Final Assignment Development Process

When creating a webcomic, there are many different ways to approach the design and format. Some creators prefer to create the comic right off the bat, with no prior planning or conceptualizing. Others may spend months or even years planning out the entirety of the story, writing out detailed scripts and making numerous rough drafts of each page before even beginning. Some may put out each page as they are made, wait until they have created an entire batch of pages or a whole chapter and release it all at once, or even finish the entire thing before even publishing the first page. As the webcomic format has developed over the years, there has become no wrong way of creating a webcomic. Some processes work best depending on the way the comic is presented.

My webcomic, Boss Rush, is created using Adobe Photoshop, and drawn using a Wacom Pen Tablet. Each page is presented in an A4 portrait format, with a 5mm margin between the outer border and the page edge. The outer border itself is 20px thick, and the inner borders are all 10px. All pages are 300 pixels per inch.

When first creating the comic, I planned out the general plot of the story, starting with particularly climactic scenes from later on and working on interconnecting them. As the portion of the comic I was to create was at the beginning, I only worked on fleshing out the first few chapters, and left the rest open to change. That way, if I came up with any ideas that worked in practice early on, I could make adjustments before they were too late to change. I like to do this with any story I write, as it means I can adjust the details of the narrative as needed to appeal to the audience, as well as keep me from getting bored with the story so I don’t become dissuaded from putting the effort needed to make the story better.

With the story outlined, I wrote out the script to detail everything in the comic; every page, every panel, and every line of dialogue. Planning everything out in this format is a good format to use as it helps to keep the flow of every page as the creator thinks of it.

When laying out the pages, I tend to have a general idea of how I want each panel to look. I start with the page base, an A4 page with a 20px black border, and use the Line tool to experiment with layouts and angles. To aid in this, I also quickly sketch a rough image of the panel, and shape the borders around that. When the borders are laid out correctly, I erase portions of the outer border to make the area outside the panels one connected space.

My drawing process always has three steps; a base sketch, followed by a detailed sketch, and then the line art or ‘inking’. The base sketch helps with posing the characters, and with working out perspective and depth. Usually the character sketches are simple stick figure-like characters, because it is just to give an idea of character proportion, and objects in the environment and the background usually just have the general shape of the object in question.

On top of the base sketch is the detail sketch. For this, I draw a rough version of the line art, paying more attention to minor details than with the previous step. This helps with establishing the final image, and acts as sort of a rough draft for the line art. With the sketch layers done, I reduce their layer opacity to 45% so they don’t interfere with the line art layer.

With line art, digitally producing the drawing makes the process much easier. With each brush stroke, I am able to simply undo the action as needed, as opposed to physically drawing the image which would require manual erasure. Using a tablet and computer allows me to undo mistakes in less than a second of making them, and setting the history states of Photoshop up to 1000 meant I could undo almost the entirety of a page’s creation if required.

For the speech bubbles, I used Photoshop’s smart shapes to combine ellipses and custom polygons set at three sides to form the necessary shape. As the shapes are combined their paths intersect, and as the outline follows the paths it means the shape protrudes out to point at the character saying the line. The text inside each bubble is copied directly from the script, and the font used is a free font downloaded online called Anime Ace BB.

After each page is created, they are saved as Photoshop and PNG files, and the PNGs are uploaded online.

Advertisements

Final Assignment Brief

Brief

To complete a project based on a previously presented idea. The project is subject to personal choice, in this case a webcomic.

Project details

The project is to create a prologue to set up a webcomic. The page count would be anywhere between 5 and 10, and will establish the main characters and their relationships to each other. The comic pages are all made using Photoshop, and drawn using a Wacom Pen Tablet. Additional material will also be made, including character bios and model sheets. The webcomic is to be posted onto this blog, as well as a DeviantART profile for feedback.

