story art

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story art

Postby kitty » February 24th, 2008, 9:15 pm

being a bit bored after doing all those portraits (no, i won't stop doing those, just a little break until the new sprites are finished :P), i thought of the second graphical aspect of wesnoth which doesn't satisfy me as it is.
that is the story art: it is mostly lacking or often poorly done (no offense, but it is obviously that it did not receive as much love as the rest up to now - there are of course exceptions like the great beginning of trow and the intro for httt).
but i think good story art could take a good part into bringing the players into the story and our world.

thus i thought it could be useful if i started to do kind of generic story art. i want it not to be limited to a specific story but to cover typical scenes and settings and to be used for campaigns which have no individual story images by now. i plan to do about 10 - 15 by-and-by.
i have done two examples to show what style i would go for. (heavily photo refed, scribbly line art, reduced saturation, texture overlay)

what do you think? does that make sense?
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Postby Dave » February 24th, 2008, 9:52 pm

I am not an artist, but I know what I like, and I like those images; a lot. :)

You are absolutely right that our storyline images lag far behind our other images, and it would be excellent if you could draw images of this quality for our story sequences.

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Postby Kestenvarn » February 24th, 2008, 10:23 pm

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Postby Sgt. Groovy » February 24th, 2008, 10:47 pm

They're pretty good, except in the first picture I find it weird that there is a stone bridge, but no road, and in the second one the texture of the sky is sort of distracting (maybe it's the lightning-like shapes).

Did you use modified/filtered photos as the basis for the images, or were they only references?

Here's an earlier thread about a technique for making photographs look drawn/cell shaded, to create generic story art easily (not the same Kestenvarn refers to, that was a bit more labour-intensive technique, IIRC).
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Postby kitty » February 24th, 2008, 10:59 pm

thank you for the comments.

just to make it clear: i didn't filter the photos - they were just references... if they appear to be, i should change something about the style, i don't like photoshopped pictures, they appear cheap. perhaps more distinct hand drawn linework.

@ groovy: you're right again, i'll add a street and desaturate the sky in my next tries.


aarg - i can not attatch anything again...
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Postby Kestenvarn » February 25th, 2008, 12:05 am

kitty wrote:if they appear to be

They don't look filtered.

The ones in Groovy's link, however, do - oversaturated photos that look like they were run through Find Edges or something. There is a very cheap feel to them.
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Postby turin » February 25th, 2008, 1:06 am

Very nice!

One technical point; it looks like you're putting in this dark strip on the bottom of the images so that the text appearing there can be read. You don't have to do this; the game adds it automatically.
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Postby Jetrel » February 25th, 2008, 5:07 am

These look great, and you do this is very welcome. :D Since you're working at this, I'll mention that there are two scenes in HttT which could use replacements - and it would be a very good idea to make these generic replacements, so other campaigns could use them.

Image #1 should be an ocean-going ship in a violently stormy sea. The kind that could wash people overboard, or maybe even capsize the ship.

Image #2 should be the wreckage after a battle. The battle would take place in a temperate climate, and you can pick whatever variety of terrain you like.

turin wrote:One technical point; it looks like you're putting in this dark strip on the bottom of the images so that the text appearing there can be read. You don't have to do this; the game adds it automatically.


^ Take note of this.
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Postby Kestenvarn » February 25th, 2008, 11:09 am

Jetryl wrote:Image #1 should be an ocean-going ship in a violently stormy sea. The kind that could wash people overboard, or maybe even capsize the ship.

I'd like to give this a shot, if that's alright.
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Postby Sgt. Groovy » February 25th, 2008, 12:44 pm

didn't filter the photos - they were just references... if they appear to be, i should change something about the style, i don't like photoshopped pictures, they appear cheap.


No, they look fine, I just wondered if you had managed to find a filter that works well.

The ones in Groovy's link, however, do - oversaturated photos that look like they were run through Find Edges or something.


That's what they pretty much are :) They weren't meant to compete with anything handpainted, just an easy way to make placeholder art that anyone can manage.

There is a very cheap feel to them.


Cheap's the word, they took about five minutes a piece to make. :P
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Postby Jetrel » February 25th, 2008, 4:35 pm

Kestenvarn wrote:
Jetryl wrote:Image #1 should be an ocean-going ship in a violently stormy sea. The kind that could wash people overboard, or maybe even capsize the ship.

