Devlog #39 - Teal's Art Pt. 1 - A Dark Place

Hello lovely readers! (ノ゚▽゚)ノ

We've announced last week, we're back with our devlogs packed with insights into our work on //TODO: today! As it has been hinted back then, PECTIN will talk about a special artwork this week: The one he made, that Teal canonically made, which Teal sent to "Naughty Cat" in //TODO: today! :V

Keep on reading to learn more about Teal's artist mind and about a basic workflow PECTIN uses to paint.

Now that introductions are made, a few notes: First, the artwork I'm discussing has been created in July 2017. So there're minor details I'm not sure of anymore - like brush settings. Second, I used Clip Studio Paint and Photoshop (only the default round brushes).  And third, I hope you can take something away from this and enjoy the read. <3

What for?

Like every asset I make for any project I have to be sure of the context in which it'll be used or appear. I've revealed before that this piece was supposed to be shown in the game as "Teal's art":

  • It appears to represent Teal's artistic style
  • and the player will see four stages of the picture as they're involved in the making of it.

In the story, Teal would make this piece for a competition hosted by the fictional games company "Naughty Cat". The competition asked artists to draw anything related to "Titan Watch Online", a MMORPG Teal loves to play:

  • The setting is a dystopian future
  • and characters have classes and skills reminiscent of popular fantasy MMORPGs.
  • Teal plays as a character that combines elements of a rogue and a healer.

All of these points are on my checklist of what we needed of  the artwork in the game.

Expressing Teal's Mind

Based on my assumption that experience, personality and mood shape the artstyle, I thought about what kind of artstyle Teal would have. Because Teal already has been an artist in their past, I thought it sensible that they had a good grasp of basics like colours/light, composition and contrasts, etc.. So I focused on the workflow and visual expressions they would use. Here I browsed for artists and their work online to find inspiration too. While I had the checklist I also came up with new ideas as I tried things out on the canvas.

Stage One

Teal wasn't at peace with themself back then. So the motif of inner conflict came to me. We also concluded that Teal would most likely paint their own avatar. Like I mentioned before the character was kind of a healer and rogue hybrid.

I struggled to find a cool pose and ended up having the main character of the illustration sit as if to heal a wounded ally. To make it more interesting I gave him a dagger. Like this, it's unclear if the character hurt the other or helps them. I liked this ambiguity in relation to Teal's situation. This sketch was done in Clip Studio Paint because I like making anything line-related in CSP best.

Stage Two

Here I switched to Photoshop and began putting colours on top a black canvas. I got a feeling of how I wanted the lighting to be at this stage as well.

Although Joyce helped Teal pick up the pen again, Teal was basically depressed at that point in the story so they likely felt more comfortable using darker colours and motifs. I chose this for the symbolical meanings of darkness and the related emotions as well. Also I don't want to generalize and believe that depression comes in all kinds of colours. (ノ~o~)ノ

To keep myself from getting lost in details I decided to paint everything on one layer and only duplicated the layer to document the progress.

Stage Three

The ugly phase. Every painting I do has an ugly phase which immediately occurs after I seriously start messing around. ( ・ิ,_ゝ・ิ) This one isn't in the game as an asset and I'm glad for it. The number of pieces that appeared in the game depended on the instances in //TODO: today when Teal actually sat down to paint. And back then we considered having 5 instances but settled on 4 in the end.

I was pretty proud of the background, which was intended to be a dark back alley but accidentally turned into a roadside at night. :'3 Because everything was on one layer, I finished the background first before I began painting the character "on top".

Stage Four

From stage three I really got into "the zone" while shaping out the characters. Because I mostly work with lines and flat colours, I noticed how "3 dimensional" painting feels to me. It's quite fun! (ノ゜▽゜)

Back when I did the character concept designs for Teal I also imagined them to be kind of sloppy. Hence an artstyle without immaculately drawn lines, but blocky shapes where you can still see the paint strokes would fit. (I was also under time-pressure and didn't want to over-complicate things.)

At this point one could declare the painting as finished. So after the player bothered to sit down with Teal and Joyce to work on the Naughty Cat competition artwork they would be rewarded with this illustration (which was hopefully satisfying for your eyes).

Stage Five

And for the really motivated artists who went a step further this one was the glammed up version of the preliminary stage. The last 10-5% that make the illustration a bit more eye-catching. Here I played around with "Overlay" layers to balance the composition, shift the focus on the readability of painting (character > long arm > healing hand > unconscious person), added some magenta blood and added Teal's official artist signature.

I thought it would be interesting for the avatar to have some kind of resemblance to Teal. Did you spot the similarities? (^0^)

Altogether I did the painting on two evenings. And I believe in three sessions, which is my usual way to go when I don't have time for more breaks.

1st Session: OKAY imma do the art!! And I only need to make 3 sketches this time...promise!
2nd Session: OH GODS it so ugly. I have to stand up and walk away to give my eyes a break from this thing I created.
3rd Session: I've returned to my ugly child with new insights into live and fresh eyes that actually spot mistakes! Time to fix things up!

And that's all of it today. I hope you liked the extra info on my work and have a nice weekend! (๑ ́ᄇ`๑)

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