From early on, we knew that the look of the game was going to be important in drawing players in and keeping the game fun. Based on the most basic concept for City of Epic, a game to make you more awesome in real life, we knew that we wanted it to look bright, lively, and fun. When we first started sketching out the graphics for City of Epic, a lot of the initial concepts were heavily 8-bit/eBoy inspired; we were taking a lot of structural cues from classic video games, so adapting the graphics to that aesthetic at first seemed only natural. Through several iterations, however, these images were still looking a little stilted.
For all of the game graphics, I’m working with a Wacom Intuos tablet that I previously hadn’t been getting much use out of; I’ve been an artist and illustrator for a number of years (with more emphasis on the latter recently), but I’ve always worked in traditional media. Most of the work I’ve done digitally has either been color correction or graphic design. I eventually realized that trying to create illustrations for the game that were completely outside of my normal process and style obviously wasn’t making much sense–it was just reading as derivative in the worst way.
So, after some discussion with Kelly, we decided to go with a more cartoony, hand-drawn style for the game. It didn’t nod quite so much to the Platonic Ideal of console gaming, but we hope it will create a more distinctive and recognizable environment. We’re still making stylistic tweaks, but I’m much more enthusiastic about this direction. And with the traditional avenues in the illustration market tightening, it’s a great opportunity for me to find a new application for what I love doing.