Assignment 3: 50s TV Advertisement

Brief

To create a storyboard for a short advertisement that features a modern day brand reimagined as a different product in the 1950s. The final product must include research on 50s advertisements and techniques such as use of shot composition, audio and motion.

Research

To raise the morale of the public during the post-WW2 depression in the 50s, most media was designed for giving people hope that things would be better in the years to come. Cinema aided in this by promoting technological advancements through science fiction. Films like ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ (1951), ‘Forbidden Planet’ (1956), and ‘The Incredible Shrinking Man’ (1957), all emphasized the potential of science, and how it could influence the future beyond the realm of imagination, at least for the time. As such, advertisements from the 50s presented products as though they were an advancement, the keywords used including ‘new’ and ‘advanced’.

Advertisements in the 50s typically varied depending on the product itself. For consumable products such as Coke Cola and EZ-Pop Popcorn, the advertisement presents them mostly with music, and shots of people interacting with the product. For products that are used at home or are general use, they are presented in more of a matter-of-fact way, with music being used as a backing track for the voice over.

Commercials often varied depending on the product and the age of its intended audience. When advertising to a younger audience, usually between the ages of 10 and 25, commercials used more high-energy music such as jazz or swing as a way of conveying an energetic and youthful ideal. For older audiences, music tends to be slower, often sung by older performers, so as to give a more mature impression.

Development

I decided from the start that the end product would be for a shaving razor, as shaving razors were a commonly advertised product. As the theme of 50s was advancement and the future, I went with an automated razor, since electric razors would become a more common way of shaving for people in the decades to come.

From the advertisements for Schick Electric Shaver and the Remington Shaver, three particular aspects seemed common for electric razors: eye level close up shots of a man using the product to shave, a close up shot of the product being held, and the razor being used to shave an inanimate object, such as a peach or a cactus.

For the brand I chose to parody I went with Panasonic, the electronics manufacturer. As an electronics company, it would be easy to correlate Panasonic with an electric razor, with the possibility for a pun or two.

Razor Image

Panasonic Electric Razor image
Panasonic Electric Razor, with a leather case.

Script

(Scene opens on a man struggling to shave with an unlabeled electric razor)

Voice Over: There are many razors out there that simply don’t stack up to what they say they’ll do. In this day and age you need a sound investment.

(Transition to a close up of the Panasonic Electrical Shaver)

Voice Over: Panasonic Electrical Shavers are the newest top-of-the-line shaving devices to hit the shelves, guaranteed to give you a sound, clean shave every time.

(Scene transition to an animation depicting hairs being guided to razor blades and cut)

Voice Over: Our razors move at twice the speed of your average razor, meaning not a single hair gets left uncut. You’ll never waste another second when you shave

(Scene transition to the razor shaving a peach)

Voice Over: Just watch how quickly and efficiently this peach loses its fuzz. And not a singe abrasion on the peach’s delicate skin!

(Transition back to the electrical razor, with the logo at the top of the page)

Voice Over: Panasonic Electrical Razor, “a sound shave every time”.

Storyboard

Storyboard page 1
Commercial Storyboard

Evaluation

The aim of the brief was to reimagine a current brand as a product for the 1950s, and create a storyboard for a short commercial advertising the product. The brand I chose to reimagine as a product is Panasonic as an electric razor, as it ties in with the theme of advancements in the post-WW2 era. The commercial I designed is a generic commercial that would be played briefly between shows on television, based off of previous commercials of the like. The visuals on the storyboard are clear and concise, portraying each scene clearly. The text beneath each panel gives a brief explanation of what is happening on screen, as well as the script for the narration. I was not able to work out a way to include both the script and a full description so the descriptions are brief. If I were to improve it I would rework the storyboard to include an easier way to include the script and have better descriptions of the scene.

Assignment 2: Trading Card Game

Brief

To design a trading card game series that could be incorporated into a franchise spanning multiple mediums.

