5 kinds of surprises

This is just me and my weird brain, but I’ve found that, when looking at game art, there are usually 5 kinds of situations where I’m surprised at an artist’s work. Of course, seeing an artist for the first time is always somewhat surprising, but I’m going to focus on artists that I already know about for this. BTW this was written late at night and I hold no responsibilities for anything bad that happens.

The 5 main situations are as follows:

1) Complete change

2) Company makes all the difference

3) YOU LIED

4)  Going back in time

5) It’s personal.

Please note the above image, from the eroge Marginal skip. This artist is pretty generic, no? There are definitely some anatomy problems present, and the blond girl’s face is distorted, almost like the person was trying to copy Yamamoto Kazue but didn’t quite make it (although I’m not exactly a fan of Yamamoto Kazue myself).

Now, please note another image from the game Harukaze dori ni, Tomarigi wo. 2nd Story. No, not that one. I’m not sure who drew that one. It might be the same artist, it might not be, game sites are never specific about who drew what, and artists who work in the same company all look alike.

Anyway, it’s this one. If you compare this to the top image, well,  there are a lot of differences. Would you believe these were drawn by the same person? Would you believe that there was only a few months of difference between these 2 releases? You would, but you would still be surprised, right? I mean, there are still problems here, but I’m the type who ignore faults on things that she likes, so it’s all good.

This is what I mean by Type 1 surprise: you’re not surprised when you see the art. It’s only when you look at the credits and find out that the names are the same that you connect the different drawings.

This is a promotional image for 天使ノ二挺拳銃 angelos armas, released in January of 2005.

This was drawn by the same artist, and is a game CG for Ayakashibito, which was released 5 months later.

Okay, so comparing a promotional image with a in-game CG is a bit unfair, but still…  This is the Type 2 surprise, when you realize that some artists are what they seem to be only because of a hard working CG team behind them.

This is a screen shot taken from the official site of memories off 7.

This is the highlighted character in an in-game CG.

What the hell, 5pb? Why did you have to take an artist with soft, delicate lines and gentle coloring, then reduce it to this… this… THING!

The same happened with Remember11.

Again, soft, delicate coloring, with a gentle eye for detail. I weep bitterly at what happened to the actual game art though. It’s like they couldn’t pay the artist enough past some promo art and the character designs, and so made the rest of the game with some random artist who was available and cheap.

The sad thing is, this isn't even the worst CG

Sigh…This is the type 3 surprise, when the actual art looks 50-100 times crappier than the promo art. I’m used to this. I mean, who HASN’T seen an RPG or whatever where the still art looked nothing like the stuff that actually moved? But this is a VISUAL NOVEL, it’s not supposed to be like this, and unlike RPGs, there’s no reason that it should be like this!

Type 4 surprise is a bit more complicated and long, so bear with me here.

This is something that Kantoku drew for a commercial game in 2006.

This is something he posted on his blog around the time the above game came out.

Commercial game released in 2007.

Doujin game released in 2007.

His actual work in 2007.

This is a CG from Natsu no Ame, released in 2009.

His actual work in 2009.

See the problem here?

This is the type 4 surprise: when you see a commercial work and feel like you stepped back in time. Let’s face it, the art from Natsu no Ame barely matches the art quality of a doujin game released 2 years earlier! Why? Because companies takes time to do stuff, so the there are often significant amounts of time between when stuff is drawn and when stuff is released. Ergo, seeing a recently released commercial work feels like you’re stepping back in time. This seems to be less of a problem for doujin games, although I can already feel Sepia tears slipping into the same cycle (GAH, everything looks so DIFFERENT, I want to re-do everything!).

I can’t wair for Your Diary though, it seems like it’s going to be the high quality that I expect from Kantoku. Plus, I’m sure that he will draw his beloved plaid skirts this time! (for those who don’t know, most artists has something they love to draw. Ino loves boobs, Itou Noizi loves pantsu, and Kantoku just happens to have a thing for plaid, particularly plaid skirts)

A while ago, I saw some art from Hoshizora no memoria. I thought that it was pretty and moved on.

On the other hand, I had drawn some stuff for Lolikit’s game. I’m not linking you because I’m absolutely embarrassed by what I drew. It should be censored for all of eternity.

