What art direction do people prefer?

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving art assets.
Message
Author
User avatar
VerdeICe
Regular
Posts: 84
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2012 8:43 am
Contact:

What art direction do people prefer?

#1 Post by VerdeICe » Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:51 am

What kind of style and direction do you guys prefer to see in visual novels? Give examples if you like.

Personally... I dont care as long as the writings good and the art is clean, but... if I were to have to choose.. I would say maybe something that looks like some old anime. Like from the generation of trigun, cowboy beebop, and the original hunter x hunter (new one is waaayy toooo bubbly).

User avatar
Auro-Cyanide
ssǝʇunoƆ ʇɹ∀
Posts: 3059
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:02 am
Completed: http://auro-cyanide.tumblr.com/visualnovels
Projects: Athena
Organization: Cyanide Tea
Tumblr: auro-cyanide
Deviantart: Auro-Cyanide
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#2 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:59 am

Art style should ideally serve the story, just in how writing style should serve the story. I don't care what the art style is as long as it suits the story and is aesthetically pleasing. There is no particular right or wrong style for visual novels.

User avatar
SundownKid
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 2299
Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2012 9:50 pm
Completed: Icebound, Selenon Rising Ep. 1-2
Projects: Selenon Rising Ep. 3-4
Organization: Fastermind Games
Deviantart: sundownkid
Location: NYC
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#3 Post by SundownKid » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:18 am

If the art direction is good, it can *make* me like it. It really depends on how well it is pulled off.

However, off the top of my head, my favorite type of art is "realistic anime". Similar to the art in Icebound and Fire Emblem Awakening, the art is somewhat manga-ish but not extremely cartoony or cutesy. I might also like graphic novel style if it's pulled off well.

User avatar
Asceai
Eileen-Class Veteran
Posts: 1258
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:13 am
Projects: a battle engine
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#4 Post by Asceai » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:33 am

Makura/KeroQ style is probably my favourite (basically, the kind you see in H2O, Supreme Candy, Moekan, Subarashiki Hibi, Tousui Kitan, the BLUEWATER games etc.) I like the stark, high-contrast shading, the excellent use of lighting etc.

Image Image Image Image

Second to that, the FAVORITE flat-shaded style (as seen in Angel Wish, Wiz Anniversary, Hoshizora no Memoria and FD, Irotoridori no Sekai and FD)- I don't really like flat-shaded styles in general, which says a lot about how good this art is because it manages to make flat shading look really awesome and unique.
Image Image Image Image

There's individual artists that I like more, like KusuKusu, CARNELIAN and Alpha, but as far as styles go, those two are probably my favourite.

gekiganwing
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 2456
Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2004 1:38 pm
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#5 Post by gekiganwing » Sun Apr 13, 2014 8:47 am

I'll go along with Auro-Cyanide's statement "Art style should ideally serve the story, just in how writing style should serve the story." Think about what you intend to create. Then consider what sort of visuals would be appropriate. I consider all of the following and more to be valid options:

* Scanned drawings or paintings
* Drawings made with any kind of computer
* Cartoon-like exaggeration
* Abstract cartoons (such as Digicub Ltd's romance games)
* Photographic realism
* 3D polygon graphics
* Retro sprite graphics
* No images (such as Digital: A Love Story, or The World to Reverse)

There are times when it's appropriate to use an art style that deliberately contrasts with your story. If you want to create an surreal or avant-garde piece, or if you want to portray multiple worlds/realities, go for it.
VerdeICe wrote:... maybe something that looks like some old anime. Like from the generation of trigun, cowboy beebop, and the original hunter x hunter...
For what it's worth, all three TV shows started between 1998 and 1999. I understand that it's been fifteen years since they were made... The oldest program I've watched was the 1968 movie Hols: Prince of the Sun. See History of Anime for further reading.

User avatar
Asceai
Eileen-Class Veteran
Posts: 1258
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:13 am
Projects: a battle engine
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#6 Post by Asceai » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:10 am

I admit when I hear 'old anime' I think Legend of Galactic Heroes myself. In general I'm not very fond of anime-like art in VNs- the tradeoffs made for animation are way too great, particularly in the areas I care about most (the shading and colouring). Obviously if the VN in question is fully animated it can't be helped (nobody blames Shiny Days for having anime-style art =P), but for still works I prefer to see more experimentation than the hyper rigid style anime art requires for consistency across large productions involving a huge number of people and typically a lot of outsourcing.

