Dev L0G: The Art Process
ART, ARTTTTTTT, ARTTTTTTTTT, coming up with a visual style for a game is a lot of work. So much so I put it off for a bunch of weeks after starting it, just so didn’t have to think about it. Until a few days ago when external situations forced my hand to get back to it.
In this post, I’m going to share the various forms the art for UMG (Untitled Math Game) has taken over the last few weeks. All of the following images are still from a work in progress and might still change over time, but I’m currently happy with how the current style is looking.
Phase One: The Idea
So for some context I’m going to share my thought process behind what I wanted the game to look like. For the best context when I was coming up with the early designs I spent a lot of time listing to this one Anamanaguchi song. pop it, from their upcoming album.
So after hearing that song for the first time I was thinking about a lot about colour and the images of popping bubbles. From that thinking and repeated listing to that song I came up with this mood board.
It has a lot of round things in it. But more importantly it was looking at a lot of flat design and bright/pale colours. With a few other games that use a similar style to what I had in mind. (Hundreds by Finji, Spell Tower By Zach Gage, Four Letter By PikPok). So going in to develop the style, I wanted it to be bright and poppy, full of energy.
Phase Two: First Concept
So with my vague ideas of flat bubbles floating in space I made this.
It’s not awful, it’s not amazing either. It’s just kind of meh. There is a kernel of something good in this idea, good enough for me to keep iterating on it. However Its just kind of lifeless and static, even with animations I feel it wouldn’t have improved much. it didn’t quite reflect the bubbly upbeat nature of the song that inspired me.
so I tried again, iterating on this idea more.
Phase Three: Iteration
The first thing I did was play with the colours, immediately replacing them with something more in line with bubble gum pop feel of the song.
This did two different things to the look of the bubbles. First the colours made everything seem more playful and poppy. So That was an instant victory right there, but it didn’t fix the problem of the numbers being hard to read.
So I moved on to trying to fix that problem, eventually coming to the realisation that the numbers in the font I was using didn't work with the effect I was using.
This is where I kind of gave up for a few weeks to work on the design and programming of the game. With the image above being the stuff, I liked the most still and some early attempts to fix the legibility issues.
Phase Four: A Days worth of work
So after a few weeks away from working on art, Solely focusing on design and programming I was forced to return to the art. When I returned and looked at everything I had done and though ew. I didn’t like what I had done anymore, it didn’t feel right with me anymore so I sort of scraped everything. Saying I scraped everything is an overstatement.
What I did do was rethink how I was dealing with bubbles. So instead of making perfect circles. I traced roughly over a circle in illustrator to get an uneven bubble shape, The result ended up looking like this.
Followed that with adding the numbers back into the bubble.
Then played with the colour of the bubbles.
By accident, I layered one of the other bubbles shapes behind another one and got this nice effect of the bubble looking like it had been moving, rather than it being just static.
So after all these changes I still didn’t like the way the numbers looked inside of the bubbles, but in a happy coincidence I found this font below.
It’s called UGO, Created by Valeria Santarelli. It gave a similar effect to what I was trying to achieve using drop shadows, this font lets you layer its different effects over each other to give this final result. It’s pretty rad and saved me a lot of time.
So all these changes took about a day for me to come up with, having not looked at this stuff for a few weeks helped me immensely. With these new bubbles, they enable us to do some pretty cool animations and stuff in the game. Which will be another dev L0G in the next few weeks so look forward to that. I’ll keep working on these bubbles, the UI and figure out how the rest of the game will look. For now, I feel like I'm getting somewhere.