Author Topic: Background Workshop II - Concluded  (Read 34054 times)


Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Starts the 6th!
« Reply #1 on: 04 Jun 2015, 18:51 »
Original Post:

I can work with this (nice script :)).

Small question: I take it, that Trin the Harbor Master is not, himself, in this scene, as he's presented in the script as a key character and no key characters are present...?
« Last Edit: 21 Jul 2015, 21:07 by Misj' »

Re: Background Workshop II - Starts the 6th!
« Reply #2 on: 04 Jun 2015, 18:56 »
I can work with this (nice script :)).

Small question: I take it, that Trin the Harbor Master is not, himself, in this scene, as he's presented in the script as a key character and no key characters are present...?

The script, written by JudasFm (big thanks!), does feature some NPCs, but I leave it up to the participants if they want to include any. If you feel like including Trin (which the script doesn't mention the gender of btw), feel free!

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

Gonna use this as my progress post:





















« Last Edit: 07 Jul 2015, 23:12 by loominous »
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Re: Background Workshop II - Starts the 6th!
« Reply #3 on: 04 Jun 2015, 19:34 »
This will be quite a challenge. I can just see the scene when I close my eyes, hope I can actually paint it as well.

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Starts the 6th!
« Reply #4 on: 04 Jun 2015, 20:12 »
I'm going to reserve this space for my progress in phase I (until feedback).

EDIT 1:

I always start with some brainstorming ideas. While I never write them down, I think that for this workshop it's good to share them.

some initial thoughts after reading the script:
  • why are my trees/plants in pots? - why doesn't anything grow naturally? - Hmm, imagine this being a science fiction background with some plants under glass domes. Maybe they are connected to the oxygen system. But how are you going to get in to get the fruit? - Glass cutter...? - I could also use a force-field and the puzzle is to turn it off. What happens to the tree? - I'm pretty sure it's going to die and people aren't going to be happy about that.
  • The fruit should be used in the jail. Maybe it's a good idea to put the jail somewhere in the background so the player is subtly reminded of it.
  • Trin is proud...his office should reflect this. Proud shapes, a little more Baroque then the other buildings. Gold is good. He wants his office to reflect his stature...

many of the brainstorming ideas will be scrapped, others will change, and new ones will come...just some things to get me going (and if it's useful to you, just borrow some of them).

EDIT 2:

I haven't started on the actual background yet, but - in preparation - I'm trying to figure out the world I want to create. One thing I like to do is to work from the characters. So I created two very rough characters to get me going with the atmosphere and stuff. It's good to have a few extra days to do that.

I decided that this story called for a female lead that I've dubbed Charee. She's going to be a full-blown adventurer straight off, I feel that giving her an origin story will diminish her character. So it's more Indiana Jones, and less Young Indiana Jones. She has no problem pummeling her fist into someone's face if the feels it helps her progress, and if she can't pick a lock then kicking the door down is just as effective. She doesn't believe in terms like feminism or strong independent woman, but rather thinks that everyone - man or women - should be able to rely on themselves (but should not be afraid to rely on others). She doesn't do bright colours, princesses or rainbows; so I'm going to use a desaturated palette for most of the image to reflect this.



Charee was hired to deliver a young girl/mage (less magic, more StarWars' the Force) to the capital city (it's all on a single planet). The way I envision the fictional game you would have three playable characters: Charee, the young girl, and a flamboyant con-man. Since the backgrounds will reflect their particular outlook on life, the same location (and characters) will look slightly different when playing with a different character (the girl for example sees only the good and is easily impressed. She does not see the dangers in the world, the scene is just a little bit more colourfull, and the office of the harbor master just a little more imposing in shapes and decoration).

Also, if Trin has deer-like features, his office will probably be influenced by Nordic architecture. And considering the amount of stuff and the fact that it's a 'fairly wide open space' I might have to think about a scrollable background.

As I said, this is just me creating a world, and getting a feel for the story I want to tell (that this background is going to be just a small part of).

EDIT 3:

Character-size is an important factor when designing a background for an adventure game. I personally tend to design my backgrounds so very little character-scaling is needed (basically that means that the line of action is mostly within a single (fake) 2D plane); for my personal taste, the character can scale between scenes but preferably not within a scene. Even during the thumbnail-phase it is important to take this into account.

I took a look at some of the classics:

and noticed that for me the sweetspot for the character-height is somewhere around 35% of the scene-height. Below that I feel the character is getting to small, and above I feel the scene is too cramped (in reality I never had a problem with Roger being small or MI3 being cramped, but it's just the feel I get from these images). Just something to take into account early on to make sure the scene will work inside your game.

EDIT 4: First Rough


EDIT 5: Second Pass


EDIT 6: Lighting my Scene


EDIT 7: Re-evaluating my design


-- Continued in Stage II --
« Last Edit: 19 Jun 2015, 22:17 by Misj' »

ThreeOhFour

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Re: Background Workshop II - Starts the 6th!
« Reply #5 on: 05 Jun 2015, 02:16 »
Exciting! Quick question, what is the orientation of the screen, if specified? Is the exit to the south at the bottom of the screen?

Re: Background Workshop II - Starts the 6th!
« Reply #6 on: 05 Jun 2015, 07:24 »
Quick question, what is the orientation of the screen, if specified? Is the exit to the south at the bottom of the screen?

I believe it's with south at the bottom of the screen, though JudasFm should probably answer that.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Starts the 6th!
« Reply #7 on: 05 Jun 2015, 08:18 »
Yes, south is at the bottom of the screen. Sorry; should have been clearer :-[

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Re: Background Workshop II - Starts the 6th!
« Reply #8 on: 05 Jun 2015, 09:29 »
Thank you! :smiley:

I'll use this post as mine, then. I did some very preliminary sketching tonight, trying to cement the idea of the actual scene's layout into my head. Be prepare to marvel at just how rough my early sketches are. Even did notes with a nice font and everything, because it always looks nice when loominous does it! :=



Next step is to take the idea I kinda like from a "mass of blobs" and actually try to find some interesting silhouettes in there.



Time to solve the issue with the foreground exit (hopefully!)



And I did some cleaning up...



Trying to fix some usability issues:

« Last Edit: 09 Jun 2015, 18:26 by ThreeOhFour »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Starts the 6th!
« Reply #9 on: 05 Jun 2015, 13:35 »
Love the shots from Treasure Planet used in the montage! One of my favorite Disney films, and so underrated! A bit of a fave amongst adventure game fans though I would imagine...

Well...except for that Jar-Jar-esque robot....Grrrrrrrr!!! But I guess they gotta throw the kiddies a bone now and then... (laugh)

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #10 on: 06 Jun 2015, 11:56 »
Okay, started! (first post updated).
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #11 on: 06 Jun 2015, 13:03 »
Ooooo I'm gonna be taking part. Saving this space ;) will update soon

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #12 on: 06 Jun 2015, 13:58 »
Ooooo I'm gonna be taking part. Saving this space ;) will update soon

Good to hear!

Regarding updates, I think it's probably good if people post their progress in new posts, but also update their "main" ones, to make it easy for people to find the new stuff, but at the same time makes it tidy n easy to follow the progress.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #13 on: 06 Jun 2015, 15:34 »
I posted my first set of rough sketches.

If anybody's worried about the big image, I'm happy to put a preview with a link to the bigger thing on click, although I figure since it's specifically a workshop thread it might not be such a problem here.

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #14 on: 06 Jun 2015, 17:26 »
I posted my first set of rough sketches.

If anybody's worried about the big image, I'm happy to put a preview with a link to the bigger thing on click, although I figure since it's specifically a workshop thread it might not be such a problem here.

Excellent way to kick off the activity! Really interesting following the progress.

I usually don't pay much attention to dividing the image into thirds, so it was interesting to see how central it seems to your process (I usually have the golden ratio back in my head, but that's about it).

One nice thing with making it image based (though there are drawbacks of course), is that they can be easily reused in places like the critique's lounge, especially when it's about universal topics such as composition. (Though noone should of course feel compelled to post their stuff in pure image form, text is of course perfectly fine).

Edit: Question: did you do perspective grids for all of them, and do you always place the vanishing points at the thirds (horizontally and vertically) or center if they're inside the picture?
« Last Edit: 06 Jun 2015, 17:28 by loominous »
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #15 on: 06 Jun 2015, 18:32 »
@304: Do you throw in the values at the size you posted the sketches, so it this the thumbnail approach or is this a resize of all your sketches?

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #16 on: 06 Jun 2015, 18:48 »
Some small comments. Not a tutorial, but some insights into the approach I generally take.
(yes, I'm also doing it via an image, because all the cool kids are doing it. Plus it means that I can easily save the information for a local copy)



ps. for this workshop I'm going to take the painter's approach with values and shapes. Simply because I'm here to learn new things and not just to do what I'm always doing. Using lines or shapes both have their advantages and disadvantages; and of course you can mix them. In the end it's mostly about using the approach you're most comfortable with to find the right structure for your scene (without getting lost in details)

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #17 on: 06 Jun 2015, 20:01 »
ps. for this workshop I'm going to take the painter's approach with values and shapes. Simply because I'm here to learn new things and not just to do what I'm always doing. Using lines or shapes both have their advantages and disadvantages; and of course you can mix them. In the end it's mostly about using the approach you're most comfortable with to find the right structure for your scene (without getting lost in details)

Just to be clear, it's not my intention to force people to take certain routes, which is why I didn't mention 'thumbnails', so I hope noone feels compelled to use them.

I am curious as to how line art focused people work when it comes to rough sketches and values/composition, since if you first do the line art, you have no real way of knowing how the lighting and values in general will work out, and since you've invested all that effort into the line art, it must be a pain to go back n redo everything if the lighting/values turn out to not work properly.
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Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #18 on: 06 Jun 2015, 20:47 »
Just to be clear, it's not my intention to force people to take certain routes, which is why I didn't mention 'thumbnails', so I hope noone feels compelled to use them.
I hope you didn't think I felt forced into using thumbnails and working from values. It's more: I think this is a good place to get out of my comfort-zone and do something where I will make a lot of mistakes. And taking a painter's approach does that for me. In the end I will learn a whole lot more; and it's probably also easier for me to take critique ;)

Quote
I am curious as to how line art focused people work when it comes to rough sketches and values/composition, since if you first do the line art, you have no real way of knowing how the lighting and values in general will work out, and since you've invested all that effort into the line art, it must be a pain to go back n redo everything if the lighting/values turn out to not work properly.
It's probably one of the reasons why line-art-centered pieces often end up being harder than painted pieces (there are other reasons as well of course) while applying a lot more contrast. But that is - of course - not always the case.

I'll look into writing something about the way I go about it if I find the time. I don't think it's fundamentally different but rather a different order. The most important thing is not falling in love with a design. If you drew something and you loose it all in the shades that's okay.

In the mean time here's a nice example of a line-sketch to a colored piece: http://www.bobmcleod.com/nmsteps.html
and some movies by Otis Frampton (who often has value-sketches as well):
Indy Community
They Have A Cave Troll
Enemy Mine
The Usual Scum
They don't necessarily apply to adventure backgrounds, but it does show some insight.

Cassiebsg

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #19 on: 06 Jun 2015, 22:35 »
Those rough shade sketches are just amazing! Honestly, I would play a game with those graphics! (nod)

Anyway, I just did my first rough sketch, just to get an idea of what am aiming at... or trying to anyway. View point I think needs to be lower.
I intent to do the BG using 3D in Blender, but I do enjoy hand drawing once in a while, since it does help me visualizing up what my mind is seeing to what I want to show. Unfortunately, is very rare that I can actually draw what my mind sees... I~m better at drawing what my eyes see (or at least I used to be (laugh) ).

Anyway, here for you to rip apart:


The Trader building is the "big" one in the middle, the tower I'm not sure, I  just felt I needed something high on that side of the picture, to balance the scene... and once I put the stalls in the picture, I lost a bit of the walking area and "south exit". (wtf)

EDIT 01 (10/06/2015, 00:05):

Original scan for sketch 1.

Original scan for sketch 2.



EDIT 02 (10/06/2015, 22:36):

Just posting my second 3D draft model. Am thinking this one works better than my 1st! (didn't post it, but if anyone wishes I can do that).
The Harbour Master's office building, still needs a lot of work, as the current shape looks odd - this happens when you have curves going of several opposite directions. I knew it would be tricky.
Still need to decide exactly where to add the opening with 3 steps to the lower docks level. Slicing the model to add it isn't much of a problem, but I can't later one just move it freely. Maybe some paint over the rendering picture will help, before I commit to it. ;)



Currently unsure if I need to scale the buildings up and/or place them further away. Maybe I should just add a human model to the scene, just so I have some references. (yes, I know there's currently too much light and too little contrast. The top of the wall is blending into the path bellow, atm.)....
« Last Edit: 10 Jun 2015, 21:50 by Cassiebsg »
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Myinah

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #20 on: 07 Jun 2015, 00:40 »
Ok so this is my WIP. Just some basic line work and colour placement. If it doesnt suck I think I'm gonna try and paint over with oils. The grey people will have clothes too (laugh).



304 - I found your comments very helpful. I learned something completely new which is fantastic! I think I knew there was something wrong with that line which is why I added the fanned doormat thing to the harbour masters door. I just didnt really know what the problem was or how to fix it. Hopefully my changes have improved things. I tried to sort out the other problem areas too.



I need to start adding values but I'm really unsure how to light it so we'll have to see how it goes. I have very little experience with light and shadow.

Rough shading added and exits made clearer

« Last Edit: 08 Jun 2015, 13:34 by Myinah »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #21 on: 07 Jun 2015, 01:24 »
Loominous: Yep, I used the grid on all of them, mostly to measure distances. I don't mind so much about wonky perspective, at this point I'm really just using the grid as a visual for where everything is sitting. 90% of the time my perspective grid is at a third with the vertical placement, but I move it left to right without much thought for thirds. As for using thirds/golden ratio - it's not a strict rule, just helps me keep things balanced. I've never tried working with golden ratio, though I've wanted to for some time. Not 100% of the mechanics of using it yet, actually, although seeing Misj's (finally that apostrophe makes sense) example helped a bit.

Selmiak: I always do this at actual resolution, because this usually ends up being the basis for a scene for me, but I zoom out so it's almost like thumbnailing. I usually do it all on one layer, but I split it up to show stages in the interest of showing progress for the workshop.

My thread updated with stage 2 of my progress.
« Last Edit: 07 Jun 2015, 01:26 by ThreeOhFour »

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #22 on: 07 Jun 2015, 08:36 »
My thread updated with stage 2 of my progress.
Another great set of wips, quite exemplary!

I was having a bit of an issue finding stuff in the image though (the perils of the blobs), so when you were talking about the tree you were tweaking I was hopelessly scanning those thumbnails with no luck.

I do have one concern though when it comes to playability, since, as I interpreted the script, you're supposed to be able to reach: the south exit, the tree, the dock on the left, and the harbor master's office, and with the scale of the south exit (which is quite big), there would be quite some scaling if one is supposed to reach the door of the office (which I'm guessing is the closest building on the right).


Cassiebsg:

Anyway, here for you to rip apart:


Cool to have a 3D piece involved. As you said, the camera is quite high, but in 3d that'll be an easy fix.

Even if you're doing it in 3d though, it might be good to take Ben's route, with laying down some values, to see how the silhouette's are gonna turn out before going into details like that ornamentation on the door for instance, and try to nail the layout and composition and as much as possible before going into 3d. So much at this stage is just about combining differently shaped blobs with other blobs to make something visually interesting, and without values you can't really tell. Anyway, perhaps you were heading into values next, making the above moot.

I realize the above was a quick sketch, but it's worth having some of the following design considerations in mind when working with the rough sketches, since at this point it's very easy to adjust everything:





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Myinah

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #23 on: 07 Jun 2015, 10:02 »
Great stuff so far. Just updated my op with my work.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #24 on: 07 Jun 2015, 12:22 »
Thanks loominous, I definitely need to think about the scaling there, I hadn't thought about that. I'll also make a little note of where everything is on my next set of thumbnails to make the blobs easier to read.

I like your design, Myinah, it's varied and practical at the same time. It's a little hard to see the "big shapes" without the values, as loom says, but I noticed a few little things that caught my eye:



The light strip in the middle is a section of the background that makes, in negative and positive space, a straight, almost rectangular line of similarly sized shapes and gaps which makes it a little hard to trick the eye into seeing depth here. Some stuff you could try to fix this is to alter the sizes a bit, to move things off the line (shifting the door more to the right, move the guy mending the cloth to the left to break the line, etc.)

Another thing I noticed is a lot of tangents or near tangents in your pic, which is where two edges/shapes converge in a way that means they're touching rather than being apart or overlapping, and it's hard to see the depth as a result. This is my favourite set of tangent examples, really explains the issue clearly. I've circled a few in your image to point them out, but there's even more hiding in there - take the bottom of the hat of the person sitting at the table and how it follows the same line as the bottom of the building, and the vendor behind that whose cap almost follows the exact lines of the window frame behind. It gets pretty difficult to avoid when you have as many features in a scene as you do here, but the more you can avoid it, the better the feeling of depth will be, and the clearer your image will read.

EDIT: Updated original post with my next step in progress, trying to take into account the issues loominous mentioned.
« Last Edit: 07 Jun 2015, 15:57 by ThreeOhFour »

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #25 on: 07 Jun 2015, 16:39 »
I've updated my original post with a first rough and some insights into it.



It's time to start experimenting a bit...

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #26 on: 07 Jun 2015, 17:12 »
Interesting start, Misj'!

One thing that always frustrates me with scrolling scenes (and why I avoided doing one for this, despite it being, as you say, a crowded and busy scene that's tricky to fit into a single width shot) is that it's really hard to plan a composition out effectively for when it's in-game because the player can move the frame as they please. I realize that for an example like this it's not quite so much of an issue, but considering that I'm used to my stuff being placed into a game, I always find it more difficult to balance stuff out with this in mind.

One thing I sometimes try is having a scene split up into 2 or 3 separate compositions - I actually physically cover one half/fragment of the scene with a block of solid colour and focus on one "game resolution" sized chunk at a time, which helps, but seeing as you can't control where the player is going to be at any time (and where reviewers are going to be when they take screenshots :P) unless the pan is a fixed one in an establishing shot, I never really feel like I have control.

Does anybody have any thoughts on this? I know there are some games with great scrolling backgrounds (The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav, Full Throttle, etc), I'm wondering if there's any techniques that can help out here?

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #27 on: 07 Jun 2015, 19:40 »
I've updated my original post with a first rough and some insights into it.



I really like the content of the image (and you clearly put a lot of thought behind these things which is very impressive), but I think there's issues on the "blob" level. This should preferably be taken care of before any of the details are added, the quick kind of experimenting Ben is doing, since I'd hate to redraw all that stuff you've put into the image already, but you can always push things with some lighting:



Btw: The bright blob on the left in the above isn't ideal position wise, since it draws us out of the image, (and too bright if you look at the rest of the sky), but just there to serve as a point about extracting interesting shapes that breaks up the image.

Does anybody have any thoughts on this? I know there are some games with great scrolling backgrounds (The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav, Full Throttle, etc), I'm wondering if there's any techniques that can help out here?

I can't stand not knowing the framing of an image, so I avoid them, so I'd be very interested in any insights myself.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #28 on: 07 Jun 2015, 19:54 »
One thing that always frustrates me with scrolling scenes (and why I avoided doing one for this, despite it being, as you say, a crowded and busy scene that's tricky to fit into a single width shot) is that it's really hard to plan a composition out effectively for when it's in-game because the player can move the frame as they please.
I know where you're coming from, and to be honest I usually only rely on scrolling backgrounds as a last resort (which is basically never). I often don't even really like them in games...which is odd, because you would say that in an interactive story an interactive camera-position makes a lot of sense (though as you said, there are some excellent examples).