Ad:lib's games (they're not animated, for reference, except for tiny things like mouth movements and blinking on the character sprites) have CGs in anime-style art, but with the added bonus of duplicating the layer, increasing the contrast, blurring it and setting the new layer to be partially transparent, to add a horrid fake 'HDR' effect.
Image Image

Amusingly, the actual in-game graphics (with the character sprites and stuff) look much better because, while they use the same anime-like style, they don't have the horrid fake-looking bloom effect.

EDIT: Oh, and my least favourite art style? Hands down, it's this style used by Clochette (and that artist's doujin games):
Image
Specifically, those BLACK EYES. I'd rather play a VN with art by someone who can't draw at all than look at those black eyes all day. Eyes are so important - they're a window into the heroine's mind, but I look at those empty black stones and all I see are the infinite depths of the cold unwelcoming void of oblivion. I can't develop an emotional attachment to heroines that are clearly seeking to devour my soul.

User avatar
Laniessa
Veteran
Posts: 251
Joined: Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:10 am
Completed: CDC, Cerulean, WBW, Helena's Flowers
Projects: Chomp Chomp, WaV
Tumblr: adirosa
Deviantart: adirosa
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#7 Post by Laniessa » Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:03 pm

Hmm, I agree that certain styles suit certain particular VNs, but I admit I've got styles I like, haha.

I tend to prefer it if it was shaded more softly, with low saturation but medium-ish contrast, actually! Case in point; I adore the 999 character art, and VLR. Ace Attorney art from the Apollo Justice era was my fav, and I'm trying to remember what I had thought of before writing this, but its apparently slipped my mind.

On the other hand, I'm a huge fan of super-stylized stuff, like Ghost Trick, The World Ends With You and Professor Layton. As long as it suits the story!

(I'm don't really like the, uh, period of time where everything looked like Ever17 art. But I'm a new-gen kid, so I don't really like old anime style period.)

EDIT: Oh! Persona art. Like Persona 3, 4, 4 Arena. Shigenori Soejima is a wonderful artist and I just love the way he colours things, especially how he cellshades.

EDIT2: Because I read about Hotel Dusk and I want to give it a vote of love too.
Last edited by Laniessa on Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:06 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Sharm
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 558
Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 4:39 pm
Projects: Twin Crowns, Weather Wizard
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#8 Post by Sharm » Sun Apr 13, 2014 5:16 pm

Hmm, a thread about preference and not about what style is best. This should be a much more interesting conversation. I like and appreciate all sorts of styles but favorites are a different thing altogether.

For the actual drawing I prefer stuff that is appealing and has a high technical skill. So things that are both well drawn and good looking. I don't like the darker styles where things are well drawn but ugly or so stylized that you begin to wonder if its human anymore. I don't have a preference for realism vs. stylized, I tend to dislike the extremes on either end but really I just want to look at it and think "Oooh!"

I prefer the linework to be clean, not messy or scratchy. I like heavy lines, thin lines, colored lines, all sorts. I don't really care for the lineless look most of the time, the coloring and design has to be unusually high quality to pull it off. When it is done that well though, I love it.

My favorite coloring style is the one that's somewhere inbetween painted and cell shaded. The contrast is good, the places where the shading ends and begins are obvious but sometimes there's a gradient inside and sometime the line of shadow is hard and sometimes soft. It's a pretty common coloring style these days, but I love it and I'm not very good at it.

I also really like bright and happy or calm, mellow pallets. Don't like dingy and brown.
Works in Progress: Twin Crowns | Weather Wizard

User avatar
Auro-Cyanide
ssǝʇunoƆ ʇɹ∀
Posts: 3059
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:02 am
Completed: http://auro-cyanide.tumblr.com/visualnovels
Projects: Athena
Organization: Cyanide Tea
Tumblr: auro-cyanide
Deviantart: Auro-Cyanide
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#9 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:10 pm

Sharm wrote:Hmm, a thread about preference and not about what style is best. This should be a much more interesting conversation. I like and appreciate all sorts of styles but favorites are a different thing altogether.
I disagree. While it can be interesting knowing people's personal interests, it's really not very useful unless you are planning to average everything out and hit the common denominator (cute anime art with clean linework and cell shading) and we would just get a thread of people talking to themselves about what they like. If someone looked at my personal preferences they would find them to be so over the board that no useful direction could be discerned from them.

