Ayla Richards is our Lead Concept Artist, is responsible for most of the in-game graphics of our main character Elena, as well as some of the pre-production refinement in her design. She will be doing part 1 of the Art Q&A and then we will hit up Amanda Kiefer, our Concept Artist who worked on most of the ghost concepts and is adding to our amazing in-game assets.
1. How would you describe the art style of WW? What was your main goal in choosing this as a team?
Ayla: We wanted a grittier, painterly background that wasn’t overly realistic, so that the cell shaded characters would stand out more. Elena, as an innocent, young girl, portrays a sharp contrast to this decrepit and foreboding house. Our main goal as a team while choosing this style was to create a unique and immersive environment that would leave the player wanting to explore the world we have to offer.
2. Please describe the development process for the ghosts.
Ayla: Like I said before, we initially were planning on doing a Castlevania-like style and our first batch of ghosts were more wispy and realistic. As we refined the art style of the entire game, it became clear that we would have to change the ghosts’ appearance to match. We came up with concept sheets that had different ways for the ghosts to interact with the environment (IE different types of glows, how they would look near a window, etc). After a few discussions we settled on a painterly style to best suit our game.
3. Do you have any tips for other indie game artists out there that are working on their own projects?
Ayla: Once you have a solid game idea, the next important step would be to constantly concept. Don’t get discouraged when changes are made. Make sacrifices and always push your ideas further than your comfort zone. It makes you a better artist overall!
4. How important were the early stages of the pre-production process? Do you feel like working alongside the first stages of the writing really helped to refine the art style?
Ayla: The early stages of the pre-production process, in my opinion, are the most important. Once you start hashing out ideas and doing rough sketches, you have a basis on what to work off of. Keep in mind, though, anything can change so that’s why concepting is so important. Initially we started concepting more Castlevania-like style, but through the development process we settled for a more cartoony character style to contrast the darker elements of the game. Working alongside with the early stages of writing helped give emotion to the pieces. By working with each other from the beginning, we were able to feed off each other’s creativity and help push the game into a unique art direction.
5. Please describe your role as Concept Lead for Whispering Willows. If you could start the process over again for WW, what would you do differently as Concept Lead?
Ayla: My role as Concept Lead has many different aspects. From the beginning, I began the exploration and creation of Elena with concept sketches, leading up to turnarounds, poses, and color examples. I have contributed to the creation of the environment through speed-painting, as well as many in-game assets. As of late, I’ve been doing promo art for the game itself and Kickstarter. I’ve also helped with some of the rewards that we having going on for the campaign, as well!
That concludes Part 1 of the Q&A with the art team. Please stay tuned for more!