Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Pen over the top of the top right image

Different actions and expressions

Playing around with the Kistune -

Out of these I like the top right image and I'm going to progress into making a cleaner image with the pen tool using thicker and thinner lines. I think that it works the best for the mischievous scheming kitsune

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Different Colours

Just some colour experiments and adding some extra fur features. I'm going to move on to some action examples and expressions

Using the pen tool to find curves in the Kitsune Shape and some exploration of eyes

I've been playing around with the pen tool and exploring the curves that I can find with the sketchy drawing of the base Kitsune shape. Ive been been finding the curves then using the pen tool to go in and add different details such as fur.

Also from my tutorial on Thursday I was asked to look into the design of eyes for the Kitsune I've tried different styles also with the use of a pen tool.

I'm enjoying using the pen tool to explore the curves of the character and I need to continue to explore these and exaggerate them more so there will be more of these to come in the next couple of days.

Friday, 24 February 2012

The beginning of the base structure realisation

Once again I have let myself fall into the trap of shying away when things aren't going to plan. I really need to break out of this habit and be as vocal as possible on my blog. Anyway moving on....

So I was stuck in a confusion of not knowing how to portray these fox characters and began to come up with different designs. They aren't particularly great but I kept looking at different portrayals of foxes in Japanese folklore and the shape of foxes to try and come up with a base form.

I looked into many instances of inspiration one being the Raving Rabbids characters which I thought would be a great source of inspiration to get some ideas from their zany characteristics and look. But I realised that I needed to make sure that it was easy to recognise a connection of Japanese artistry and folklore from the start before I could think about the line work. I started looking into Kitsune masks and the idea started rolling that these foxes would have markings similar to the masks on their faces.
I really liked this idea and then tried to add a body to some of the previous faces inspired by Kitsune Masks and add some simple expressions.

I chatted with Alan yesterday about the above right hand image and encouraged me to work into this design to make it better. I need to play around with the pen tool to make some crisper lines and get some exaggerative curves into the body shape to make the character stand out more. After I have perfected this with the 'base' Kitsune I will be able to push it into the other enemy territories discussed such as a sneaking fox which I will need to look at exaggerating the curve of the back.

Unfortunately my Illustrator is currently not working at the moment but I am experimenting with the pen tool in Photoshop at home. I know this isn't as successful at this point but it's good practice which I will be able to start perfecting on Monday.

I will continue to exaggerate the curves of the character in experimenting and much like I discussed with Alan more lines can be added to create 'fur' like shapes on things such as the tail. I also need to address the characters eyes and perfect them which I will be working on as well.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A couple of different types of fox enemies within the game

So thinking about what these characters would do to hinder the main character I started off with the 'sneaking' fox.

So this fox will at the beginning hide in extremely obvious places for comedic effect. But when attacked the fox will attack or run to another hiding spot if not pursuited. Later on in the game these foxes will be hidden much better such as posing as false statues which then attack when the player tries to take the false key or gem from its mouth.

This cute fox will be playing with a collectible item for the player however when attacked the fox will cry causing it to become extremely angry. Further into the game the cute foxes cry will alert many other foxes which the player will then have to dispatch. They will be higher in power and become very difficult to dispatch especially in numbers.

In the next week I'm going to get my hands on Okami and take a look at the art first hand. I'm going to think about some more enemies to cause the mischief for the game.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Okami research

Okami is a Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii title telling the story of a goddess taking on the form of a wolf to save the land. It is a combination of a cel-shaded and sumi-e visual style which was heavily praised. Originally the game was supposed to look rather realistic and had the idea of being able to control nature but the development team were not satisfied with the gameplay.

Thankfully the team concentrated on creating fantastic gameplay which has been compared with the likes of The Legend of Zelda (A game which the creator Hideki Kamiya stated was an inspiration) and employed a Celestial Brush where the player can pause the game and use a paintbrush to deal out attacks and solve puzzles. Here are some concepts and a trailer of the finished game to which I feel will be helpful in design of my characters.
It is clear to see that a mastery of the variance in line will aid in the character design for my characters. I will make an effort to employ this into my current thought process.

Photoshop fox work

Thinking about simplicity of Japanese art I decided to try and draw some simplistic foxes with different brushes and lines to see what I could come up with.

These aren't very successful yet I need to study the form of a fox a lot more. At the moment the face of the fox is problematic and I am having trouble transferring the shape into different perspectives. This is only going to be bested by practice and research into the anatomy of foxes so I will continue onwards studying. The simplistic style isn't shining through yet either so again this needs to be addressed and perfected.

I've drawn up a couple of ideas on different types of fox enemies which I feel could be good places to look into.