In order for an artist to get anything out of this conversation apart from the fact that yes, people do indeed like different things, we have to be more critical about visual language.

For instance, let's say we are talking about a horror VN, what styles would suit it? What about a comedy one? What about sci-fi? While clean anime style could technically work for all of them, does it add or detract from the story? What art elements and principles could be manipulated to work with the theme instead of simply being there.

For example, you are making a horror visual novel about someone being hunted through an abandoned city. What art styles would you look at to draw inspiration from? What other sources would be useful? What individual elements could you borrow to blend in an effective manner?

User avatar
Sharm
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 558
Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 4:39 pm
Projects: Twin Crowns, Weather Wizard
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#10 Post by Sharm » Sun Apr 13, 2014 9:41 pm

Things don't have to be useful to be interesting and I think there are already some useful things being said when people explain why they do and don't like certain styles. It's not straightforward information but it doesn't really have to be. The type of discussion you're trying to spark would be interesting too, but it should be its own thread I think.
Works in Progress: Twin Crowns | Weather Wizard

User avatar
Auro-Cyanide
ssǝʇunoƆ ʇɹ∀
Posts: 3059
Joined: Sun Jul 25, 2010 9:02 am
Completed: http://auro-cyanide.tumblr.com/visualnovels
Projects: Athena
Organization: Cyanide Tea
Tumblr: auro-cyanide
Deviantart: Auro-Cyanide
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#11 Post by Auro-Cyanide » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:13 pm

Sharm wrote:Things don't have to be useful to be interesting and I think there are already some useful things being said when people explain why they do and don't like certain styles. It's not straightforward information but it doesn't really have to be. The type of discussion you're trying to spark would be interesting too, but it should be its own thread I think.
My point is that it's really difficult to have a discussion when the question is personal preference. It's cool seeing what everyone is into but it's hard to respond to or think about how it relates to story telling unless you frame it with reference. I'm still talking about art direction, but instead of seeing it as 'well I personally like', which I can't really comment on unless I want to agree or disagree with your taste, it kind of needs to be more 'this style can say' or 'I liked how this style worked with this story' etc. I think threads where people can respond to each other are a little more lively then ones where you come in, state your preference and then leave. It's nice to have something to talk about.

For instance you said 'I prefer the linework to be clean, not messy or scratchy.' Okay. Why? What does it mean? Do you think a messy lineart style could suit certain stories? What genres do you think? Do you have examples of what you dislike? What about ones where you think it actually works? What if clean and messy where used at the same time? Perhaps it could be used to symbolise something?

If I take two of my favorite Visual Novel styled games, Ghost Trick and Hotel Dusk, you can see a HUGE difference in style and both of them are excellent because they are doing something really important for the story. Ghost Trick is quirky and different. The art style is bold, bright, with strong use of shapes and excellent contrast. It works well with the oddball characters and the it makes the story accessible and easily enjoyed. The story can actually be quite dark, but the art helps lift the tone and keeps it from falling too deep.

Hotel Dusk on the other hand uses rotoscoping and a beautiful sketchy black and white style to bring the detective story to life. Instantly it has set the tone of the story and what the player can expect. It's darker and grittier, it's going to be serious and focuses on realism of human emotion. There is close attention paid to facial cues and body language, giving a sense of liveliness to the characters. Each moment seems dramatic and you wait for the mystery to build up.

Now if you actually look at the two stories, there aren't that many differences. Both are mysteries that focuses on you moving to different locations to solve it. What would happen if you switched the art styles of the stories? What would happen to the way you perceive them? They would come across quite different right, especially if the writing was kept the way it was.

Everyone has personal preferences when it comes to style, but with VNs the artwork will not be without context and so the art direction is directly related to that context. A discussion without reference to the context won't go very far.

