average/desirable ones to make your assets look okay.
ADVANCED are the ones you need to make your assets look *good*. Or at least commercial worthy*
*your milleage may vary. Some people are okay with Intermediate level art

It may be a given, but the closest your art looks to your fav artists' art (in terms of how polished, clean and "professional" it looks) the better! And *please* be *brutally honest* with yourself when comparing! If you can't tell the difference, ask somebody else for feedback ;)

  • Character Sprites/Portraits:

    • BASIC - You can draw a character standing there.
    • BASIC - You can draw different emotions on a face (neutral, happy, sad, angry, etc)
    • BASIC - You can color.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You can make a non-sketchy or wonky lineart/inked drawing.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of human figure and its anatomy.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of how clothes look.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You can draw the same character in different poses.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You can use references to get your character's anatomy, pose and/or clothes right.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of color theory and how shadows work (or at least where they should be!).
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of body language.
    • ADVANCED - You can make a crisp and clean linear.
    • ADVANCED - You have a good grasp of human anatomy.
    • ADVANCED - You have a good grasp of how clothes work.
    • ADVANCED - You have a good understanding of color theory and lighting.
    • ADVANCED - You have a good understanding of body language.
    • ADVANCED - You either use references very efficiently or draw from memory without needing references because you're just that awesome.

  • Event Illustrations/CGs:

    • BASIC - You have the Basic skills to draw a character sprite.
    • BASIC - You can draw a close-up of a character.
    • BASIC - You can draw characters interacting.
    • BASIC - You can produce a background of some sort.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have the Intermediate skills to draw a character sprite.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You can draw basic backgrounds.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of how characters interact within/with an environment.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of how to draw people interacting.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic sense of picture composition.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You can draw intermediate backgrounds.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of how to communicate what's going on in a scene without having to explain the image with words.
    • ADVANCED - You have a good grasp of visual storytelling.
    • ADVANCED - You have a good grasp of people and environment interacting together.
    • ADVANCED - You can draw advanced backgrounds.

  • Backgrounds:

    • BASIC - You understand 1 point perspective.
    • BASIC - You can draw objects in 1 point perspective.
    • BASIC - You can draw okay looking trees and buildings.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You can draw in 2 point perspective.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of how things look and are placed in space (you can "think in 3D").
    • INTERMEDIATE - You can use references of backgrounds.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of proportions between elements in space.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of how light affects the environment.
    • INTERMEDIATE - You have a basic understanding of foreground, middle-ground and background elements.
    • ADVANCED - You can draw in 3 points perspective.
    • ADVANCED - You can a good grasp of all the Intermediate skills.
Last edited by Deji on Wed Aug 05, 2015 12:39 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#2 Post by fleet » Wed Sep 26, 2012 9:47 pm

Hmm, the title of the topic is 'make art for a visual novel'.

If you're not afraid to think outside the box, or your artistic skill is limited to drawing stick figures, you can use a 3D program such as DAZ or Poser to make sprites, backgrounds, and CGs (links to examples are in my siggie).
You can also use photo-shopped photographs for sprites.
If you decide to go the 3D route, be advised that many folks won't play a VN which uses 3D artwork. :twisted:
All of my VNs are at http://wolflore.net
Some are at http://www.visualnovelty.com.
Poorly done hand-drawn art is still poorly done art. Be a Poser (or better yet, use DAZ Studio 3D) - dare to be different.

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#3 Post by fioricca » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:36 pm

going through this list makes me cry a little inside

tbh, I notice that a recent trend in otome games is just shiny CGs...? Yura's games aside, there are other games out there with questionable anatomy. Here, a few screencaps from the Otomate's websites:

Image

Heroine's shoulders and ear, red-haired dude's shoulder is also imbalanced, and eye is drawn a little too close to the nose in side views, among a bunch of other mistakes you'll catch if you squint hard enough

Image

I don't even know how some of these joints work; also thin thin arms.......

Image

rofl I don't think I need to go through BWS art

A recent trend I see is to mask a lot of these errors with pretty colours. As long as you can package it with shiny art, your anatomy does not have to be flawless! It's a worrisome trend when you think of how casual artists who admire them will start thinking that anatomy problems are okay to have and are intrinsic in anime art, but I digress. :|a

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#4 Post by teacup » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:57 pm

fioricca wrote:A recent trend I see is to mask a lot of these errors with pretty colours. As long as you can package it with shiny art, your anatomy does not have to be flawless!


