View Full Version : Art direction behind The Banner Saga

Slimsy Platypus
11-17-2013, 03:18 PM
I've always been curious as to where the art direction for the jaw dropping visuals we've seen from The Banner Saga and Factions has come from. Now having followed this game religiously I know that Eyvind Earle and old-school rotoscoped Disney animation were inspirations, but I'm curious as to the process used to get to the final production state of the visuals. Were there many iterations and concepts, or is this just a style Arnie/Alex/John have had up their sleeves ready to unleash on the world? I'd be super interested to hear more!

11-17-2013, 03:46 PM
I've always been a fan of Eyvind Earle. As soon as I showed Alex and John his stuff they both agree'd it was the way to go. The very first piece I did cemented it for us as the direction moving forward.
The old Eyvind Disney look actually has a few different styles. One was the exterior landscapes that Eyvind himself did and the other was the interior shots done by other amazing Disney artists. Totally different styles and I've tried to keep it going. You'll notice that the interiors are more detailed and somewhat more 'realistic' than many of the exterior environment shots.
Another thing to keep in mind was that Eyvind himself had a very wide variety of styles. From extremely graphic using an economy of line, to so detailed it would take me weeks just to try to emulate one scene. So Ii've tried to position the style somewhere between Sleeping Beauty and his later, more detailed style. He's a bit of an oddity in that usually as artists get older their style becomes more simplified, but Eyvind's got more and more intricate.
The characters were more difficult. We played around with a few styles from fully rendered to cell shaded with highlights and shadows, to cell shaded with just shadows...but I kept coming back to the flat color fill we currently have because nothing speaks 'old animated movie' like it. We wanted the game to be low-fantasy and aimed more at adults, which we are. So I didn't give the characters hUgE axes and shoulder pads, I kept them very much in the real world as far as design. Also notice that their proportions are not that of a Sleeping Beauty, but are more realistic. I like to draw cartoony, but it didn't fit the story of the Banner Saga.
It's funny when I read some people giving 'the artist' advice that if 'he' just put in some some shadows and rendered the characters a bit more then they would look 'good'. To each his own. The art in this game was all done with intent.

Slimsy Platypus
11-17-2013, 03:59 PM
Wow thanks for the response!

I was super surprised that in one of the recent Kotaku articles there were criticisms of the visuals in the comments section (similar to the shading comment you mentioned) because the 2D and animated visuals are one of my favorite things I'm looking forward to seeing more of in the Saga. The imagery (both the interior and exterior) are so cool to look at! I've been cycling my desktop backgrounds of the travel images that have been being peppered to us in updates ever since I started following this game :)

I am super excited for the single player release. Not only for the bearded tactical bliss in the combat system, but moreso to see more of this world that you guys (Stoic) have created. I can't wait to explore it!

Oh and for whatever it's worth, I'm not educated or trained in how to produce artwork, but to me it's very obvious that the art in the game was done with intent and I'm sooooo happy you are doing it and chose to go that route! :)

11-17-2013, 08:15 PM
You guys should see the updated world map...It's HUGE. Huge potential for the game, at least in where they can take it because they've imagined a wide world (even if they can only show us a smaller chunk at this time) :)

11-18-2013, 12:38 PM
Yep! Looking forward to seeing people play through the single player world!