Style vs Style in VNs

Questions, skill improvement, and respectful critique involving art assets.
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AshenhartKrie
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Style vs Style in VNs

#1 Post by AshenhartKrie » Tue Oct 04, 2016 9:20 pm

That's probably a strange title but its the best I could think of.
I've noticed that almost every visual novel I've played has had the typical anime art style. This isn't a bad thing by far - plenty have absolutely gorgeous artwork but well... it gets a bit boring after a while? Games like Heirofania and Heirs and Graces particularly appealed to me because of their different art styles. As someone who cannot draw the popular anime style (it doesn't work. I've tried) I feel like its harder to break into the VN scene if you don't follow these unspoken guidelines for stylised art.
Just to be clear, I'm not trying to crap on anyone for drawing anime/manga style a lot of it is absolutely stunning and everyone has different skills. I just feel that perhaps others like me feel some sort of pressure to create using this 'set' style rather than branching out and exploring their own styles.
What are your thoughts? Would you like to see more diverse art styles in VNs or do you think that the anime style is an integral part of the VN genre?

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Re: Style vs Style in VNs

#2 Post by Divona » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:36 am

Personally, I'm not a fan of western style. When I'm talking about western style, I'm talking about:

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It doesn't appeal to me as it always feel like something is off, and not quite right. Then, I'm the one who been growing up with manga and anime. Perhaps, it's what you grew up with, and the style is just stick with you.

Now, that is out of the way.

It could be because of that most visual novel readers are coming from anime scene, those character art are more appearing than what you often see in the western, and it's what sell it from the first glance. It has higher rate of people would pick them up. It's a sure way to get notice from the current market base.

You will also need to look at the rate of visual novel releasing in the market. Japan is still number one source of visual novel, while the rest of the world is on a rather low rate of releasing, commercially. With that number, you will often see localizing visual novel from Japan out weight the rest of the world. That also make you feel like there are more anime style than diversity of western releases.

It doesn't help that the number one sub-anime style also the 'moe' type, where it sit better with 'otaku' based, whom are the main source of income. Why move out from the style that already have strong fan based? That would just be too risky, commercially. And those are from the business point of view. Eroge still a number one type of visual novel that sell better than the all-ages version.

Let's talk about the diversity in anime style.

If you look closely to the anime market, or visual novel from Japan itself, you can see the different in style.

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You wouldn't say that One Piece is the same style as JoJo's Bizarre Adventure or Doraemon. Even though, all of them are 'anime'.

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In western, though, it doesn't seem that the 'anime' style look that different, and that's because what had been import are often those 'eroge' or the one that has those 'moe' style because, you know, it guarantee that it will sell because of the existing fan based.

So now you know, in Japan there are diversity of the style already. Each manga artist has their own style, and once you see their work, you know right away who is the author. If you're an assistant to a manga artist, you will have to match the style of original artist, so they're all stay consistent. Same goes with the anime production house, the character design has to stay close to original design from manga or light novel. You can have your own style, and if it is doing great with mass market then, it will stay. But as commercial artist, you just have to learn how to draw in many styles, so you can work on what the client want.

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All in all, it is really depending on the personal preferences on which style appealing to you, as a reader, more than the other. It is what catch the eyes and make people go further to look at the story. To the current visual novel fan based, cute Japanese anime girls does that better than western one.

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I would like to see more visual novel releases with western style, but that's because I am curious to see if there is actually large enough market of those who prefer those style.
Last edited by Divona on Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:57 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Style vs Style in VNs

#3 Post by Fuseblower » Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:41 am

I'd like to see different art styles but I think that the expression "visual novel" is strongly associated with the Japanese art style (as used in manga and anime). People might expect such an art style when downloading a visual novel and be disappointed when it is in another art style. After all : if a great new anime is announced and it turns out to be a Disney movie then people might feel cheated (no matter how great the quality of that Disney movie is).

But that is just my feeling. I don't know how strong the association between visual novels and the Japanese art style is. It's obvious for anime and manga because they're Japanese words.

Wikipedia says : "...most often using anime-style art...". But does that mean it's actually expected?

Alternatives for the name "visual novel" which do not have the Japanese connection might be "Interactive Novel" or "Gamebook" (the "Choose your own Adventure" thingie).

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Re: Style vs Style in VNs

#4 Post by Divona » Wed Oct 05, 2016 7:13 am

Fuseblower wrote:After all : if a great new anime is announced and it turns out to be a Disney movie then people might feel cheated (no matter how great the quality of that Disney movie is).
It's interesting you said that, because Japanese anime was influenced by Disney.

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Anyone who compared the work of anime artist Osamu Tezuka and the work that came out of Walt Disney studios in the 1930s and 1940s could see the obvious similarities between Disney’s characters and Tezuka’s. Of course, Tezuka created all of his own characters and story lines, but he borrowed the bold lines, round heads and large, expressive eyes of Disney characters, making his own characters at once impossibly cute and extremely expressive.
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Re: Style vs Style in VNs

#5 Post by gekiganwing » Wed Oct 05, 2016 9:42 am

AshenhartKrie wrote: Would you like to see more diverse art styles in VNs...
In a word, yes. I enjoy a variety of art. My fandom background includes animated movies and series, alternative comics, fantasy / SF novels, and live action movies. I wandered into translated comics fandom at age nineteen thanks to videotapes of the Slayers TV series, and then borrowing Ranma 1/2 trade paperbacks from a library. A brief VN tangent...
I was glad when I saw the mid-20th century art of Winter Wolves' first two Vera Blanc titles. I liked the relatively realistic drawings in EverLove: Rose. I appreciated how MoaCube's Cinders had detailed sprites as well as backdrops. Finally, I enjoyed the distinct characters in Black Sands: Legends of the Rift and Marccus' Eldet, but I thought it was a bit odd that the stories feature many well-built characters.
That said, here are a few personal thoughts and opinions.

1. I tend to dislike 3D polygon images, but only when they depict people in a realistic manner. I understand that not everyone will share this opinion.
If they show sci-fi creatures or fantasy monsters, that's fine. If they show humans drawn in an exaggerated way (I'm thinking about The Incredibles), that's also fine. However, I don't like realistic 3D CG drawings of people, because I get an unpleasant uncanny valley reaction when I look at the character's eyes and/or mouth.
2. Think about how your drawings will work with text. It might help to look outside of visual novels for inspiration. Thieves and Kings introduced me to the concept of a comic which had prose segments. Around the same time, I found Jimmy Gownley's short-lived series Shades of Gray Comics and Stories, which also blended comics and prose storytelling. There are other examples to be found.

3. Consider you want to say with your graphics and character designs. How do they contribute to the story? For instance, it makes sense if a powerful / heroic character has a lantern jaw of justice, but what if mundane characters have similar designs? Also, it makes sense if a puni plush character is an ordinary person, but what if the character has hidden powers? Finally, I think that thick-line animation can work as motionless images, and if a series also includes characters who lack thick lines, then that can be a way to distinguish them.

4. Think about story genre and pacing. How much time will the reader spend looking at an image? How much time will the reader spend focusing on the text? If the story should be fast-paced, then I do not think it should slowly display text. If the story is supposed to horrify the reader, then it might make sense to reveal unsettling things through slowly loading images or deliberately paced text.

5. Also, consider how you want to present text. Think about what's the best fit for your graphics. ADV style is the most common: the drawing and the text box are separate. It kind of reminds me of the Prince Valiant comics. The NVL style places text on top of images. Also, there is floating textbox. Sometimes this helps a visual novel look more like a comic, with text presented as speech or thought bubbles.

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