Advanced graphics for Inform 7

Here are mockups of two other Kerkerkruip characters. The overall arrangement is a minor variation on the mockups in the previous post. I have moved the character name–which is always set in the same font used to render the character itself–to the right column; this provides more space for the illustration. These mockups also incorporate the character’s written description, which I’ve just pulled straight from the game.

First up, the chain golem. I’m not completely happy with how the illustration itself turned out–I need to figure something else out for the hair especially–but I do like the many different ways that chains and their entanglements are portrayed, from straightforward to pretty abstract.

Mockup of Chain Golem

And second, Miranda with her (Shaolin) monk’s robe and nunchucks. I picture her as kind of a girlish Grace Jones, which I think comes through fairly well in the illustration. (The pose, of course, is classic Bruce Lee.) I decided not to try to make her look like a typical cartoon woman–think exaggerated secondary sexual characteristics–which may actually not have been the wisest choice. Finally, I’m not sure that the topknot adds anything, but I’ve had some feedback that it does, so there it is.

Mockup for Miranda

Update: Here’s a second version of Miranda, with some tweaks to make her a bit slighter. She does look more “feminine” now, but I hope still a bit androgynous.


Comments on: "More mockup art for Kerkerkruip" (12)

  1. Sam Kabo Ashwell said:

    Yeah, the Miranda illustration definitely looks male. I’d narrow and slope the shoulders, put a little more curve in the lines of the torso, and shift the waist up somewhat. These should all be pretty subtle, I think. (Also, the second nunchuck handle is a little lost in her armpit.) I think the topknot’s a good choice.

    Also, I didn’t work out, until I’d been looking at it for some time, that the red-bordered stuff was all the robe: I’d been reading her as wearing just hakama and a sash.

    The chain golem is awesome, but I agree that the hair should probably go. Apart from looking a little silly in its own right, it breaks up the massive heft of its shoulders, which is otherwise the strongest element.

  2. I also really like the chain golem. Very cool.

  3. Thanks for the ideas. I’ve adjusted it using some of your suggestions, as well as tweaking the neck and the arm (see the update above). The changes are pretty subtle, but I hope that she now reads more readily as female, even as it’s clear that she’s not your standard sword-and-sorcery chick.

    I still need to think about the golem’s hair. I can probably just eliminate it, but some other minor tweaks would probably be necessary to make it look right…

  4. Peter Pears said:

    Miranda looks great, but personally I miss the look that the other characters have which she doesn’t – the “entirely ASCII, but twisted around in ways you wouldn’t BELIEVE” look. Miranda looks much more “drawn” than the other characters. I think it’s because of the face…

    • That’s an interesting observation, Peter, and I think I know what you’re talking about: at its best, the type collage works as both a rendering of its subject and as an interesting abstract patterning of typographic symbols. The subjects of the other illustrations I’ve previewed so far (Reaper, Chain Golem, and Tentacle) have a certain iconicity that has let me do a lot of the latter while also still handling the former pretty well. The Chain Golem, for example: while it isn’t an iconic character, the familiarity of the hulking muscularity (borrowed from the Incredible Hulk, actually) helps the viewer to make visual sense of what is otherwise a real mishmash of letters. And the reaper is iconic enough that despite the fact that the illustration is already asking people to “retrain” their eyes to read swooshy letters as lines and volumes, we can still elide most of the Reaper’s left side so that his robe bleeds into the darkness behind–and no one bats an eye.

      It is probably just a failure of imagination and/or skill on my part, but I find it hard to dream up a way to present my impression of Miranda while still using the type to make patterns that are interesting in their own right. Actually, I would amend that slightly–I’m pretty happy with the rendering of the sash and maybe a couple of other elements of the illustration as “pure type collage”. But, aside from those details, I feel like I don’t have the same kind of iconic forms to fall back on here. I have had to default to some of the “rules” of cartooning (Sam Kabo Ashwell mentioned a few tips based on them above) to convey her femaleness visually, and hand-in-hand with that I have had to be more faithful to the lines expected.