I do, however, have some thoughts on the subject of course. And the most important thing is not to rely on a predefined structure and much more on (a well trained) intuition. Of course when the character is at a key position the composition should be strong, because you know beforehand that the player is going to see this particular shot.

By the way, the same problems you mention for scrolling backgrounds also apply to working for different screen-ratios (especially if you solve that by scrolling rather than black borders).





Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #29 on: 07 Jun 2015, 20:07 »
I really like the content of the image (and you clearly put a lot of thought behind these things which is very impressive), but I think there's issues on the "blob" level. This should preferably be taken care of before any of the details are added, the quick kind of experimenting Ben is doing, since I'd hate to redraw all that stuff you've put into the image already, but you can always push things with some lighting:
Cheers Loominous. The ground was something that I was very unhappy with (since it's basically a single solid boring color), and adding details (like litter) wasn't going to help that. This certainly helps me solve one of the main weaknesses I felt the image had, so I'll probably continue with this layout (and tweak it in some places).

There is probably going to be a glass-tube or something attached to the arches (mostly to add some science-fiction elements, but also so the side of the ship will not clutter the left exit). That could account for a brighter blob there (though not as bright as your example).

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #30 on: 07 Jun 2015, 20:23 »
Initial thumbnails


I really had trouble putting all the required stuff in the picture and especially the bottom exit limited the options. I'm still not satisfied with what I have, it looks rather stiff...

Update 8.6.2015 First Draft


Following ThreeOhFour's advice (thanks for that!) I increased the space around the house. Once I had the house done with perspective, it felt rather unbalanced to the right. So I made the ship on the left bigger and removed the tower - maybe it is too big now, I have to do some research on Hanseatic ships ;)
Also the upper left part feels a bit empty, but I don't know if this is a problem.

Update 11.6.2015 Basic shading

I tried various versions of different background houses, the cliff, even adding a channel or city gate. However, they did not really fit the setting. The picture above is the one I liked most, with the tower added back again and variations in the building heights. I also decided on the basic light direction.

Update 13.6.2015 New lighting approach


Update 15.6.2015 Another point of view
« Last Edit: 15 Jun 2015, 22:16 by cat »

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #31 on: 07 Jun 2015, 20:32 »
I'm a bit overwhelmed by the quality of the 'rough' sketches that you guys make. But here is my own attempt. I'm very much struggling with creating enough room to place the stalls on the market square. I was thinking about using the big white space overhead to add some branches with the hallucinogenic fruit. Probably going to make the coastline curving to the left so that the ships will not be so neatly aligned.



After reading the other info in this thread I think the first sketch probably has serious scaling issues. So here is a second attempt, the amount of items that has to be in there is giving me a serious headache. That's why I tried to find a way to make the most of all the space that I have. I think the ships could be airships as well, so that's what I tried in this quick sketch. I  noticed that I changed the perspective on this one as well, I'll probably have to lower it to make it more at eye level of the player.
This is the way I usually work, just a quick sketch to make out where thing go and then I start painting. Usually I don't make a study of values or composition (other then the sketch). I tried the golden mean, but I don't really understand how that works yet.

« Last Edit: 07 Jun 2015, 23:34 by Ykni »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #32 on: 07 Jun 2015, 20:53 »
Ok so this is my WIP. Just some basic line work and colour placement.
The two things that bother me most (apart from the tangent lines mentioned by Ben) are a. the image looks quite flat. This can be easily solved by adding shades. And b. the exits. The exit on the bottom is obscured by a framing element (the arch) and the exit on the left is obscured either by the box (if the exit is on the bottom of the screen) or by the narrowness of the walkable area between the tent and the stand in the top-left (I'm not sure which of the two is intended to be your exit.

I would also look into the curvature of the wall on the left. It feels illogical to me that anyone would build it like this, because it would - in reality - make the walking-area at the bottom smaller (two opposite arches) for no particular reason (not that backgrounds have to be entirely logical...or city-planning for that matter).

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #33 on: 07 Jun 2015, 21:37 »
Do we have some blender experts here?
I wanted to sketch my harbor in blender to save time but now blender cuts off stuff in the render, that will take me even longer to find our why that happens and what to do.
just compare the normal edit view with the render/cameraview. I already built more that it shows. Why? Oh why? Do I really have to draw perspective lines now???

So this then is my first WIP post :-D :P


after starting to get the hang of blender and it's quirky quirks lets model some more:


adding some more distant details. This is where the big deliveries arrive.





Some more stuff happening in the foreground. The harbour master has his office on the upper level. He is a beardy old man and always swears. And he is fat and swears loudest when he has to climb up to his master viewing spot and in case of an emergency (or when he is feeling moody) ring the alarm or give other signals.


I added some boats and some colorful lamps and some houses up the hill. I really have to stop adding stuff or I will never finish painting this.
If noone sees some glaring composition error I'll render out some sperate layers to make it easier in PS, probably the balcony front layer, the shops, the big buildings, the ships, the houses on the hill and all water reflections on seperate layer and see what comes out of this :)

render time at this resolution (click for full size) 47mins :P
« Last Edit: 19 Jun 2015, 01:20 by selmiak »

Cassiebsg

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #34 on: 07 Jun 2015, 21:52 »
Thanks for the feedback loominous! :)

You know, I hate boxes... yet, I seem to always end up in them, as soon as "buildings" come into the picture. (roll) As for the "stalls"... well, that's what comes to mind. A rectangular shape with stuff to be sold on them, and eventually a roof to shade from the sun and rain. :-\ Is "stalls" to be taken literally, or figuratively? Cause I probably would rather have sellers sitting or standing by their stuff on the floor, and eventually one of two stalls...

I never tried painting "blobs" and shades before. Normally I just draw the lines and then shade (and most of the time it's a real location I'm drawings, so the shades and contrasts are already there.) And I started thinking "shades and blobs" but still ended up with lines. (laugh)

I'll see if I can produce some blobs and shades, that I'm happy with... I'll be baaaaack... ;)

EDIT:
@selmiak: I know there's a clipping setting for the camera. I often also have problems with it. :( Let me open and see if I can find it. BRB

EDIT2: Select your camera, click on the camera icon on the right to select it's pane, open "Lens". There's one called "Clipping" there. Try and increase the END value.
« Last Edit: 07 Jun 2015, 21:57 by Cassiebsg »
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Lasca

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #35 on: 07 Jun 2015, 22:26 »
Wow! What great sketches!
I've been hoping for another bg workshop and I really want to get in on this, but I have so little time! but I'm going to try, and we'll see if I can keep up.

So, my first visualisation of this was some kind of MI-dock style, but that felt very boring, so inspired by Misj way of working I decided to make up the game before working on the bg. I felt like taking it somewhere more serious and political, and my first idea was doing something on the African immigration on the Mediterranean. But when touching something so sensitive and very contemporary I feel like you have to be VERY respectful and have a lot of meat on your bones, and I don't feel competent enough to dive into that. So, second idea, in short, similar but different:
1941, baltic country recently occupied by germany. Pavel, 13 years old, needs to get his best friend Sonya, who is jewish, out of the country and over the sea, to the neutral country sweden.
I'm not quite sure of the visual tone I'm going to go for, and I don't have a real bg creation routine, so I'm going to pick up what I get from the rest of you and try not to derail to much from the original script.
Anyway, here's some REALLY rough thumbnails. Mostly just for working out the composition and very rough values. I want to have lightest part of the picture in the left part of the picture, representing the goal of the game, and heavier and darker in the right. Anyway, feel free to rip it apart!

(sorry fot the bad quality)
So I started with these:

and moved into this:



I think I will probably put more of an angle on the house. And make some more space. Anyway, everything still very rough. And I'm not sure on what ratio I'll end up with. Well...

UPDATE 8/6
So, spent an hour tonight refining the sketch on the computer and working out some values. I'm slow and have little time, so I didn't really have time for lots of different variations. So, if anyone has any brilliant suggestions of changes in lighting let me know! Also, I want to make the house more interesting shapewise, but I'll save that for when I go into more details. So far, just learning from the rest of you and trying out stuff you're talking about has helped A LOT! And oh, I settled for 640x480. I did want to do it widescreen, but I also wanted it ags compatible without scrolling. So.
I'm not sure exactly what everything is, but I've added an explanation image. Also, I'm crappy with clouds, and wasn't sure if I should frame the bg more in the foreground, so did a version with more of that. Anyways, here we go:







UPDATE 11

Progress is slow but... progressing. I'm unsure about the shape of the boat and how to sculpt it. Am currently working without line art, which is new for me. The "blob" in the background will perhaps turn out to be a cathedral. We'll see. Like others, I'm also uncertain about the southern exit. Also realised that the background doesn't really breath "adventure" ;) I'm not sure how to implement that and still keep my story. If it's destroys the purpose of the workshop to go against the original script. Well, well. 



UPDATE 15/6

Did some more work, mostly inspired by your critique and suggestion. Will make the house look more battered and add more interesting, eastern European shapes to it ;) Will put npc soldiers by the boat. Made a version where I've turned the boat. Would be happy to receive opinions on this!
Decided to make the bg shape into a destroyed church. Will however need to shape it a little clearer i think ;)



« Last Edit: 15 Jun 2015, 22:16 by Lasca »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #36 on: 07 Jun 2015, 22:46 »
EDIT2: Select your camera, click on the camera icon on the right to select it's pane, open "Lens". There's one called "Clipping" there. Try and increase the END value.
Thanks a lot! That worked. Why is there no unlimited setting?
Panoramic view is cool, but not that useful.
I'm just learning blender and though what could be better than learning even more while doing sketches for a workshop. And there is the first lesson already.
I'll have to play around with some cool DOF effects soon, but this is not helpful for sketches.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #37 on: 07 Jun 2015, 23:15 »
having a really hard time with this
not happy with this but here is what I have so far

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #38 on: 08 Jun 2015, 01:27 »
Some more WIP.


added to my first post
« Last Edit: 08 Jun 2015, 23:04 by selmiak »

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #39 on: 08 Jun 2015, 07:48 »
Started my first sketch this morning:

Looking for a writer

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #40 on: 08 Jun 2015, 09:57 »
Started my first sketch this morning:
While I like the idea of having an open-spaced harbor by putting the open-space part somewhere in the background, my biggest concerns are the lack of clear exists. I see stairs on the right and possibly a route to the back. But the exit on the left (west) leading to the docks is very difficult to make out (if it exists at all). The front is also difficult to define as an exit, but if the player also enters from the south then it's not really a big problem.

Also I'm not sure whether the composition leaves enough space for additional NPCs. But that's not a major concern to me.

The piece does give me some ideas for my own lighting...

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #41 on: 08 Jun 2015, 11:37 »
Updated my original post with some of 304's recommended changes.

304 - I found your comments very helpful. I learned something completely new which is fantastic! I think I knew there was something wrong with that line which is why I added the fanned doormat thing to the harbour masters door. I just didnt really know what the problem was or how to fix it. Hopefully my changes have improved things. I tried to sort out the other problem areas too.

« Last Edit: 08 Jun 2015, 12:53 by Myinah »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #42 on: 08 Jun 2015, 11:44 »
Updated my original post with some of 304's recommended changes.

You should just make a second post. It's better for archival purposes so people can the backgrounds progress and learn from it.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #43 on: 08 Jun 2015, 12:46 »
It's great to see so many entries there already!

I'll try to give short comments to the work posted so far. I'm in no way a pro, so I'll comment from a player's point of view. Others will have better feedback regarding the artistic side.


Misj' Amazing how much work you put in the story behind. What I'm missing now a bit is the harbour element, but I'm sure this will be more visible once you start coloring and adding details.

ThreeOhFour Looking great, but just from looking at the BG I'm not sure where the exits are supposed to be.

Cassiebsg I agree with the view point beeing too high. I like the placement of the ship and the tower and the general open feel of the setting. However, as a player I would not know that there is an exit somewhere at the bottom.

Myinah Your scene looks so inviting, I like the idea with the elevated area a lot. Great improvements regarding the tangents and the vertical space. Still, the exits are not clear and obstructed by various objects.

Ykni I agree that your inital version, while looking interesting, was not suited as background for a game. The new background looks interesting although in a different way, with lots of stuff going on. Just make sure to make the exit at the bottom more obvious.

selmiak The stage is too early for me to comment.

Lasca Interesting composition, the house on the right seems a bit off, perspective wise.

Dropped Monocle Games Interesting composition with the low horizon. There seems to be a lot of empty space in the upper left area.

loominous Looking great! However, the openness of the area suffers a bit from the fence separating the player from the rest.


Feedback to my thumbnail attempts would also be very appreciated.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #44 on: 08 Jun 2015, 13:33 »
Ok tried to make the exits clearer and had a very rough go at my lighting but it really is something I struggle with. Any suggestions are welcome.


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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #45 on: 08 Jun 2015, 13:42 »
Updated my original post with some of 304's recommended changes.

You should just make a second post. It's better for archival purposes so people can the backgrounds progress and learn from it.

I think the way Myinah did the updates was correct. It makes keeping track of the progress of a particular piece easiest. Adding a new post for every update (containing a large image) is far from ideal. As it stands Myinah just follow Ben and my example I also think Myinah, and also followed Loominous' advice:

Regarding updates, I think it's probably good if people post their progress in new posts, but also update their "main" ones, to make it easy for people to find the new stuff, but at the same time makes it tidy n easy to follow the progress.
« Last Edit: 08 Jun 2015, 13:45 by Misj' »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #46 on: 08 Jun 2015, 13:59 »
Myinah: The arch exit is much clearer now, but I still don't understand where I would board the ship.

Regarding updates: I think it's best to include the updated picture in the last post to immediately show the changes and also in the original post to track the progress. Posting only in the original post without a link back makes it hard to follow for me.

Myinah

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #47 on: 08 Jun 2015, 14:06 »
Ok so this is my WIP. Just some basic line work and colour placement.
The two things that bother me most (apart from the tangent lines mentioned by Ben) are a. the image looks quite flat. This can be easily solved by adding shades. And b. the exits. The exit on the bottom is obscured by a framing element (the arch) and the exit on the left is obscured either by the box (if the exit is on the bottom of the screen) or by the narrowness of the walkable area between the tent and the stand in the top-left (I'm not sure which of the two is intended to be your exit.

I would also look into the curvature of the wall on the left. It feels illogical to me that anyone would build it like this, because it would - in reality - make the walking-area at the bottom smaller (two opposite arches) for no particular reason (not that backgrounds have to be entirely logical...or city-planning for that matter).

Curved walls arent logical but they exist I guess because people find curves attractive. I wanted the docks to have a curved plaza following a curved shoreline/bay. I am not planning a working shipyard. Mine is more a small port town. My grandfather lived in the harbour masters house in Alderney and the dock there isnt exactly curved but its angled. My drawing is loosely inspired by it, but with the gameplay designs in mind and a busier feel because Alderney is super quiet.



Myinah: The arch exit is much clearer now, but I still don't understand where I would board the ship.

Does there need to be a visible ship to board? My thought was there just needed to be an exit leading to an additional screen for the boats and docks. So you would walk off to the left in my scene to get there.
« Last Edit: 08 Jun 2015, 14:27 by Myinah »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #48 on: 08 Jun 2015, 14:24 »
Ah, alright, I didn't understand you could walk between the character and the rope on the floor.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #49 on: 08 Jun 2015, 14:37 »
Alright, time for some comments!

Misj': Interesting comparison of shots, and unfortunately, I agree that the walk in shot is perhaps the least interesting of the potential sections of this scene. I'm wondering if it's at all possible to make it a little more dynamic, perhaps add some more depth, but the high horizon line does make this difficult (though I totally understand your usage of it due to the busy nature of the scene and the difficulty in getting a clear walkable area with a lower angle). Curious to see if you can solve this problem a little with your colouring, perhaps.

Cassiebsg: A fun thing to do if you feel stuck with a shape is to do an image search for buildings/market stalls/etc and see if you can find some of a different configuration - L shaped market stands, angled/curved roofs, that sort of thing. Another thing you can do is to make the contents of the stall break the outline of it - whether it's a big barrel, or a cart/wheelbarrow that sticks out from behind/in front of it that helps break up the plain forms into a more interesting silhouette. I love the big tall building, though, working such a big structure in is very fun and breaks up what could otherwise be a pretty flat scene.

Myinah: Yeah, I like that much better! Although the crate might be a bit awkward in terms of walkable areas, I'll often favour a slightly awkward design over the most practical one if I think it looks better. Good work getting rid of a whole bunch of those tangents, too, this really helps your forms stand out!

cat: I think you're definitely onto something with the composition down the bottom, it definitely reads more clearly and is more interesting than the rest. One thing I think would help a little is to move the top of the big building down a tiny bit from the top edge of the frame - this will let the shape of the building stand out a bit better and read more clearly. Another thing that might help is dropping the height of the roof of the building directly behind it, to let the shape of the main building stand out against the sky a bit more. I totally agree that it's tough to fit all of the various elements into the scene while still coming up with something that looks good (as you noted, my exits are a bit tough to read, thanks for the feedback!), but I think your last one is pretty well balanced while catering to all of the elements listed in the brief.

Ykni: You've gone with "Striking visually, but not very practical" and "Very practical, but a little more crowded" here, and while I prefer the feel of the first, I totally understand going for a more practical approach in your second sketch. One thing I'd have liked to seen in the first scene is more buildings breaking the silhouette of the clifftop behind and making interesting shapes. I'm hoping you can find a way to balance the visual appeal of your first image with the practicality of your second one!

Lasca: I think you're off to a good start, and I like the idea of splitting the areas between light and dark. It's a little hard to read the "goal" of the game at the moment, though, maybe you could find some way of distinguishing this shape better from its surroundings, although the general composition currently looks quite nicely balanced! Looking forward to seeing more.

Sox: I love the structure up on the cliff, it really adds interest to the scene. I'd suggest bringing your plant (if that's what the cylindrical shape is) into the centre of the image a little, because at the moment it doesn't quite feel part of the composition, almost like it's stealing all the attention off to the right hand side of the scene rather than reading as a whole. This might change if you get more interesting shapes in the middle part of the image, of course, but currently it grabs my attention away from the square shapes in the middle and ruins the balance a bit.

Loominous: It's really interesting to watch how the lighting affects how the image reads as a whole, on the basis of a single rough layout, the changes are immense. I like the idea of trying to balance the large building with the height of a ship's mast, reminds me of this. One thing that catches my eye is the shape of the round tree and the square directly above it - two very similar sized shapes right in the middle makes a kind of weird central focal point that I can't quite look away from. Really looking forward to seeing how this turns out.

Selmiak: I like how the shape of the land (?) breaks up the straight lines, that works very nicely. One thing I'd be wary of is that the opening is a little hard to notice at present - maybe you could adjust the angle of it to catch the light a little better? It's a great start, I want to see more!

As for my own sketch, I've updated my original post with a fourth set of progress images!



I'm wary of posting a FULL image with all my wip stages in a thread due to the size, does it make sense to everybody to just include a smaller, single image like this?
« Last Edit: 08 Jun 2015, 15:19 by ThreeOhFour »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #50 on: 08 Jun 2015, 15:04 »
I'm wary of posting a FULL image with all my wip stages in a thread due to the size, does it make sense to everybody to just include a smaller, single image like this?

Maybe make it zoomable for those of us starting to question our eyesight due to it being the ridiculous year number of 2015?

And...ummmmm...yeah....not connected to our birth year at all...

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #51 on: 08 Jun 2015, 15:20 »
Done :)

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #52 on: 08 Jun 2015, 19:17 »
I can't really offer any comments as I'm horribly unqualified so apologies about that! I have, however, decided to partake as higher resolutions backgrounds (it's still pretty low res! :P) are something I don't ever normally do.

I've gone with a twist on the theme which I hope is okay:

- It's a 'space' harbour in a steampunk/cyberpunk etc low sci-fi setting (think Firefly)
- The whole thing is a floating platform
- The ships (yellow) are in fact space ships
- The trees (blue) are going to be some sci-fi rectangular things



The most trouble I had was the spaceships, it really seems to rely on artistic talent to pull them off so I'm in a bit of trouble I reckon! I'm fairly happy with the rest of it and my next stage will be to add some life to it with some people and traders, maybe some guards etc
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #53 on: 08 Jun 2015, 19:41 »
1941, baltic country recently occupied by germany. Pavel, 13 years old, needs to get his best friend Sonya, who is jewish, out of the country and over the sea, to the neutral country sweden.
I'm not quite sure of the visual tone I'm going to go for, and I don't have a real bg creation routine, so I'm going to pick up what I get from the rest of you and try not to derail to much from the original script.
The great thing about developing your background from a story rather than a setting is that you immediately know certain things. Sure, the setting will give you some knowledge about the atmosphere, but the story creates something much more intense. In your case - and I like the story by the way - we have a great conflict between Trin who, from the description, is a good man but at the same time has to work with the occupying forces (due to his position). He his proud of his position and convincing him (which can jeopardize his position) might be difficult despite his nature. But still you will need him to help smuggle Sonya out, and the fact that he can be convinced shows that he's good at heart. Also, German guards that block your route make perfect sense and you can't have them discover your friend.

Misj' Amazing how much work you put in the story behind. What I'm missing now a bit is the harbour element, but I'm sure this will be more visible once you start coloring and adding details.
Truth is, in my fictional world it's more like an airport than an actual port. Except that my ships don't fly in the air. It's more dedicated to (high class) passengers than to cargo. You loose a bit of the typical gloomy harbor-feel (and this might be slightly in disagreement with the original script) but you create a world where traveling by ship is as commonplace as traveling by plane is to our world. Of course once I have a fully rendered ship things should be much clearer :)

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #54 on: 08 Jun 2015, 20:19 »

Click image for link to first post.

Following ThreeOhFour's advice (thanks for that!) I increased the space around the house. Once I had the house done with perspective, it felt rather unbalanced to the right. So I made the ship on the left bigger and removed the tower - maybe it is too big now, I have to do some research on Hanseatic ships ;)
Also the upper left part feels a bit empty, but I don't know if this is a problem.

Note to self: buy a new rubber

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #55 on: 08 Jun 2015, 22:27 »
I made an update of my post. If I new how to link to a specific post I would do that! ;)

I also want to thanks for the feedback given! And apologies for not giving any feedback of my own! Which is not because of lack of interest, but lack of time! I really want to do this workshop, and to even be close to be completing I have to focus on the actual painting. It feels like only participating in half, and I'm sorry for that.
But I'm REALLY impressed and intrigued by ALL contributions.
/Lasca

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #56 on: 09 Jun 2015, 01:39 »
xil: Nice, lots of interesting forms and lines. The space ship on the right hand side of the image seems to share the exact same top line as the back wall of the building, though, and this makes my eye read the ship as part of the building until I study it more closely. Changing the height of one would fix this!

cat: Very nice, the building really stands out wonderfully now, and the big ship balances everything beautifully. I wouldn't worry too much about the upper left corner being empty - if anything, it gives you a chance to use clouds to frame your image better, I'd say.

Lasca: I like your value study stuff a lot! This is turning out to be a very striking scene. As for linking to posts further back, the title of each individual post is a direct link to that post's position in the thread. Right click and copy the link location (or simply left click and then copy the URL that it takes you to).
« Last Edit: 09 Jun 2015, 01:41 by ThreeOhFour »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #57 on: 09 Jun 2015, 01:43 »
after some more modeling it looks more like a harbor. expect some small shops and the Harbor Master (on the upper level) to the front right on the next update.



I had the idea to view the whole scene from some elevated balcony while hanging around at a lake with some friends and soaking up the june sun some days ago. But noone had paper or pen, but once I had this idea I didn't need to sketch it down at all, this is really close to what I had in mind indeed. So sorry, there is no scribbeling for this. Just a man and a machine.
I haven't applied any textures to these 3d objects yet but I think I'm finally getting warm with blender with this huge scene and not modeling things like mugs or pans or knives or so. I guess I have barely touched 10% of what is possible in this cool 3d thingy. I am tempted to do it all in 3D and really use textures and so on, but my plan was to use blender just for sketching and easily setting the lights, seeing where the shadows are, not having to worry about perspectives, beeing able to adjust the view every now and then and so on and then painting over it. Blender is complicatedoverwhelming at first, but interesting. Very interesting. Who am I kidding, this is great fun! :-D If I were more used to blender (I'm working on it), this should speed up paintings (or should I say computer artworks) by a lot.

rendertime @ this resolution ~13minutes

added to my first post


@Ben: Thanks for your feedback, I made the tunnel through the mountainfoot bigger and increased the lightsource inside. This is actually a deadendtunnel with a light inside as I screwed things up in 3D space. But when overpainting in PS I will change things around anyways.

@lasca: just copy the url of the 'Background Workshop II - Started!' link above your actual post and use that. it should have a # in the url, then it should link to s specific post

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #58 on: 09 Jun 2015, 05:24 »
My first set up thumbnails and process. Not very detailed I'm afraid as I jump all over the place and layers when working, so trying to catch a "step" doesn't feel so natural to me.

This is after gathering a lot of references and inspiration paintings/pictures.




Update 10th June

Took on the "challenge" of having a south Exit. Just to clarify, as Ben, this is a personal taste, I personally hate "invisible" exits at the bottom of the screen, and if used usually force a very high camera angle looking down to make the scaling look good. But enough ranting about that, we all have personal taste and solutions.
I still kept my camera angle I wanted for this when working on the thumbnails.

The last thumbnail has the best south exit, but it's the fact that it's SE exit more than anything, meaning the character isn't walking straight towards the camera and don't need to scale so much.
I so far like the first one as it solved all the practical problems (although the South exit isn't as clear and scale-friendly as the last one).
Not sure about the shape language yet, but figured I would try something different than those sharp triangles. I will probably tweak the South exit going out more to the side and not straight for the camera, although I like that composition flowy line that move the eye in to the picture.

The first thumbnail is more or less a evolution of all the thumbnails I made before. When doing it I had all the problems and solutions made in the previous thumbnails in mind  - this is a great benefit of doing a lot of thumbnails and not being afraid of being messy and be ready to change stuff around. Many times, for me, I have a thumbnail and I try to fix problems that just isn't working. It's better to start all over than trying to polish something that at it's core isn't working. Hooray for thumbnailing, wouldn't want to realize this 10 hours in to a painting.



Update 16th June
Made tweaks from feedback and some of my own.
* Major thing is probably the ships, while I liked the old one I didn't know if it made any sense for the to "back" in to the docks. (How do they leave the docks, wait for the right wind?).
* Pimped the harbor master building.
* I liked the perspective better in the old one (felt more like an narrow lens?), so might re-introduce that.
* A little more water showing


« Last Edit: 15 Jun 2015, 23:41 by Daniel Thomas »
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Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #59 on: 09 Jun 2015, 06:37 »
My first set up thumbnails and process. Not very detailed I'm afraid as I jump all over the place and layers when working, so trying to catch a "step" doesn't feel so natural to me.

This is after gathering a lot of references and inspiration paintings/pictures.
They are interesting compositions, but I would love to see a sketch with the exits at the design-document's location though.

Firstly, because I wanted to have a nice stone archway but couldn't due to the bottom exit (an arch at the bottom just doesn't work)...the south-exit is actually one of the big complexities of the scene and I would love to see your take on in.

Secondly, within the context of a game(world) you can't just change the exits in a single screen. If you left the previous scene going up/north then - for readability - you schouldn't enter the new scene at the top going left, down or right. As a result you would have to redesign all these other scenes as well (which is a pain of course) and possibly rewrite parts of the design-document. A project-leader wouldn't be too happy doing that for a single scene.

I think your exits work well - probably better than those described in the script - but from the point of designing a game I would reject them (I'd be said about it, but I'd reject them nonetheless). That being said, I wouldn't blame you if you chose to continue with them for this workshop.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #60 on: 09 Jun 2015, 07:09 »
Not to cause a dispute, and I see your points, Misj' but I've changed exit locations slightly for clear readibility pretty regularly and no designers have ever grumbled about it. Maybe I've just been lucky! Just putting my 2c in!

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #61 on: 09 Jun 2015, 08:19 »
Good to see you join in Daniel!

This morning's crop:


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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #62 on: 09 Jun 2015, 08:36 »
...I've changed exit locations slightly for clear readibility pretty regularly and no designers have ever grumbled about it. ...
As long as the flow between rooms is still logical people probably won't mind. Also, we the player will be more forgiving with 'hard cuts' (character changing orientation between screens) when two screens depict very different scenes. Of course a design document is often rather dynamic and it's the artist's task to interpret it and make changes to the proposed layout where needed. But my biggest concern with Daniel's pieces is that his change broke up the flow between screens (especially when he put the bottom-exit at the top which would result in a near 180degree turn of the main character between screens).

Slight changes rarely breaks this flow. Going from one environment to another (e.g. from outside of inside a building) rarely breaks the flow. Going from an overview shot (map) to a detail shot won't break the flow. So basically there are numerous cases where his decision wouldn't affect gameplay or immersion. Maybe this is one of these cases (we don't know since we don't know the neighboring scene ;) ), but deviating from the design-document is something that should never be done lightly. The same goes for objects or NPCs described in the document; sometimes you - as a designer - will have a degree of freedom to change them, sometimes your job is simply to make sure it's all there in an as-good-as-possible way.


ps. I don't consider this a dispute, but rather a very educational topic when designing your background for a collaborate project (where someone else is the lead designer). You have quite some experience with that (and I don't), so it would be interesting if you could write down some thoughts about going from script to sketch (and final design); where you can be lenient and where/when you should follow the script more closely. And how your decisions - as an artist - affect gameplay or the gameworld.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #63 on: 09 Jun 2015, 09:40 »
Daniel's and loom's sketches are looking great, look forward to going over them step by step to try and follow the thought process.

As for usability/breaking the orientation, etc:

There's a really big difference in importance between an exit that leads into a scene and an exit that the player has to discover. If our first exposure to a room exit is the character entering a room through it, then the player is going to know it's there, as long as it is reasonably clear then they usually don't have a problem clicking on it. If we require a player to find it themselves, best make sure it's super easy to see.

Breaking the orientation has been super common since the early 90s. Sierra designers all designed games with continuous N/W/S/E exits that made up a big playing field, mostly because basically all those designers cut their teeth on games that used the parser and arrow keys, and it made sense to keep characters walking that direction when you control them with a keyboard. LucasArts games were designed to have players simply click on an exit hotspot instead of walking off a screen edge, and therefore you see the orientations change constantly. As early as the docks in The Secret of Monkey Island, you see the orientation change from an UP exit to a LEFT entrance when going into the bar and a RIGHT exit into DOWN entrance when you enter Melee Island town proper. It doesn't throw you off too badly because 1. You see the character enter the screen and 2. The exits are usually pretty well marked.

I often (not always, but often) actually reverse orientation when entering a scene, just so that I can have the same exit in the middle of the scene in both shots. Designers (and their design documents) are rarely designed around the clarity of a scene, it's usually more about getting various elements in and that's that. If something looks/reads/flows better without completely breaking the design, I say go for it. I changed the first scene of The Blackwell Epiphany from a flat brick wall to a big, long street shot with a tiny bit of wall on one side - and got away with it because it looked better and still had all necessary gameplay elements. I get programmer sketches where a certain scene is a wide, scrolling scene full of very little that I chop down to a single width scene simply because I know I can fit everything into the one scene and still look nice.

In summary: artists are cool, designers aren't always artists, clarity is more important than directional logic.

I'm sure you already know most of this, but that's my thoughts on "Screw designers, sometimes the artist gets to call the shots" :=

EDIT: I should also point out that once I have a WIP like I do here, I often give it to the programmer to put in the scene and make sure it plays okay. Feedback is always important before assuming what you have works and pushing forward with a scene to completion without anybody checking (because redoing a scene from scratch once you've rendered it neatly sucks :cheesy:)

EDIT2: I should also point out that I understand about wanting to stick to a rigid design doc as a challenge/workshop thingie. I was just explaining out my thoughts in regards to some of the points about having to redraw the rest of the scenes to match etc which seemed a bit extreme!
« Last Edit: 09 Jun 2015, 09:56 by ThreeOhFour »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #64 on: 09 Jun 2015, 11:48 »

I started again as I wasnt happy with what I had, this is my second try, I think I have been over thinking it and gave myself artist/writers block!
I'm a little bit happier with this!

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #65 on: 09 Jun 2015, 14:12 »
I'm with Misj' here. I think the bottom exit was the most difficult thing here (IMHO not the best design choice if there are other options) and omitting it feels a bit like cheating.

ThreeOhFour

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #66 on: 09 Jun 2015, 18:35 »
Updated my original post with more problem solving...



More details about the process in original post.

Sox: I like this design much better, it feels more natural, flows better. A couple elements I noticed:



Where the blue line is you have the back edge of one building and the front edge of another on the same line. This really flattens them out, try either making them overlap more, or show some space between them, and you'll really enhance the sense of depth here. Where the red lines are, you have three lines (4, really, with the one behind, now that I look again) converging on a single point. Again, this makes the depth harder to read. Dropping or raising the top of the building to the right of the one with the angled roof would help resolve this. These are both examples of tangents, which I talked about more here.

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #67 on: 09 Jun 2015, 19:36 »
Regarding the exits:

I think we should try to follow the script as closely as possible.

It's nice that the script involves some tricky stuff, because it pushes us to help each other, instead of cruising along on our own.

I'm having issues with the south exit myself and I think it's good if we try to come up with solutions to this mutual problem instead of dodging it.

I do think however think that Daniel's solution works quite well, perhaps could be more titled southwards, but I don't think it needs to be completely vertically south.

Ben's solution is borderline as well I guess, but I think it's more about getting the sense that you're coming from the angle of the camera, or thereabouts.

Edit: I'm short on time on weekdays, so I mostly have time to sketch, but will try to put in some comments.
« Last Edit: 09 Jun 2015, 19:38 by loominous »
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Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #68 on: 09 Jun 2015, 22:17 »
Just to show a little progress.

   

It's not there yet, but it gives me a guide as to where I want to go with it. I decided to specifically not to copy Loominous' example. As a result I ended up with different areas of interest. I wanted the highlight to be more on the line of action (walk-area) without it making the floor too boring. I also needed some for the passengers to give them an interesting contrast to the background.

Some areas of interest (like the paperboy) are now far more in the shadows, but I think that adds to the 'dicey' character that was intended (and missing from my initial sketch).

I've also added a lookout because lookouts are cool. He will get some flags or something to help the ships dock, like such a guy at the airport. This also breaks up the dominant sky. To the right I've added some telescopes to add to the control-tower feel of the harbor-master's office and to break the right with some interesting shiny objects.


ps. man it's saturated now...way to saturated. But since this will be mostly a guide I should be able to fix that later on.

pps. edited my original post.
« Last Edit: 10 Jun 2015, 22:22 by Misj' »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #69 on: 09 Jun 2015, 23:08 »
Updated original post here!

Okay, been puzzling a bit with trying out my design into 3D, but it's not really working, so today I took a bit of time to sit and do some "doodles" on paper, to try and workout my space. Think I got something that might work, will have to go back to blender and try it out, since there's a few shapes am still unsure (and my lose doodle doesn't help much).

Here's my latest update (check original post for details).




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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #70 on: 10 Jun 2015, 08:18 »
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #71 on: 10 Jun 2015, 08:56 »
I want to try and put some thoughts down for each of the pieces today. I hope to update this post for each of you.


references for Ben:
boat on dry-docks, boat on dry-docks, the Brandaris (wiki), the Brandaris




« Last Edit: 10 Jun 2015, 22:04 by Misj' »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #72 on: 10 Jun 2015, 12:19 »


Sox: I like this design much better, it feels more natural, flows better. A couple elements I noticed:



Where the blue line is you have the back edge of one building and the front edge of another on the same line. This really flattens them out, try either making them overlap more, or show some space between them, and you'll really enhance the sense of depth here. Where the red lines are, you have three lines (4, really, with the one behind, now that I look again) converging on a single point. Again, this makes the depth harder to read. Dropping or raising the top of the building to the right of the one with the angled roof would help resolve this. These are both examples of tangents, which I talked about more here.


is this better?

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #73 on: 10 Jun 2015, 19:36 »
I'm sorry that I haven't given any feedback so far guys. I find it rather difficult in these early stages and my head is sort of a mess desperately trying to figure out how to fit all the requirements in the narrow space of a background. I don't like my earlier attempts so I tried something new. I am starting to see the benefit of doing a thumbnail first :D



What I like about this setup is the big ship that I can board, I'll attach a rope ladder so it's clear that you can enter the ship. I really liked the way that Ben made the harbour masters building stand out by it being the only building that faces us. I tried to mimic that, but adjusted it slightly and just made the other buildings stand further back and simpler, except the church but that will be in the very back. I think there is still room for some stalls and luggage. Still trying to figure out how to make it look dicey and I need to place the potted tree somewhere.
Other problems, the way south leads to the sea :S and there is no room for other ships other than perhaps a sloop on the right side of the dock.

Got some  new inspiration from this image.

1. the docks
2. the path west leading down through the rocks to the docks
3. harbor master's office
4. market square that still needs stalls and a tree.

 

I've been thinking of a story as well. I'm actually working on a game (not sure if I will ever finish it but meh). The main character is a pirate that has been in some sort of trouble because he wakes up with a major headache trapped in the inn cellar. He only has a faint memory of a woman laughing and long red hair. When he realizes that he is trapped he manages to escape the cellar floating on a rum barrel on an underground river. He almost drowns when the water rises but with the help of a friendly ghostly pirate manages to escape and washes up on the shore of the island (just below the inn). He needs some way to get away from the island before his escape is noticed by his abductors. When he walks along the cliffs and reaches the beach, climbs up the docks and finds himself in this scene.

Ha, I do love bored panda. This could make an epic sf background, 3d cube with stalls and docks on different levels. It's all too clear why the plants are in pots. Doubt if I'm skillful enough to make it work though :( Thought it might inspire any of you guys though.

« Last Edit: 10 Jun 2015, 20:48 by Ykni »

Cassiebsg

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #74 on: 10 Jun 2015, 19:39 »
Thanks a lot for the feedback Misj'. :)
I also normally prefer lower camera angle, though that is the easy part when working with a 3D model, just lower the camera. (laugh)

The "dark streets" was me trying to mark the walkable area, really. :-[ And experimenting in the 1 drawing with maybe using a cobblestone street. And for the foreground, I thought that silhouettes of traders and their stuff could just fill that patch of "white" on the lower left. I'm not sure I want to close the courtyard like that, though. So I'll play with it a bit more and see what comes out from a quick 3d model.