Development

The game I chose to make is called Superbrawl, a card game based around the battles between heroes and villains. The game would be based around using heroes and villains in conjunction with the effects of other cards to make an opening in the enemies defences and defeat them. Magic: The Gathering, Pokémon, and Yu-Gi-Oh were the inspiration for how the game would play.

Card Variations

Most card games have players use multiple card types in tandem with each other. To that extent, I chose card types that would incorporated three variations of playable cards:

Character – A card representing a person or creature. Characters have life points and attack strength, along with a skill or a set of skills that can be used to various effects.

Tool – A card representing an item or object. Tools come in these three varieties: gadgets, which are equipped to a character to grant an extra skill or continuous effect; weapons, which are similar to gadgets, only they also boost the ATK value of that card; items, which are single use disposable tools that don’t incur a

Ability – A card representing a spell or superpower. Abilities incur a Call Cost, and are functionally similar to a card’s skill, except that they are discarded after use.

All cards are also one of two factions (Hero or Villain) as well as a type that determines how they are affected by the effects of cards in play: Power, representing beings whose powers are based on physical strength; Mystic, representing beings whose powers are based on supernatural abilities and magic; Tech, representing beings whose powers are based on the use of machinery and robotics.

Card Layouts

Card Design
The layout design for a character card.

The above is the card layout I chose to follow. I chose to keep all of the text information at the bottom of the card so that it is easier to read all of it in one, and so that if counters are placed on top of it, they can all be placed on the art panel and the text won’t be obstructed. That being said, the art panel itself, which depicts the character or ability/tool, is sized appropriately so that the art can have as much detail as necessary. The details of the card, from top to bottom, are as follows:

Life – The amount of damage a character can take until it is defeated. Represented as a series of green circles, up to a maximum of 12. When a character takes damage, a counter is placed on the card, one for each point of damage it has taken.

Art Panel – A visual depiction of the character, ability, or tool the card represents. Serves no purpose other than to help the player’s visualise what the card is and/or does.

Card Name – The name of the card. Next to the card name, in parentheses, is the card’s alignment and type, either Hero or Villain, and Power, Mystic, or Tech, respectively. These do nothing but to determine how the card is affected by the abilities of others.

Attack – Also known as ATK, the Attack value of a character determines how much damage it deals to an enemy upon attacking them. Can go as high as 10.

Skill – An effect unique to each character. At what point a skill can be used varies with each skill; some can be used while the card is in play, whilst some can only be used while it is the opponents turn. Some skills also incur a Call Cost, beyond the Call Cost of playing the character in the first place.

Flavour Text – Additional text that serves no purpose beyond giving some background to the card’s place in the Superbrawl universe. Typed in italics and in quotation marks to further separate it from the Skill description.

Call Cost – The number of Call Points requires to play the card. If the player does not have enough Call Points, the card cannot be played.

Call Strength – At the start of a player’s turn, their previous Call Points are reduced to 0. Then, then Call Strength of all cards on their field are added together as their new Call Points, until their next turn.

Tool-Ability Card Design
The layout for a tool or ability card.

Ability and Tool card layouts are similar to Character cards, only without the Life counter, ATK value or Call Strength, as they do not need them.

Card Designs

Next I created the designs of the cards. I chose red, blue, and green for the three card types respectively, to better contrast them from one another. The images used for the background were made based on royalty-free images found on Google, and edited by me.

Mystic Card Design
Mystic type card design.
Power Card Design
Power type card design.
Tech Card Design
Tech type card design.
Captain Hero Man Card
An example of how a final card would look, sans the art panel.

Game Rules

This game can only be played by two players. Players start with a deck of 40-60 cards each, and either 10, 20, 30, or 40 Integrity. Integrity is a score that players must defend, as losing all points will result in defeat.

Game Start

Players start by determining the order of play either with a coin toss or rock-paper-scissors, with the winner choosing whether to go first or second. Both players then draw 6 cards from their deck.

