Author: Daniette "Blue" Wood

AI War II Art Diary: Player Base concept work.

Here’s a new look at whats under development art-wise for AI War II.

I’m been tasked to create a high-definition model of the player base ship.

With 3D modeling, it’s not usually so simple as to jump into the program and get to work. Lot of times you need a thought process to kick it off, and that’s usually best handled through concept sketches.  Some artists use references and mood boards instead, but I’m of the concept sketch camp.


It started with thumbnails, which I unfortunately mostly forgot to save. (Go me.)

Here’s one:


I had to take into account Chris’s recommendations and visions.

In short: He wanted something spiky, dangerous in feel, maybe have some rings, look like it was compartmental and had obvious living quarters.


Alright, well at this point, I wasn’t happy with any of my thumbs (of which there were a lot). Everything looked.. boring to me.

The lack of muse was pretty present.

Usually I’ll resort to a few other methods of sparking an idea.

One of my favorite ways is combinations. Take part A and add to part B.

In this case, I wondered what I could do if I tried to make a ship look a bit like a dragon head.


Ah hah! A sketch!


Refinement and details.


At this point, I felt like the dragon style wasn’t subtle enough. I did away with some of the more pronouncing details.


Color isn’t necessarily super important in model concepting, but to me, it really sets the mood.

You can see the living quarters in the rings. Overall, pretty happy with the shape.

Chris suggested maybe building in a rock or asteroid, make it look like it was built off that. Like taking and putting rockets on a asteroid or something. Haha. Might be an excellent idea really.

And finally:


Just because!


Click here for the official forum post on the topic.



Skyward Collapse Steam Trading Cards

We’ve had plenty of players ask about these, so we’re happy to announce trading cards for Skyward Collapse are now available on Steam. The game’s upcoming expansion Nihon no Mura is also out now in beta, and can be pre-ordered for 10% off the $2.99 price tag up until launch.

We’ll have several other items to announce in the coming weeks — including all the stuff we’re participating in at PAX Prime. Here’s Blue, our art director, with a retrospective look at bringing the trading cards together:

The art industry can be a tough game to place on all sides of the spectrum. My job as art director is to make sense of the mess and herd it into one single direction. We get our hands into every aspect of the game art industry. From contracting and leading a team of artists to completing our own projects.

A good example of what I do as Arcen’s Art Director was obtaining unique art for Steam’s trading card game. The project needed numerous art, but my favorite happened to be the profile art.

We needed art for our game Skyward Collapse. Something rough and painterly, that depicted the war our game was about. In some projects, we must hire a new artist to take on the contract, though in others we’re lucky enough to know the perfect artist for the job.

I’d worked with Todor in the past, so we knew he was perfect for the job with his rough painterly style.

When we work with an artist, the job is generally broken up into different milestones. Sketch, color and completion. Typically the artist will do the sketch and color, and I will fill in the completion. Be it adding a couple extra details, tweaking contrast and color, or changing something else.

One of Todor’s pieces was of Thor. His sketch was amazing in its simplicity. Strong pose and strong features leave the audience captivated and just a slight bit intimidated. During sketch phase is when the heaviest modifications are made. Changes to pose, anatomy or even the entire lay out is common. Once client and artist are satisfied, is when we move on to color.

In the color stage, Todor added awesome texture in deep dark colors that we asked for. We needed the profile to be dark so the profile would blend well. He detailed Thor’s face beautifully while spending tastefully less time on the lower half of the body. His lighting was well done and solid and the lightning was perfectly painterly. Todor gave us one of many perfect pieces.

The final stage is to touch it up for our needs. Placed against a dark steam profile mock, I noticed that the picture ended sharply and I felt it was off putting. So I took his art work and created a rough broken transition that helped it melt into its background.

The transition breaks up harsh line and helps it settle into the profile.

With a few more tweaks, this was the final result.

Art Walkthrough: Lighting Robots

The robots and “Exos” in Bionic Dues go through a five-stage process.  First they are sketched by one of a variety of artists.  Then they are inked (have their lines cleaned up) by one of a couple of artists (typically Genna or our own Daniette “Blue” Wood).  Then they are colored by Catherine.  Then animated by me.  Then lit by Blue.

On the subject of the lighting, Blue created a pretty cool tutorial on how to do that, and we thought we’d share it with anyone else who might be interested.  Enjoy!

UPDATE: To see this a bit more easily at full resolution, please view them at this link on our forums.