@Dropped Monocle Games, from your new draft the only thing that jumps to my eye, is that the 2 buildings (behind the stalls and previously marked in red by ThreeOhFour) are still using the same line for the end walls. I would probably extend the building on the right a bit more to the left and give them some touch/sharing walls space. Or you can go the other way, if you wish some apart space between the two for a small narrow street. As is it's looking a bit odd. :)

EDIT: Just adding a small updated picture with my 3D quick model (not finished, barely started really!)... Original post with more "details.
« Last Edit: 10 Jun 2015, 21:58 by Cassiebsg »
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #75 on: 10 Jun 2015, 20:46 »
Misj', thank you for doing such a detailed review! I totally see where you are coming from. The inspiration for my scene was the Wikipedia page of Gdansk, a city I'd like to visit one day. The row of colorful, embellished houses looked so inviting to me, also the flair of a rich Hanseatic city with merchants and trade.

I will try to find a way to keep the original setting but make the composition more interesting. Maybe having the houses in different sizes and positioning some to the front or back might help? I will also try the suggested cliff version in this context.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #76 on: 10 Jun 2015, 22:26 »
I didn't have time to comment on all the pieces yet, but for Ben, cassiebsg, cat, and Daniel I have put down some thoughts. Hopefully the rest will follow tomorrow.


ps. also, I've updated my original post.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #77 on: 10 Jun 2015, 23:06 »
Update 10th June
I didn't have time to write any step by step. But don't know if there is much to say.

Thanks Misj, I will certainly play around with moving the camera back which looked pretty nice.

I still haven't had time to give feedback, I will try and do so before the weekend.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #78 on: 11 Jun 2015, 07:49 »
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #79 on: 11 Jun 2015, 08:34 »
Sox: Yep, although be wary of the bottom of the tallest building's roof and the top of the one next to it, they almost make a straight line. That should be a pretty simple fix, though.

Misj': Excellent points, you've given me a lot to think about. Thank you!

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #80 on: 11 Jun 2015, 14:19 »
Time to re-evaluate my design


original post updated
« Last Edit: 11 Jun 2015, 14:33 by Misj' »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #81 on: 11 Jun 2015, 16:56 »
It's time for some more feedback! I hope I didn't forget anyone.

One general issue that puzzles me in several of the pictures is the lack of windows in the harbor master's house. Wouldn't he want to be able to observe the harbor and see arriving ships?

loominous I think it's looking great. While everything feels now more connected in the scene, in your last picture I'm a bit worried that the walkable area in front of the booth might be a bit small to walk there.

Misj' I like your last redesign. It is more interesting, less cluttered and I get a much stronger harbour feel from it.

ThreeOhFour I like the strong contrasts and different values. However, the triangular load of the crane draws a lot of attention. It looks like a huge warning sign like this. Is this intentional?

Cassiebsg Great progress since your first draft, the scene looks much more interesting now. Adding a human reference is probably a good idea that will help you with your design.

Myinah Also good progress here, the exits are much clearer now. The backlit scene might make it a bit more difficult but can lead to interesting results.

selmiak Ah, this starts to look interesting!I wonder where the harbor masters house will be?

Lasca Hard to tell at the moment, but I think the lighting of the house seems a bit off with the position of the sun and the light on the floor. Maybe you need to rotate the house a bit?

xil I like the idea, shape of the platforms, clear exits and general design. I agree that the space ships need more work. The big indentation at the front seems to have no purpose (it's not loading ramp because there is another opening and it also doesn't look like it is there for propulsion)

Daniel Thomas I think your redesign works very well, also with the bottom exit. Even though the decreased contrast gives a good indication, you might want to add more stuff to prevent the player from walking away from the camera.

Dropped Monocle Games Also great progress compared to your first version. I don't really get what that thing in the center is supposed to be.

Ykni Looking nice and interesting, but I see two problems: As you noticed, the south exit leads to the sea, and there would be some serious scaling involved if the player walks there.


Edit:

Click image for link to first post.

I tried various versions of different background houses, the cliff, even adding a channel or city gate. However, they did not really fit the setting. The picture above is the one I liked most, with the tower added back again and variations in the building heights. I also decided on the basic light direction.
« Last Edit: 11 Jun 2015, 20:54 by cat »

Daniel Thomas

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #82 on: 11 Jun 2015, 21:22 »
@Misj, I really like the new lineart, don't have much comment atm, but I would love to see the values be much bolder and clearer than the previous sketch as it was a little all over the place. Be brave and deliberate! :)

Here are the ones I had time to go over.(I realize it's not all of them, it was just a matter of time, nothing else)
A lot of good feedback has already been given, and I might have repeated something already said.
While they're sloppy, I hope I get the idea across.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #83 on: 11 Jun 2015, 22:18 »
Here's an update on my work.

First of all, thanks for the feedback everyone! Once again, I'm sorry that I'm not returning it, it's only a matter of lack of time. The little I have goes to painting and reading this thread. Which is great. Also thank you Daniel for the paint over. Made me think that pehaps it would be a good idea to let the docks continue more to the left. I know it's not really clear from my sketch, but my original idea was to make the edge of the dock run by the boat up towards the vp. If that makes any sense. I'm also thinking, sole based on the others paintings, that it would perhaps be more interesting to turn the house towards the right. I will most definitely light up the background houses and the bottoms of the clouds.

I also wanted to ask the experts around here: Is there a good way to create a perspective grid in photoshop? Especially if you have vps outside the canvas? Do you have ready made ones or do you create new ones for every new bg? 

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #84 on: 12 Jun 2015, 02:46 »


Some more stuff happening in the foreground. The harbour master has his office on the upper level. He is a beardy old man and always swears. And he is fat and swears loudest when he has to climb up to his master viewing spot and in case of an emergency (or when he is feeling moody) ring the alarm or give other signals.

There is a sign ion front of his office, but this could look better. But atm the sun is shining on it from the wrong side so it is in the shadow from this view. Does anyone have a good idea how to place it so it is better seen?

I hope I have some time to write feedback to the other great scenes tomorrow.

ThreeOhFour

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #85 on: 12 Jun 2015, 03:26 »
Thank you to cat and Daniel for the valuable feedback, it's given me a lot to think about!

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #86 on: 12 Jun 2015, 16:45 »
I'm going to post a second round of thoughts here (for those not part of the first post). There has been a lot of new versions since my last thought-post, so I decided it would be best to create a new one.







« Last Edit: 14 Jun 2015, 21:21 by Misj' »

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #87 on: 12 Jun 2015, 20:36 »
I like your edit Daniel (of my piece), any idea neat idea how to do it without pulling the camera back? I already feel like I want to be closer to the scene, so pulling back further feels so n so.

Edit: Btw, it's really nice to see people trying out value sketches, and the improvements that I've seen so far are quite substantial, so nice going with the comments everyone! I'll try to contribute over the weekend as much as possible, and apologies if I haven't replied to any critique of my piece, I've just had a very busy week.
« Last Edit: 12 Jun 2015, 20:41 by loominous »
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #88 on: 13 Jun 2015, 02:12 »
some feedback:

loominous:
not much to add, looks great! The light coming in between the houses is great!
some cool wrinkled sails on the ship could look great but also overlap the interesting background. maybe some worn out sails with holes in them.

misj':
are you starting anew?
the new lineart seems to have more room and thus more depth. Keep it and light it good.

ben:
Cool depth and composition. When standing in the front row I would be torn between walking deeper into the harbor or entering the first door. Nice way of leading the eyes. The other exits are also visibly placed. not much to add, I want to see this with more detail!

cassiebsg:
that's looking interesting already. the sail shaped building. either go cartoony with this shape for the building or make it a real sail that is there to cast some shadow on the people trading their fish below. And put a post for it right in the middle of the scene. Dunno, just an idea :)
cool that you use blender for sketching too, I haven't painted over a blender render yet, but should work out... somehow. I guess we can help eachother later on :)

Myinah:
I like how the image is floating from left to right and vice versa, the building in the top/background don't flow that nice, just overdo the flow on them some more.
Don't forget about the shadow on the pier and on the 2 stairlike walls and on the sign. Though the sign sould just have a lighter shadow so you can see what is on it
Do you really want to draw this in oil? really really? Cool. If not, I'm interested how to/you color this very bold lineart on the computer, please give some hints.

cat:
a broad open scene. The back row of houses is not in perspective, but that should be an easy fix in this stage.

Ykni:
I don't know if you are working on the first or second image in your first post or the third version later on, they are so different. for the second image, this is looking more crowded and less organised than the first one, I like it. But the perspective is totally different from the first one, I like the perspective in the first one better. The third one is different again and also interesting. It feels a bit empty on the right side, but stalls will fill this. The houses in the background might be to big compared to the boats in midground (and below?). Atm I'm having trouble deciphering if the boats are down a cliff of next to the wall of the house.

Lasca:
cool scene and moody sunset light. Great! It's interesting that you put the background church in the center of the image and the tree a bit to the side of the total center. And interesting is better than expected, like if you had put the tree in the center. The south exit is readable, to go foolproof maybe add one of these up arrows on one of the boxes in the foreground and have the box rotated, so the arrow points towards the player. Finally crates in a game make sense!

sox:
The harbour masters house is now standing out indeed. You could try giving it a special roof and/or a special window on the top front to make it stand out even more. The the building on the right behind the stands look like building backsides. Noone so close to the sea would have a buildingbackside towards the water. keep that in mind when fleshing out the sketch.

xil:
very cool tron like shapes. I'd have no external lightsource, a night scene and only the neonlight illuminates everything. more please!

Daniel Thomas:
very interesting to see how you built up a scene. I think the curved pier from the second to last thumbnail gives a nice variation but pushing the tower to the background is a good decision, opens up everything. That sign is a good idea for the south exit, though it is a southeast exit :P ;)



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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #89 on: 13 Jun 2015, 13:05 »
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cat

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #90 on: 13 Jun 2015, 13:19 »
This is amazing, loominous! I'll try that this weekend.

Also thanks for all the comments, guys.

Cassiebsg

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #91 on: 13 Jun 2015, 15:57 »
I subside to what cat said, and add that I've already learned more about drawing and painting from this workshop, than I ever did from drawing classes I had in school and uni!
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Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #92 on: 13 Jun 2015, 16:07 »

« Last Edit: 13 Jun 2015, 17:30 by Misj' »

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #93 on: 13 Jun 2015, 16:44 »
Misj:

I really like where you've taken the scene, much better in my opinion.

Regarding picking light direction, I agree it's like the silhouette thing in character design. I do however think that it's probably best to lay down a lighting setup for the entire scene, see which works best for the scene as a whole (interesting shapes, good highlighting of the important parts), and then move around any objects that aren't popping properly (silhouette-wise) to stand out properly.

It's always a back n forth tug-o-war when it comes to these things, one solution messing up the silhouettes, another fixing them but making the overall focus wrong, but I think it's probably best to focus on the scene as a whole, when making these decisions.

The good thing is that the more one does this, the more one gets a feel for how these things will work even when one is doing pure lineart, as you stop thinking in terms of lines, and more about collections of shapes that the lines will form, once values have been added, and have possible lighting solutions already in mind.
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cat

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #94 on: 13 Jun 2015, 16:54 »
A sudden shower made me go inside so I tried this sooner than expected:


Click image for link to first post.

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #95 on: 13 Jun 2015, 17:41 »
Regarding picking light direction, I agree it's like the silhouette thing in character design. I do however think that it's probably best to lay down a lighting setup for the entire scene, see which works best for the scene as a whole ... but I think it's probably best to focus on the scene as a whole, when making these decisions.

I completely agree regarding looking at the entire scene when investigating light. However, in this particular case I knew that the left side would work out regardless of the sun's direction (yes, there's a big ship, but wherever it casts a shadow, it will be mostly outside of the walkable area and therefore not that much of a problem). Furthermore, since almost all the characters point left (and one is actually moving along the path I want the player to take to the docks), the player will automatically investigate that area.

The right side was much more important in that respect (discoverability). I made sure that the stairs would be visible when the player enters the room, so that helps, but I needed to make sure that this area would not feel off-limits, and shadows could cause that. So - as an exception - I decided to focus specifically on that area for my lighting and show the effect on it.

But your comments are absolutely valid.

---

Added some thoughts on Loominous' piece in a previous post.

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #96 on: 13 Jun 2015, 20:08 »
Cat:

Good to see your experiments working out well!

One thing you could consider would be lowering the camera angle, so I whipped this up:

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Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #97 on: 13 Jun 2015, 22:59 »
I've added some thoughts on Loominous', Myinah's, and Selmiak's pieces. Two more to go (Xil and Ykni)...hopefully tomorrow.

I'll be glad to return to my own sketch again. I'm starting to miss my little harbor :)

Cassiebsg

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #98 on: 14 Jun 2015, 01:36 »
Been struggling a bit with getting the camera just right after I'm scaled everything up.
But think It's okay now (or good enough for me to continue working on the model anyway). Also still not completely happy with the building. :-\ Anyway, this is what I managed to do today (don't mind much the materials chosen atm, they just help me visualise the model better atm.)



Guess tomorrow's work (if I have the time) will be to study lighting the scene a bit better.. (roll)

Selmiak, thanks for the feedback. :) Though, am not using Blender to sketch and paint over later on. I plan to render the scene with materials and hopefully get a decent scene out of it. ;)
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Daniel Thomas

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #99 on: 14 Jun 2015, 13:32 »
Quote
I like your edit Daniel (of my piece), any idea neat idea how to do it without pulling the camera back? I already feel like I want to be closer to the scene, so pulling back further feels so n so.
Not on the top of my head. But I don't see it, it feels very very close, or atleast too close to the bottom of the screen. The character walking past the stand would almost make it go outside screen or create a little weird tanget with is feet almost as it was walking on the bottom. I would leave any those "close to the screen experiences" for leaving and exiting.

So maybe one way would to just move the camera up, then there would be space for the South exit, but you keep the close camera. Similar to what Misj's edit is doing. Although I don't like the foregroud rope cutting straight through that area.It's somewhat odd parallel line that goes straight in the middle of the stairs (and my edit didn't really solve that problem, maybe add some bend on the rope if you really want it)
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Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #100 on: 14 Jun 2015, 21:30 »
I finally managed to put my thoughts down for all the pieces.

Ben, Cassiebsg, Cat, and Daniel can be found here.
Dropped Monocle Games, Lasca, Loominous, Myinah, Selmiak, Xil, and Ykni can be found here.

I hope I didn't miss anyone.

It was an interesting exercise to envision where I would go with each of the pieces; especially considering all the different styles here. Remember, when it comes to your own scene you are the expert. So if anything I said doesn't fit your vision, go ahead and completely ignore it. If nothing else it gave me some ideas about my own piece.

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #101 on: 15 Jun 2015, 00:06 »
Thanks for the feedback guys. I'm struggling to decide which setup I like best, there really isn't one that feels good tbh. The improvements that Daniel made reminded me of my first setup. I now tried to combine both sketches.
+ =

The last scene isn't quite finished obviously. I decided to keep the big blue sky because we actually have a lot of those around here, pretty flat country :)
Looking at it now I realise that I lost all the intimacy of the small town in the combined image :( I should probably zoom in a bit closer.

I love the edit that you made Misj' I only saw it only a moment ago. It never occured to me to combine these scene's, it fits my story perfectly. I'll try to take both the cliff and the dock scene to the next level. Thanks for that great idea.

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #102 on: 15 Jun 2015, 00:13 »
Thanks for the input Misj', I really liked the idea of multiple platforms! I'm not actually worried about scaling as I'm going to be using this for my first 3D project in Unity so I can scale the player character however I like :).

For my secondary sketch I'm going to put together the 3D model and hopefully can do some of your ideas justice :)

I'm going to go through everyone's entries and just say what I like and don't like from a player perspective as, frankly, I'm not a background artist so it wouldn't feel right critiquing something I can't even do myself.

loominus
I really like the scene and think the harbour master building looks fantastic. Possible issues: the sign and the foreground rope would conceal the player sprite when he/she is on the stairs and that the umbrella tpye thing in the middle of the image is hard to tell if it's in the background or not.

Misj'
I love the foreground with the hook/crane thing and the use of a sort of crow's nest. Possible issues: the harbour master building gets a little 'lost' in the scene.

ThreeOhFour
I love the position of the light source, giving you an option in-game to do a little tinting when the player is far right. Possible issues: the boat/ship almost looks disappointingly small and I feel a little bit of a disconnection between the sign and the entrance of the harbour master building.

Cassiebsg
I prefer the camera angle in your second image and really like the unique position of the Harbour Master's entrance. Possible issues: I need to wait to see the ships in place but I'm not entirely sold on the shape of the Harbour Master building, it feels a little bit like it's leaning to the left.

Myinah
This is probably one of my favourites so far, I can really see it working well in-game. Possible issues: The arch could perhaps be made a little smaller and I'd like to see a bit more boat/ship I think. The perspective also feels a little 'fluid', if you intend to stick closely to this sketch then I would personally like to see it tightened up a bit.

cat
I agree that the light from the left in your last 'market square' approach really does add a lot to the scene. Possible issues: I would like to see the whole thing zoomed in a bit more as currently I can't quite visualise how it would work in-game.

Ykni
Although I liked your first ideas the current sketch is a huge improvement from an 'in-game' perspective. I like the harbour master building but maybe try to include the tent from your earlier ideas as it looked cool :). Possible issues: I'll wait till you decide on a sketch to take forward.

selmiak
It's really hard to do anything but love this scene so far :), I really look forward to seeing the ships go in. Possible issues: The only way I could see this working in-game is if each location had it's own 'zoomed' view.

Lasca
I like the camera angle and the way the tree in centred in the image. Possible issues: The harbour master building looks a little boring compared to how the rest of the scene is coming along. I think some more variation in depth on the face would help.

Daniel Thomas
Before your 10th June update I would have said to bump the scene to the right and add some more boat/ship in. You quite literally did that in the update and I like the part of the ship you used. Possible issues: The Harbour Master building sign is on the subtle side, perhaps a larger sign could be added?

Sox
I like the use of detail in the background and the plank/walkway going across to the ship. The idea for the Harbour Master building is probably my favourite as well. Possible issues: The foreground is a little lacking and I agree with what some of the others have said about the sides of the building matching up a little too neatly.

** (I've mostly gone through the posts from the first page assuming people have updated so let me know if it sounds like I've accidentally referred to the wrong image.)

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #103 on: 15 Jun 2015, 06:43 »
Mainly messing about with the foreground:

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Cassiebsg

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #104 on: 15 Jun 2015, 19:05 »
@loominous, I actually like the foreground stall on the left best, seems to frame the picture better, and not mess with the Harbor Master's house. Only thing that bothers me is the "black" patch on the lower right side. Maybe you could try and remove that? That way you have a neatly framed south exit. ;)

PS - Sorry if I'm not providing that much feedback, but with such talented ppl in here, all I can see is beautiful pictures...(laugh)

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cat

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #105 on: 15 Jun 2015, 22:15 »

Click image for link to first post.

Loominous' last tutorial was a real eye-opener. I knew that my background felt somewhat impersonal, but I didn't know why.

Lasca

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #106 on: 15 Jun 2015, 22:18 »
Thanks for very inspiring and good comments on my work! Here's a small update on my bg.

Also, still curious about the best way of using perspective grids in psp. Do you guys have ready made grids and just put them in, or do you create new ones <-- if so, what's the best way when have vp's outside of the work area. Sorry if someone already responded to this and I accidentally missed it.
cheers!
« Last Edit: 15 Jun 2015, 22:20 by Lasca »

Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #107 on: 15 Jun 2015, 22:21 »
Just took some time to study all wop. Not many suggestions on my part because they all look very good to me and a lot of great feedback has already been given.