So just look at this thing I re-drew, okay? Anyway, what I noticed is that this character, Marmot-chan, looked really similar to the loli in Hoshizora no Memoria. Of course, they were more similar in my head.  But Type 5, in my mind, is the most shocking of all.

The moral of the story: I just started playing Hoshizora no Memoria, and that sister is as annoying as hell. Good night.

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10 thoughts on “5 kinds of surprises

  1. I feel like I have seen that same marginal skip image and how someone pointed out that they look exactly the same (with flaws too). Then again I probably did see that exact same image setting the same example.

    Regards to point 1: I don’t encounter this too often, for those that had the same art style usually retained most similarly between games. (From say circus, navel, or others). Or if I see Mitha’s art now, it looked similar to Mitha then, and so forth. (The ones that come to mind have rather set styles that you’re familiar with, but those same ones didn’t have significant variation.)

    Linking point 1 with a different point like 2, 3, or 4, the surrounding features do make sense, and what circumstance. (On a random note, artists drawing live for shikishi requests shows their excellent consistency with their art style, but also shows they’re human and it’s not going to be perfect.)

    Regards to point 2: That’s a good contrast. Because of the dire difference in the two picture scenarios, I don’t take too much note to that. That and if I think of say, kantoku, the opposite of point 2 would bode true (as you stated for doujin game vs commercial game). Likely I’ll only encounter one sample picture of the two, so I can’t see the CG differential directly.

    Point 3 seems very similar to the Izumi Tsubasu point you had a while back where you noticed that despite the similar drawing style, that it likely was not the same artist directly. That wasn’t so much “YOU LIED” though, but rather “that’s some good mimicking but it doesn’t look like the first picture I saw” sort of thing. Somehow you picked examples that make you look twice and go huh?

    Point 4 I think comes from the fact that it was CG-ified. Well, at least some of the artist’s character design style is retained on the commercial release. Thanks to his Miyazawa Midori character design I’m like oh so this artist is named Kantoku (and now with another friend we proceeded to buy his artbook in glee, huzzah).

    This again reminds me of shikishi to the extent that it’s somewhat directly spawned (like doujin works or artbooks), as opposed to game cgs which have had other factors implemented. On a random note I’d love to get a Kantoku shikishi directly drawn if such a possibility could ever exist. Then point 4 would have 3 parameters: game cg, doujin work, and 30 minute fast spawn.

    More on the game cg portion: as you definitely know, Natsu no Ame had two artists. Because of this, there shouldn’t be a *dire contrast* in the art style, so either one of them had to draw a bit different so the character appearances can mesh with each other. Both art styles of each are retained, but I’m sure this aspect *does* have some impact. (The point is still correlated with your point about the initial draw phase goes through computer stuff and becomes a game cg sort of thing).

    There’s *a lot* of games that have multiple artists (or backup ones that finish up, like the possible Izumi Tsubasu case), so a certain style formulates, but wouldn’t really be consistent with say, a doujin work. I’m meshing my terms. (Speaking of which, I forgot to ask you what does “opening” mean.)

    Maybe that explains why doujin work I have seen looks really good, art wise. It’s not so much that it’s actually better, but the emphasis to the one particular item on a limited print run, you won’t have interfering features on it.

    I did notice the common occurrence of plaid skirts (or noizi itou incurring pantsu flashing, or ino with chest size emphasis), but it’s also applied when applicable at least, instead of any time. At least Kantoku doesn’t attach a plaid skirt on every character he draws. I’m sure it’s mostly for Kurumi and doujin work characters. (Whereas the other two artists can incur the circumstance as long as it’s a girl with a skirt/dress. … wait, so could Kantoku … nevermind.) Hoho you can combine the 3 preferences and spawn a girl with chest size emphasis while exerting a flash with a plaid skirt.

    On point 5, hm, let’s not talk about it.

    • Well, the reason that it feels familiar is probably because I shamelessly stole it from Accany’s review…

      Yeah, I think point 1 is really rare too, which might be a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, consistency is GOOD, but the same stuff over and over again definitely isn’t…

      I can’t agree with you with some of the Kantoku stuff though. I don’t like Miyazawa Midori’s design at all, mainly because of that hair color. I have no idea WHY I dislike it so much, but I do. Some of the promotional art are much better though.