These are just preliminary ideas but they can definitely be expanded upon. Such as the sneaking fox to add to the lighthearted tone and comedic value this fox may take camouflage behind a cardboard cutout tree with eye slits and silly things like that. Again the style is very muddled at the moment I need to practice and focus on zoning in on a style mimicking a simplistic japanese one.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Shapes of fox anatomy

Trying to follow the Japanese culture of simplicity I took Alan's advice and tried to break down the anatomy of a fox into simple shapes much like the concept artwork for The Incredibles. This is what I have come up with so far from looking at images on google.

Sharp triangle shapes are key to the fox creation in areas such as the legs, ears and tail. This exercise was fun and I need to do a lot more of this simplistic exploration to make sure that my work of transcribing this Japanese folklore in a simplistic manner to evoke Japanese culture.

I'm going to try out some simple line outlines another style connected with Japanese art. This may give me a chance to try out some ink and get rather messy. Updates to follow

Anime research
 Anime is the Japanese abbreviation of animation, the earliest known animation dates to 1917 but it wasn't until the 1960's with the work of Astro Boy creator Osamu Tezuka that Anime began to have a definitive style. A big part of the Anime style is the big eyes that feature on characters and their facial expressions. Happyness and anger is over-exagerrated on characters and characters who are around crushes sometimes for comedic effect get a nose bleed (based on an old wives tale). Anime uses a limited animation technique even in big productions, there are techniques which fool the eye in to thinking that there is more animation than there really is. These techniques are all in place for budget reasons.

'Anime eyes'
 Again Anime, much like Japanese art and culture, is considered to be simplistic but despite this it has an incredible influence in western countries which spawned from the success of Akira. Western animation Avatar: The Last Airbender owes its successful style to the aesthetics of Anime and the franchise Pokemon continues after beginning in the late 90's. The Anime style may come in to play with my work and could definetly provide some useful inspiration (I've just got to make sure that the simplicity isn't lost in translation).

My favourite and most inspirational Anime is Neon Genesis Evangelion which has a number of films and Manga spawned from the 26 episode series. Dealing with a group of children who fight beings known as angels to stop the end of the world and it deals with a lot of religious and psychological themes.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Styles I need to address

Japaneses culture is often referred to as being very simplistic and elegant, this beauty being referred to as Wabi-sabi.

"Traditional Japanese architecture, for example, seems simple because of its emphasis on empty space, lack of ornamentation, and quiet, subdued colours; nevertheless, such buildings are said to possess an elegant beauty. Such qualities are also found in the Japanese arts and literature: the design of pottery is often simple and the colour unobtrusive, while the structure of Japanese poems is spare and uncomplicated, yet both reflect a simple and elegant beauty." (Davies, 223; 2002)

My previous post features works of art in the Japanese style Ukiyo-e showing different Kitsune portrayal. The art form originally consisted of black and white prints and painting but later systems were created to allow different plates therefore different colours. Most of these prints would feature women and kabuki actors but later artists expanded the style to include landscapes.

I need to break into this simplistic styleand avoid western 'copying', much like Alan and I discussed, I need to start off as simple as possible such as finding simple lines and shapes much like The Incredibles to define my characters and move on from there.
References -

Davies, Roger J. (2002) The Japanese mind: understanding contemporary Japanese culture - page 223

Kitsune in Japanese art Research

Title: The Foxes’ Wedding (Kitsune no yomeiri no zu)
Description: The red torii of the Inari Shrine on the far right is the starting point of a foxes’ wedding procession passing through a cedars’ alley. The foxes depicted in the centre have fully transformed into human beings while the heads of the figures in the left and right panels still resemble foxes. The animals in front of and behind the procession are entirely foxes.  The term kitsune no yomeiri (fox’s wedding) refers to the occurrence of rain occurring during brilliant sunshine, which is said to occur a fox bride is going through the woods to the house of her fox groom
Date: 1839-1842
Publisher: Eshima

Man confronted with apparition of fox goddess - Utagawa Kuniyoshi c.1850 (

Japanese Edo Period woodblock print by HIROSHIGE (1797-1858). The print is from Hiroshige's famous MEISHO EDO HYAKKEI, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo. This is number 118 from the series. It is called Oji, Shozoku-enoki, omisoka no kitsune-bi, New Year's Eve Foxfires, at Nettle Tree, Oji. 

Kuniyoshi Ichiyusai - Kuzunoha was a popular figure in Japanese folklore, her true fox form is visible in the screen.

Utagawa Kuniyoshi - Prince Hanzoku terrorised by a nine- tailed fox (

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Concentrating on a 3D platformer game

Throughout my life I've been brought up with fantastic platform games. From Mario (both 2D and 3D) to more recent efforts such as the Sly Cooper Trilogy and the Ratchet and Clank series the genre has changed over time (even returning to its roots with recent Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog releases). I would like the game to follow the platform genre having the character travel around to ward off the mischievous foxes causing trouble around town.

The foxes in Japanese folklore were linked with the deity Inari the spirit of rice. The foxes are considered messengers of Inari and are given tofu to please them. In these shrines there are many different statues of foxes who bear different symbolic items in the mouth such as a jewel or key. These statues could be a a plot device where the mischievous foxes could steal them. As a secondary item for collection, the character could collect stolen tofu hidden around the map to take back to the shrine to feed the other foxes.

Chatting to Alan today was enjoyable and brought much more of an insight on how to move forward with this idea. The game being based around would be based around mischievous foxes who would cause mischief throughout the game. We discussed that this would mean that it would feature many mischievous foxes throughout the game and spoke about the different types that could be implemented such as sniggering fox, leaping fox, laughing fox. In terms of art style we discussed that I need to look at the history of Japanese art, a style that relishes in its simplicity, and make sure that I'm avoiding a 'western' copy. I need to think about using simplistic ideas first to then start refining it and creating a style. So things such as woodblock prints will be a great place to start, I just need to make use of this simplistic art style and create the characteristics that Alan and I spoke about such as the sniggering and leaping foxes.

Now off to design some mischievous foxes and research Japanese art styles to derive some inspiration from.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Akira review

Figure 1

‘Simply put, no Akira, no Matrix. It’s that important.’ (Newman, 2008)

Akira is based on the popular manga series created by Katsuhiro Otomo. Set in post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo, Tetsuo is a member of a motorcycle gang led by his close friend Kaneda who becomes part of a top secret government project. Kaneda aims to save Tetsuo but is caught between activists, politicians and a powerful military leader. Tetsuo begins to grow in power wreaking havoc around Neo-Tokyo, to prove his heroics to Kaneda, and leads to a final battle in Tokyo Olympiad in an attempt to uncover the secret of Akira.

Figure 2
Akira is a monumental achievement for Japanese animated film, the production budget reaching nearly $10 million which was a record for Japanese animation film. An animated triumph filled with complex techniques that would put to shame many CG orientated epics from today such as complex camera work and lavish backgrounds. A thing that many filmmakers would shudder and hide from was the use of night shots in animated film due to the increased colour requirements however Akira takes place mostly at night which adds to the records that this film broke. It consisted of 2,212 shots and 160,000 single pictures, using 327 colours, 50 of which were created for the film. Daniel takes note of the achievements in his review ‘Yet, a simple outline doesn’t capture the magic of Akira.  Using then revolutionary practises in Japanese animation (detailed backgrounds, lip-synching, realistic body movement), the film remains a visual wow, designed and animated as if live action, with tracking shots, point-of-view, depth of field and a generally astounding level of movement in each shot that builds on what Ridley Scott had established with Blade Runner.’ (Daniel, 2011)

Figure 3
The film deals with Tetsuo’s monstrous change through his ever growing power. At a deeper level it can be discussed as a change through adolescence of Tetsuo who we learn throughout the film that he is a shadow behind Kaneda and a frustration of being ‘rescued’ has formed. This frustration leads Tetsuo on his rampage, finally being able to be in control and exert a power over people rather than watching on as Kaneda plays hero and at times lightly bullies Tetsuo in his lack of power. In Napier’s book she discusses Tetsuo’s character as being a representation of Japanese self-representation ‘Akira appeared in 1988, a time when Japan had reached what has perhaps been its postwar peak of international influence and (mis)recognition, a period when many nations felt threatened by what they saw as Japan’s emerging superpower status. Tetsuo’s monstrousness can thus be coded in ideological terms as a reflection of Japan’s own deep-seated ambivalence at this time, partly glorying in its new identity but also partly fearing it.’ (Napier, 40;2001) 

Figure 4
 A symbol of Tetsuo’s lack of power is Kaneda’s red bike. At the beginning we see that Tetsuo is unable to start Kaneda’s bike causing him to laugh at the failed attempt and later on when Tetsuo aims to run away his knowledge of the bike fails him again causing the bike to stall and then Kaneda coming to his rescue. The bike has therefore been described as ‘the phallic symbol of power and authority’ (Napier, 41;2001). 