You know, I noticed that too. One major culprit of this is the Starry Sky games. On one hand, the characters are all very dynamic and the colors are nice, but they have some seriously weird anatomy (particularly their necks and around that area). Yet most people play that game for the art... it's kind of sad actually. :(

Looking at this list makes me realize I am only a beginner. Also kind of sad since I've been drawing for years, and hardly have improved at all. xD
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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#5 Post by junna » Wed Sep 26, 2012 11:59 pm

lol I think the thin as drawings are the current anime/manga style trend among otome games...I remember thinking some of the guys in tokimemo gs were a bit on the looong thin side. ohh..oohh and Ouran.
=.= here I thought only people go on diets...apparently drawing too.
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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#6 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:07 am

fioricca wrote:A recent trend I see is to mask a lot of these errors with pretty colours. As long as you can package it with shiny art, your anatomy does not have to be flawless! It's a worrisome trend when you think of how casual artists who admire them will start thinking that anatomy problems are okay to have and are intrinsic in anime art, but I digress. :|a

Most these aren't so much anatomy errors as they are stylistic choices. It is obvious in at least the top two that the artist understands anatomy and is consciously diverging from it where they wish. The problem, as you put it, is casual and young artists using THAT art to teach themselves anatomy instead of studying it from a valid source. It is no different than a landscape artist looking at Dali to learn to paint instead of going outside or studying a photograph. But that doesn't mean Dali is a bad artist or making mistakes. Purposefully distorted anatomy can be very powerful - the Greeks did it, as did Michelangelo. My avatar's eyes are too big, and her nose too small to be realistic, but you wouldn't say the artist doesn't know anatomy, as those were rather deliberate choices.

Stylistic anatomy IS a hallmark intrinsic to anime art - the degree of stylization and areas of stylization are what separate different anime styles from one another. BAD anime art comes about when an amateur copies OTHER anime art's stylistic distortion of anatomy, rather than learning anatomy and choosing what to stylize themselves.

And it is not a recent trend at all for color to mask construction and line errors. But I see this as a silly complaint. Would you rather the colors not be good? If they are, of course they will elevate the line art, whether that line art is perfect or not. No artist thinks to themselves - "Well, I'm going to paint fantastic and skillful colors to hide my drawing mistakes!" I believe you are falling into a common fallacy - correlation does not imply causation.

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#7 Post by fioricca » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:43 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:And it is not a recent trend at all for color to mask construction and line errors. But I see this as a silly complaint. Would you rather the colors not be good? If they are, of course they will elevate the line art, whether that line art is perfect or not. No artist thinks to themselves - "Well, I'm going to paint fantastic and skillful colors to hide my drawing mistakes!" I believe you are falling into a common fallacy - correlation does not imply causation.

Oh -- I have no problems with awesome colouring! My complaint is more of 'if you can do CG right, why not also invest in that little extra effort to correct anatomy'. XD; I don't mind stylised art as long as everything is in the right place/has no jarring errors:

Image

... for instance. My complaint with recent otome game art isn't about the style but overall proportion balance; with the green-haired dude in the second picture, for instance, his lean features don't startle me as much as his seemingly-dislocated shoulder and the length of his right arm. I guess there's nothing I can say if that was deliberately done (why would you want your characters to have imbalanced shoulders, though?).

teacup wrote:You know, I noticed that too. One major culprit of this is the Starry Sky games. On one hand, the characters are all very dynamic and the colors are nice, but they have some seriously weird anatomy (particularly their necks and around that area). Yet most people play that game for the art... it's kind of sad actually. :(

This! I've seen a few young artists who strive to emulate Kazuaki and start drawing really lean guys and such. I have nothing against Kazuaki because despite her awkward way of drawing necks, you can tell that her style's stable, but then you see the influence she has on young artists and I'm like

:|a

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#8 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Thu Sep 27, 2012 12:53 am

fioricca wrote:This! I've seen a few young artists who strive to emulate Kazuaki and start drawing really lean guys and such. I have nothing against Kazuaki because despite her awkward way of drawing necks, you can tell that her style's stable, but then you see the influence she has on young artists and I'm like

:|a


Eh, young artists will always start copying styles first up. No-one jumps straight into learning anatomy. You have to first ignite the passion in drawing to begin with and that usually comes from an interest in something. I started off my blatantly copying Bob Rafei's style. No, it doesn't really help you in the long run, but who is actually thinking about that when they start drawing? I sure wasn't thinking 'Oh, I should start doing nude studies because I want to get better'. I was 'OMG, this looks so pretty, I want to create something like that *u*'. It's not until later when you are struggling to draw what you want that you start turning towards study. My passion came before my logic and it's pretty much the only thing that keeps me going. If people have to go through a phase of copying art to find that they love creating, is that so bad?