Turns take a multiple-phase structure, with a limited number of actions being available during each.

Start Turn

Excluding the very first turn of the game, the player draws one card from the top of their deck. The Call Strength of all of the active player’s Characters is tallied up, and assigned to that player as Call Points, replacing their Call Points from the previous turn. If it is the very first turn taken by either player during the match, it is referred to as the First Turn.

Opening Phase

During this phase, the player is able to perform any of the following actions:

Character Call: One per turn, the player can play one Character card from the hand, if the requirements on the card are met. To call a Character to action, the Character’s ‘Call Cost’ must be paid. If a Character has a Call Cost of 0, the Character can be played without spending any Call Points. Up to a maximum of 5 Characters can be on a player’s field at any time.

Ability/Tool Cast: The player can play any Tool or Ability card from their hand, if they have enough Call Points to use it.

Skill Cast: If a Character Skill description states the Skill can be used during this time, the player may use that Skill.

Action Phase

At this time, no other cards may be played, unless their effect states that they can. The player can perform any of the following actions:

Attack a Character: The player can choose any of their Characters, then target a character on the opposing player’s field. The Attack Points (ATK) of the attacking Character is subtracted from the target Character’s Life. To present this, the player must place as may points of damage the Character has taken on top of the card. If the number of counters on a card is equal to or more than the Character’s Life, that character is defeated and placed in the discard pile.

Attack a Player: The player can choose any of their Characters to attack the opponent directly, subtracting the ATK from the player’s Integrity. Should a player’s Integrity fall to 0 or below, the other player wins the match.

This phase may be skipped if the player chooses to do so. This phase can not be entered during the First Turn.

Closing Phase

If the player has not performed any of the actions available in the Opening Phase, they may do so during this phase. This phase may also be skipped should the player choose to do so.

End Turn

The player ends their turn, and the other player begins their turn.

Evaluation

The final product was a basis for a card game, which could be incorporated into a franchise spanning multiple mediums. The game, titled Superbrawl, is a card game incorporating a system wherein cards representing characters would be powered up using additional cards to battle with enemy cards.

If I used the card game as a basis for an animated series, the characters from Superbrawl would appear in a series without the card game being present, as opposed to the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise, wherein the card game is used directly in a television series. Each major character would have some character development, and be featured enough that viewers could decide for themselves which type of cards to use based on their favourite aspects of the series.

If I were to repeat the project, I would have set some time aside to create additional materials, such as the damage counters, and a play mat, and would have created some more characters as examples of how each card type worked. Ultimately, I am pleased with how the product turned out.

Assignment 1: Character Creation

Brief

To design a character for use in a fantasy game. The design should present the character’s personality without explicitly stating it.

Research

For starters, I decided that the character would be small and animal-like, since humanoid characters are quite common, and as a result of personal preference.

Final Product

Finchley Dyrgenwerth

Name: Finchley Dyrgenwerth
Occupation: Guildmaster

Height: 2″1′

Weight: 35kg

Class: Warlock

Guildmaster Finchley is a powerful spellcaster, head of Arcane Studies at the Abner Prentiss Memorial Adventurer’s Academy (or APAA for short). He is a Sprite, one of a mostly nomadic race, naturally attuned to environmental magic, especially those from their native regions.  They are short, but have strong tails, which they can use for holding objects and elevating themselves by balancing on them.

Finchley was raised on the road, as his parents were both travelling merchants. On their travels, Finchley observed adventurers using magic, and would always ask them to teach him. Eventually he mustered up the courage to ask his parents if he could study magic with a professional magic-user, and was eventually brought on as the apprentice of a noble magician in the town of Dyrgen. He studied for fifteen years, eventually setting off as an adventurer. After he finished with the adventuring life, he enrolled as a teacher at the Adventurer’s Academy, and eventually became a guildmaster.