User avatar
DaFool
Lemma-Class Veteran
Posts: 4171
Joined: Tue Aug 01, 2006 12:39 pm
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#12 Post by DaFool » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:28 pm

Asceai wrote:duplicating the layer, increasing the contrast, blurring it and setting the new layer to be partially transparent, to add a horrid fake 'HDR' effect.
Thank you, this was exactly what I was looking for. I have been wondering why anime screenshots look so different from cel-shaded pictures and this is exactly what's going on, especially in the post-Makoto-Shinkai generation where everyone is putting shitloads of lens flares on their work.

I'd really want to make a shoujo-style game one day, with coloring similar to that found in Child of Light.

I also like rough and sketchy stuff since I think they suit avant-garde works like Kill A Kill / Kemonozume / Gurren Lagann

I'm kinda stuck on penned solid black lines, pseudo-cel-shading, and somewhat realistic body proportions right now... although they do a good job of not being overtly jarring when composited with photographic backgrounds and 3D.

User avatar
Asceai
Eileen-Class Veteran
Posts: 1258
Joined: Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:13 am
Projects: a battle engine
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#13 Post by Asceai » Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:46 pm

DaFool wrote:especially in the post-Makoto-Shinkai generation where everyone is putting shitloads of lens flares on their work.
Ah, so that's what the whole deal is with that! Makoto Shinkai knew what he was doing though =P

User avatar
Sharm
Miko-Class Veteran
Posts: 558
Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 4:39 pm
Projects: Twin Crowns, Weather Wizard
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#14 Post by Sharm » Mon Apr 14, 2014 2:11 am

@Auro-Cyanide: Ah, it was calling it a discussion that set this off. I was wondering how my comment provoked such a strong reaction. Really the only point I was making is that is was going to be more interesting than yet another thread about which style will sell better. In those threads no one really states their preferences because everyone wants to make absolutely sure that the most important things are that the art is a good quality and suits the story. With that firmly out of the way I was interested in seeing what people really prefered. Yeah, I can't use that in my VN's development but it is interesting to know expecially if you look at who's writing those opinions. I thought it'd be fun to see what elements attract musicians or which stuff programmers like best or things like that. You're absolutely right though, the way things are set up doesn't really promote discussion. That's actually part of the reason why I thought your questions should be another thread, because people would be more likely to join in on that discussion instead of just responding to the first post.

I'm happy to answer your questions of course. I like clean linework for a number of reason, most of them pretty personal. I have a strong preference towards art for comics and animation because that was the artwork that I associated with my favorite stories as a child. It's also a style I've spent a good amount of time studying and trying to emulate. I also like clean bold lines in other artistic things such as interior design. Clean lines tend to be much more deliberate and imply a greater amount of effort. I'm mainly a pixel artist so I like a lot of precision in my art.

Messy lineart would most certainly work better in some stories than others. I think it's a good way to make things look grungy and emotionally unsettling. I'm also not a big fan of those sorts of stories, I don't want emotionally cathartic, I prefer my entertainment to take me exploring and put me in a better mood.

It looks like both Ghost Trick and Hotel Dusk are artisticly daring. Is that your preference? ;)
Works in Progress: Twin Crowns | Weather Wizard

User avatar
KiloTango
Regular
Posts: 138
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:12 am
Projects: The Lighthouse (NaNoReNo14)
Organization: Starship ★ Palindrome
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: What art direction do people prefer?

#15 Post by KiloTango » Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:42 am

I think different styles can still be effective in different genres (Like at first I would never have though the original art in Higurashi could be scary until
the first time someone did THAT FACE
and it was utterly terrifying.) You get into a much more technical discussion if you're looking at what is most effective rather than just 'hey, what do you like'? and even then there's some big degree of preference involved aside from general storytelling techniques going on. Like in horror you can go with realistic and gritty but also cute but with contrasting CREEPY can be equally effective, it really depends on the exact story and feeling you're trying to create.

For me, the biggest draws in art style are strong personality showing in the sprites, that show plenty of emotion: even better if they have a good range of of subtle stuff as well. I'm more likely to pick up something that breaks the mould a bit visually; things that are more generic 'pretty and anime' need to have an interesting story for me to pick them up, but stuff that stands out as interesting and unusual with a clear sense of its own style is more likely to get a look even if the plot sounds more lacklustre. But really, the biggest thing for me is how the art is used to tell the story and portray the characters, and that's something that doesn't rely on any particular style.

(Add another vote of love for Hotel Dusk and Ghost Trick here as well).
ImageImageImage

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot]