We are super close to the release of Zen Balance this Friday and for today’s “count-down-to-Zen-Balance” post I figured I would talk about the art. If you haven’t read yesterdays post about the development process go check that out here.
Art, for us, has always been a bit of a struggle. Neither Austin, nor I, are really artists and we don’t have the capital (yet) to go out and hire one. For the most part, we’ve been able to get through with our limited abilities and with some added help from some people who have graciously donated some of their time for us. Zen Balance was no exception to these difficulties. We probably spent a good three or four meetings just talking about what we wanted the game to look like and how we would go about implementing it (given our aforementioned lack of skills in the art department). When we were in the first stages of development we were using just simple colors for our circles. If you’ve been following our development process then you may have seen some of those images (They looking like this:).
But we knew we would have to up the aesthetic a little bit to have a game that looked half way decent. At first, we had the idea of doing some kind of “textured” circles to just add a little bit of artistic appeal. This is was sort of a first draft:
This idea didn’t last long at all and was quickly scrapped. But it did give us the idea of doing some kind of “cartoonish” style patterning for the game. But before we could move forward with that idea we had a second one. What if we did the art using real pictures? While I'm not much of a hand drawn artist I am a bit of a photographer; and with all the games using 8-bit style art we figured a photo-reaslitic approach would set us apart, for better or worse. The idea had come up in previous brain storming sessions for other games and at this point we were stuck on the art and needed something to, at the very least, try. So with that, I busted our my camera and started taking some macro photos of grass, wood, rock, and water. These are all of the final element circle images in the game:
The pictures for the element circles came to gather rather quickly, the background picture however. . . took a little more time. We went through a few iterations before we found something we actually liked. Here are a few of the backgrounds we decided to pass on.
Here's a fun little fact about the background in the final game. While the final background looks a lot like sand, and is a real picture, it is not, in fact, a picture of sand. It’s actually a picture of the milky way!
It turns out that if you invert the colors of a black and white picture of the milky way, add a little sepia tone for that sandy color, you end up with something that looks a lot like sand. So there’s a fun little secret about the art in Zen Balance that you probably didn’t know before. And I think that’s a good place to end the post. Tomorrow we will be releasing the official trailer for Zen Balance so make sure to check back for that!
And, As Always, Thanks For Reading,