Finchley has a reputation as a strict teacher, who touts magic above physical strength. Sometimes a student may ask him of his adventurers, and he will get lost for hours recollecting his stories, often taking up a large percentage of classes. Secretly he cares a lot for his students and their studies, despite how he may talk down to them on occasion or will act high and mighty.

A Sprite’s physiology is determined by their fur colouration, which is in turn informed by their lineage.. Each Sprite is attuned to certain environments. This can be seen in the size of their ears, their whiskers, their eyes, and most importantly, their fur. One can easily tell what type a Sprite is based on their fur colour; Desert Sprites are light brown, Forest Sprites are dark brown, Jungle Sprites are dark green, Mountain Sprites are dark grey, Tundra Sprites are pure white, and City Sprites have light grey fur. Finchley also has dark brown patches of fur because he is a half-breed of Desert and Forest Sprites. Their types also determine other aspects of their physiology, such as ear and whisker sizes. Desert sprites in particular have short, thin fur and whiskers, large due to natural selection, aiding them in the harsh desert environment.

Assignment 4: Pixel Art

Brief

To create a character for a fantasy game, using a pixel art style. This character must be presented as a 64px by 64px sprite, as well as a 16px by 16px sprite.

Research

The use of pixelated graphics in video games dates as far back as video games themselves. As rendering technology was still in its very early stages at the time, the graphics used for video games were low quality compared to what players are used to today. Systems such as the Commodore 64 and the Atari 2600 lacked the sufficient processing power to display anything more detailed than blocky sprites, although at the time it was considered cutting edge.

Pixelated graphics are often seen in recent years as a nostalgic style. Games have still been developed in recent years that use the low-resolution style that harken back to the era of 8- and 16-bit. Shovel Knight and Undertale are both games known for having the gameplay innovations and deep storytelling of modern AAA games, respectively, whilst maintaining the nostalgic charm of a pixelated style. This is often a defence used by players who argue that good graphics do not make a good game, a common topic of discussion in online communities.

How the pixelated style is used is important for conveying the theme of the game, and can be difficult given how minimalistic it needs to be. A good comparison for this is Chrono Trigger and Earthbound, two RPGs for the SNES. Chrono Trigger, having a more serious overall tone, uses a lot of detail in its character and environmental design, and even in its animation, while still keeping the size of its sprites minimal. It has more detail to convey the idea of realism despite the game’s fantasy setting, as though it is realistic in the context of itself. Earthbound, while having a serious tone in certain parts of the story, is very minimalist, and approaches its visual design in a manner similar to a children’s cartoon creator. Characters and environments are created with block colours with far less detail compared to Chrono Trigger. When the game shifts to show off its darker, surrealist undertone, the style also changes somewhat to match, using more detail to match the present danger. This is used to convey the idea that the player is seeing the world through the eyes of Ness, the main character, possessing the child-like naiveté that breaks down slightly in the face of horror.

chrono-trigger-04
Chrono Trigger uses highly detailed environments and character design for a more realistic appearance.
565-10
EarthBound’s more simplistic style compliments its quirky character design and overall tone.

Development

For this character, I decided on a non-human character, and went with a spliced animal chimera similar to that from Mother 3. I chose a bird and a bat, because I have an affinity for small talking animals, and it could be developed into an animated flying sprite later on.

Batbird Concept Sketch
Concept artwork of the Batbird.

To start, I drew a concept image of the character. The sketch of the batbird helped to figure out what details I could show in a sprite. I chose a cockatiel as the yellow and light grey feathers would contrast well with the darker colour of the bat wings.

Batbird (64px)
Batbird, 64px

This is the 64px sprite of the batbird. The sprite was created by first taking the sketch and drawing around the shape on a separate layer using a Pencil tool. I then colour picked the shade of the feathers using images of cockatiels found online. I kept details minimal since the character is smaller than most others. Its talons are minimal and thin as, from a distance, they would appear thin anyway. This sprite would most likely be used in a smaller environment such as a building where the main focus is on the characters, or in a battle.

