Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Enchanted Assemblages: Artwork

Not mine. Copyright to original author.
If I had to pick a aspect of Enchanted Assemblages which kept me up more than all of the other aspects, then it would have to be the game's art. Why? Because I am not an artist.

As an adaptation, Enchanted Assemblages is primarily a reading experience; truly, it is not an exaggeration to say that it is as much about creative writing as it is about imparting knowledge of reading and critical theory. But, the thing is, that only matters if I have artwork. First and foremost, my adaptation is a game. But as a game it cannot work without the creative writing to drive the player but also the artwork which allows them to interpret. Neither can exist without the other: if I have artwork but no words, then the player will have no sense of story; if I have text but no artwork, then the player will be left wondering how to navigate a environment without visual clues. For a complete experience I need both and though I can easily write the body of the adaptation, I cannot, I feel, fill in the artwork-- I am no artist and have no training or skill as such.

So, I am kinda at a lost as to how and go about and find artwork. I know that simply going online and Googling images was out of the question-- issues of copyright and postmodern abstraction would be far too prevalent. I have no issue in google imaging the title pic for posts, but for something that is somewhat a commercial product, I need original artwork provided by artists who know full well how their art is going to be used. Besides, I need specific artwork in order to address how my characters and environment looks. I can't simply Google something that should be custom made.

My first idea was to hire local artists from my university. Advertise online and offer them a small compensation for their efforts. The trouble with this though is numerous; I am a poor college student, I do not have wealthy family members, so I cannot simply find a swath of artists and then pay them twenty-bucks per image (as much as I would have liked to do that had I been wealthy!). If I hire artists they will have to be okay with receiving no more than a dollar or two per image. But this is where the other issue comes up-- I need hundreds of images. So, yes, a student artists will still make hundreds of dollars even if they are able to work for a dollar per image, but it will be slow. As students they have other obligations during the semester, so it will take them a long time to create the images that I need. Even though time is not a huge factor, I would still like the artwork factor to be 'sooner' rather than 'later.' I could speed up the production by hiring more artists but that presupposes both that there are other student artists willing to work for next to nothing, aside from a resume mention, and that I actually have the money to pay for a batch of pieces which, in the first outline, would be paid for over the course of a longer period. Additionally still, even if money in this secondary mode wasn't an issue, I still run the problem of the artists having different art styles and not being consistent in how they draw characters or landscapes.

Needless to say my issues have not been alleviated any during the past few weeks of work.

I have fiddled with the idea of simply trying to do the artwork myself. I think of the creators of South Park when they said that the reason the characters of their popular show were animated as such, originally, was because that was the only way they could fulfill the demands of a art professor at college; they were not artists, so cardboard cutouts and stop motion animation was the only route for them to express their idea in a format other than live-action.

First, I had thought of buying a piece of 3D game-making software and using that to base my artistic designs. I could learn hot to make simple three-dimensional environments, take pictures of those environments in-game, and use those images as artwork for my project. Sure, it would still require the hiring of local artists for concept art of some characters, but that would hardly be an issue. While this is a decent idea I also feel that perhaps it would be time-consuming to learn the software and perhaps pigeonhole myself in a direction should I be unable to generate specific creations. I haven't abandoned this idea yet but feel it may be a bit risky.

Secondly, and although I am not considering cardboard cutouts, I am thinking something similar; something abstract that combines multiple art styles-- watercolors, clay modeling, collage. It would be low tech, and I would still have to pay local artists for some initial concept and background art, but if this was the route that I decided upon then I could pay the artists I hire a much higher rate for the art that I commission since it will be such a smaller batch. Additionally, this would allow me to get some hands on experience with art production and even have a nice break from the more intellectual component of the product (the writing and brainstorming). I am feeling that this is the most promising road but I will need to do some more brainstorming before I decide for certain.

At the end of the day I may even have to just experiment with each idea and see what works and what does not work. But it is hopeful, in a way, because though challenging to decide how I am to surmount my artistic deficiencies, I enjoy art all the while. So it is a undertaking that I look forward to tinkering with more and seeing how to 'fake it till I make it.' If you have any suggestions, please feel free to comment!

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