      I love the idea of shikishi though, it’s like “yayy! you get to see them draw something! and it’s for you!” A kantoku shikishi would be good, definitely.

      Anyway, back to before. I don’t think that artists need to compromise their own styles when working with others. I noticed this in Toheart2, which had many artists (I think, 4?). When characters stand together, you can see that the uniforms are all drawn in different ways (different lengths and fold sizes for the dresses, different sizes and lengths for the top, and it’s not due to different sizes either), BUT, they all mesh together, and I think that it’s because that the same CG/coloring team took care of it. I think that thought can be applied here too. Yes, there was a compromise between coloring styles, but the bad choice of colors and the quality of the lineart is the fault of the original artist. And I DO think that the lineart seems like Kantoku’s stuff, just that I don’t feel like the quality is the best in all aspects, so there might be some miscommunication? Maybe?

      Doujin games are definitely inconsistent, even without the added burden of having many artists. The doujin game that I mentioned Kantoku has worked on is called L.O.V.E~告白~, and every artist drew and colored their own stuff. The result is what seems like a hash of 4 different games in 1 setting, and it’s definitely not pretty.

      I wouldn’t say that doujin work is really good overall, just that some are really good. The vast majority of doujins are really awful (although there’s some awful stuff in commercial work too, can you believe that this was actually published in an artbook?) And some artists really benefit from working with companies (I think that can be applied to Izumi Tsubasu). Anyway, I do think that the less interfering an artist receives, the better though.

      And on that last point… did you mean something like this ? lol

      • Yes, it’s from Accany. That explains everything. The image is a good example for that point, certainly. Art style changes are interesting to see, while art style retention is interesting in its own right.

        Hm now that you mention the hair color, I can’t tell what hair color it was supposed to be (filtering perhaps?). I’m incorrect on point 2 now that I know those images you linked were promotional ones (maybe that explains why I prefer those ones ….) The promotional ones seem to retain more … background use (particularly the one with tires)? (I like to note Kantoku’s backgrounds, especially in 5 nenme no houkago. You know what I mean.)

        On another note it seems like the game CG’s structure has the eyes more … square/trapezoid shapes, while the promo art has more … circular eyes? [Wow I have to stop making self-imposed terms, but I really don’t know the wording to it] Well, at least the lineart is retained, but Kantoku’s art style flavor spawns from say, his backgrounds, and his coloring format. Perhaps on game CG you referenced, you don’t have his backgrounds (or it’s generically standardized depending on the game), and the coloring format turned to CG correlated, so you have … filters (wait filters spawn from scans don’t they?)? [*Has no idea how the inputs into the art of a game differs from the art on an artbook and such*]

        Hm I didn’t mean so much compromising (and yes I was definitely thinking of to heart 2 while typing this, it’s just that it was you that I read about the bringing up of the 4 artist point in to heart 2), but you answered what I was getting at: the CG/coloring allowed the contrasting styles to mesh. I never saw the L.O.V.E~告白~ doujin game before so I could not reference anything on that, but you mentioned it has 4 artists and thus you had that mesh. Though if you meshed the format into one, I still think there’s some kind of compromise. However, the doujin game wasn’t commercial, and To Heart 2 was originally console. (I’m wondering if console made any difference. I think it does since it eliminates HCG.)

        It’s like in the game you can tell the artist was different, but it meshed well enough to not clash. Whereas if you look at the works separately, you get the full effect because of no standardizing (if that’s the word) for the corresponding game. Perhaps indeed there was either miscommunication, or a quality dropoff (this is easy to believe.) Thus do the same thing on a doujin game and … you retain the talents of the individual artists and … you already know.

        I … only try to look at really good doujin, though that itself is hard. (I’m shuddering from the artbook reference you pointed out.) I haven’t seen Izumi Tsubasu’s works that weren’t of game CG. I also haven’t seen much doujin lately, so I cannot speak much on that.

        That last image you referenced, man, and that’s so recent. (Yay for fresh new images!) To me it feels like his art style adjusted a bit, but it’s still vibrant as ever. Is it … watercolor (or the how should I put it, chubbier Kurumi face?)? There’s no question it looks different. What is it he did differently, I have no idea (again, lack of art intellect.) Just when I thought he drew enough Kurumi, he draws her again quite refreshingly. So impressive.

