Petunk Week 2: Creating a distinctive look

Let me share a secret with you. I’m not a great artist. I lack the technical skill needed to create compelling characters or impressive vistas. It’s something that I’d like to improve, but I figure it would require an investment in time and energy similar to what I already put into engineering. Unfortunately, if that’s the case I don’t think I have the time. So, when I sat down to think about the art style for Petunk I had to limit my options. Nevertheless, I think I’ve come up with something really cool and I’d like to share it with you.

As I do for most of my problems my first step in this process was to grab a sharpie and a piece of paper and write down as many themes as I could think up. I try not to rule out any idea at this stage no matter how stupid it sounds as I’m just trying to produce a large list of things to pick from later. With some possible themes in hand I then tried to evaluate them based roughly on personal appeal, estimated cost, and novelty. For instance, I think a theme based around a child’s toybox would have been compelling but it would have required hiring an artist which is outside the scope of this project.

Keeping in mind my artistic abilities I ended up focusing on a couple ideas. The first was to use crayons and paper. Crayons would have been nice,  but the style has already been done by Crayon Physics Deluxe. Instead I decided to use collage / cut outs as the medium for Petunk. Check out a couple screens:

As you can see I’ve cut up construction paper into different patterns and shapes and combined them to make some cool looking stuff. Because I’m using real materials the results have some nice textures which I wouldn’t have been able to produce on my own in Photoshop. I’m also able to do things like fold or bend the paper to achieve other types of texture and shadows. Lastly, since the medium is less precise I can get away with more abstract renderings. For instance, a crow can be a circle with some wings attached. It might be easiest to see in motion. Check out this state transition prototype I made:

A “playthrough” prototype exploring different transitions in Petunk

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Hopefully you’ll like this art style as much as I do. Not only does it compensate for my technical weakness as an artist but I think it’s novel and looks great! I’m looking forward to sharing more updates with you soon so check back or subscribe.


4 Responses to “Petunk Week 2: Creating a distinctive look”
  1. twood says:

    love the style… I probably would have ended up mimicking cutouts in photoshop and not produced nearly as nice results as you got using actual materials!

  2. Thanks twood, I would like to write more about the process behind the art style in the future but you’re intuition is right. At points I tried to scan all of the pieces in individually and then stitch them together using Photoshop but that didn’t yield as nice a result. A lot of the nuanced shadows and textures created by physically layering the different elements were lost in Photoshop.

    In the end I’ve struck a balance between constructing things separately and constructing scenes as a whole. I think with more experience I might be able to move the balance slightly more towards doing things separately and then integrating them in Photoshop, which would reduce the cost of producing each asset. Regardless, I’m quite happy with the results shown above!


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