Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Avatar World: About Art

Been jamming to a lot of tNaF lately. Love them so much.

So the latest version of Avatar World is easily the best-looking version I've released. So I wanted to talk real quick about plans and troubles regarding the art of the game.

First off, while I'm willing to accept help with the art, I'm not seeking to use art by anyone else. I'm sure as hell not paying for art for a game I'm not planning to sell. So all of it is created by me. Additionally, you may have seen past works of mine where I do vectorization and art-creation out of stock art - that's how I did The Doppleganger after all. I do not plan to do that. All of the art will be mine, as well as any art donated to the project that I think fits.

Among these donations is the logo text.
This was provided by Michael Wight! It's great. It heavily inspired the font-shift from Kingthings Foundation to Edo SZ. I have no intention of trading it out for now.
I did, however, add to it.
That's sharp, and gets my point across very easily. This is a troubling image though! While I like it a lot in terms of style, this is the closest I've come to direct copyright infringement aside using the name Avatar and the word "bending." There's no wiggle room to say that I'm not directly representing Avatar the Last Airbender imagery. That's a problem should Nickelodean drop the hammer eventually.

The copyright imagery problem is playing itself up on my drawing board too. The most trouble of all is coming from the Airbender (big surprise...). See, the air-magic-user image isn't particularly stable in anything but Avatar. The problem is that the airbender aesthetic is the same as a monk aesthetic! Very little says "airbender" that doesn't also say "monk." So, given that I have a Monk playbook too, I'm against a wall. The closest I can get is to make the character actively airbending in the image, which is tough considering air is invisible. That's where the tornado image in the book comes from, it's a trial run. For the record, that won't be a final image - I'm pretty sure I'm gonna stick to the sharp black vector look, so that knocks it out.
There's one little visual cue that says "Airbender" exclusively that no other monk in the series has: arrow tattoos. Oops, those are undeniably indication of Avatar itself and not a slightly more generic Avatar-like world - aka those are copyright killers.
Similarly, there's a thing I'm avoiding in the waterbender image - furs. Those are a little on-the-nose. Even Katara/Sokka's warm-weather outfits are fair game, but I'm staying away from the fur parkas.

Something I haven't mentioned yet is other art to be present in the book, in theory. Here's a thing: I like pretty books. I like pictures in them. It makes my experience with a book better. There was some discussion about the purpose of art in RPG books on Story Games a bit ago, but since I enjoy art I'm gonna put it in.
But what to put in? That's tough. There's two types of image I have very little experience with that are critical: landscapes / backgrounds, and interactions. My art is usually just one person, floating in empty space, and that's dumb. It's good for playbook archetype images, but it's not good for my art as a whole, so I'm gonna try to put 'em in. That's hard though. It's also a slightly unnecessary step, in the vein that all the art other than the playbook images are unnecessary (even those are technically optional, but I've committed to them and even included space in the playbook layout for them, so they're sorta locked in right now).  So I want to at least start by filling in all these freakin' playbook images, but they're not all that easy. It's the concepting that's the hardest - I can persist and work at getting the art itself right, it's just finding out what I want. Posing and fashion are the hardest bits. I want 'em to be kinda dynamic, not just bein' there. I've had some ideas about the Aristocrat, the Firebender, and the Warrior, and I think I nailed down an Earthbender image finally (this one's been plaguing me). I had a Scholar image, but I've converted it to the MC Section header, which is a great place for it.
Hey, why not show off that Earthbender?
Obviously the colors are softened a bit (not straight black, not flat white) but that's easy to change. I'm feeling it, the style is very fitting with the MC section / scholar picture, which is my favorite.
I don't feel entirely solid about the fashion, but I wanted it simple, plus it's kinda vague still thanks to the style.
I even managed to get the "controlling earth" thing in, which I was struggling with intially - without it it's a bit hard to distinguish him from any old warrior. I focused on a deep and stable stance and strong gesture.

That ought to be good for today. Just wanted to give some insight to what I'm doing right now with regard to the art.

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