I think I'm... probably semi-advanced, intermediate and basic (oh my poor background skills XD)

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#9 Post by nyaatrap » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:00 am

- Ignoring recent conversations ヽ(´ー`)ノ

Complements:
There are 2 more graphic assets VN needs:
・Graphical User Interface
・Special effects (SFX)
The former is done by vectoring and filtering, while the latter is done by vectoring, filtering, or programming. So they're not really drawer's job. But actually, finding their specialists are more harder than doing by yourself, so sometimes artists should take care of them.

edit: I forgot Logos (-ω-*)ゞ
Last edited by nyaatrap on Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#10 Post by junna » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:05 am

Auro-Cyanide wrote: I started off my blatantly copying Bob Rafei's style. No, it doesn't really help you in the long run, but who is actually thinking about that when they start drawing? I sure wasn't thinking 'Oh, I should start doing nude studies because I want to get better'. I was 'OMG, this looks so pretty, I want to create something like that *u*'. It's not until later when you are struggling to draw what you want that you start turning towards study. My passion came before my logic and it's pretty much the only thing that keeps me going. If people have to go through a phase of copying art to find that they love creating, is that so bad?


LOL I started off copying Gosho Aoyama's Detective Conan...and then I'm a muscle perv who likes looking at the play of muscles on men and women (the heck) and then I found that I like taking photographs better.
so now...each time I draw anything, I'll lean toward body shapes and poses and totally fail at faces. plus I'll always be like "ARGGH, it looks soo cartoony." (brain, accept the fact that it's a cartoon)
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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#11 Post by fioricca » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:08 am

Auro-Cyanide wrote:Eh, young artists will always start copying styles first up. No-one jumps straight into learning anatomy. You have to first ignite the passion in drawing to begin with and that usually comes from an interest in something. I started off my blatantly copying Bob Rafei's style. No, it doesn't really help you in the long run, but who is actually thinking about that when they start drawing? I sure wasn't thinking 'Oh, I should start doing nude studies because I want to get better'. I was 'OMG, this looks so pretty, I want to create something like that *u*'. It's not until later when you are struggling to draw what you want that you start turning towards study. My passion came before my logic and it's pretty much the only thing that keeps me going. If people have to go through a phase of copying art to find that they love creating, is that so bad?

Ohhh that's true! I didn't think about that. I started from copying someone else's style myself, but received a number of criticisms along the lines of "GO AND DO LIFE STUDIES GOSH you are just a copy of this artist" so I thought it was bad. Sorry about that. :(a I keep forgetting that there are people who can churn out good art regardless of whether they did studies or not.

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#12 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:11 am

Auro-Cyanide wrote: I sure wasn't thinking 'Oh, I should start doing nude studies because I want to get better'. I was 'OMG, this looks so pretty, I want to create something like that *u*'.

That's funny, because my initial artistic thoughts were 'Oh, those nudes are so pretty. I want to create something like that. I should study them to get better'. :mrgreen:

nyaatrap wrote:Complements:
There are 2 more graphic assets VN needs:
・Graphical User Interface
・Special effects (SFX)

edit: I forgot Logos (-ω-*)ゞ

And of course, yes. Those things need to be added to the list. I would add one more - marketing and promotional materials.

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#13 Post by clua » Thu Sep 27, 2012 1:22 am

...:A:

I think with some effort I'm able to reach a little bit of advanced on sprite art.
CG might be intermediate with luck...and I don't want to talk about backgrounds XD.

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#14 Post by MomoiroGirl » Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:55 am

LateWhiteRabbit wrote:
Auro-Cyanide wrote: I sure wasn't thinking 'Oh, I should start doing nude studies because I want to get better'. I was 'OMG, this looks so pretty, I want to create something like that *u*'.

That's funny, because my initial artistic thoughts were 'Oh, those nudes are so pretty. I want to create something like that. I should study them to get better'. :mrgreen:



I think it may depend on what type of art you generally are introduced to :/

The first type of art I started doing was Cartoon Network'ish (think Power Puff Girls XD), then I started reading a Disney Princesses' magazine and started drawing that. Then I saw manga for the first time and did that for many years.
I didn't really think anatomy-wise, I just thought about wether or not something looked good.
I only became interested in real-life anatomy after watching Titanic :D I really wanted to be able to do what Jack did, to draw real life, and truly copy reality, so now I'm trying to practice more real-life anatomy.

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Re: So you want to make art for a Visual Novel: A checklist

#15 Post by RunicV » Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:05 am

Oh, cool. I'm in secondary school and I'm around the beginnings of intermediate. ^_^

This is a really useful list, thanks for putting it up.

And if you're complaining about art styles with bad anatomy... CLAMP is... Well... They have horribly exaggerated thin and long limbs.

Some anatomy exaggerations are allowed, and liked. Like, I asked a few girls and almost everyone said they like lean guys, so ---> otome game = fanservice = skinny but athletic men! Yayy!

I have just realized that without actually properly studying anatomy, I have managed to produce somewhat anatomically correct drawings over the years. Praise God for beginner's luck and guess and check. :D

This forum topic will be really useful... -runs back into the shadows-
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