Finding the right art style for a game is one of those things you must do to make your game art cohesive with the rest of the game style. Some games are stylistic, some choose photo-realism, and some choose fantastic color pallets that set the stage for the story and the game theme.
Most models and scenery in a game can be tied together with textures, colors, and image effects. As long as you try to match or compliment, your game will look pulled together and visually cohesive.
Game Interfaces, or GUI’s, must also match the theme/style of the game art. Basically, it is the artists jobs, along with the designer, to pull everything together.
Not long ago, one of my artists, Kerensa, and I sat down to discuss what to do with the icons we needed in the game. We had already decided we wanted to make our own icons, rather than use the ones available on the asset store. Our art pallet in-game has leaned more toward saturated realistic colors rather than dark and gritty. So, what style should we use for the icons? We could go for realism, but these are icons, so maybe we could do something a little more stylistic but still make it fit into to the theme.
I was looking at models one day and noticed some medieval-style shop signs. Opening up my browser, I did a bit of research and suggested the idea to make the skill icons look like signs one might have over their door. Since skills in our game can lead to professions, it made sense. So we found a nice grainy wood pattern and it became the base for our skill icons. Kerensa, our artist, then choose to ‘splash’ the wood with the colors that designated the skill category and then paint, in a rough style, the symbol for the skill.
They turned out beautifully! Each icon recalls the sign above the door through it’s style, yet it clearly illustrates the skill portrayed; a hammer and nails for building, wheat and a sickle for farming, etc. The style is uniquely suited to our game and will look wonderful in the UI. The colors and simple drawings are easy to see, even when the icons are shrunk to their in-game size.
The above panel contains are first set of skill icons. The next set is in progress and will include the rest of the necessary icons and represent the remaining skills available in the game. The following skills are represented here, Foraging, Cooking, Fishing, Sword Combat, Tracking, Unarmed Combat, Mining, Bow Combat, Farming, Axe Combat, Woodcutting, and Building. These will be the first set of skills tested in our game.
The inventory icons are a bit simpler, and on transparent backgrounds. The inventory below shows a leaf, herbs, mushroom, stick, and berries, all used for the Foraging skill we have already completed. The style here is more reminiscent of old drawings in ancient books. Kerensa has been given a list of additional inventory items and recipe items that should keep her busy for many years to come….well, at least the next couple of months.
And here are some of the bottles she is working on for herbal concoctions and for items available in glass making. She has many more and this is just an example.
So..while the landscapes and characters are exciting, it is the little things like this that pull together the game. Without icons to use in our inventories, our recipes, and crafting UI’s, the game would be without substance, just a beautiful empty world.
I will continue this series as we move forward with the game. I think our artists deserve to get a little recognition. They are doing an amazing job!