Loominous: Not much I can say about your background other than I think it looks amazing. I don't like the new foreground that you added. Even though I'm fond of this kind of framing I think in this case you can do without.

Cassiebsg: I like the round harbour and building, it has a very futuristic feel to it. I do like your previous cameraposition better though. Probably because it's more closeup which feels a bit cosier. I guess it depends on what kind of feel you want the place to have.

I just wanted to let you all know that I'm learning a lot from all the tutorials and thought processes. Thanks for spending so much time to give such great feedback and sharing your knowledge. This is a great, yet ??? experience.
 

Daniel Thomas

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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #108 on: 15 Jun 2015, 23:43 »
Update of thumbnail sketch HERE
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Re: Background Workshop II - Started!
« Reply #109 on: 16 Jun 2015, 06:27 »
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cat

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #110 on: 16 Jun 2015, 11:37 »
For the next stage I suppose we should start to work in the final resolution? I never painted a background before (I'm still not sure which style I will choose). What are your recommendations? Do you make a larger painting and scale down later? Do you work in the final resolution? What resolutions do you prefer?

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #111 on: 16 Jun 2015, 13:10 »
Do you make a larger painting and scale down later? Do you work in the final resolution? What resolutions do you prefer?
I generally work three (or four) times the final resolution and scale down. For a painterly style I find that this is less relevant (though still advisable), but for line-art it really makes a differences; scaled-down lines are simply much cleaner. Of course I also tend to use a lot of layers, so it can be a bit of a memory-hog. Again, this originates in the comic-world, where a 3x final-size is common-place (at least before they went digital, but I assume most digital artists have adopted this).


ps. @Lasca, I'm not ignoring you, I'm just not using Photoshop to paint. I use Photoshop a lot, but I prefer Painter for painting, it's closer to my way of working (though I miss certain photoshop-features, just as I miss painter-features in Photoshop). Painter has a build-in (customizable) 2-point perspective grid that is independent of the working-area, so I rarely have to use any other tricks to insert a grid.

pps. I'm not planning to start a discussion on 'which painting-program is the best'. I think that's different from person to person, what works for me might not work for you. Just as you cannot not have a discussion about which is better: pencil, brushes, or spray paint. :)
« Last Edit: 16 Jun 2015, 13:22 by Misj' »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #112 on: 16 Jun 2015, 15:44 »
@Lasca: This is a helpfull tool for generating a perspective grid http://epicgames.com/community/2012/11/free-art-tool-released-thanks-to-epic-friday/
I think I found it somewhere on this forum and find it very usefull since Artrage (which I use to do my painting) has no perspective grid either.
@Misj': I've been wondering about the differences between painter and Artrage. Have you by any chance ever used Artrage?

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #113 on: 16 Jun 2015, 17:35 »
For the next stage I suppose we should start to work in the final resolution?

Well, all these things are up to you, but I would suggest you do, to avoid having to redraw stuff in stage III.

I never painted a background before (I'm still not sure which style I will choose). What are your recommendations? Do you make a larger painting and scale down later? Do you work in the final resolution? What resolutions do you prefer?

I personally prefer to work in the end resolution, though with some margins on the side, so you can reposition the image (so your workspace is larger than the image).

I just like how the pixels turn out when you work in the end resolution, something about the anti-aliasing or something, which you don't get when you scale down stuff. Course my stuff usually end up looking slightly blurry, which I kinda like, though the crispiness of for instance Daniel's pieces are usually stunning, though hard to pull off correctly in my experience.
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Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #114 on: 17 Jun 2015, 15:54 »
I suggest we leave colors to stage III, so this would be about creating a detailed "back and white" piece.

I don't really agree with that. While I know that some people work with shades (values) that are then colored, another - equally valid - approach is to start with flat colors that are then shaded.

Using values and adding colors only as a refinement (almost as an afterthought) really never worked for me as I didn't find the pieces where I did that appealing (in my style). Personally I use a combination of hues, values, and saturation with a higher emphasis on hues than saturation (though they all go hand in hand) and - again adapting it from comics - starting with flat coloring that is then refined into shapes.


Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #115 on: 17 Jun 2015, 16:46 »
I suggest we leave colors to stage III, so this would be about creating a detailed "back and white" piece.

I don't really agree with that. While I know that some people work with shades (values) that are then colored, another - equally valid - approach is to start with flat colors that are then shaded.

Using values and adding colors only as a refinement (almost as an afterthought) really never worked for me as I didn't find the pieces where I did that appealing (in my style). Personally I use a combination of hues, values, and saturation with a higher emphasis on hues than saturation (though they all go hand in hand) and - again adapting it from comics - starting with flat coloring that is then refined into shapes.

It's mostly about separating things into steps, so we can focus on one thing at a time. People are of course free to start using colors, but perhaps we should put the major color discussions off til stage III.

It's like the thumbnails, it sort of forces you to look at the piece from a very basic but important perspective before moving on, to make sure everything is working properly, before getting distracted by other things. So in this case it would be about making sure the picture is working well on a value level before getting distracted by colors.
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Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #116 on: 17 Jun 2015, 17:01 »
It's like the thumbnails, it sort of forces you to look at the piece from a very basic but important perspective before moving on, to make sure everything is working properly, before getting distracted by other things. So in this case it would be about making sure the picture is working well on a value level before getting distracted by colors.
I could easily argue it the other way around. :) - First focus on colors (and making sure they work) before getting distracted by values. As I said, that's the way it has been done in comics for decades.

I'm all for focusing on one thing at a time. But since we have three stages, where the first focused on 'composition and values', and the second now focuses on 'details and values' means that two-third of the workshop is about values where hues are equally - if not more - important to guide the viewer.

I've not intention of hijacking this workshop; I'm just pointing out some concerns in light of a different workflow (that feels slightly incompatible with the proposed stage).

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #117 on: 17 Jun 2015, 18:37 »
Never heard of people doing colors before doing values, so I dunno how well that works.

But I think you can compare it to photography, you can easily strip a photo of colors to see how it works in black and white (and a nice photo will probably work well in b/w), but stripping it of values seems trickier. Can't really picture it to be honest. Just areas of color?

So to me it's about creating a strong b/w photo like picture first, to make the lighting/silhouettes functioning well, and then moving on to colors. It's not an ideal division for many reasons, but I don't see a good alternative.

But if you feel like going colors first, then by all means go ahead, but perhaps just hold off on tutorials etc until stage III (though the effort and your efforts in general are highly appreciated).
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #118 on: 18 Jun 2015, 05:27 »
Kinda dropped the ball with the sketch presentation thing, so here's my last sketch in full res, pre refinement.



Mostly eager to start refining the design of everything to get rid of all the predictable generic stuff.
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selmiak

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #119 on: 19 Jun 2015, 01:20 »

I added some boats and some colorful lamps and some houses up the hill. I really have to stop adding stuff or I will never finish painting this.
If noone sees some glaring composition error I'll render out some sperate layers to make it easier in PS, probably the balcony front layer, the shops, the big buildings, the ships, the houses on the hill and all water reflections on seperate layer and see what comes out of this :)

render time at this resolution (click for full size) 47mins :P


added to my first post

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #120 on: 19 Jun 2015, 22:16 »
STAGE II: Getting into Details
-- continuation from Stage I --



selmiak

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #121 on: 19 Jun 2015, 23:13 »
Cool stuff Misj'
I always wondered how you do this line art on PC. So this is a pencil drawing scanned in? With some contrast and other adjustmenst in PS or similar image processing software?

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #122 on: 19 Jun 2015, 23:47 »
I always wondered how you do this line art on PC. So this is a pencil drawing scanned in? With some contrast and other adjustmenst in PS or similar image processing software?
This is done entirely digital (I do a lot with pencil on paper and when push comes to shove it's still my favorite medium , but digital has its advantages (read: undo-button ;) ).

Most of my Blitz-entries are fully digital with a Wacom tablet. I use a number of different brushes (that I sometimes tweak a little) depending on the style I want. In this case it's a simple pressure-sensitive (on thickness) pen with a 20% opacity. This is what I use most when inking (in combination with a digital pencil-brush for my sketches).

Eric

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #123 on: 20 Jun 2015, 00:21 »
Are you using Photoshop for this linework, Misj'?

(Are outsiders allowed to post here?)

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #124 on: 20 Jun 2015, 08:29 »
(Are outsiders allowed to post here?)

Sure, anyone's welcome to participate in any way they like.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #125 on: 20 Jun 2015, 12:47 »
I wanted to pop in and say thank you for the feedback provided so far. Unfortunately my chronic autoimmune disease is flaring badly of late and I've been struggling to work. I may not finish but the feedback has been insanely helpful from everyone. That shading was brilliant and the perspective changes Daniel and Misj did were great and helped the depth of the picture a lot. I will continue to follow and learn and maybe present an update if I can.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #126 on: 20 Jun 2015, 20:12 »
Quick update from me:

I love the idea of doing colour last, but at this point I'm not confident enough to dare try it - colouring takes me a huge amount of time and leaving it last is a scary prospect, so I've taken the "safe" path and am using a bit of colour as I go.



You can see how messy everything is still, I take ages to clean up.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #127 on: 21 Jun 2015, 00:05 »
been really busy so havent worked on this as much as I would like, but here is what I have now!

Thanks for all the feedback everyone

ThreeOhFour

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #128 on: 21 Jun 2015, 21:36 »
This is the long, slow part for me, so my updates are going to be a lot less exciting, and really more "putting one foot in front of the other", especially as I'm only spending an hour or so on it at a time. Also keeping any "process" post stuff for stage III due to my use of colour, but looking forward to seeing other people's!


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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #129 on: 21 Jun 2015, 21:42 »
Link to first post

Just want to let you know that I'm still in, but doing the refined sketch is a lot of work. I'm currently drawing the various builings with (hopefully) correct perspective and I'm also adding first detail. I also added some reference pics for this.
So here is the WIP that I'm currently working on:



Update 23.6.2015


This is as detailed as I will go in this stage, next I will focus on colors.

Update 26.6.2015
I played around with color a bit:
« Last Edit: 26 Jun 2015, 20:09 by cat »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #130 on: 22 Jun 2015, 04:43 »
Sure, anyone's welcome to participate in any way they like.

Well here's a question from an interested observer, then. It seems many are getting to the point of dealing with non-organic objects--buildings, etc. Whenever I've tried to paint, and this is why I generally stick to lineart, I have a lot of trouble with...well, lines. Straight lines, curved lines, whatever. But things with hard edges. I'm sure any advice any of you have would be appreciated by all of the rest of us.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #131 on: 22 Jun 2015, 07:24 »
Sure, anyone's welcome to participate in any way they like.
Well here's a question from an interested observer, then. It seems many are getting to the point of dealing with non-organic objects--buildings, etc. Whenever I've tried to paint, and this is why I generally stick to lineart, I have a lot of trouble with...well, lines. Straight lines, curved lines, whatever. But things with hard edges. I'm sure any advice any of you have would be appreciated by all of the rest of us.

Could you elaborate? Are you having trouble with the lines not looking nice, or the shading of these hard edged objects?
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #132 on: 22 Jun 2015, 11:33 »
Are you using Photoshop for this linework, Misj'?
For art I'm a Painter user. To me there are certain advantages to it over PhotoShop, since PhotoShop just isn't good for natural media. To contradict myself: I have seen people use it with fantastic results; it's just not (nor should be) the core business of Photoshop. It's an application primarily meant to edit, retouch, optimize, and manipulate photographs/images, and I use it quite a lot for that. So my opinion is not based on lack of understanding/knowledge about the application. It's purely based on a. my own preferred workflow, and b. the look I'm going for.

I've also looked into Sketchbook Pro which arguably has the best digital pencil; it's a great tool, but I could not find a real advantage of it within my workflow (that justified me buying it). However, at a 70 euro price-point, it's well worth to investigate if you want something to use for digital comics and such.

I've also looked at ArtRage in the past, but that was still quite an early version (I think it was still version 1 or an early 2), and it just wasn't worth it at the time (since I already was a Painter user). Painter is still much better then ArtRage, but on the other hand, ArtRage is 50 dollars, whereas Painter is 425 dollars (for the record, I bought it much cheaper through my workplace, but am not allowed to use it commercially). And is Painter - from what I've seen - really 10x better and thus validating the 10x price difference? - In some aspects the answer is yes, but for most people here the answer should be 'no', simply because they would be using maybe 10% of its capabilities (I have the same argument for Photoshop) so why not use a much cheaper application that has all the capabilities that are relevant to you?

So yeah, I use Painter, and can recommend it to everyone, except that I would tell you not to buy it. Buy Sketchbook Pro and ArtRage instead, and spend the rest of the money on a Wacom tablet (and yes, I would absolutely recommend a Cintiq).



ps. Also, some people feel the UI of Painter is awful. I don't entirely agree with that, but I understand where it's coming from. This is a problem that Painter and Photoshop both have (although you won't see it once you're used to the quirks) simply because they've become quite bloated with a lot of options that don't really fit in a simple design. ArtRage and Sketchbook run the risk of this happening to them as well, simply because they need to add new features to either stay relevant in the market or to give users a reason to upgrade. Hopefully they can fit it within their (currently) simple UI design.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #133 on: 23 Jun 2015, 11:15 »
I'm having trouble finding time this week to work on my piece. Unfortunately - from the looks of it - next week doesn't appear to be much different. So I hope I'll be able to continue, but I might be a bit slow...

Cassiebsg

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #134 on: 23 Jun 2015, 15:21 »
I haven't had time to work on mine since my last update either. Sorry. :(
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #135 on: 23 Jun 2015, 15:49 »
Heh, me neither. Globally unfortunate week it seems.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #136 on: 23 Jun 2015, 21:39 »
To keep this going I'll post some progress:

Click image for link to main post.

This is as detailed as I will go in this stage, next I will focus on colors.
« Last Edit: 23 Jun 2015, 21:42 by cat »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #137 on: 24 Jun 2015, 00:47 »
Could you elaborate? Are you having trouble with the lines not looking nice, or the shading of these hard edged objects?

It's a combination of both, I think. I tend to lose the "painterly" quality when drawing straight lines, or I tend to paint lines that aren't straight. And I'm never sure how edges should be shaded / highlighted...I think it's a trickier thing to observe in real life that most other light situations. I'm looking at a corner of a wall right now, and to my eye, it looks like it gets incredibly dark just before the edge, which is glowing white from the light of the other room.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #138 on: 24 Jun 2015, 01:13 »
just a short notice, please excuse my shortness on words, I have no idea how to paint over 3d renders to make them look cool. But then I have no idea how to make 3d renders look cool in the first place. :-D
If I find any way I hope I can put my process into words...


@cat: love your progress!

overall I like this timemanagement... 8-)

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #139 on: 24 Jun 2015, 01:20 »
@eric: straight lines are easy in every paint app, just keep shift pressed. making the swirly pearly lines look interesting and keeping them the same boldness is a mystacle.

cat

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #140 on: 24 Jun 2015, 09:16 »
just a short notice, please excuse my shortness on words, I have no idea how to paint over 3d renders to make them look cool. But then I have no idea how to make 3d renders look cool in the first place. :-D
If I find any way I hope I can put my process into words...
I like your 3D render. If you can't find a way to paint over it, you could always continue to work in 3D adding textures and details.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #141 on: 25 Jun 2015, 03:05 »
@eric: straight lines are easy in every paint app, just keep shift pressed. making the swirly pearly lines look interesting and keeping them the same boldness is a mystacle.

I find that the straight lines drawn this way don't have any character, though. These are more the sorts of things I grapple with. But I won't clutter the thread anymore!

cat

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #142 on: 25 Jun 2015, 10:29 »
Looking at the schedule in post one, it seems we are already in the feedback phase of stage two, with stage three starting tomorrow 8-0
So here is some feedback on the sketches:

loominous
+ I like the design, mood and composition.
- The exit to the left should be clearer.

selmiak
+ Interesting composition, I like the mood and colors.
- The large speaker and the blocks behind it puzzle me a bit size-wise. I don't know how big this is supposed to be. Maybe when you add textures, this will become clear.

Misj'
+ I love the comic style, the different layers and all those nice little details.
- The ship now has lots of embellishments that visually merge with the tower in front of it. Since I suppose they will both be made out of wood, make sure to find a way to distinguish them.

ThreeOhFour
+ I love where you are going with this.
- "Also keeping any "process" post stuff for stage III due to my use of colour" -> please do post some of your process stuff, I'm very much interested in it!

Dropped Monocle Games
+ Now this is some really good progress! The scene is coming to life.
- While I like the statue in the foreground, the bump under the breast (is this supposed to be a hand?) looks a bit weird, I'd remove that.


I'm sorry I didn't do this earlier, I was hoping for more entries to show up.

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #143 on: 25 Jun 2015, 13:23 »
Misj'
+ I love the comic style, the different layers and all those nice little details.
- The ship now has lots of embellishments that visually merge with the tower in front of it. Since I suppose they will both be made out of wood, make sure to find a way to distinguish them.
That is indeed a potential major concern I had when drawing the line-art. Fortunately, the ship's design is very much inspired by the VOC ship Amsterdam (it's actually almost an exact copy):


The rear of the ship is very heavily painted, and as a result the green (cool) colors should help the crows-nest (warm brown/red colors) stand out. I will probably make the ship even a bit more colder (more towards the blue) to make this contrast even bigger, and to blend it a little bit with the background (this is one of the advantages of having an early color-pass even when working from values as a basis).

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #144 on: 25 Jun 2015, 13:53 »
Perhaps we'll just keep things rolling til the end date without any specific phases/dates til then. Unexpectedly heavy workload during the last week really messed up my schedule.

Eric:

@eric: straight lines are easy in every paint app, just keep shift pressed. making the swirly pearly lines look interesting and keeping them the same boldness is a mystacle.

I find that the straight lines drawn this way don't have any character, though. These are more the sorts of things I grapple with. But I won't clutter the thread anymore!

I personally never use straight lines, I just don't like the stiffness, so I just use a large wacom tablet, and do everything by hand.

The reason the size of the tablet matters is that the larger the tablet is, the more you use your arm to control the pen, rather than your wrist/fingers, which leads to nicer more flowy lines in my experience.


Ben:

Feel free to post any progress regardless of stages etc, since I'd bet any insights into your process would be highly appreciated by many.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #145 on: 25 Jun 2015, 16:55 »
Quote
I personally never use straight lines, I just don't like the stiffness, so I just use a large wacom tablet, and do everything by hand.

The reason the size of the tablet matters is that the larger the tablet is, the more you use your arm to control the pen, rather than your wrist/fingers, which leads to nicer more flowy lines in my experience.

@Loominous: So funny to read that you find it easier to draw straight lines on a larger tablet, my experience is quite the opposite. I find it much easier to draw smooth lines on a smaller tablet because I only need to flick my hand to draw a long line.

@Eric: I don't like rigid lines in a painted style much either. I had to change my painting style quite a bit when I started making portrait backgrounds in order to make them fit the comic style game characters. Because I don't have such a steady hand I usually do use straight lines to draw the edge of the painted objects, remove any painted bits that stick out and after merging the layers trace over the lines by hand with a blending marker. It ends up looking like this
I wonder if a very painted style like in your examples could work for game art? Wouldn't it be very hard to animate a sprite in that style for instance?

cat

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #146 on: 26 Jun 2015, 20:09 »
Perhaps we'll just keep things rolling til the end date without any specific phases/dates til then.
Are you sure this is a good idea? Without a schedule we might lose focus on this project...

Stage III Colors!


Link to stage II post


Click image for link to main post.

Any critics/comments/suggestions?

