For the last few weeks, as CAVE has entered its polishing stage, I have been focused on filling out the set with different props. These assets are meant to make the cave feel more lived-in and full. To that extent, I have been modeling and texturing many different objects such as skulls, spears, rope, bags, baskets, various utensils, etc. I want to talk about the aesthetic style we decided on and how we achieved the look in general.
The art style decided on by our director, Kris Layng, is described as Windwaker-esque. It’s a style similar to the titular Zelda game. It’s a very stylized, almost cartoony aesthetic. As work on the cave progressed, we also incorporated some aspects of Blizzard’s art style. Each asset needed to have this one cohesive look and so we had to figure out what exactly made the styles of Blizzard and Windwaker so unique.
Both styles have a very hand-painted look to them so it was important that our objects reflect this. Using Mudbox and Photoshop, we created basic textures, then painted over them to make them look as if they had been created with brush strokes and gave them an overall sketchy look. The Windwaker style didn’t seem to use any sort of depth information in its textures. It relied on the contrast between the lighter and darker colors to fake depth. Highlights would represent elevated areas and darks would represent depressed areas. By controlling the shading between highlights and darks and how far apart they were from each other, we were able to give the assets a sense of depth. When the highlights are placed next to the darks, it gives the appearance of a thin, deep groove. If there is more distance between the two, it creates a smooth, shallow, curved surface. In addition to this, the blizzard style has another use for highlights – faking beveled edges. This allows blizzard’s models to look, from a distance, as if their edges are smooth instead of jagged – especially in flat lighting and other simple lighting setups. We used this idea for the cave, in conjunction with using geometric bevels, to make the many ledges round the set seem as if they had been worn-down. The smaller assets used highlights in a similar manner but only to convey smoothness. These three characteristics are essentially what we used to make our assets.
Here is an example of one asset I made – a skull – utilizing the characteristics I discussed.