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Hi, my name is Emanuele Farina and I’m art director and graphic designer at DarkWave Games.
Today I will write a little bit about Master of Alchemy’s graphic creation process…

If I have to talk about Master of Alchemy, I have to talk about a bet!
Before starting the project, I didn’t know what creating a videogame means: I’m a graduate from IED in 3D modeling and I was a web/UI designer…but DarkWave Games wanted a new graphic approach, an artistic perspective, so they hired me…My main tasks are to adapt illustrators’ hi-quality hand-made drawings to videogames’ images, and to give continuity and consistency to their different works.

In Master of Alchemy project, besides being the art director, I was responsible for game assets, GUI, advertising graphic assets and website (a small company needs adaptable people :)).

Graphically speaking, the main Master of Alchemy’s peculiarity is the originality of each element and the care for details: in fact, steampunk genre, to be evocative, required complex shapes and a high level of details. When you have to create such kind of game assets, real problems are time and the management of the different variants of the project: everything must be scalable and reusable – this took me a lot of time and it worried me very much.
So, to save time in the creation of scalable and reusable assets, since the most Master of Alchemy’s in-game elements have a metallic surface, I have divided their structures into two parts:

  1. The first one, completely vectorial, defines:
    • Shapes;
    • Basic colour;
    • Lights and shadows.
  2. The second one, completely raster, is a mix of real textures with some levels of dirty applied with different brushes.

Here’s an example of what I’m saying:

Master of Alchemy Buttons - Creation Process

For example, this production method allows us to enlarge to 200% all the game assets in only one day – opened all files, I doubled all images, included their styles, I replaced existing textures with high resolution ones, and finally I recreated the dirt’s maps with brushes. Images were ready to be cut and mounted on the device in a few minutes!

The other big challenge I had to face was to succeed in keeping the artistic stroke of Francesco (Master of Alchemy’s concept artist and illustrator).

It was an hard task, but sincerely, at the end of the project, I can say I’m quite satisfied! Every hand-made sketch that you concretise in digital loses that stroke and those specific features typical of hand-made draw, especially if you have to create reusable games assets; moreover, if you are creating a game for iPad or iPhone, even if they are superlative devices, you have to respect a lot of limits (because of the screen dimension, the multitouch interface, the memory limits, the application total size – it’s better don’t surpass 20 MB, etc.). So I tried to trace faithfully Francesco’s stroke, but giving some uniformity to all objects: in this way, I succeeded in keeping a good elements’ characterization, even if some of Francesco’s artistic stroke was lost. As example, here you can see the production of crucible (the most important MoA’s alembic), you can observe by yourself what I mean.

As you can notice from the image above, details level is very high – moreover, consider that the image is reduced by 25% of the original one, even if in-game assets are at most 256x256px – this is because I noticed that a well-groomed, colored in the right way, image keeps a superior quality even if reduced at 256px (although at that resolution the most details wouldn’t be perceptible). Anyway, this is not the reason why we made alembics bigger than the necessary on iPad/iPhone: 1) Master of Alchemy has been developed to be multiplatform (we don’t know if it will be, but it could be published on other platforms :)); 2) working on big images helped me to understand how to manage complex images at low resolutions and how to emphasize details, light and shadows.

There would be still a lot of things to say about the graphic MoA creation…but I have a lot of work to do now :). Below, some other images…and I promise to you a new post soon.

Emanuele Farina

Ps. If you have some questions, leave a Comment – I would be very happy to reply!

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  1. [...] Emanuele writes about the Master of Alchemy Creation Process | – Official Bl…. [...]

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  3. Good to see the processes involved in transfering from concept art to game asset.

    It can be tough to achieve the right balance between design restrictions (time, image size, processing) and conveying the original intention of the concept art. Thanks for the example images.

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