References & Inspiration: Breath of the Wild Artwork

I’ve talked already about how I love this game. One reason: the artwork.

In the first four images you can see the team’s official promotional art. It’s like digital gouache, really pretty. In motion, the game resembles this style remarkably well, especially when viewing landscapes from a distance. The textures, lighting, and shaders all contribute to the feel with irregular edges and brush-like strokes of color.

The last three images demonstrate their application ofan ancient Japanese style of sculpture known as Jomon. It is the inspiration for the designs of the ancient ‘Sheikah’ technology in the game, seen on the six-legged laser-firing Guardians, the Sheikah Slate that the protagonist uses, the several massive towers spread across the game world, and the 120 shrines and four dungeon-beasts that the player can explore.

I really like that gouache look. It was the thing I had in mind when I was searching for brushes to paint my Footwomen Doe portrait, providing a direct inspiration.


References & Inspiration: Samurai Jack (2017)

It’s coming back, and it’s got blood!

(that’s kind of important to me, because i feel that if any show deserved the freedom of a higher age rating, it was Samurai Jack. it was brutal and beautiful at times, which looks like what they’re focusing on in this final season. however, it was also campy and silly and hilarious at other times. i hope they still have funny moments.)


i’m working on backgrounds

and a run cycle, as an assignment.

Apparently, the cities in Eva, at night, use streetlamps combined with unknown light sources that give the effect of one large light source pointed upwards at the faces of the buildings, with the light fading as they grow taller. The result is an easy to draw gradient of light blue fading to black, moving toward the sky. It’s striking.

you can see in the second and third images, the street lights aren’t actually on, yet there’s this blue glow, a sort of fog, covering the ground. it looks real cool, and operates on the logic on anime scifi, but was most likely a conscious choice of the artists and designers working on the backgrounds, because it draws the eye along a vertical axis, so that you can quickly understand the size of these behemoths. Avoiding drawing the lights from the streetlamps was also deliberate, as they’d be distracting from the focus of each shot, Unit-01.

I’ll be following this principle for many of my backgrounds too, because it makes sense and it fits the style. that’s all the reason i need


reference video & geek-out opportunity

To render the Eva units in Rebuild of Evangelion (2007-2012), Studio Khara used a combination of redrawn frames from Neon Genesis Evangelion (1996-1997), processed 3D animation, rotoscoped 2D animation of the 3D models, and hand-drawn 2D animation. Undoubtedly, this saves a lot of time when animating in HD for the fast-paced world of modern anime.

You can tell when they used straight 3D vs. rotoscoped 2D vs. hand-drawn 2D in clips like this–the struggle against Sahaquiel, the 8th Angel:

[Warning: Graphic violence, pretty brutal imagery]

I wish there was a full version with all the dialogue and in HD, but: pay attention to 1:33. Up until then, in the fast action sequences of the Eva units running toward the mountain, the Units are mostly in 3D, with at least one running loop that was redrawn from NGE, and other loops that are rotoscoped 2D. At 1:33, Unit-01 digs its feet in, in order to halt in position under the falling behemoth, Sahaquiel, and:

  • the full shot of Unit-01 shuddering as it decelerates is 3D;
  • the closeup of its feet scraping up the earth is rotoscoped 2D;
  • the next low-angle shot of Unit-01 coming to a stop is blended from rotoscoped 2D into hand-drawn 2D, right before the lighting change occurs;
  • and afterward until the end of the sequence, with one exception, Unit-01 is animated by hand.

From what i know of the industry, in a production with high enough budget, the hand-drawn style is preferred for moments of extreme action or emotion. As the Eva units get closer to the objective and the scene comes to a climax, more and more of their movements are drawn by hand. There are a lot of reasons for this.

One reason is the belief that traditional hand-made art is superior for expression, and that expression ought to be prioritized during the moments of peak emotion or action. I think this is a standard that will remain for a long time.

Another is that, in cases like these, line drawings can be much more fluid and adaptable than a 3D model, which has computed boundaries and volumes. Many principles of 2D animation involve the exaggeration, stretching, and morphing of shapes in order to heighten meaning, and unless you are manipulating the shapes of the 3D model while it is in the stage of your animation software, it’s much more straightforward to draw things 2D.

And there are more reasons. But i think i’ve rambled about this stuff enough for one night.

Up next is the design i’ll be using for Unit-02 in the animatic/animation.


Evangelion art scans

turns out there are no decent-resolution images of the official Evangelion Unit artworks available on the net. even the image i added for the Character page (Unit-02, original configuration) is garbo quality, at 178 x 540. writing those numbers made me throw up in my mouth a little.

so i’m sitting there like, ‘gee, i sure wish i had better images of this stuff.’ and then i remembered i did, because i’m an entry-level weeb who bought a couple model kits, and they came with instruction manuals featuring full-page official artwork. now i’m scanning them for the sake of me and any other entry-level weebs out there who need those sweet, sweet references. i’m including unit-01 as well because it’s the most popular.

Full size Evangelion Unit-02 official artwork:unit-02-artworkFull size Evangelion Unit-01 official artwork: unit-01-artwork