Update 3.7.2015 Basic colors

Click image for link to main post.

I tried to follow the advice of using the hues to guide the player. Now the foreground should be towards yellow while the background is towards blue.
I couldn't imagine how to fit a hugh tree in the scene, so I added the sail of a ship to the upper right corner.

Update 7.7.2015 Some details


Update 9.7.2015 Some more details
« Last Edit: 09 Jul 2015, 21:38 by cat »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #147 on: 27 Jun 2015, 10:24 »
Finally weekend, should be able to be more productive from now on.

Cat:

I think the image suffers from some focus isssues, so I whipped this up:

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #148 on: 27 Jun 2015, 13:39 »
Last progress pre colors:

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage II!
« Reply #149 on: 27 Jun 2015, 13:47 »
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ThreeOhFour

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #150 on: 27 Jun 2015, 23:43 »
Alright, I'll do up a post about colour!

Spent some time painting this morning, and also messily playing around with the colour palette to try and push some saturation contrast into it. I'll do up a post talking about this in a while, for now:


Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #151 on: 29 Jun 2015, 02:53 »
Apologies for missing stage 2. I've been working on a MAGS entry so haven't had too much spare time.

I had a little go at painting my scene based off of the nice tutorials in the thread but I'm afraid it's just a little bit too much for my skill level. I am, however, experimenting with voxel art because I am doing a 3D game in Unity, so my scene will see the light of day at some point! If I manage to get something done in the next day or so I'll post it as my stage 3.

Other than that, a huge thanks to all of those who provided feedback and for the excellent tutorials about light and composition, they have been extremely helpful. I look forward to seeing more of the stage 3 images!
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #152 on: 29 Jun 2015, 13:09 »
@loominous: Thanks for the thorough analysis! While I fully agree with B & C I see problems with A, especially since the light is coming from back/left and there can't be a tree that makes such a shadow. But I get the idea and I will think about a solution :)

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #153 on: 29 Jun 2015, 13:39 »
While I fully agree with B & C I see problems with A, especially since the light is coming from back/left and there can't be a tree that makes such a shadow.

Oh I didn't mean that the shape would be a tree shadow, just a tree, with darker leaves, which would look darker than the building facade, creating that shape (sort of).
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #154 on: 29 Jun 2015, 15:34 »
Ah, alright, makes much more sense this way.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #155 on: 30 Jun 2015, 15:16 »
well, I'm sad, annoyed, pissed and confused:
Spoiler: ShowHide


was just painting along when suddenly the lights on the tablet went out and no more paintstrokes were accepted. My table seems to have very sharp edges.
That's it for me for now :(

Cassiebsg

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #156 on: 30 Jun 2015, 19:12 »
Outch selmiak! :~(
Spoiler: ShowHide

Maybe you could sue the table manufacturer for sharp edges? (roll)
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ThreeOhFour

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #157 on: 30 Jun 2015, 20:26 »
I retired my tablet from that era because the cable was getting worn. Sorry to see someone else having a similar issue!

selmiak

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #158 on: 30 Jun 2015, 21:30 »
what tablets can you recommend ben? I need a new one! The intuos series seem to be very recent...

Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #159 on: 30 Jun 2015, 23:20 »
This stage is a bit difficult to share, because it won't make much sense to most people. This is all about figuring out the color palette without having to worry about (or bother with) shapes and light/shadows. You can easily see which hues need tweaking (the ground among other things), and and which channel (hue, saturation, lightness) is used focus the viewer and add contrast to the piece.



Stage I
Stage II

EDIT: Despite the fact that I'm running behind, I would propose to add an additional stage: characters. It doesn't have to be an in-depth character-design stage, but characters are such an integral part of the original description/task that I think it's important to how well the design will work once NPC's are added (plus I really want to design some of the characters I originally had as placeholders in the scene).  :)
« Last Edit: 01 Jul 2015, 09:32 by Misj' »

ThreeOhFour

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #160 on: 01 Jul 2015, 11:11 »
Selmiak: Yeah, I'm using an Intuos at the moment, though I hope to some day get myself a Cintiq. I like the Intuos a lot, though, it's served me pretty well over the last year or so, and it's functionally identical to the Bamboo I had without one or two annoyances of shape etc. (less accidental pressing of buttons and stuff)

Misj': Yeah, wild variances in hue are the hardest for me to make look "good" so I mostly like to trick the eye into seeing different hues rather than actually using them. Part of cutting my teeth on pixel art, really! I wanna write a bit about this (still haven't gotten around to it :cry:) but it's definitely an intentional thing. I find I get the "tightest" designs when I rely more on value & saturation contrast. Also means I can save new hues for little detail objects (though in honesty I rarely do this haha) Really interesting to see the different approaches.

Here's my progress - at this point I'm mostly just adding detail and cleaning up the loads of mess I made in the planning phase. This is the slowest part, but also the most enjoyable because it's less about trying to work out how to solve the problems in my image and more about refining all the groundwork. I'm enjoying cleaning up this piece, and making steady progress. :smiley:


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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #161 on: 01 Jul 2015, 22:30 »
Dear friends. I have to forfeit. I have not had time to work since stage 1, nor will I have more time in the following weeks. I mean to complete this is a later stage, but will not be able to this summer. This is where I ended up:



The reason for me not being able to complete is that I spend all day with my kids and all night playing in THIS
If your swedish or visiting Sweden, and more specifically Gotland, this summer, come see the show and say hello afterwards. I'm the tall guy in green tights.
(sorry for shameless advertising). Have a great summer everyone!

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #162 on: 02 Jul 2015, 10:01 »
Very sorry to see you bowing out of the activity, I've really enjoyed following your progress and your piece as it is now is really shaping up nicely.

Another update from me, with another hour's painting or so. At this stage I'm mostly just rendering detail. I've still got a post about colour ideas coming, I promise!


cat

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #163 on: 02 Jul 2015, 10:09 »
I have to admit, my progress is very slow now, but my background is not abandoned!

At this stage I'm mostly just rendering detail.
Could you elaborate a bit on that? I'd be interested in how you are working here - what kind of brushes you use (hard/soft edge, opacity,...) and your use of layers.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #164 on: 02 Jul 2015, 15:37 »
Kinda messed up the progress saving, so I had to go back n find the changes, so it took a while.. but here's some progress:





Animated gif:



Still image:



--

Regarding wacom tablets, my advice is always to just go for as big as you can find/afford, the model isn't important really, any of the intuos series should be fine, as long as they haven't been scratched badly.
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ThreeOhFour

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #165 on: 03 Jul 2015, 03:20 »
At this stage I'm mostly just rendering detail.
Could you elaborate a bit on that? I'd be interested in how you are working here - what kind of brushes you use (hard/soft edge, opacity,...) and your use of layers.

Yeah! Here's a look at my "workhorse" brushes, that I use for 99% of everything:



With all three of these I have the tablet's pressure sensitivity to affect both opacity and size. I also use the mouse quite a lot, for things that need more precision. I also always modify the size and opacity of the brushes manually constantly with the [ and ] keys (size) and the 1 to 0 keys (opacity).

The hard round brush is great for clear edge definition and precision work. I usually work with it quite small, for cleaning up messes, but it's also reliable for filling in large areas of flat colour and things. The best thing about it is that it never "spills" outside your edges. The worst thing is that it takes ages to blend and look natural, you end up with a lot of flat strokes you need to blend out if you're using it for shading and colouring.

The oil medium wet flow brush is one I've only been using a few months, I switched from the chalk 36 pixels to this because I used to have to set the chalk brush's "scatter" to 2% manually to get the edges to wander how I wanted, and this does it automatically. This is great for both dabbing down in a series of pokes to make textures form and for making more "natural" looking strokes than the hard round brush. I use this for the majority of the work in a piece like this where I want a less smooth, clean look. It can be a little hard to use at lower resolutions (320x200, basically) because it works better the bigger it is, but it's still probably my most favorite brush at the moment.

The soft round brush is one that I use at low opacity, and really big. I drop the brush down to 2% opacity and make it much bigger than the target surface, and that allows me to let the light bounce out and this makes stuff like light sources or areas of light colour being hit directly with a strong light really glow. Often I'll use this with an overlay layer (for making something lighter) or a multiply layer (for making something darker). I flatten those down as soon as I've put the colour onto them, so I don't get confused.

Other than that, I mostly just keep it to a single layer that I paint on, fixing up things just by painting over the mistakes, really. I always have my grid of thirds and my perspective grid on separate layers so I can refer back to them, to fix up the inevitable mistakes, and sometimes I'll keep my earlier version on a separate layer to refer back to it and make sure the changes I've made are ones that look better to me. I also convert back to greyscale now and then just to check and make sure my hues and saturations aren't throwing out my values. Because my early versions are so messy, it doesn't really help me to use many layers, and using a single layer for the painting itself means I never get lost and paint on the incorrect layer.

Let me know if I missed anything!

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #166 on: 03 Jul 2015, 08:31 »
Misj': Yeah, wild variances in hue are the hardest for me to make look "good" so I mostly like to trick the eye into seeing different hues rather than actually using them. Part of cutting my teeth on pixel art, really! I wanna write a bit about this (still haven't gotten around to it :cry:) but it's definitely an intentional thing. I find I get the "tightest" designs when I rely more on value & saturation contrast.
This is something that I found often with people using the value-first approach. And faking colors can be great, and relying solely on value and saturation will often create a unified look and feel.

I've taken the liberty of throwing Loominous' piece through the same analysis:


As you can see - like you - Loominous relies heavily on value and saturation for contrast and color, while hue is largely within the same range. This is one of the reasons for his dreamy trademark look. When you look at the parasol you see that the blue is actually fake since it's simply a very desaturated red that - within the context - looks blue. Values are great, saturation is used very effectively, but from a hue perspective it's very bland.

Bear in mind, I'm not going to say that this approach is wrong (I love the results it can create, and no workflow that creates great results can be wrong now can it). It's more that it relies solely on two out of three properties of color to guide the viewer. It's like creating a song and relying - for the base - only on full chords at the first and third beat. You can still great a great song, but you will never get a memorable baseline like the theme from Peter Gunn or the Pink Panther.

The difficulty is, that each approach makes people afraid to loose their 'starting point'. Value-first-artists tend to be afraid to loose the feel of their values when they go bold with hues, line-artist are afraid to loose line-details when adding shadows or values that may obscure them. People relying on a color-first approach are afraid to use saturation because it will mess up their predefined colors.

That's why I think you should have each of them early on in your design. Try to set up a limited palette of complementary hues: I use a single hue for all my wood and leather, with four hue and saturation variations to set my base colors, I do the same for stone, but with a different hue, don't be afraid to loose certain aspects if it makes the piece stronger. And if it doesn't work out the way you want, try and try again. :)




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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #167 on: 03 Jul 2015, 08:38 »
Thank you, Ben, for the detailed explanation - this is very insightful. It is always interesting to see how other people work. Usually I use tons of layers but this time I will probably try to use only a few as well.

@loominous: I'd also be interested in the tools you are using for coloring, because your workflow seems to be completely different.
One thing I noticed in your picture: The green stands out a lot. While this is good for the tree in the foreground, which is relevant for gameplay, this is maybe not so good for the trees in the background, because they draw a lot of attention.

Edit:
@Misj': Thank you for your insightful explanations about color. I'm currently trying to think about the hues for my pic as well and not just randomly color items :)
« Last Edit: 03 Jul 2015, 08:44 by cat »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #168 on: 03 Jul 2015, 10:59 »
Misj:

I don't think the sort of biased palettes of mine and Ben's entries are necessarily part of this workflow, though I think it encourages you to think more in terms of "looks" (called 'grading' in movies), than realism.

If you have a person just pick colors, they tend to be quite random, and it's often this randomness that you suppress when you want to go for "looks".

I think this is what many appreciate in pixelart, since, because of the color limitation, you often end up picking the same color for objects/areas that you wouldn't have if you could've just picked any color, causing a kind of forced color consistency, which becomes an inadvertent boon. So it's more about creating a nice palette, like a color designer, rather than adhering to realism.

It is true though that it can easily become a crutch, but I don't think it's part of the workflow, it's more that you already start out with a look, rather than nothing, and get to choose how much of it to keep. And once you're inside a look, it's often tempting to keep it rather than to keep pushing towards what often feels like dull realism.

For me it's about getting enough variation in there for it to not become too tiresome, while still evoking the mood I'm after, and this most often means keeping the hue variation rather limited, while still trying to get as much richness as possible in there. So it's a matter of finding the sweet spot between relieving realism and "instagram".
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #169 on: 03 Jul 2015, 12:03 »
...
If you have a person just pick colors, they tend to be quite random, and it's often this randomness that you suppress when you want to go for "looks".

I think this is what many appreciate in pixelart, since, because of the color limitation, you often end up picking the same color for objects/areas that you wouldn't have if you could've just picked any color, causing a kind of forced color consistency, which becomes an inadvertent boon. So it's more about creating a nice palette, like a color designer, rather than adhering to realism.
I don't think it's randomness. At least not for me.

Whether I design a background of a character I always stick to a very limited base palette. For this image I've got three base hues (I've changed the ground-color I showed my image last), each base hue has - at the most - five variations (for characters that would be much lower of course), and each of them is very much thought out and stylized. I also (try to) make sure that a single hue is dominant in the piece, while others are important but less prominent. I never strive for realism with my hues though; and I think very few people using hues are (I know some who do, but they are really just starting out).

Of course the fake hue (or more correctly: perceived hue) is something that you will often miss when you have a pre-selected palette, and I consider that an important miss. But it's not about using every hue in the spectrum, but about using a broader range to increase the impact.

One of your own pieces show this quite nicely:

Without the broader range of hues (not the number of hues, only its range!) this image would have much less impact. Remove the hues and you have an okay piece. But with the hues you create a strong impact. Sure, this is an extreme example, you have to be more conservative with other backgrounds, but I found that most people where I know they use a value-first approach are overly cautious are conservative. Their work is good, great even, but you know what impact small changes in values or perspective can have. The same goes for hues, and I really urge people not to have it as an afterthought.

Al that being said: restricting your palette is always a good idea; but that is also a reason why hue should come early in the design process, because it's a lot more difficult to break out of certain preconceived ideas...or more correctly: you run the risk of falling in love with certain designs and are afraid to lose them (when experimenting) with them in late stages of a piece.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #170 on: 03 Jul 2015, 12:50 »
I agree that colors shouldn't be a mere afterthought, it's just that they're easy to alter later (well, depending on your approach). Values on the other hand, are less flexible - if I was to change the angle of the light at this point, it would be a major undertaking. If I wanted to change the hue of the stand parasol, it's a 5 second operation (my setup is focused on flexibility though, so with a less flexible setup it would take longer).

So it's more about getting the heavy duty stuff done first, like the layout/composition and lighting (values), which are very inflexible, and then experiment with the colors.

Again, this doesn't mean that the first thought about the piece's colors comes at the end, it's like with most things in a piece, you need to sort of project it onto the sketch in your mind while you're working, and I usually have a fair idea of how I want the colors to look, so even in the initial stages of the layout, I try to make sure that the layout will support it.

About hue contrast, I think it's like contrast in general, some moods are better evoked with milder contrast, some with higher. So I just let the mood I want dictate the amount of color contrast. Putting in some "real" cyans in my current piece would make them pop like crazy against all the warms, but it would also kill the mood.

So it's all about experimenting and learning what palettes you like by doing, so I think having as flexible setups as possible is very important, to allow for as much experimentation as possible, so instead of making some choices, get complacent, hoping the next piece will be better, you keep fiddling.

Edit:
For the record, I rarely introduce colors at the very end, I usually add sketchy colors after I've worked out the main lighting in the sketch, and then refine the values and colors simultaneously, with the focus on getting the values down first, but still knowing how it'll sort of look.
« Last Edit: 03 Jul 2015, 15:55 by loominous »
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Cassiebsg

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #171 on: 03 Jul 2015, 22:12 »
Managed to sit and do a bit of work on this today, still not happy... but am happy that I managed to inadvertently do a "scary cylon face" while experimenting with shape and materials... (laugh)

Just for the fun of it:
Spoiler: ShowHide

(roll)(laugh)(laugh)
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #172 on: 03 Jul 2015, 22:58 »
@Cassiebsg Scary indeed 8-0

Here is some progress from me:

Click image for link to main post.

I tried to follow the advice of using the hues to guide the player. Now the foreground should be towards yellow while the background is towards blue.
I couldn't imagine how to fit a hugh tree in the scene, so I added the sail of a ship to the upper right corner.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #173 on: 03 Jul 2015, 23:00 »
This is something that I found often with people using the value-first approach. And faking colors can be great, and relying solely on value and saturation will often create a unified look and feel.

...

The difficulty is, that each approach makes people afraid to loose their 'starting point'. Value-first-artists tend to be afraid to loose the feel of their values when they go bold with hues, line-artist are afraid to loose line-details when adding shadows or values that may obscure them. People relying on a color-first approach are afraid to use saturation because it will mess up their predefined colors.

I actually very, very rarely go with a values first approach, I start with all three and work as I go (I didn't for the sake of joining in this workshop) because I like to plan out my hues & saturations very carefully at the start. Means I always get a tight palette that gives a unified look. Look at James Gurney's thoughts on gamut mapping for an example of the sort of idea kept in mind when I start working.

Therefore, rather than being afraid to use saturation, I incorporate it into the planning of the piece, despite picking my colours first. That's not to say I don't make big changes along the way (obviously, as you can see by my progress in this piece :D).

I've done some more refining and tweaking. More tidying up. As I saw Daniel say earlier, rendering really is the biggest part of working on a scene, putting in all the details and trying to get it all consistent. You can see down the bottom I've made some decisions about shapes that I put in just to put some nice forms in that area, here they become setting appropriate objects without losing too much of the form. I do this quite a lot, put down a design without thinking about what it will actually be and then decide on the actual object once I have the form looking kinda how I want.



edit And I spent another hour working on detail, texture and stuff. Ilyich reminded me that my ground was a big boring flat plane, so I've sketched in some paving to break it up some and gone over it with a multiply layer and a dark colour to drop the value down a little bit and push more focus onto the harbor master's building. Darkened the sign to make it pop more against that big, bright wall, and just various texture painting.



There's no real secret to this part, I don't think. If I planned everything pretty well then the texturing bit is the relaxing bit at the end where I can just put on some nice music and paint away with a tiny brush, making nice patterns and stuff. It's more reliant on being patient than problem solving. Sometimes for work (where I spent 1 day on most backgrounds, as opposed to 1 month like here, because I usually have 70-80 to do per game) I'll use photo textures instead of painting texture in, just to speed the rather painstaking process up. The end result is never quite as quaint or handpainted, but it's a decent way to make the most time consuming part go a lot quicker.

I'm right on track to be done by the 6th. Still have to work that boat into the scene much better and go round and tweak everything more, but it's shaping up how I want it and the road to the end piece seems pretty clear at this point.
« Last Edit: 04 Jul 2015, 13:43 by ThreeOhFour »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #174 on: 04 Jul 2015, 15:41 »
Look at James Gurney's thoughts on gamut mapping for an example of the sort of idea kept in mind when I start working.

Interesting video. It sounds like the kind of stuff you hear about in color theory but never really incorporate (speaking for myself), so it was cool to see in practice.

