Terrain concept art!


Hey everyone, Petunio here for another Art Update on Cairn.

So one thing is the units we are making for the game, another is the tiling that will go under the units. Originally we were working with another artist on the tiles, and for the most part his tiling skills were pretty good, but the contrast between what he did and the units in the game was a bit lacking, partially because he was working the terrain tiles without knowing how the units would look like.

I offered to do the tiles since I thought I could do a much better worklooking for the right contrast between units and terrain since they would both be developed by the same person (The Petunio, that is).

And so the first step was to explore what was it that I really wanted to do with the terrain. The units already have this hand drawn animated look in solid, non-blended colors. So the right background for these is something that is completely the opposite style: painterly and with a lot of color blending. Kinda like the style in those old He-Man cartoons:

Yup, magic stuff indeed.

I miss that style a lot. Hand painted backgrounds and a simple animation style. From my point of view it makes a lot of sense, time-wise at least. Each unit takes me a lot of time to animate since they are a lot of frames to draw. But since the backgrounds are static, I can afford to paint them in a fashion that makes for a nice contrast. I obviously don’t have the technical expertise or the resources to recreate that same He-Man style, but I can try to emulate it as much as I can.

My first exploration dealth a bit with trying to merge some textures I had done in the past with a nice blend of colors. The idea was that it would look like water colors or oil paintings.

So a few attempts were made to find for that special look.

I liked that it kept a lot from the texture I was using. Reception to these tests were enthusiastic, but there was a lot more work to do here.

Another attempt dealt with trying to see how well would the hand painted textures would hold in the game. The results looked pretty, but I had a few comments within the development team that it looked too alien-like. According to the lore, Cairn is a world pretty much like ours, or at least that’s the impression players should get from the game before we jump into parts of the story that really need to look Alien-like.

A new approach was taken. Work on the terrain would be made from the ground up. So I began by laying down a few colors here and there. Some grassy greens, some yellow dirt, a bit of a green lake there and some earthy browns. All of this by testing it with one of our units (and an obelisk made by our 3d modeller Alfred IP). The preliminary results weren’t too shabby there.

Taking the previous test as a starting point I went on to lay down a few things around to give it some texture. I drew a few rocks, some grass blades. After a few hours the terrain made a lot of sense and contrasted quite nicely with the animations.

I even made that terrain test seamless and it’s look pretty good in the game. As I write this we are still working on the terrain tiles for the game. So far I’m still working the kinks of our first terrain for the game (Imperial grassy), but so far so good.

(clockwise from the top: cursed, marshy, grass and dirt).

And that would be all for this week. Hopefully soon enough we’ll have a little spotlight video showing some sprite/tile magic there.

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