I'd really like to make these development update posts more often, unforunately there's a lot of times in development when there is just not a lot to actually show. Showing off a new spaceship model or pretty new shield effects and such is easy, but a lot of other work doesn't always lend itself so well for showing off. (Though on the note of models, Hades made an awesome starbase that is currently in queue, waiting for me to get in the mood for texturing). So I figured I'd talk abit about what I've mostly been doing in recent weeks, drawing characters.
Back in 2015, not too long before the release of the first episode of the redone WoD, I learned of the existence of Emofuri, a japanese program that allows you to 'animate' a drawing by manipulating layers. It rotates, scales and translates various layers and creates a beautiful illusion of movement. For me it was love on first sight, a wonderful tool that makes up for my own lack of animation skills and talent. Back then though, there was no support for really using this in Freespace yet. Additionally, Emofuri is a demanding mistress who requires layers to be setup in very specific ways and things to be drawn in a way I hadn't done with anything before yet. It was effectively impossible to convert any already done art for use with Emofuri, and I wasn't quite feeling up to redrawning everything I had just done. So I decided to explore the program for future use, but to go ahead with releasing the first episode as planned.
2016 is coming to an end, and the Freespace landscape has changed once again, ever evolving and developing. Archwizards like Niffiwan and Axem developed APNG support and created arcane lua scripts that allow mere mortals to super easily create all these insane visual novel segments in a space sim engine from 1999. Meanwhile I've obtained a level of mastery of Emofuri, with all of its moonrunes, that I would really like to use with WoD (had plenty of practice because of JAD!) so redoing character portraits has been the name of the game for me recently.
Now you may think "but Spoon, showing a newly drawn character is just as easy as showing a new spaceship model". Well, you are not wrong
. It is just that so far every character I've done is very much naked, which would make for a very nsfw blog
"Then why are you drawing them naked you old perv?" is perhaps the next thing you'd ask. To which the answer is that 1. It's a good base to work from. If I want to give a character different clothes it's easiest for me to draw them ontop of the naked body. Especially because of the way Emofuri wants the layers setup. 2. I wasn't sure yet what I wanted to do with the uniform and flightsuit designs (still am not atm) 3. I'm a perv and I like to draw boobs.
Now one other thing you may or may not be thinking is "Drawing characters shouldn't take you this long!". But alas, I am really just that slow. I'm a ultra rare specimen (dumbass) that draws things with a mouse and the Photoshop pentool. I can't really churn out flawless characters in the span of a few hours, I'm just not that good. Additionally, setting a portrait up for Emofuri easily doubles the time it takes for completion.
Allow me to give a very basic rundown how a .psd for Emofuri has to be setup:
In a nutshell, there is the body layer, the face layer, the eyes which are split into the white, shadow, the iris and the outline. Then the eyes at a half closed state (white, shadow, outline) and closed eyes. The various eyebrows, and mouth layers that have an open and closed state. The hair is generally split up in front hair and back hair, but requires multiple layers to look good when doing a ponytail and such. When adding custom layers in Emofuri you have to define what it is attached to and what kind of physics it uses (its is pretty often trial and error).
But it often gets a bit more tricky and more ahead thinking and planning in layer setup is required. To give an example:
For Kunoichi her hair has 6 seperate layers on different depths with different properties. The hair back layer for example has to move with the rest of the head, but its not allowed to sway. The side hairs had to be on seperate layers or else they'd be in conflict with the scarf in terms of depth. The scarf had to be divided in two layers, the front part isn't allowed to sway and has to be infront of the face layer, the back part is behind everything else and is allowed to move. Usually arms and hands and such just go onto the body layer, but since the hand is infront of the scarf and the rest of the body isn't, on to its own layer it goes.
Now when doing layers that are normally hidden behind a layer infront of it, I was used to just draw up until the point at which it was visible. I mean, whats the point of drawing a hairstrand that goes behind the face and won't be visible at all, right?
I'd draw the hair lines right up to the jawline and donezo. But I can't be lazy like that anymore.
Cause just slant the head and:
Out comes the hair that was previous hiding behind the face.
So there we go, stuff I've been up to. Drawing animu grills for some niche dying space game.
Let's end this entry with a wip old-new comparison: