Team CHOW II: The Happy Little Trees
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Thread: Team CHOW II: The Happy Little Trees

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    Team CHOW II: The Happy Little Trees













    ALH, Blackcherry,nimzicki,CKLamb

    Hello all.

    Well, it looks like we got us a fantasy project along the lines of the CA game.

    6 characters with a good/evil variation for each = 12 total.

    How i think we should split it is 3 characters with a 'good' base and 3 with an 'evil', then sex them up for their opposite side - a kind of medieval superhero/villian story with a twist.

    A crooked old witch may transform into a fluffy gumdrop beauty pagent queen every full moon , a dashing hero may disguise himself as a disfigured monster as a means to get into the dark lords fortress etc.

    This means one of their outfits will make a statement- I AM HERE FEAR/TRUST ME- think catwalk chique, rediculous hair, shoes that are impossible to walk in, little to no practical armour- and the other will be more 'realistic' - furs, leather etc.

    This can lead to some interesting characterisation - is the character ashamed of their other half? Do they embrace it, or is it temporary? How do they prevent others from finding out their secret identity? How/why/where do they change to their elaborate costume? Do the 6 know each other? Are any of them related?

    I'll put together a mood board soon- monday possibly- I want to get my CHOW out of the way first.


    Any thoughts?

    edit- Misunderstood the portraits/characters thing!

    6 PORTRAITS, 3 CHARACTERS.

    -

    [Rules]
    ---
    1. Teams of two MUST create at least 4 portraits, teams of three or four need 6 and teams of five need 8. You are perfectly welcome to create more images that the requirement if you feel your team is up to it.
    2. You must take a random selection of the choices below. Please don't do 4 elven fighters, or only orcs, for example. Please take a randomized selection. If you would prefer me to give your team a specific assignment, I will generate the selection for you. If I see teams doing more select parties, then I will request you to change to something more random.
    3. You must follow the format provided. See it below, please!
    4. You must do a LIGHT and a DARK version for each character, please! This means that for each character you need two portraits.
    5. You must submit a paragraph about each character. Do a short write up for each character you create. I want to see some interesting, stereotype-breaking stuff here, folks!

    PLEASE SELECT ONE OF EACH CATEGORY FOR EACH CHARACTER.

    Gender: Male / Female

    Race: Human / Elf / Half-Elf / Dwarf / Orc - (and anything else you can think of!)

    Class: Fighter (Barbarians, Knights, Dark Knights, Brawlers, etc) / Thief (Assasins, Rogues, etc)/ Spell Caster (Wizards, Sorcerers, Druids, etc) / Healer (Priest, Cleric, White Mage, Medic, etc) - (feel free to make up something for this, too)

    Alignment: Good / Evil (please do both for each character)

    Last edited by ALH; August 3rd, 2009 at 07:24 PM.
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    Hey Guys,

    This sounds like an awesome brief to me. I just read through what ALH said on it above and I totally agree about the whole characterisation thing, I reckon this should be quite fun to do and should produce some really great contrasting designs!

    I think before we begin on any characters we should discuss it as a group and get some mood boards and brainstorming on the go, share ideas and the like.

    Also on the issue of how we're going to do this I think we really need to get a good idea about each other's styles, strength and weaknesses etc. As it's important that our designs fit together and our styles match, or at least are close enough to work, if we're all going to take a character each.

    In response to nimzicki's message I think taking a character each would be the best way to approach it ideally, but if our styles are drastically different; the style of drawing, linework, colouring etc then the final outcome isn't going to be great. So not sure how everyone wants to approach this. Maybe we should do some sketches of something and see how they match up, samples of each others work?

    Personally I love the whole designing stage, I usually generate a load of random rough sketches (most of which are not always seen) which I then refine into much more readable drawings. I tend to lean more towards a stylised, cartoon style of drawing rather than realistic. I sometimes ink my line work or use illustrator but I'm more than happy to use the pencil lines instead. Colouring probably isn't my greatest strength compared to some of the artwork that's seen on this forum but it's not too bad. I use both Photoshop and Painter.

    So yeah my approach to this would definately be on a whole stylised apporach in order to really exaggerate and capture character in the designs. How about everyone else?

    I'll probably do a moodboard over the weekend as well as brainstorm some character ideas for both good and evil sides

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    I dont know how CHOW usually works, but i would think matching styles is not as important as matching *design*?

    So long as it fits it shouldnt matter if the styles are more individual - Take Amanos art for Final Fantasy 7-

    http://www.elevenland.com/amano/imag...udAndAeris.jpg

    The characters are recognisable, have the same armour, hair etc, but the style is wildly different to Nomuras final character portraits.

    Thats not to say we cant have good art direction of course, just that this project is more about designing good characters than designing the look of a game .

    Personally i plan on doing a bit of style exploration - I recently finished working on a couple of similar fantasy RPG projects and wouldnt want to steal ideas from myself.

    That said, there are some crossovers with style and design.

    We need to think about our audience. Who is the game for? who do we want to attract? Casuals? Children? Teenage Boys? 'Girl Gamers'? Fellow artists? Will there be big boobs and rippling abs or do we want to go the safer JRPG route and make sure everyone has fabulous hair and big shiny eyes? Do we have something profound to say with these characters, or is the tone more comical? What is our platform? Will the characters be animated or static?

    These kind of questions should ideally be answered with mood boards, we show our cards and smash them together to create a style everyone can handle

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    Yeah i see what you mean about style and design but if you look at the work from the last team CHOW though you may see what I mean about mixed styles not working with some groups. The most successful final results were from the teams with the characters that worked well together as a group (i.e. they all had the same look about them, design, theme etc).

    What i was trying to illustrate is if you have a character line-up for a game then they all need to work well together. Therefore the final presented result will all be of the same style/type of design.

    For example I have books such as 'The Art of the Incredibles' etc. and there's multiple designs by different artists for all the characters but the final presented set are all of the same look. Same with FF even though Amano did concept artwork for the game, Nemura designed the main art for the characters.

    Whereas the essential design of the character is the most important part, when they're all tied into a common theme for a game, animation etc they need to work as a group. I mean you couldn't have the Incredible style characters mixed with the style of say FF: The Spirits within. That's the point I'm trying to illustrate with style (on an extreme scale in that case). Have I made any sense?

    Anyway I've rambled enough, lol. Personally I'd like to take a more stylised approach to this such as the designs for the Incredibles, Shrek etc, but I'm open to what everyone else's opinion is on it

    Last edited by blackcherry; August 1st, 2009 at 03:44 PM. Reason: felt like adding a smiley
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackcherry View Post



    For example I have books such as 'The Art of the Incredibles' etc. and there's multiple designs by different artists for all the characters but the final presented set are all of the same look. Same with FF even though Amano did concept artwork for the game, Nemura designed the main art for the characters.


    Exactly!

    The pixar art books are exactly what i was thinking of there- a loose (but unified in design) series of concepts with less of an emphasis on 'final style this is what it would look like in game'. I..kind of thought we could leave that part out for some mindboggling reason.

    But if the general rule for these things is towards a tight 'final' we should absolutely aim for that.

    Hurrr a durr. I think i was just caught underestimating my team by simplifying the objectives before we've even STARTED...*headdesk* .

    We live and learn- this will be my first time in this situation of building art as a team, I had set the style of the last project i was on long before other artists joined, i look forward to working it out as a team this time round

    Last edited by ALH; August 1st, 2009 at 04:46 PM.
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    Hi team,

    Apologies for being a bit late to the party, just catching up and the characterisation thing sounds like an excellent way to put across some real personality. My only worry is are we still on brief by making the good/evil sides look as different as a prince/demon (obviously I know that was just an example ) ? My first reaction is that its fine and its up to us designing the characters to show that they are still the same character.

    I don't feel that the style difference isn't a major factor yet, do you guys have any good examples of your usual character design? I haven't got a strong developed style yet but from looking through your work ALH I can see that you have got quite a strong style.

    This is a character design im currently working on (nothing to do with CHOW, just thought it would help if you guys knew where I am at) Not spent too long on it yet:


    Hope that doesn't disappoint haha.

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    CKLamb Has joined the party!


    As for being late - You've not missed much, im still grinding on my current CHOW myself so i've not moved mentally over to this yet ( thats probably why my ideas are all over the place )

    My mind is kind of falling asleep atm, so forgive me if this next bit makes no sense or stated the obvious-

    I personally believe style is not something you can set from the off, it requires as much research as weapons or armour. I based a lot of the style of Tweetlord on playing cards, which i couldnt do again without getting into trouble- but did do research into lots of medieval and eastern folklore art looking for inspiration for costumes etc. Theres a lot to gain from looking at these styles, especially when trying to break away from the high fantasy norm. Characters who wouldnt look out of place on a stained glass window, for example, would be an interesting stylistic direction to go in.

    Like i said previously.. At these beginning stages, alongside pondering roles for our characters, we should do our research, get some moodboards up - you never know what you may find




    Edit- Pasting from the PM since we acquired a new member -



    We have to bear in mind that these characters need to be linked together in some way visually- something thats actually more do-able if we're only doing 3.

    If we link their stories this should make linking their visuals a breeze- they could be members of the same party, for example 3 traders with one acting as the beefneck bodyguard, one being an attractive female distraction/lure, one being a master salesman with a pocket full of magical potions etc.

    This will also give us a better base to work from compared to each of us creating a warrior which happens to live in the same world as the others (much like creating ones own character in oblivion etc :p)

    It also introduces the how/where/why which is conducive to an interesting plot and potential gameplay/quest scenarios - are the group are friends? Have they been forced together for some reason, Perhaps they are cursed and are physically/magically leashed together? Perhaps one refuses to leave the others until he/she gets back stolen goods? Perhaps its a love triangle? What if one character is the child of the other two?

    Finally- the good/evil side of things seems to be more of an aesthetic palette swap for the context of a game- i personally wouldnt really want to split the 3 into 2 warriors and THE DARK EVIL BARON WHO MURDERED THEIR FAMILY, because i think we can get a more original visual/conceptual character dynamic going if they 'just so happen' to be 3 evil minions or 3 good guys. Or 3 brothers, one of whom is a bit of a twat but they must work together .

    Last edited by ALH; August 1st, 2009 at 08:04 PM.
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    Howdy.

    After reading up, I DEFINITELY think we need to have a cohesive style/design from the start. The hodge-podge look doesn't usually go over well in the polls. That being said, my personal inclination is towards naturalism, but I'm up for anything. I think we should each post some style sketches and start comparing notes. Obviously, each of us will add a little personal flavor to the style, but in the end I think it needs to look like it came out of the same box.

    Currently, I've been playing with color and brushwork. I don't really use imported texture or image overlays that often, but I'm capable of doing so if that's what we need. I'm checking out sketchbooks as much as I can, but if you wouldn't mind posting your latest piece here it would be nice to see what we all have to offer.


    Name:  selfportrait_26.jpg
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    Last edited by {CKL}; August 1st, 2009 at 08:49 PM.
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    Oh, and for style exploration how about we pick a very common fantasy staple:

    1. Human Knight
    2. Dwarven Warrior
    3. Elven Mage

    etc. I personally think Human Knight would give us plenty to play with on style exploration.

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    Glad to have you on board CK, been browsing your work and im very impressed The piece I posted is my latest one, I would say I lean towards a more realistic style.

    Im going to get started looking up some reference pieces that help with what we have so far. Now that we have an extra member, are we going to move on to 4 characters or will we be splitting 3 characters across all 4 of us?

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    Welcome to the team CKLamb

    I agree with CKLamb on having a cohesive style/design from the start because that definately worked out best in the first Team CHOW and it just looks good.

    I think we could probably do 4 characters now if everyone thinks that's a good plan?

    For samples of my work, just have a look at my site/blog. I generally span between very cartoon like to a more sort of semi-realistic look, but I can be quite varied. I rarely go totally realistic looking though as I like the stylised look.

    So what's the plan now? Are we going to get some research and reference together to start with?

    Oh and are we all going to draw a human knight so we can see how we'd all interpret it?

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    Oh and are we all going to draw a human knight so we can see how we'd all interpret it?
    I like this idea, I have no objections to doing 4 characters too.




    I have an oolldd example of an orc i did a year ago here for the sake of a less cartoony fantasy example...my skills have improved since i did her, but she serves as a good example of the kind of asshole character i like to play with.


    I enjoy adding a bit of sarcasm and dark humour to my non-toon characters, and i tend to make them a little repulsive (even if theyre 'good') because i find that more interesting to draw. I daresay i could rustle up a kickass withered old crone - creatures are my thing, so the more twisted the character, the better. A dashing hero would be more of a challenge for me, but vertical difficulty curves are part of the fun - im glad this is a good/evil task for that reason !


    Snow Yellow is a more recent example , but not full body....and i just realised half the links on my portfolio are broken, great. Been applying for jobs all this time and didnt even notice. GRR.

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    A couple of things:

    1. We have a team of 4 so we need 3 finished characters (a total of 6 portraits). My suggestion is we each do two characters (three if you can), and from that we can cut down to 3+, depending on quality.

    2. So, seeing no major objections, let's do a style exploration with the human knight. Given the need to push into production, let's all have something turned in by August 4th. (Doesn't need to be polished, but it must convey your stylistic idea.) Give this a bit of effort because if it is the one we are going to go with then you can finish it up and have one portrait down.

    3. Lets all try to post a mood/reference board by the end of today. If you don't usually work from reference, you might want to start. (Especially if realism/naturalism isn't your strong suite.)

    4. Deadlines need to be created and met. If you can't meet them consistently, you have to be cut loose.

    5. This Team CHoW is obviously tied in with the IP Massive Black is developing through the community. Keep this in mind at all times. This work could boost your career in many different ways.

    6. There are teams that are all-pro or near all-pro, check out their activities constantly. If you aren't up to competing with these people you really need to ask yourself why you are about to devote a month to this activity. I am very competitive and I hope you are too.

    7. I'm a natural organizer and editor, so I can be a bit involved. If I paint-over your work or hound you I am apologizing in advance, but it comes from an earnest place. I want us all to do very well both as a team and individually.

    This was posted on the topic thread to get the ball rolling (By Zhanglu of Massive Black):


    Name:  kl.jpg
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    I want you all to view this as your opponent. Take the knight exploration and attack this piece with it.

    Edit: Thanks for clear up LostFayth. And, actually looking back at the first post ALH stated that clearly too. Seems everyone took it the wrong way there for a moment.



    CKLamb, The Happy Little Tree with a Big Stick

    Last edited by {CKL}; August 2nd, 2009 at 12:48 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CKLamb View Post
    A couple of things:

    1. We have a team of 4 so we need 6 finished characters (a total of 12 portraits). My suggestion is we each do two characters (three if you can), and from that we can cut down to 6, depending on quality.
    Let me make it clear. I was confused about this too. No, you do not have to make 6 characters. The brief says 6 PORTRAITS which means at least 3 characters. You're welcome to do more characters. I thought I had to save you guys some work.

    Good luck with the chow all!

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    Lostfayth- theres a lot of confusion over that, i was about to make a comment on it myself - but CKlamb has made a point about cutting it down which i think is very important. The more characters we do in prep, the more scope we have for our final portraits.

    CKlamb- Im glad that you're enthusiastic and honest about your organisational editorialness. Strong leadership is important, and im glad you came on board with directives in mind. I'm a little too unsure of my authority to set others deadlines, though I'll probably rear my incessant nitpicking face once i've observed the team in action a little better and found my feet, so you wont be alone in any hardline approaches. I suspect we may have arguments at some point, but the good kind that gets things done :p .

    The competetiveness is a fantastic thing to hear. It is so on. 8)

    On another note- Do people have any objections to having regular team meetings on skype/msn/IRC ? I find that that IM interaction can get things flowing faster than VB posts, its a faster way to share sketches, brainstorm and it can help keep a team together, without having to F5 CA all the time.

    (Though obviously updates would still be posted to the thread)

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    Mood Board:


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    Here is some of the stuff thats been inspiring me with this:



    Agree on the IM thing, whats best for everyone? IRC?

    CKLamb - im with you all the way, I want to take this as seriously as possible as I see this as a fantastic opportunity to improve so the more paintovers/advice etc. the better.

    Last edited by nimzicki; August 2nd, 2009 at 03:59 PM.
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    MSN is best for grabbing my attention personally because im never off the thing... though its kinda crappy for groups. We used Skype with Tweetlord, and one of the innovative things about it is that the chat room never ends, even if you turn your PC off or lose connection you'll get updates of what was said in the group since you were last on - and can go back and browse the group history over X amount of days without having to manually save them.

    I was working with a team on the west coast of america, so it was a very handy way to beat the time lag and re-read things said to me at 3am.

    No board yet from me, just finished off my CHOW168 ( got sucked into the background SO bad ), getting on to it once i've sorted out some blog stuff. Nice moodboards so far!

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    Skype sounds like the way forward then, since 3 of us are in the UK but CK is in the US, having it log the chats is a great feature, whats your username?

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    Skype- AngelosLH
    MSN- morganlegerbil @ hotmail.com

    Be sure to say who you are if you add me on skype, i've had pervert spambots attack me on it in the past, theyre a pain in the ass. HELLO I AM NEW, HOW ARE YOU? ...DO YOU LIKE THE SEX?

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    A moodboard from me Also I'm all for the whole deadlines and competitiveness etc! I've got msn, but what's Skype? I've never heard of it. Is it another type of messenger?



    Oh and things that may be quite inspirational for this challenge,

    Images and Artwork from the following:

    Final Fantasy Games
    Guild Wars
    Warhammer
    LOTR
    Disney
    Wizards of the Coast

    And other things along similar lines.

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    It looks like each moodboard has at least one image that i've plucked out for my own here (and didnt include because this moodboard is large enough as it is ), its a good sign . Especially that pop bottle armour in CK's board! Thats exactly the kind of thing i like to see

    Some of the examples i have here are very much modern- im not saying with this i would emphasise a modern style, as we know the CA game is still very much in the realm of high fantasy, and it would be bad to stray TOO far from that. I'm thinking more of taking the usual shapes and twisting them via a modern sense of theatricality and individualism so that we're not just putting a few spikes on the same armour as everyone else.

    I like to imagine encountering these people and being able to tell immediately that they are from strange lands (or are just strange in the head) Unusual fabrics, skins from unknown animals with special properties, to deal with harsh environments, or specific jobs ( what would a dragon handler wear to protect him/herself? What about someone who lives at high altitude, a desert, or places which flood on a regular basis?)


    I like the idea of pictish warriors in particular, painting/tattooing themselves up to be intimidating to their enemies and to give them strength through powerful symbols. Their armour (or lack thereof) may not actually protect them, but it doesnt matter, because the suggestion of an armour, that the gods/devils have chosen them is enough. And i mean, these guys lived in SCOTLAND, it never stops bloody raining there, and its cold as all hell. the picts must have been hardcore.

    edit- i just noticed this board is kind of rubbish in terms of colour schemes and actual...mood. Theres a lot of stuff i left out, may have to recompile a second one for mood mood and not just ' heres some weird stuff that may be inspiring'.

    edit2- browsed other teams. Mind is too sleepy to comprehend. Moodboard..inadequate. Tomorrow it all starts for real.

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    Ok. Quick post before I call it a night.

    There are four major classes: Fighter, Spell-Caster, Healer, and Thief, with a multitude of subclasses. Considering there are four of us, we should make sure we have all classes represented in some fashion or another. My proposal is that we pick a class we would like to do in the order in which we joined up. So, I'll get whatever is left-over after you three pick. This first character will be each of our main entries, meaning it must be finished. If you are closing in on the first one, or are SUPREMELY confident that you can do multiples at once, then you can do a character/class/sub-class of your choice. (Though if your main doesn't get finished there will be some complications and repercussions.)

    That being said, I know we haven't had time to go to in depth for character development, but I was thinking about the idea of stereotypes and playing on the idea of good and evil. To make it a bit more fun and complex try to give it a nice twist on which of the character portraits is evil and which is good:

    Ex. A dark knight with a heart of gold vs. a religious zealot of a paladin (what is the fine line between good and evil when it comes to intentions)

    My knight is coming along, hopefully I'll post my sketch tomorrow sometime. As far as the skype thing goes, I've never used it but I did download it and am willing to try it out if that is what you guys/gals want to do.

    Edit: Oh and we need to establish a schedule of deadlines tomorrow.

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    Actually, I'll post a progress shot, and update it as I finish tomorrow.

    Edit: Lower limbs are kicking my ass at the moment, I'm leaving it in BW (Unless I have time to finish it later in the competition.)


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    I love that look of arrogance on his face, looking forward to seeing your next stage. Getting started on mine this morning, will post my progress later.

    Added CKLamb and ALH on skype.

    My Sketchbook
    Team CHOW 2 ALH, Blackcherry, Nimzicki, CKLamb
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    That being said, I know we haven't had time to go to in depth for character development, but I was thinking about the idea of stereotypes and playing on the idea of good and evil. To make it a bit more fun and complex try to give it a nice twist on which of the character portraits is evil and which is good:

    Ex. A dark knight with a heart of gold vs. a religious zealot of a paladin (what is the fine line between good and evil when it comes to intentions)
    While this certainly can be done with an individual character, or with some nods towards it... the idea itself is rather tenative for spreading across 8 portraits, it doesnt rock the boat enough. That is to say, the image of a happy overlord is only different from a regular overlord in his expression, because once you change his armour to flowers and fluff he ceases to be a dark overlord. Do this over 6 characters and that one friendly overlord loses his impact.

    Stereotypes are something to be avoided unless being approached at a wild stylistic angle, if people dont get the joke, the concept fails, and youre left with a stereotype.

    To circumvent stereotype a new ground has to be laid. For example. If all of our characters come from a desert environment, that automatically changes things up. Armour has to be lighter, they may carry water with them at all times, have special shoes for dealing with hot sand etc. This gives our characters a common theme.

    It does mean that the characters theoretically will all come from the same place (or at least be travelling through it with their own ways of solving the problem)- but this helps to keep their visual design flow.

    On top of this we place our good/evil/grey area.

    You have brought up the point that good/evil is an opposing viewpoint not a race however - not every evil character has to come from the pits of mordor - your 'bad paladin' fits this nicely.

    On that- We should not try to define 6 different cultures, thats too much work. A 'good' culture and an 'evil' culture and then the characters via each would work well. Attached are two different images, i was going to do a full moodboard of this, but it may not be nessecary right this moment.

    Exploring the nature of good vs evil-

    One is honeycomb. Its structured, even, stable, fair, predictable, protective, pure, sweet, geometric. It has been lovingly crafted.

    One is nerve cells. They are unstable,unpredictable, constantly growing /losing new connections, tangled, confusing, abstract. They are without rules, its anarchy.

    These two systems are opposing both in their visuals and their structure - one may consider itself good and the other evil.

    The honeycomb could be a utopia where everything is beautiful and nothing bad happens within the city walls, or it could be a big brother hellhole where individualism is snubbed, and everyone is forced to follow the rules or be rejected from the commune.

    The nerves could be a vast empire grabbing new land. Leaders are overthrown on a regular basis, and you never know where your next meal is coming from. Or it could be a vast connected individualist network, where everyone has access to the main hub, where you can do what you want, build your own path without 'permission'.

    A character from honeycomb may be a twat or a saint, but either way he is going to suspect and be afraid of a character from nerve.
    Wether we approach good/evil as a paladin from honeycomb, the same paladin if he was from nerve or a honeycomb paladin who is nice, and the same guy who is out for blood' is the matter at hand- though methinks theres room for both, if one culture can simultaneously be good and evil.

    It would be interesting to see both sides of 'honeycomb' though... think propoganda, the allied version of the nazis vs their own intended image. Theres no denying the nazis were evil bastards, but thats not how they portrayed themselves in order to be voted into power...


    EDIT- CK, i cant seem to add you on skype, it tells me you cannot be found :s

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    ALH- Plenty to digest in that comment. More on that later.

    nim- Can't wait to see what you get the ball rolling on.

    Personally, I want to move my sketch into a more baroque or high renaissance look.

    Be sure to pick a class asap, the quicker we start dividing the work the faster we can move.

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    A collection of geometrics and swirlies. Celt, pictish, delicious honeycomb. My knight is gonna be STYLIN'.

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    ALH- I completely understand your apprehension on stereotypes, but I do believe cliches and stereotypes are very fertile ground for reinterpretation and new ideas. Don't get me wrong, I am all for creating something absolutely new and different then what has come before, but you are just as dependent on introducing it in a visually compelling way as in playing with stereotypes. I've seen all sorts of imagined stuff that just falls flat, as if the creator just picked the most skewed elements possible and put them together to be "creative". It all tends to get lost in the mass of other "creative" stuff produced by illustrators. Visuals, in the end, are what make or break the idea. By the way, since you started the team, you get first pick of class.

    blackcherry- skype seems to be just like any other messenger, with a few additions, if you download it and make an account let me know.

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