        On another note, what’s your opinion on rough sketches artists do? (Even Kantoku’s rough sketches look pretty good.) Because coloring and CG effects haven’t been integrated, it has the base design. As you mentioned before, a final product can look drastically different than the sketch. Your art analysis reference games, doujins, backgrounds, and a variety of things. However, I was curious on your sketch opinion. After all, to produce the image, got to set the lineart and sketch first.

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  3. I can’t tell what color it’s supposed to be either. Brown? Green? Grey? The backgrounds for Natsu no ame wasn’t done by Kantoku. Isn’t it a bit ironic how the character artist draws better backgrounds than the actual background artists at Cube? And unlike Etude they aren’t taking advantage of that. [has no idea what filters are either]

    I do think that his eyes are changing though. If you look at this, you can really see that it’s gotten lolier recently, especially for your diary. I think someone’s being influenced by gayarou… (they work for sister companies)

    Sony and whatnot has a strict no sex policy, so all console games are stuck with really annoying menus and a bunch of fan boys begging for h-scenes lol. The fact that it’s console doesn’t really make a difference to the art though (there’s more attempts at animation and whatnot in some console games, but that’s about it, KID/5pb is a bit of an exception in that regard).

    I don’t know what’s different about his recent works either. I mean, I know that his coloring style has changed and he puts more emphasis on the edges of shadows, but there’s something else… it’s sparklier?

    My opinion is that the more completed/neurotically clear the final copy is, the better the rough sketches look in comparison. The reason for that is, with a lot of artists, the more focus they put into making an incredibly detailed lineart, the less effort they put into the coloring. This is sad, because coloring then becomes a matter of filling in the spaces, instead of enhancing the image. This is why I like artists like dhiea and Misaki kurehito, because their coloring actually does something. BTW, kantoku and the artist for the banner, starshadowmagician, also fall into the latter category, thankfully. This is also why I get annoyed at artists like Tinkle, because it feels like they try SO HARD to draw 10 thousand strands of hair and layers of lace that no one’s really going to notice and often lets go of the balance of the image.

    • (Before I state, some of the hyperlinks went back to this post, so I couldn’t see your reference.)

      Yeah, so you can see my point clearly (I’m going to say brown but the distinct variation says otherwise). Thanks for correcting me on a few pointers. I know the backgrounds for Natsu no Ame aren’t done by Kantoku, but I do wonder, simply because of this, that his drawings may clash a bit (whereas promo art background may have been drawn by him. If not, then I’m mistaken).

      I merely mentioned filters because my experiences running some photo editor thing, the word filter comes up, and I have no idea how to use that correctly. It’s used for … filtering, and thus I suppose it’s easy to over or under filter.

      Lolier, yes. I didn’t use that term since it’s subject to everything …. It’s good to see Kurumi’s varied look of change but at the same time, lolier is kind of backwards? The style is fine, it’s just that it seems there’s quite a bit of a lolier drawing trend. It works for smaller characters but at this rate it seems like midrange won’t even exist. (There is no such term as midrange, but I meant … normal/middle sized, neither loli nor busty or whatnot.) Kantoku’s eye style was one of the distinguishing factors, though at least you can still certainly tell it’s him.

      The To Heart 2 example I was setting was a poor one, due to Leaf’s long strong history, it’s varied games, and such. Also, console games are a trend of its own, so the correlation isn’t a good one. In a way it’s better it’s console because the art can focus on being cute instead of explicit. (Same images for 18+ games tend to have 18+ images, while for console, none of that occurs obviously). Ah I should stop restating your point and start saying “I agree with you Choux.” Saves lines, but then I don’t share my thoughts that way. Yes, more animation is indeed triggered on console. (Though I could go on a charade on how while the PC market has ran strong, consoles are relatively uncharted terrain.)

      It’s sparklier indeed. Well, it’s not a drop off, so at least he’s not trying to fix something that’s not broken. But it is also a showcase of how he will draw for the rest of 2010 and on for the time being. (Or as we stated earlier, it’s lolier). Loli style is fine, but I prefer it at it’s older frequency, instead of a massive surge/trend of it. (Didn’t we have a discussion on how KEY ran lolier too?) Some drawings running more loli, fine. A lot running more loli, a bit too much I say.

