The making of Tabatha Veazie – Animated 2D portrait – part 1

Hello, I am Aïda, the 2D artist and art director of Herald! This week I’ll be blogging about the making of an animated portrait in our game.

Other parts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

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At the inception of Herald, we already knew that we wanted to use 2D portraits in the style of visual novels popularized in Japan. Our first method was to just have hand-drawn static expressions and switch between them, like most VN’s do. It gets the emotion of the character across and it’s not as much work.

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During the dialogue sequences the 2D art is the biggest focus, and in a narrative based game that’s pretty much the entire experience! Considering that the art would be of so much importance I wanted to do something more with the portraits.

Luckily I discovered the amazing software package Live2D which had recently been translated from Japanese to English. It allows you to import any kind of drawing and model it for animation. I was very excited, but a bit hesitant at first, considering all the examples of work done with the software were in a fairly simple anime style. The process of modelling a character that has a lot more detailed painting in the face is significantly more difficult and labor intensive.

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However, the end result is fantastic and got a lot of positive feedback from people that play tested the game so far! So I’ll be showing the process this week for those interested.

Today I finished rendering the portrait of Tabatha I still had from the previous static tests and prepared it for use as a texture in the animation software. In order for it to be usable I had to cut it up in separate parts today so you get a fun monstrosity such as this;

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More tomorrow as I start preparing it for animation!