Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

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Zoideah
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Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#1 Post by Zoideah » Wed Jul 04, 2007 3:08 pm

If this is the wrong forum, please let me know.

Now. Art seems to be one of the biggest problems in Ren'py games. Whether it's laziness, lack of creativity, or just being new to art as a whole, I don't know. XD So I've decided to make a tutorial on character models. This one is about the many expressions a character can have and how to change them the easy way.

Step one: Art Program
I recommend Photoshop or Opencanvas, but anything's fine as long as it has a layer function. Good? Now for step two.

Step two: Lineart
Add a few layers to your picture. I'd say three or four. On layer 4 begin drawing the lineart for the head, hair, and body. On layer 3, draw the face. Trust me. Your art should look something like this by now:

Image

Step three: Base colors
Color everything in. At this point, staying in the lines doesn't really matter. We can clean it up later. Make sure you devote one layer for skin alone. Good? Your picture should now look something like this:

Image
(lol, lazy coloring.)

Step four: Shading 1
Now, add shading and lighting to the non-skin layer. This is, in my opinion, the most fun. However... by this point I got lazy. =w= Remember, unless your character is... modeling... >> light should only come from one direction.

Image

Step five: Shading 2
Add shading and lighting to the skin layer. Be careful around areas like the nose and the temple, where expression doesn't change. Lighting should be subtle.

Image

Step six: Expression 1
There you go. You're now done with one expression. To change the expression- in this case, from neutral to happy- erase the face lineart and draw something new.

Image

Step seven: Fixing things up
Now, just adjust the skin layer to match the new lineart. Easy enough? :D

Image

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#2 Post by DaFool » Wed Jul 04, 2007 4:17 pm

Thanks. Wish there was something like this months ago.

I think the art in Ren'Py games is gradually improving.

A quick and easy tutorial on How to complete a project you started... now that one would be most welcome.

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#3 Post by Zoideah » Wed Jul 04, 2007 5:44 pm

DaFool wrote:Thanks. Wish there was something like this months ago.

I think the art in Ren'Py games is gradually improving.

A quick and easy tutorial on How to complete a project you started... now that one would be most welcome.
Great idea. If only... e_e

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#4 Post by F.I.A » Thu Jul 05, 2007 8:25 am

Actually, you don't need to erase the former facial expression. Use that as guideline to prevent any problem with positioning and add in new expression in other layer.

Me? I do the hard way by using tracing papers.

NOTE: It seems like majority has suggested to make a VN. So go you!
「通りすがりのメーカだ。覚えとけ。」

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#5 Post by mikey » Thu Jul 05, 2007 8:53 am

Welcome to the forums! :P
Zoideah wrote:Now. Art seems to be one of the biggest problems in Ren'py games. Whether it's laziness, lack of creativity, or just being new to art as a whole, I don't know. XD
Art is always the biggest problem, in every VN - commerical or fanmade. And it's also the biggest problem in "normal" games in general. Simply because it's the most time-consuming and effort-demanding asset.

And there is laziness and laziness - it can take literally months to make just a few detailed backgrounds and I can understand people who won't go into that much detail. As game-makers usually there is a bigger picture to see - not just the art, but also the writing, music and so on.

You can put together a good (4-hour) project in 4 months (music, story, programming), but then you may well spend another 4 years making the art for it. It's simply the most "expensive" thing to do. :(

EDIT: Actually, case in point: Camp Handiba...

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#6 Post by papillon » Thu Jul 05, 2007 10:13 am

... according to records I have already spent over $700 on artwork for FH...

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#7 Post by DaFool » Thu Jul 05, 2007 10:52 am

Hmmm... according to some outdated info, bgs here cost around P500 ($10) to P3500 ($70) per piece... though it sounds a bit on the expensive side.
(Wow I should have thousands of dollars now if I weren't doing things for free. And I shouldn't really consider myself an artist... just a production personell who happened to not totally suck in drawing and photoshopping.)

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#8 Post by Zoideah » Thu Jul 05, 2007 10:59 am

Hmm... :/ While truly exceptional art does indeed to months or even years to complete, art suitable for any VN can be completed in 1~3 months.

One character model: 3~4 hours. Add another hour for 6~8 expressions. An average game runs about 6~10 of these, from what I've seen. Remember, certain NPCs are reusable. Guards, soldiers, monsters... and they don't really need expressions.
One CG: Depends on the CG. 5~8 hours. The secret is, you don't need tons and tons of CGs. A few, really good CGs will do just as well.
Backgrounds: Again, depends on the background. 4~6 hours. Half an hour if it's an abstract background. I use abstract backgrounds to cheat. ;p They're easily used in scenes portraying a particular emotion. A deep blue background for sadness... a peachy color for happiness.