Curious about the gamut of my image, I ran my above version through a vectorscope, and then did the same with Ben's and Misj's entries.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #175 on: 04 Jul 2015, 20:16 »
Curious about the gamut of my image, I ran my above version through a vectorscope, and then did the same with Ben's and Misj's entries.
For the record, I did change several colors since that post because - as I said earlier - certain hues really didn't fit within my limited palette. :)

I was very much bothered by the color of the ground and the trees, I felt they clashed too much with the primary and secondary color (red, and turquoise), so I pulled the ship and trees together, and matched the ground to the wood. That made the piece a bit more even hue-wise. I still wanted to keep a cool and warm base color, adding a lot of desaturated colors in the middle. This was part of my one of my original ideas where the palette reflects the way a character views the world.

I did like the video, and it really makes me think I should experiment a bit more with the color mixer (rather than the color-wheel) in Painter.

I've finally gotten around to work on details, and yes - for this workshop - I'm actually doing all that in values. So I'm running behind, but I will slowly get there.



Top to Bottom:
- Getting the base hues for my 'flats' (and redesigning my trees because I really disliked them)
- Getting into details. Specifically working on a less line-art approach for this workshop. I use my lines as references, but I wanted to try my hand on a much more painterly approach (which is one of the reasons why it takes longer, because I have to figure out a workflow that suits me). I'm really out of my comfort-zone here, since I always preferred pencils over brushes.
- Quick and dirty experiment with the colors on the details.

A lot might still change later on, but I know where I want my piece to go, and it's slowly moving there.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #176 on: 04 Jul 2015, 20:57 »
It's great to see all this come together. I feel so naked without a tablet :P

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #177 on: 04 Jul 2015, 21:16 »
For the record, I did change several colors since that post because - as I said earlier - certain hues really didn't fit within my limited palette. :)

Yea, I figured (but had to take what was available).

I do like the new palette much more, so I pulled out the vectorscope (it's just a viewing mode in Adobe Premiere, if anyone is curious), and this is what it yielded:



So by the looks of it, the green range has been suppressed, and the warm (orange to magenta) and cool (cyans to purples) ranges have been expanded. So a more focused palette, as you said.

So in comparison to Ben's n my piece, you have two ranges, one warmer, though still rather cool, and the other plain cool, with both ranges being pretty much equally dominant, whereas we have a dominant warm range, with single peak of cools.

This equal dominance (sounds like an oxymoron) might be an issue, perhaps try pushing one of them more? I rarely deal with those kind of palettes though, so perhaps it's common.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #178 on: 04 Jul 2015, 21:57 »
This equal dominance (sounds like an oxymoron) might be an issue, perhaps try pushing one of them more? I rarely deal with those kind of palettes though, so perhaps it's common.
I don't expect it to be that much of a problem, but I would normally want to have a clear primary color and a clear secondary color (this is - I find - much easier in character-design, because you simply have to deal with fewer 'objects'). I'm not yet entirely sure whether I want to push it towards a warmer tone or towards a colder. Warm colors would be more adventurous while cold colors might be a bit too sterile (for the setting).

So yeah, while I hammered on the importance of 'early' hues, everything (especially the tone) is in flux and open to re-interpretation.


ps. I know this talk about colors, gamuts, etc. is quite technical almost to a non-artistic level, but I really like it, and I think it helps people - at least it helps me - to understand the basic concepts of certain techniques that you can't really see from simple tutorials or progress-images. So I really like this part of the workshop.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #179 on: 04 Jul 2015, 22:18 »
ps. I know this talk about colors, gamuts, etc. is quite technical almost to a non-artistic level, but I really like it, and I think it helps people - at least it helps me - to understand the basic concepts of certain techniques that you can't really see from simple tutorials or progress-images. So I really like this part of the workshop.

I'm always torn in these cases - this kind of technical dissection does lead to a clearer grasp of why stuff does n doesn't work - but I do treasure the romantic side of painting. The scientist in me does tend to get his way in the end though.
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Misj'

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #180 on: 04 Jul 2015, 22:31 »
I'm always torn in these cases - this kind of technical dissection does lead to a clearer grasp of why stuff does n doesn't work - but I do treasure the romantic side of painting. The scientist in me does tend to get his way in the end though.
I use art in my science and science in my art. And they've both gotten better because of it.

As long as you make sure that the dissection is not destructive I think that it's a romantic's approach. Maybe that is why I prefer Goethe's color theory over Newton's.:)
« Last Edit: 04 Jul 2015, 22:40 by Misj' »

ThreeOhFour

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #181 on: 05 Jul 2015, 04:59 »
Misj': New colours look way better. I'm curious to see how strong your final thumbnail reads, it's still kinda hard to gauge while you're doing your detailed values last. It's an approach I've never really seen before.

With regards to science vs romance, I think painting is a series of decisions and then lots of working those decisions in. The more theory you have to inform your decisions the easier it is to achieve the ideas you have in your head, I think. Eric recently linked me to an AMA with a background artist from Song of the Sea and it was interesting to read how they specifically put many tangents into the backgrounds for the film in order to get the look they wanted. Shows that knowing a theory doesn't necessarily homogenize your art, it can even help diversify it by showing you the pattern your work follows and give an understanding of how to break that pattern, I think.

As for my piece, I'm nearly done. Been using some reference photos to allow my designs of stuff to be better informed by reality (I stole this term from Ilyich, it's a good one, thanks il-chy ^_^) seeing as I'm not really going for a "cartoony" look. Included them here to give an example of how they influenced my designs. I've got some more cleaning up to do tonight before I call it finished, but I'm pretty close.



As for guiding the eye with colours and stuff, saturation is probably as good for this as hue. I have orange foliage over a yellow sky, but because the difference in how vivid they are is so big the tree stands out. If I bumped the saturation of my sign up to the same as the dark wall behind it then it'd be the exact same colour, but because it's less saturated it stands out from that wall. I think the real thing to keep in mind is that the eye is caught by all forms of strong contrast, no matter how you achieve it.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #182 on: 05 Jul 2015, 07:59 »
Not a huge fan of the cobblestone street. Doesn't look like it could really exist. Especially up to the edge. They'd just fall off. Especially at a shipping dock where tons of people walk over it and carry heavy things over it all day.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #183 on: 05 Jul 2015, 10:47 »
That's an interesting point, and shows that I didn't really research cobblestones enough before drawing. I've edged it to keep it a bit more "real" looking.

And with the detailing done, and the due date just around the corner anyway, I'm submitting this as my finished piece. I'll probably share some ideas on what I could have changed/done better in a few days once I've got fresh eyes, but for now feel that trying this method was quite educational, and am interested to see what other people feel I could have done better. Thanks to loominous for hosting & JudasFM for the theme and everyone who entered, shared their process, gave feedback and helped keep me motivated to work on the piece. Look forward to seeing all your finished works. It's been fun and educational!


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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #184 on: 05 Jul 2015, 10:50 »
Only have one grip with the edge. The little hack for the steeps looks unnatural to me. You normally build steps down from the edge. As it's a lot easier to build. One would not add extra work just for the sake of it. ;)
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #185 on: 05 Jul 2015, 11:07 »
I feel like I've entered a forum of masonry enthusiasts suddenly. :=

Interesting point, though, and again, I know basically nothing about building steps, so thanks for your insight! :cheesy:

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #186 on: 05 Jul 2015, 11:38 »
Having no strong opinions on the construction of the ground, here's some progress instead:

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #187 on: 06 Jul 2015, 18:28 »


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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #188 on: 06 Jul 2015, 19:23 »
Hmm :undecided:

I understand you're bored with the background (I think we all know that feeling), but there are a few things I want to comment on.

First, and I think you agree, the placement of the character is less than ideal. This was something I was afraid of in my piece, which is why I included them early; the disadvantage being that I had a lot of emptyness in the layout.

In the full-size image - partly due to the character, partly due to the very bright air - my eyes keep moving to the top-left...losing sight of the important areas in the scene. I really have to force myself to look at the right area, but I'm almost immediately pulled back to the top-left.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #189 on: 06 Jul 2015, 20:45 »
First, and I think you agree, the placement of the character is less than ideal.

Actually had him at the center first, since the idea was to have him block the pathway down to the restaurant area, but thought he covered up too much of the background.

The idea behind the layout was to have the walkable area be very close n limited, with instead a vista of the main harbor area. So in a way it's good that the eye is drawn to the background, since the foreground really only has to feature the harbormaster's office, and the guy and the stand really aren't any important. His red hair isn't ideal for making him pop either, since it blends into the background, and I should probably have placed him higher up as well, to center him more in the picture (and give space to pass him), but the character was just something I threw in since I was bored of the painting, so don't pay any attention to him.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #190 on: 07 Jul 2015, 00:55 »
In the full-size image - partly due to the character, partly due to the very bright air - my eyes keep moving to the top-left...losing sight of the important areas in the scene. I really have to force myself to look at the right area, but I'm almost immediately pulled back to the top-left.
For me, my eyes are drawn to the bottom and right-hand side. Maybe the adventure gamer in me is trained to zone in on areas that might have the most useful items and interactions. The background is nice, but I can't say my [heathen] eyes were drawn there. It's a lovely piece though, I gotta say.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #191 on: 07 Jul 2015, 02:58 »
First, and I think you agree, the placement of the character is less than ideal. This was something I was afraid of in my piece, which is why I included them early; the disadvantage being that I had a lot of emptyness in the layout.

I'm a bit wary of this approach, simply because all characters - whether player or not - have the potential to move through a scene over the course of a game and I think a piece should work without characters. So many screenshots of stuff I've worked on have made me cringe just because some journalist or programmer took a shot with the player character in a really weird spot and threw the balance off completely. (roll)

I also think it's a bit much to add another stage to the workshop where we design characters, mostly because I think designing, iterating and drawing a character is a separate, very different set of skills and ideas and worth exploring in a completely separate workshop. I'd love a character workshop or something - naturally, once everyone has finished their piece and we've all recovered from such intense drawing/feedback/critiquing over the last month.

That also means people who don't care much for background art or don't have the confidence to work on a whole scene yet can join in, too. Maybe yourself or someone else here would be interested in running it (or maybe a few people together, seems to work well!)

Those are my thoughts!

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #192 on: 07 Jul 2015, 07:14 »
naturally, once everyone has finished their piece and we've all recovered from such intense drawing/feedback/critiquing over the last month.

I've been pondering what one can do about the fatigue issue that seems to set in about halfway through, and my thought so far is that it's worth exploring more focused workshops.

For instance, for a character workshop it can simply be only about creating a solid silhouette, the rest would be a regular sprite jam for example, or for a background workshop it can focus only on colors.

This way we can sort of focus our energy on that issues, and make the whole thing shorter.

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How's your piece coming along Misj' btw?
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #193 on: 07 Jul 2015, 08:08 »
I'd love more focused workshops. Even without the need to take it to a "finished piece", I think there's worth in just helping each other improve a single core aspect of drawing & sharing processes. I loved the value study portion of this workshop alone, and felt like it could have been its own thing, without the need to go "right, you spent a whole week tweaking this value study, now do a background from it" after.

Stuff like doing workshops on essential stuff like getting a solid silhouette/thumbnail, establishing an interesting colour scheme, drawing believable stonework, experimenting with details on a single object could all be unique activities that would be very valuable without having the whole fatigue set in, I think. At the moment there's so much to learn, which is awesome, and I really value all the knowledge being shared, but it also makes sense to learn in the little steps you mentioned.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #194 on: 07 Jul 2015, 08:43 »
How's your piece coming along Misj' btw?
Moving slowly, but moving nonetheless. :)
This is mostly due to lack of time, but also because I'm rendering it in a painterly style that I'm really not used to (and that doesn't really fit within my normal workflow). This means that individual elements can take a long time to get them the way I want them. It's actually so infuriatingly slow that I can spend an entire evening on only a few elements.

(don't mind the shadows on the ground, they are there mostly for reference at the moment, I'm a bit further already, but I don't have access to that right now)



This is of course far form ideal, but it's mostly practice and - in the future - severely adapting my workflow, but yeah, that's one of the disadvantages of regularly experimenting with different (render) styles. It's also much more frustrating then when I'm simply doing the black-outline European comic book style. The advantage though is that I'm not really fed up with the background, because every little element can surprise me again.

There is such a huge difference between making shapes with (out)lines and making shapes with shades. And I really like both looks for different reasons.

------

Regarding (focused) workshops. I would love to host a series of workshops on character design. I would still base them around getting from a description to a final game-sprite. But without the without the need of going through the entire design process for a single sprite. And people could jump in and out of subjects depending on their needs. I do think it's good to work towards something, just to learn more about the entire workflow, but to keep it a bit loose.

------

So yeah, going (really) slow, and if you feel we should just stop this workshop because the main teaching element has been attended to then I'm okay with that. I will keep experimenting with this style and getting the right workflow, so it's not that big a loss for me to stop here, and to go into some micro-workshops.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #195 on: 07 Jul 2015, 08:55 »
Making shapes without lines vs making shapes with outlines! := := :=

...sorry :cheesy:

One thing I noticed here and with other artists is that "lines first" artists tend to flavour forms with texture in the line phase, before the colour phase, which is kind of the opposite of what I'm used to (see here with the bumps on the tree trunk, stone details, tiny windows, etc). It's an interesting thing, because here it feels like you already textured your forms a fair bit, and spent a lot of careful time detailing them, and are now spending a lot of time carefully detailing them all over again, whereas the format suits me super well because I slap big rough areas around for my shapes first, then do the little details last. I'm lost whenever I try to draw any lines, let along careful ones like this, and it's interesting to compare.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #196 on: 07 Jul 2015, 09:22 »
It's an interesting thing, because here it feels like you already textured your forms a fair bit, and spent a lot of careful time detailing them, and are now spending a lot of time carefully detailing them all over again, whereas the format suits me super well because I slap big rough areas around for my shapes first, then do the little details last. I'm lost whenever I try to draw any lines, let along careful ones like this, and it's interesting to compare.
This is actually where I'm lost with the 'shape'-approach. I understand the 'not getting lost in details', because I have that too in my lineart, but how - and mostly when - to go from a blob/shape to a refined from with little details and character-traits? - I can do this really quick with my lines, and it's such a fast iterative process (for me) that every little spot and dot has some sort of purpose.

Painters tend to fake details, and they are extremely good at it. They make great choices which areas should have real texture and which areas can do with a couple of brushstrokes. This is something I can't (yet) get my head around, and it's something really mysterious to me.

With a pencil, adding details is very fast (because I'm used to it), and normally my sketches are much more textured than this, because every little detail is fun, and its own little character to play with. With (digital) paint it's terribly slow to recreate that shape I've sketched (because I'm really not a painter and just have to figure it out as I go).

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #197 on: 07 Jul 2015, 09:45 »
I think a lot of it is build in experience, as you say. I don't think about every single cloud, that would be incredibly inefficient, but I've painted enough clouds by now that I know what I can usually get away with. Your hand and mind kinda go on automatic, like forming chords on guitar.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #198 on: 07 Jul 2015, 10:25 »
I haven't had very much time so far this summer, so as you can see I've had to miss out on one of my favourite AGS activities entirely :(

Great art as always, really inspiring to browse through the pages and take part of respective artist's progress. I hope you can all push through the mid-activity fatigue that usually sets in by now and finalize these great pieces!

I'll probably drop in later to offer c&c on the finished backgrounds, should anyone want some.

And it's funny how people criticize the paving of Ben's street and the design of his stairs, when clearly the largest structural flaw here is that crane, which would stand no chance of supporting even itself in reality ;)
It's pretty though.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #199 on: 07 Jul 2015, 10:39 »
I never had to deal with this "doesn't look believable" shit when I was painting neon green skies. :=

Jokes aside, and as for c&c, I think it's always useful to get another opinion on stuff to break down what could be done differently!

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #200 on: 07 Jul 2015, 11:34 »
Ben, I think your picture is nearly perfect, and would never think of touching it had you not invited me :)
(Also note that I've made my edits on my "travel laptop" so no tablet or even a mouse to work with, so this is mostly cutting and copy-pasting image parts... )

I did experiment with some basic composition changes and also neutralised the colours to allow for a fresh viewing of the picture.


Basically, these are school book principles applied;
1. I removed the boat skeleton from the center bottom, because this is where the viewer "enters" the picture so it shouldn't have obscuring, distracting shapes that block the viewer's path.
2. I added sky above the house, because I've learnt that you should crop a picture either so that its objects are properly cut, or left with plenty of space around, or they will appear crammed into the picture. The way your chimneys and crane end just under the edge of the image isn't ideal for that reason.
3. I've raised the lower part of the image, to remove some of the empty ground, and also to have the building situated lower.

In addition, I brightened the sky a bit, especially the part near the horizon, because this part of an outdoor scene is usually the brightest.
I don't particularly mind the dreamy greenish hue in your original version, but I used neutral, realistic colours in mine.

Edit:
Here's the before-version:
« Last Edit: 07 Jul 2015, 13:42 by Andail »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #201 on: 07 Jul 2015, 11:50 »
My first thought is that taking that boat shape out opens the image up really nicely, and probably acts as a decent, really clear south exit, and the part I had intended to be the exit now blocks my eye off from thinking that's an exit really nicely. I actually really like how much more open the comp feels like this, it's a really interesting contrast to what I tried to do, thanks!

I want to do some measuring and stuff of your other ideas, but so far this has already been quite informative and revelatory, thank you!

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #202 on: 07 Jul 2015, 12:44 »
Good to see you joining in Andail (though one day after the deadline).

Painters tend to fake details, and they are extremely good at it. They make great choices which areas should have real texture and which areas can do with a couple of brushstrokes. This is something I can't (yet) get my head around, and it's something really mysterious to me.

I think the main difference is that painters take a holistic approach to a piece, where it's not enough that the parts are good on their own, the main thing is the whole.

This is why outline based approaches such as the one you seem to be taking make me nervous, because you work on the parts one at a time, instead of iterating the whole piece. Your method does make sure that all the parts look detailed n nice early on, but it says very little about how the piece will work as a whole.

The iterative approach ensures that everything is working together, and since you incrementally add details to all areas, some areas might not be worth having any details in, since some areas need to be suppressed or become distracting when seen as part of the whole. So  instead of each part becoming a sort of independent piece in itself, the iterative approach subjugates all parts to the whole.

This is why I often have problem a with ink artist's work, where you have this huge bunch of details and shadows, but very little focus.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #203 on: 07 Jul 2015, 13:10 »
Ben, I think your picture is nearly perfect, and would never think of touching it had you not invited me :)

Btw, anyone should feel free modifying mine, was gonna upload a photoshop file for easy editing, but my coloring system makes it tricky, perhaps gonna add coloring file n one with different layers.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #204 on: 07 Jul 2015, 14:02 »
I think the main difference is that painters take a holistic approach to a piece, where it's not enough that the parts are good on their own, the main thing is the whole.
I think that is only partly true, while I can work a lot on a single object, I also move from area to area as to not loose sight of the overall piece (especially during inking). I'm also not afraid of obscuring details I just drew if the overall piece requires it...although you always run the risk of falling in love with a particular object/piece/area and have to really force yourself to get rid of it for the greater good. But I do understand where you're coming from. At its core it's about making compromises and for a painter these compromises are fundamentally different from a line-artist.

Quote
This is why outline based approaches such as the one you seem to be taking make me nervous, because you work on the parts one at a time, instead of iterating the whole piece. Your method does make sure that all the parts look detailed n nice early on, but it says very little about how the piece will work as a whole.
Well, I make the assumption that when I have a strong rough sketch that adding strong details won't take away from that. Of course that assumption is not always valid and a strong layout can very much be ruined by over-rendering. However, taking a line-approach does not mean that every part will be equally detailed. Again, we I compromises in this respect, but these compromises can be very different from a painter's.