Batbird (16px)
Batbird, 16px

This is the 16px sprite of the batbird. With a smaller size, I had to omit more details, such as the talons and the grey shading along its plumage. This sprite would most likely be used in an overworld, such as a Final Fantasy-style world map, as well as menus. The character would appear in a cave environment, so the lighter grey of the wings would stand out against a darker backdrop, as would the yellow head.

Final Project Final Product and Evaluation

The goal of my project was to create a short 3D animated trailer for a game idea. The game in question was about two prison inmates (one human and one alien) working together to escape by way of fighting security and solving puzzles. The animation would highlight various gameplay elements using short clips of the main characters performing said elements. The trailer would have also included an original soundtrack that would have been synced to give the animation emphasis (the drum beat would match footsteps, for instance).

Due to poor time management, I started the project far too late to create an appropriate product. Cutting it down while keeping the quality was no longer an option, and it was far too late to change what the project would be. By the time I had considered what could be cut while still keeping to creating an animation, there was nothing that could be done to create a full product.

The character models were well made, and kept to the model sheets adequately. The form of each character was well defined and the polygon count was kept to a minimum, reducing the file size and making the rendering process quicker overall. As for the rigging, I had initially started with a custom

Overall the project was a failure. It was over ambitious, and I tried too many new things at once without giving myself enough time to experiment and get better acquainted with how everything worked. This experience has taught me that time management is the most important part of any project. If I were to repeat the project I would have not tried to make something so complex and stuck to what I knew, or I would have given myself more time to practice the necessary skills to finish the project.

Animation: https://youtu.be/vLUn2MQ9fZs

Final Project: Game Trailer Animation

Proposal

The goal of my project is to create a short 3D animated trailer for a game idea. The game idea in question is a 2.5D platformer called Abscond, and it is about two prison inmates (one human and one alien) working together to escape by way of fighting security and solving puzzles. The animation will highlight various gameplay elements using short clips of the main characters performing said elements. The trailer will also include an original soundtrack that will be synced to give the animation emphasis (the drum beat would match footsteps, for instance).

The main focus of the trailer is the two main characters. In the lore of the game, all inmates have their memories wiped upon being imprisoned, losing all of their identity in the process. Thus, the two main characters have monikers instead; The Big One and The Small One, respectively.

The Big One
The Big One

The Big One is a hulking, brutish toad-man who can tear through metal with his bare hands. He has a typically calm personality, but isn’t afraid to get rough when needed. His stocky form makes it difficult to manoeuvre beyond walking, running and punching, but with his partner at his side that’s all he needs to do.

The Small One

The Small One is a direct contrast to his counterpart. He is a short, athletic human with a hot head. What he lack in combat skills he makes up for in athleticism, as his small stature lets him move quicker and makes it easier for him to scale obstacles. Though he may only be good at running away, his wit and intellect help him overcome most problems in the way, and his partner is more that willing to use force for him if needed.

The design of each character is supposed to represent how the two inmates see each other. The Big One is seen by The Small One as a monstrous beast, hence the scarred face and crazy expression, while The Small One looks generic because The Big One finds it difficult to see the difference between humans.

The game is a side-scrolling 2.5D platformer, meaning it takes place in a 3D environment but on a 2D movement plane. The main focus of the game is teamwork, as the two main characters need to make use of each others skillsets to defeat their foes and escape. Thus, the trailer would need to focus on those attributes.

Storyboard:

Abscond Trailer Storyboard 1

Abscond Trailer Storyboard 2

Abscond Trailer Storyboard 3

All character models, environments and props will be modelled by me and textured using royalty-free textures. The models and the animation will be made using Autodesk Maya and edited using Final Cut Pro. The soundtrack will be made using either Garage Band or FL Studio, depending on the accessibility of either program. If neither program is available, the soundtrack will be taken from an online source and will not be copyrighted.