I'd like to give this a shot, if that's alright.


:eng: By all means. Please do.
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Postby kitty » February 25th, 2008, 9:46 pm

ok i've sticked to the style i took for the first two.

regarding the black stripe- i assumed that it would be added automatically. i find it important compositionally nervertheless...
does anybody know what the final size has to be?

i have revised the castle's sky and added a way to the bridge. and i tried a quick variant for the bridge - now we have a good and a bad weather version.
and i have a first take on the battlefield wreckage...

as always: c&c, please?


@ kestenvarn: i'm curious what you will do with the ship! did you do the other httt pictures, too?




the images refuse to be attatched again... what's on with the forum? will that be permanent or is that a problem on my side?

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Postby Jetrel » February 25th, 2008, 9:54 pm

kitty wrote:regarding the black stripe- i assumed that it would be added automatically. i find it important compositionally nevertheless...


Okay - so you were demonstrating what they looked like with it, I see. That does make sense from a compositional standpoint; since that would have a major effect on how they'd be perceived in-game. :)

I was worried that you were submitting final candidate images with those burned on - they'd need to be taken off, and that's kind of a pain in the butt to do without a layered image.
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Postby zookeeper » February 25th, 2008, 11:35 pm

Nice. Here's a few suggestions for generic story screen art:

1. A post-battle view that could be used in more situations. Basically just like your latest one, but with nothing that clearly shows who fought there: it can have arrows, spears, a flag, maybe a loose helmet somewhere and so on, but no human/elf/dwarf/orc bodies lying around. Of course you could have some in the distance so they're not identifiable (beyond perhaps being identifiably humanoid).

2. Sailing. An image showing a ship or ship,s but not the specifics them or their passengers. Could be used when there's some sailing involved, regardless of who is doing the sailing or for what reason.

3. Cave scenes of some kind? An interior of a cave, entering a cave (probably the image would show a mouth of a cave) and finally seeing some daylight again after a dungeon crawl.

***

Forgive me for the following off-topicness, I feel like describing what I've been thinking about sometimes:

Personally, I'd rather like the following model for story screens: a story screen for the major points of a campaign, no more. In HttT for example, the major points are IMO Siege of Elensefar / Crossroads, Dwarven Doors / Plunging into the Darkness, Scepter of Fire, and Elven Council / Return to Wesnoth. The same story screen image could well be used for every scenario of one "section" of the campaign, if it's generic enough. For instance, the first section (scenarios 2-6) could show a rag-tag band of rebels marching along the side of a forest, with some coast visible in the background. For UtBS, one could simply have the story screens depict someone writing a chronicle (Kaleh of course; but it'd be silly to show his face there IMO), since the story screens actually are excerpts of his chronicles, as stated in the beginning. Of course it'd be nice to have a few different images of that (the first one with a little bit of writing, a second one with some complete pages lying around, a third one with even more, etc), but you could keep the same simple theme throughout the entire campaign and get away with 3-4 images without it looking cheap or like there's anything missing.

Think of something like the original Warcraft: at the beginning of every mission, the briefing screen showed the same image (if playing humans, it was some mage and a commander with a pint looking at some maps on the table, if orcs, it was something else), yet it didn't really look silly or repetitive because you weren't expecting it to be a realistic illustration of what the guys would in reality be doing right now (contrary to what most of our story art seems to try to do). IMO the same style could well work for Wesnoth campaigns as well, except that we'd use several different images as the campaign progresses.

Of course it might not suit all campaigns: in fact I think HttT was a poor example (unlike UtBS, which I think was the best example I can think of). But for some campaigns, I'd much prefer something along those lines than having HttT-style story screens here and there, and using blank (or only the bigmap) elsewhere.
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Postby Sgt. Groovy » February 26th, 2008, 8:02 am

added a way to the bridge.


I still find it weird that it's not only green, but even fresher green than the fields. One would expect a dirt road to be coloured like... dirt.

Overall, the pictures are very good, but I'm not at all sure that the surface texturing adds anything. I guess you aim for a "painting"-like look, but the problem is that the style is still quite cartoony, and so it looks like a paste-on effect. It works with some of them a bit better, for example the sky in the battlescene image looks quite like a watercolour on a coarse paper (but then the rest of the image not that much), but the blotches on the sky of the clear-sky version of the bridge are just ugly (they look like something a photograph print would have when there are fingerprints on the negative).
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