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#9 Post by Zoideah » Thu Jul 05, 2007 11:00 am

Zoideah wrote:Hmm... :/ While truly exceptional art does indeed to months or even years to complete, art suitable for any VN can be completed in 1~3 months.

One character model: 3~4 hours. Add another hour for 6~8 expressions. An average game runs about 6~10 of these, from what I've seen. Remember, certain NPCs are reusable. Guards, soldiers, monsters... and they don't really need expressions.
One CG: Depends on the CG. 5~8 hours. The secret is, you don't need tons and tons of CGs. A few, really good CGs will do just as well.
Backgrounds: Again, depends on the background. 4~6 hours. Half an hour if it's an abstract background. I use abstract backgrounds to cheat. ;p They're easily used in scenes portraying a particular emotion. A deep blue background for sadness... a peachy color for happiness.

EDIT: And seriously. If art is that big a problem, I'll create a few character models for free.

>>

<<

>< I clicked quote instead of edit. Sorry.

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#10 Post by DaFool » Thu Jul 05, 2007 11:18 am

That is about correct. Backgrounds can take up to 12-15 hours if you go for super-detailed (i.e. anime theatrical backgrounds)

But here's the thing. Most visual novels are completed by people who have day jobs. When I get home, I only have around 1-2 hours of free time, and often do not really have the motivation nor energy left to work on something. So that only leaves weekends. As for those still in school, they are usually distracted by all sorts of stuff unless it is summertime.

Not to mention all the scripting, programming, tweaking the composed music, etc.

So time is still an issue.

Any donated character models would be most welcome. But there is also a preference for completely custom-built art specific for a game.

If it were that easy than there would be plenty of graphic artists making visual novels. But there is definitely some sort of technical barrier of entry that favors those who can write stories and program... their games tend to be the ones that get finished and see the light of day.

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#11 Post by F.I.A » Thu Jul 05, 2007 11:23 am

DaFool has pretty much worded it out. Not all of us are artists who feed themselves by having drawing as a career.

And even if you have the time, you will really feel the sharp spike of discontinuing, especially you go on a drawing crusade for months straight. At least that happens to me.
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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#12 Post by papillon » Thu Jul 05, 2007 11:30 am

I had trouble finding people who could do backgrounds - people who want to draw characters are much easier to come by. What I ended up with was paying someone to do lineart for the backgrounds and then attempting to color them myself. The end result's not perfect but it looks better than if I try to do it all completely on my own.
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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#13 Post by Zoideah » Thu Jul 05, 2007 12:02 pm

Another cheat for backgrounds: photos. 1, you could take any old photo and just use it in your game. 2, take the photo and put a blur effect or something similar over it. 3, take the photo and trace over it with black lines. Then, color it in to your own liking. A little bit of deviation here goes along way.

As for drawing sprees, oh... *puke*

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#14 Post by chronoluminaire » Thu Jul 05, 2007 12:34 pm

Zoideah wrote:Another cheat for backgrounds: photos. 1, you could take any old photo and just use it in your game. 2, take the photo and put a blur effect or something similar over it. 3, take the photo and trace over it with black lines. Then, color it in to your own liking. A little bit of deviation here goes along way.
Well, that's the approach that a lot of the games in the Ren'Ai archives (the majority?) took. In my games, When I Rule The World had modified/filtered photos as backgrounds, which was a bit of an odd stylistic choice in retrospect, but it kinda worked. Elven Relations used a mixture between 3D rendered background and photos, and since I didn't want to blur the gorgeous 3D, I didn't blur the photos either. I don't know how well that worked, but it was at least a deliberate choice.

Of course, I'd really like to find a really good GIMP/Photoshop filter/technique to take a photo and make it look like a drawn image. I've seen a few, which have rather variable effects, but nothing I'd be happy with including in a game, yet.

One thing to note is that if you want to release your game to the public, the "any old photo" that you use had better be one you have permission to use - which generally means either (a) you took it yourself, (b) it was released under an appropriate license like a Creative Commons license, or (c) you get permission from the person who took it.

And papillon, that pic looks very good.
I released 3 VNs, many moons ago: Elven Relations (IntRenAiMo 2007), When I Rule The World (NaNoRenO 2005), and Cloud Fairy (the Cute Light & Fluffy Project, 2009).
More recently I designed the board game Steam Works (published in 2015), available from a local gaming store near you!

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Re: Tutorial: Same character, different expressions

#15 Post by Zoideah » Thu Jul 05, 2007 12:44 pm

Taking pictures is easy. Go to your local arboretum for fantasy pictures(now is the best time to go; flowers are still in bloom in most areas), take a walk through the city for modern pictures, heck, you could even use your own bedroom as a reference.

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