      Excellent point on the rough sketch and detailed lineart point. Though your Amane example was on an illustration gallery section, so I would have expected it in an artbook with a game CG set and other prints. Whereas the Misaki kurehito example, I would spot in her artbook, so to say. To be analogous, for game CGs Kantoku art sort of suffers to an extent, but it’s not due to extensively detailed lineart, but just general game CG (initial draft vs final output on PC game production) effect.

      I mentioned Kantoku quite a bit but that’s due to you setting the example (or that we like his art), and the fact that he has a style that possess what I’m looking at, not weirded out by off-balance image and whatnot. Either way, here’s to hoping to the possibility of a Kantoku shikishi in the future. (This will be on my mind as long as I think of art or a convention.) If the opportunity arises, I will jump on it.

      I’ll go look at a Tinkle image to look more closely at this 10,000 strands of hair you speak of. *looks* You weren’t kidding. At least there isn’t anatomy displacement. (Or if there is, I hadn’t seen you point that out yet.)

      • Ah, fixed, thanks.

        For some reason, it feels like a lot of artists are turning younger characters (maybe it’s because they are feeling their own ages? most of the popular artists who’ve been there since the beginning are nearing middle age or at middle age now). carnelian is one of those artists (I thought a while ago that she was at that perfect middle point), and I get the feeling that even tony is heading in that direction… I don’t think that key is turning more loli though. No, wait, rewrite. Yeah, definitely younger (I don’t remember talking about that with you though).

        The word loli is a bit of an awkward use, but I can’t think of a replacement for it.

        I think I’m mentioning Kantoku a lot because I’ve really liked his stuff recently. Right now, a lot of artists that I used to like has lost my attention (Naru Nanao, Ikegami Akane, etc etc), so his stuff particularly stands out because it’s lasting.

        And as for tinkle… there are definitely problems. Even something like this, which looks good at first glance, you can see that the folds are not following gravity, the hair is levitating, shimmery fabric like that wouldn’t stay the same shape with hair on top of it, etc etc. But the overwhelming amount of lines distract you, so most people don’t notice it.

      • Well, can’t say the turning younger thing is a bad thing. In games in general I think several protagonists are getting younger (or not, but I was thinking of Sora from KH because he was what, stated as 14?), therefore drawing younger is rather consistent with that. It’s like something pre-18 is the new 18 (iono, like 14/15/16/17).

        (I don’t remember talking about that with you either.) I just recall reading that somewhere on the rewrite point. You just happened to critique the art as well, so it seemed synonymous.

        I say “smaller” but when I read commentary on “Lucie’s drawings are rather loli”, then I’m not sure on the term. Seems to work for everything it seems.

        I think the mention of Kantoku on my end are for similar reasons. No loss of stuff, while previously interesting artists lost some luster from some effect. Though looking at it another way, his art wasn’t as frequent or long as say, Naru Nanao (I’m assuming). Me like his stuff, absolutely and it’ll rage on for a good year or more.

        Now that you re-mentioned the tinkle problem, I am suddenly reminded about that post where you extensively described what was wrong with it. I sort of forgot the terms so I forgot what was wrong with it. Thanks for reminding me.

        I guess distraction effect works. I mean, several off balance images still function because of the distraction right? (I’m thinking of asset emphasis or face emphasis or … something like that.)

        Thanks for clarifying. It is nice to see more aspects on art, so it’s quite enjoyable to discuss with you and learn.

      • But Lucie’s stuff IS really loli-ish. What else can you call this?

        And I think it’s really enjoyable to talk to you too. You’re pretty much the only person who I know I can have a lengthy conversation involving this stuff with.

      • *This?* I say maximum fetish. However, bear in mind she is fully clothed despite the local oddity. The image isn’t that small either. I did feel though that Lucie comment referred to the general art though, which would imply all the characters. Referencing the imouto Mikoto kind of guarantees the point is true.

        (Gah I closed the window that had my commentary.)

        Glad to hear discussing with you is mutually enjoyable. Point form writing is lovely, ahaha. I’ll tl’dr less and segment opinion more evenly instead of all in one go. I’ve been enjoying your blog avidly for the past six months as a local reader and will continue to do so. Thank you for the much interesting topics, such as the artist analysis bringing several aspects not seen before.

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