Background art insight.

Venice 2017.01.14, written by Kuna.

I spent the week working on sprites but for this update I’d like to explore a bit more the process I use to make background art for the game. It feels weird to me not to talk about actual progresses, so starting from next post I’ll get back explaining only what I’m doing or thinking at the moment again. Yeah, no filler posts anymore ^ ^

Anyway, I thought I had to make a post about this content. As you may remember, I already talked about background art process in this entry. The second method I’m using to paint them, is slightly similar. I’m not sure this post will be a proper tutorial, I think it will mostly tell the process behind the result. 

The SketchUp-paint method.

I used to draw background manually, with pencil and paper, and then I would color them with pc. I uploaded a half-finished picture of one of them at the bottom of this post, if you’re curious to see. The result was not bad, the problem was that it was time consuming as hell. I’m cutting quite a lot of things while proceeding with Serenade‘s development, backgrounds -aka places- included, but it’s never enough. Backgrounds quantity is never dropping considerably. So I came up with some methods to speed up at least a bit. To be honest, I don’t know a way to save so much time that you can have a background in only one day of work. Also this method may be working for me but for you it may only seem a waste of time. When I talk about saving time on a high res background I’m talking about 30-40 hours of work. So it’s about three, four days if I can work 8-10 hours straight each.

While for interiors I’m using 3D, for outside scenes I’m still locked with lineart and painting. The only upgrade I managed to get, is that the lineart can be automatically generated by pc after I input some information before.

SketchUp is a free program (only for non commercial purposes) you can use to make 3D models; moreover basic functions are easy enough to be mastered within a couple of hours. For a beginner, what’s really useful about the program is the 3D Warehouse library. It’s a catalog made by users containing 3D models of almost anything, from a pencil to a city. Models can be downloaded directly into the program, modified, used as a part of one’s own project and so on. In my previous post about background making, I was simply merging two photos and tracing a lineart above them to draw my own original background. This time is no much different.

To me, tracing photos speeds up my work a lot. To say one, I’m not an expert in drawing perspective. To say two, I terribly bad at transposing the scene I have in mind into a drawing. Probably because I didn’t train enough in painting background art during my life, I am not capable to do it now the way I’d like to. Therefore, rather than calculating perspective with pencil and paper, I try to figure it out while shooting photos. With SketchUp, I use a similar way. I compose a 3D model using various models from the Warehouse and try to fit the perspective I need for my game.

For example, this is the background I worked on last week. It has a very complicated gate which computer took care of. I used an only model whose author is unknown, but the elements in the pictures, like the gate, the windows, trees, etc. are made one by one by different SketchUp users. They are more than fifty!

I looked for several mansion models on the 3D Warehouse and in the end I went for this one. After some edits (I rotated the gate, changed perspective, etc.), I changed the “style” of the visualization, choosing “photographic modelling no.2” in order to have a lineart with white background. 

The lineart looks really rough and pixellated. Also I may want to change some details like windows’ shape. So I export it as a .jpg file and with the program I use to draw (Paint Tool Sai in my case) I trace a lineart and then paint the colors.

(I always use 350 dpi canvas. Size are around 3000, 4000 pixel which I’ll resize later to use it in my game.)  

Considerations.

Pencil + digital paint old art I was using prior to SketchUp.

I use three different methods to draw backgrounds and this may end up in some mixed art styles later in the game. I’m trying to make backgrounds as similar in style as possible, but I guess I will be able to correct them only later, when I will have a bunch of them to observe. I came up with these methods after years of attempts and may change them in the future. I think a big part of the process is to try and try again until you find the result that fits best what you have in mind. For me, drawing backgrounds was too expensive in time and too far from the result I wanted, so I went for the 3D. But this solution won’t probably work for everyone. 

Ps. In this post I wrote some info on SketchUp which I believe they are correct. In case they weren’t, please, send me an email and I will make an update ^ ^