      This impacts the face directly: I tried a few approaches with more detail, but given the implied viewing distance, I didn’t feel like I could use a whole lot more detail and still conform to the clean economy of presentation that are expected from cartooned drawings of young women. I think one solution to this might be to do the humans of Kerkerkruip in closeup rather than in full figure–this would allow for the face to form a much larger part of the overall image, and thus for more detail and pattern. Compare the face in this type illustration, which uses the same font I used for Miranda, but which makes the head a more important part of the composition. (Also note how the artist has been able to use so few lines for the body–this is because he/she has stretched the letterforms into more elongated shapes, a technique which I have decided to use in moderation or not at all because I want it to be clear which letters are represented.)

      There are probably a few places in the illustration where I could move away from the illustrative style, though–both of the hands could probably be less faithfully limned, for example. But I’m not sure how to do a transition between the relatively faithful lines in the left arm and a more abstract rendering of the left hand…

      By the way, I am ABSOLUTELY willing to believe that I’m just not as good at this as I could be. If anyone has ideas to share, or wants to tweak the original file, or wants to try their hand at doing a Miranda from scratch–I am all for it.

  5. Peter Pears said:

    Your response is so detailed it shames me – you put in a lot thought and work, and someone like me just pipes up and goes “I kinda think it’s not as good as.” Ok, so I explained why I thought that, but your response makes my explanation shallow indeed.

    All I can say is, for some reason, the December girl you linked to feels a lot more ASCII and a lot more in keeping with the other illustrations. And at the same time, it’s a lot uglier. I love the way you’ve done Miranda’s hands especially, because they don’t yell ASCII but they feel ASCII – they are elegant and pretty and human, but their origins as characters are clear.

    Ok, let me see if I can be a bbit more constructive…


    …maybe make the head a composite of more parts?… Maybe that’d make it lose the “drawn outline” feel.

    Then again, I’m the only one who’s commented on this so far, so maybe it’s not really that big a deal.

  6. Dannii said:

    I didn’t think her head was a problem, but if you think it is, perhaps you could cut some of her face’s features out. Change it to a 3/4 profile view and have only eyes and a nose. Make her glare perhaps.

  7. Don’t feel bad, Peter. What you said pointed at an ambivalence I feel myself, which is why I was able to write so much about it! I’m serious when I suggest that my inability to render Miranda as I see her while maintaining the artificiality of the other illustrations is probably lack of artfulness and imagination on my part. But let me try putting a positive spin on the question instead: I see Miranda as a very different kind of character from the others. Not only is she human, but she’s also a teenager who dreams of one day being a famous adventurer. Heck, if she hadn’t gone to work as the evil wizard’s guard, she could even have been the PC’s sidekick. She’s serious about her job but a dreamer, moderately skilled but untested and a bit callow. I wanted to depict her vulnerability and inexperience alongside her determination and skill. A more illustrative style is more naturally appropriate to this set of expressions than the jagged type-heavy stuff.

    So that’s the stylistic difference stated as a strength. Now, I may not actually feel that way about the illustration as a whole, but I do feel that way about the face. I think it’s pretty successful at doing what I want it to do, and the design of the head outline is a big part of that success. I honestly can’t think of any way that I’d want to change it. (Actually, I did toy with increasing the size of the cheekbones, using parentheses and C’s, but it looked a bit comic–not the note I was going for.)

    By the way, one of my current mental models for Bodmall is the Swamp Thing, so that should lend itself well to the main style…

  8. Victor Gijsbers said:

    Erik, I really love this stuff.

    Perhaps an easy way to give Miranda a little more of an ASCII feel, if you’d want to do that, would be to replace the thick straight characters (that make up most of the outline of the robe) for smaller, more easily recognisable and less straight characters. But this is just a guess, I have no experience with actually playing around with these things.

    That swamp thing would be awesome. I like how your art makes me reimagine the opponents, making them fresh again.

  9. Victor Gijsbers said:

    And by the way, I think the character-specific backgrounds are great.

  10. Thanks for the comments, Victor. Good point about the robe. It probably could be made more interesting. I chose straight lines for most of it because it is stretched taut by M’s knees and I wanted to emphasize that. But this font already has a lot of straight lines and I could probably use a wider variety of characters than I chose to do. I’ll look into that.

  11. […] A player who has defeated some of the denizens of Kerkerkruip, on the other hand, can wait at the main menu for the Rogues Gallery to appear. This is a succession of trading-card like depictions of each monster defeated, along with stats that summarize the player’s history with that enemy (for more on the cards, see my previous posts). […]

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