If you look at this piece:

I have a lot of details, but there are also areas (like the trees on the left) where a lot of detail (or even part of the object itself) is removed or extremely simplified. This kind of comic strip-look is of course the ultimate playground for line-artists. And it is actually my preferred medium (black and white, no grays).

Quote
This is why I often have problem a with ink artist's work, where you have this huge bunch of details and shadows, but very little focus.
Well, inkers tend to be obsessed with a certain noir-look that is heavy on blacks. When I do a black-and-white piece like the one above I can easily be accused of taking the same approach...but there's nothing more thrilling than making a piece that works without colors or values (well, for me at least). But I understand you problem, although I look at it differently.

There's also a difference - for me - when it comes to the final medium. Adventure games are background-centric. The player is a glorified cursor used to explore that background. In an animated movie/series it's quite the opposite: it's character-centric. The backgrounds are there to give a backdrop the the character's actions. Comics are somewhere in between. People are invited to explore the background at their leisure, but each panel is ultimately about the action/characters who's position you fully control. As a result, additional details that could be disastrous in animation might be beneficial in an adventure game: it's about exploring the background so adding actual details to explore will be in service of the main purpose. You also want to make sure that - even though you guide the player - the focus is not too much on a single area because part of the puzzle is finding the area of interest. On the other hand, you should also not obfuscate your area of interest by adding every little minute detail for the sake of details. That would basically be the same sin as pixel-hunting.

Of course there's also the technical aspect of having hard outlines and shadows with a universal ambient lit backdrop over soft edges, shadows, and shapes. It's simply much easier to integrate characters, walk-behinds, etc in the former to a level that truly fits the art(ist). That is not to say that it's impossible with the painterly approach. There is ample evidence of that. It's just a consideration/compromise I make; largely based on my background.


ps. compromises is the wrong word, it's more design-decisions.

edit:
pps. I'm always a bit torn whether these workshops should be part of the competitions and activities, the critic's lounge, or something else entirely. It kinda felt like it was cluttering up this area, but I also never thought there should be a special workshop section. Maybe with the micro-workshops my stance on this would change. But it's something to consider...
« Last Edit: 07 Jul 2015, 14:11 by Misj' »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #205 on: 07 Jul 2015, 15:58 »
The kind of ink art I mean is kinda like this, which was like the 2nd google image that popped up with the queary "inkart":



Now the above is kinda extreme, but I often see the same tendencies in less cluttered work.

Then you have artists like Bill Watersson, which style your former entry kinda was in, who are more restrictive (and just annoyingly good).
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #206 on: 07 Jul 2015, 18:00 »
The kind of ink art I mean is kinda like this, which was like the 2nd google image that popped up with the queary "inkart":

Now the above is kinda extreme, but I often see the same tendencies in less cluttered work.
AAarg my eyes! - No, I completely agree with you on this kind of inkart. I really can't look at it and think it's just a cluttered mess with no understanding of empty space or focus (or someone who had a psychedelic experience). As you said this is an extreme example, but yes, the same happens in certain (American superhero) comic books.

My heart is in the European (Belgian, French, Dutch) comic books like Franquin, Uderzo, Morris, Hergé, Kolk, Lodewijk, etc. or in the good old newspaper comic strips (for the record I also love the painted style of Don Lawrence or Vicente Segrelles), and my style is heavily influenced by them. They had a very different understanding of lines and ink. Lodewijk's work (Agent 327) sometimes runs the risk of your example (though much less extreme). I think that's because he uses a lot of reference photographs that he tries to (semi)accurately copy (within the limitations of his cartoony style).

Anyway when I talk about line-art and inking I talk specifically about this style. And even then your warnings are valid.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #207 on: 07 Jul 2015, 22:13 »
I know I'm pretty slow, but I'm still working on it. Here is some small progress pic:


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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #208 on: 07 Jul 2015, 23:05 »
no understanding of empty space or focus

I think you're still dealing with the same issues in inked line art that you are in painting--namely, contrast--but you use different tools to approach it (line weight, negative space, etc.). Here's an example of a drawing that would seem equally cluttered without masterful (by Moebius) use of negative space and spot blacks, even though the line weight is mostly the same:


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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #209 on: 08 Jul 2015, 21:01 »
I'm also still working on this, slowly...



I've trashed the previous version (the one that looked like a cylon head) and reverted to my first model.
But am having a serious scale problem at the moment, as you can see.... :-\
So after adding the stairs to the docks on the left and making door and windows... it completely messed up! >:(
So now I have two options... trash this model entirely and do a correctly scaled one in ACAD, or forget about actual measures and eyeball it... :-X
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #210 on: 08 Jul 2015, 21:09 »
This workshop has been really great for non-participants as well. Seeing all the discussions and critique, the edits and self-criticism, the brainstorming and analysis is both revealing and inspiring (though also a bit daunting).

On the one hand I wish I'd have time to participate. On the other I'm happy I didn't, since I would have felt much guiltier about blowing off the whole thing and going swimming every day the moment the recent heat wave set in.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #211 on: 08 Jul 2015, 21:31 »
The heatwave here just ended with rain and a 20°C drop in temperature, so more time for painting now!

However, I'm a bit stuck at the moment - I have tons of windows in my pic, but how should I colour the glass? I googled for tutorials, but they mainly show how to draw a window frame, not the glass...

@Cassiebsg: maybe you could change the building to have just two floors and make the door higher?

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #212 on: 08 Jul 2015, 21:50 »
cat, you can try the comic book approach with a few horizontal lines. I found this link the other day for ID: [url]http://www.wikihow.com/Draw-a-Glass-Window/[url]. Also don't google "how to draw a window" but "how to draw glass" you can add "window" to the search if you like.
Main thing to remember is that they reflect what ever is happening outside, but you can get away with just blackness, and maybe a vase or two, a curtain or something else that might be set behind the window.
Also look at reference pictures, and see what happens to the window glass. :)

Thanks cat, that was my original idea, only 2 floors, but when I scaled everything else all of a sudden I had a huge door to a tiny man. :-[
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #213 on: 08 Jul 2015, 22:03 »
Thanks for the link, Cassiebsg. I found this link and was not sure if (or how) this comic style would work with a more painterly background style. I guess I'll just try the approach from the link.

About your background: I'm not really sure I understand correctly where the scaling issue is. Is the person too small? Too large? Or is it in the foreground?

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #214 on: 09 Jul 2015, 09:40 »
However, I'm a bit stuck at the moment - I have tons of windows in my pic, but how should I colour the glass? I googled for tutorials, but they mainly show how to draw a window frame, not the glass...

One suggestion (and what I try to do) is to think in terms of the layers of light that happen on the glass. So if you paint them in order you have: The room behind the glass, and any curtains/blind that might be near enough to the window to be ssen, the glass itself and any colouring that dirty/tinted/stained glass might be adding on top of that room layer as well as any direct reflection of the light source on that surface, and then the surroundings that are reflected on the glass if the room behind the glass isn't brighter than the outside.

Here's a quick step by step that might work for you:



First I put the room in, which is in shadow. Next, because I'm painting without curtains, and because they're plain windows, I just very lightly put a bit of the white light of the sun over the top to show me where the glass is. I keep the bit off to the left unlit because the frame of the window is going to block the light off here. Finally (and the third and fourth panes of glass are the same here) I took a tiny bit of very transparent blue and just touch the lit area, showing the blue of the sky that we can assume with be reflected at this angle. I also boosted the contrast of the frame on the second window to try and show the depth of the structure a bit better.

This isn't some official method I've read or anything, just the way I usually do glass when I need to. If it helps you then that's great!

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #215 on: 09 Jul 2015, 09:52 »
@ThreeOhFour Very helpful indeed! Thanks for the explanation!

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #216 on: 09 Jul 2015, 15:48 »
Regarding reflections:

I like to think of them as more or less transparent mirros. So, the steps would be:

1. Paint the inside om the room, as if there was no window, just a hole.
2. Paint a mirror in the place of the window. Usually this means making a reflection of the window pane, and the sky, so just make a perfect reflection.
3. If your program allows it, set the blending mode of the layer to "screen". The screen blending mode will make the layer only brighten the image, (it's the opposite of Multiply, which will only darken), and that's exactly what we want, since a reflection can only add light, not darkness.
4. Lower the opacity of the layer, to a desirable level.

Nerd fact: Surfaces are more or less reflective depending from what angle we're looking at them, the more straight on we're looking at a surface, the less reflective it is, and the sharper the angle we're looking at it with, the more reflective it is.

Can test this by holding up a fairly reflective object, and changing the viewing angle from straight on, and from almost completely from the side.

A window that we're looking at straight on will reflect some of the environment, while if we're looking at it from almost completely from the side, the reflection will be very clear, and probably obscure anything inside.

Getting this wrong is not a big deal, but it can we worth noting, and incorporating on reflective surfaces, and objects in general (normally just by making surfaces brighter that are at a sharp angle (providing that there's some light stuff behind to reflect), and doing it gradually if the object is round (making them brighter the closer they are to the edge).

(For the curious, it's called the Fresnel Effect, here's some article about it I just googled: http://filmicgames.com/archives/557)
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #217 on: 09 Jul 2015, 19:01 »
@cat, actually both. The character is too small and the building too big. I have a couple hours now before bed time, so I'll see if I can fix it. :)
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #218 on: 09 Jul 2015, 21:36 »
Another tiny progress... I work on different areas of the picture to avoid getting bored.

I also think about working the houses at the back with less detail to avoid drawing too much attention.


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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #219 on: 09 Jul 2015, 22:49 »
To proof that I (very slowly) make some progress, to show how a more painterly rendition can be combined with my regular style, and because Cat and CassieBSG also haven't given up on their background, here's another small step to completion:


(this is the final size for the piece)


ps. considering that I basically have to render twice the amount of background (in a rendering style I've never done before), I really hate that I decided on a scrolling background :)

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #220 on: 10 Jul 2015, 08:07 »


This is one of the issues with working on each part separately, instead of working iteratively on the whole piece, since you're not relating the parts to the whole to the same extent.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #221 on: 10 Jul 2015, 14:37 »
This is one of the issues with working on each part separately, instead of working iteratively on the whole piece, since you're not relating the parts to the whole to the same extent.
you make some excellent points; although I don't think it's caused by working on single elements but rather that I tend to overrender whenever I try a new style for the first time (it's a bad habit). I have the same when I do work on the entire piece rather than small elements.

I was planning to give the entire piece ant overall pass near the end, so this will certainly help.

EDIT:
for clarification, when I talk about rendering in this context, I talk specifically about shadows and highlights. Not details. Even with lineart I cannot always control myself and forget the less is more route. As a result, I run a very real risk of turning my piece into a murky mess.

Knowing when to stop is a very important part of the sport, and whenever I experiment with new styles I tend to loose sight of that aspect. This is something that always gets better with practice, but having people point it out will certainly help me get there faster.
« Last Edit: 10 Jul 2015, 17:43 by Misj' »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #222 on: 11 Jul 2015, 04:52 »
A great way to combat this is to zoom out regularly and see the big picture, the whole thumbnail again. When I detail I sometimes zoom out several times a minute, just to make sure new ideas aren't throwing the whole thing out. Even when colouring I sometimes use a layer set to "Saturation" blending mode filled with pure black, which strips all the colour out and allows me to check if my new colours aren't throwing the whole thumbnail off again. Obviously not a factor when detailing as you've chosen to do here, but figured it may be interesting advice for some.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #223 on: 11 Jul 2015, 07:47 »
A great way to combat this is to zoom out regularly and see the big picture, the whole thumbnail again. When I detail I sometimes zoom out several times a minute, just to make sure new ideas aren't throwing the whole thing out.
Yes, zoom-in/zoom-out is very important. I too use it continuously; especially since I work at 3x the final resolution which means that I keep switching back and forth between 'working size' (3x final size), 'detail zoom' (6-9x final size), 'final size', 'overview zoom' (0.5x final size), and 'thumbnail zoom' (zoomed out even further).

I also regularly make a flattened clone of my image and resize it to different scales. It takes a little bit more time, but I prefer the scaling algorithm used for real resizing over the ones used for zooming (in the different applications I use).

Zooming together with flipping (which I use as well, but not hardy enough) are very important tools to keep an over- and fresh- view of the piece.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #224 on: 11 Jul 2015, 08:42 »
I tend to just keep looking at the navigator window in photoshop, since it provides a constant thumbnail view.



So my eyes just keep darting back n forth, kinda like the overview map in a game (like starcraft, where also, to make a rather contrived analogy, it's vital to keep the big picture in mind even when you're preoccupied with details, or you might often win the battle, but lose the war).
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #225 on: 11 Jul 2015, 09:29 »
I tried using the navigator window but couldn't quite get used to it, so I went back to doing the slow way. I wish I could get used to it, I use preview windows constantly when doing animations, but somehow it just doesn't feel the same when painting scenes.

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #226 on: 11 Jul 2015, 10:03 »
I regularly hide all panels (it's a single button in Painter) when I'm don't have to switch between layers or brushes. I love the distraction-free image-only view. The navigation-panel is also turned off in that view, so it wouldn't be onscreen constantly. More important though: every panel costs screen real estate. The costs of the navigation panel - to me - is more than the reward (compared to a quick zoom). So it's one of the panels I always turn off.

Yes, I can buy a bigger monitor/cintiq, but I always preferred smaller ones. It's a personal taste (I'm the same with paper. I love drawing on A5 or A6 over A4) that's not for everyone; but I find it generally works better for my workflow and style.
« Last Edit: 11 Jul 2015, 11:51 by Misj' »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #227 on: 11 Jul 2015, 13:31 »
I regularly hide all panels (it's a single button in Painter) when I'm don't have to switch between layers or brushes. I love the distraction-free image-only view. The navigation-panel is also turned off in that view, so it wouldn't be onscreen constantly. More important though: every panel costs screen real estate. The costs of the navigation panel - to me - is more than the reward (compared to a quick zoom). So it's one of the panels I always turn off.

Yes, I can buy a bigger monitor/cintiq, but I always preferred smaller ones. It's a personal taste (I'm the same with paper. I love drawing on A5 or A6 over A4) that's not for everyone; but I find it generally works better for my workflow and style.

Not to question your preferences, but wouldn't having a larger monitor with the tools exposed, and have the image area cover only part of the screen be akin to having a large desk with a small paper on it?
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #228 on: 11 Jul 2015, 14:57 »
There's a lot of good tips here that a newbie like me need,so awesome.Can someone link me to Background Workshop 1
« Last Edit: 11 Jul 2015, 18:58 by Yitcomics »

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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #229 on: 11 Jul 2015, 18:58 »
Not to question your preferences, but wouldn't having a larger monitor with the tools exposed, and have the image area cover only part of the screen be akin to having a large desk with a small paper on it?
You'd expect that, but - for me - it is not. I've worked with large monitors, because I thought so too, but it's really very different. I completely understand that someone who is used to a large monitor can't go back because a smaller screen is too constraint, and in general I will advice others a large (matte!) monitor. That is why people who see my small monitor and my smaller Cintiq are always surprised. But - in general - I find larger monitors with more panels open more of a distraction than an asset. Maybe it's just psychological.

As I said: I would advice others NOT to follow my example (except maybe with the Cintiq), because it's based on my personal preference and experiences. And these contradict common sense :-)
« Last Edit: 11 Jul 2015, 19:11 by Misj' »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #230 on: 11 Jul 2015, 19:48 »
I'm weird the opposite way, plain surfaces unnerve me, so I clutter things up intentionally.


Can someone link me to Background Workshop 1

First edition

For some reason the activity image urls aren't working anymore, will see if I can fix them.
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #231 on: 11 Jul 2015, 20:21 »
I'm weird the opposite way, plain surfaces unnerve me, so I clutter things
I have that too, I love 'ordered chaos' and I find it really motivating, inspiring, etc. But only if I make the chaos/clutter myself, and not if it's superimposed on me by the GUI. :)
« Last Edit: 11 Jul 2015, 20:24 by Misj' »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #232 on: 11 Jul 2015, 21:03 »
Would some moderator mind unlocking the old one for a bit so I can just fix the main intro image links (such as the script, etc) (for some reason I didn't host them on my standard server). Shame to have the whole intro missing.

First edition
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Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #233 on: 11 Jul 2015, 22:00 »
Sure, go ahead.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #234 on: 12 Jul 2015, 09:05 »
Sure, go ahead.

Thanks, managed to salvage most of my links (the activity coincided with a crash at my isp).

Perhaps it could remain open for a day or so if someone else is able to fix their links (many of the participants used free hosting, so there's quite the amount of missing links).
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Re: Background Workshop II - Wrapping up(ish)
« Reply #235 on: 12 Jul 2015, 09:58 »
Misj, cat, how long do you guys think you're gonna need?

Thinking about ending it, so we can rest n start a new focused one in a while, which might be preferable to dragging this one on.
« Last Edit: 12 Jul 2015, 10:02 by loominous »
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Re: Background Workshop II - Wrapping up(ish)
« Reply #236 on: 12 Jul 2015, 10:53 »
I have no problem ending this workshop. I'm not bored with my background but considering the time that I have to work on it, it won't be finished for a while...even if I continue.

I would advice a first (and last) post as an index/TOC for the tutorials so people can more easily find stuff to help them.

Re: Background Workshop II - Wrapping up(ish)
« Reply #237 on: 12 Jul 2015, 12:22 »
Good idea, should probably add one for the first workshop as well.

Would you mind doing one for this workshop?
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Re: Background Workshop II - Wrapping up(ish)
« Reply #238 on: 12 Jul 2015, 12:28 »
No problem.

I'll update my first first for that...which happens to be the 2nd post in this thread, so that works :)

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Re: Background Workshop II - Wrapping up(ish)
« Reply #239 on: 12 Jul 2015, 18:04 »
Misj, cat, how long do you guys think you're gonna need?

Sadly, I won't have time to work on it next week. So feel free to wrap it up.
However, I'd love to see the final results of Misj and Cassiebsg. Maybe we can leave the thread unlocked for posting the finished pieces, even if it is late?

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Re: Background Workshop II - Wrapping up(ish)
« Reply #240 on: 12 Jul 2015, 19:03 »
I will finish mine eventually, since I actually have a scene in one of the games am working on, where the BG and scene will fit like a glove. But have no idea when this will be, with the limited time I have. :(
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Re: Background Workshop II - Wrapping up(ish)
« Reply #241 on: 21 Jul 2015, 17:45 »
Wrapping up this workshop with a small table of contents. It is mainly focussed at the small tutorials and hints rather than the progression of the individual pieces. There's a lot more information in this thread than merely the posts mentioned here, so go ahead and read it all. This TOC is mostly meant as a small guide for future reference.

Stage I: Thumbnails and Composition


Stage II: Sketch Refinement


Stage III: Refinement



There are numerous small discussions (on things like color, inking, software, etc.), hints, paint-overs, and more within this thread. Listing them here would defeat the purpose of this TOC. That does, however, not mean that they don't contain valuable titbits that can help us create better backgrounds.

Re: Background Workshop II - Wrapping up(ish)
« Reply #242 on: 21 Jul 2015, 20:03 »
I believe this concludes this workshop then (thanks to Misj' for the nice table of content, which I've added to the first post as well).

So, nice job everyone, and let's figure out what the next workshop should be about, and a nice format (short n sweet sounds good after this one).
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Re: Background Workshop II - Concluded
« Reply #243 on: 22 Jul 2015, 20:10 »
I just came back from vacation yesterday.

Even though I wasn't able to finish my background in time I still learned a lot from this workshop. It was great to see those different approaches to background design and the outcome.

Thank you guys for your helpful comments and tutorials. And special thanks to loominous for organising this activity!