Akira is an incredible film which has created a huge cult following and been an influence for many films and Anime such as The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell and the Anime would boost the popularity of anime in the west. However recently the fans of the classic have turned to uproar due to a Hollywood remake, with many strange casting choices causing major causes for concern and even rumours of a PG rating. Whatever the outcome of the live action saga Akira still stands the test of time in its amazing production, with filmic camera shots and realistic animations, Akira will continue to be a historic achievement.

Text -
Child, Ben (2011) Akira? A caricature, more like accessed on 07/02/12
Daniel, Rob (2011) Akira,  accessed on 07/02/2012
Newman, Kim (2008) Akira accessed on 07/02/12

Images - 

Getting bck into using graphics tablet

Just getting to grips with graphics tablet use again first with sketching a female with fox abilities,

This isn't the type of style I want to incorporate in my work but I thought that I would use the thought of the 'human' foxes being red headed.

Thinking about my delves into different types of games yesterday I thought about how I could portray the mischievous foxes within the game. In Japanese folklore the foxes were said to find skulls which would then change them into a human when they wore them on their heads. I also thought about the mischievous side being brought out in a childish manner so I came up with the idea of thinking of mishievous children wearing skull masks to carry out their mischief.

I can use different types of skull for the children to wear as they cause mischief around the town.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Ideas for type of game

Talking through my ideas with Alan on Thursday and I've got a lot to think about to get this ball rolling. One main thing that needs to be addressed to drive this project is the type of game that I am creating the character and art for so I can derive some form of style.

My initial idea for the game was based around a young woman born of a shape-shifted Kitsune(fox). This young woman had been born with the special abilities and powers that these Kitsune possess and after her mother (the shape-shifted Kitsune) and father are killed in a house fire by an evil Kitsune leash led by the horrible ex love of the mother. This idea was based around a hack n' slash game much like God of War where the character would take upon a journey to the spirit world to protect the Inari temple from the vengeful leash who were cast out for their evil ways. Throughout the journey the player would be able to level up the abilities to make the young woman more powerful by beating enemies and after certain "boss battles" the characters appearance would change in her quest as she becomes more powerful. This idea is connected with that in Japanese folklore when these foxes become older they gain more tails and become more intelligent. A way I could introduce this into the game is that when the character beats a certain part of the game the character would gain longer hair, in thinking this the character could then, as her hair gets longer and longer, she puts her hair into more ponytails to symbolise the foxes tails. Also throughout the game there would be a chance to collect reeds which would then allow the player to transform into different forms to aid them in fighting enemies.

This idea would be completely toned down from what God of War is like but feature similar style gameplay.

When talking to Alan I brought up the characteristic that some of these foxes had, they were considered to be extremely mischievous by people. He said that this characteristic would be a great place to start from in creating a game as would drive a narrative and the baddies design. From this Alan brought the idea forward of some sort of puzzle game, where the baddies would take things and the main character would then have to solve puzzles and find them to bring them back. I think this would work quite well based around the character having fox abilities and being rather intelligent. I thought that maybe the character could perform tasks and puzzles for the locals around town. Things such as a lineup of people and you have to find out which one of the is a  mischievous fox in disguise. This would offer a much more childish and stylised approach to design something like costume quest -

A third idea could be a 3D platformer game much like Crash Bandicoot, or the Sly Racoon series where the character would have to search for some object, maybe an Inari statue/s that have been stolen by mischievous foxes which have brought misfortune to the locals or just a lowing morality and the character has to get them back in the surroundings of the village and further into the game travel to the spirit world. The design again would be rather stylised much like the Sly and Crash series. Again much like the Hack n' slash idea there would be opportunities for the character to level up and use special abilities to aid them in the quest. And also I think the idea of the character being able to collect reeds to shape shift to aid them into getting to other places which they are previously unable to access would be in place as well.

Head Modelling up to part 5

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Will-o'-the-wisp idea

Taken from the book British Goblins by Wirt Seke and researching into Will-o'-the-wisp I have an idea to transcribe a Will-o'-the-wisp character.

"This form presents a peasant who is returning home from his work, or from a fair, when he sees a light travelling before him. Looking closer he perceives that it is carried by a dusky little figure, holding a lantern or candle at arm's length over its head. He follows it for several miles, and suddenly finds himself on the brink of a frightful precipice. From far down below there rises to his ears the sound of a foaming torrent. At the same moment the little goblin with the lantern springs across the chasm, alighting on the opposite side; raises the light again high over its head, utters a loud and malicious laugh, blows out its candle and disappears up the opposite hill, leaving the awestruck peasant to get home as best he can." (

The thought process behind this idea is turning the Will-o'-the-wisp into a Siren-like faerie who after being abandoned by who she thought was her soul mate in the woods became vengeful and acts out her revenge on passing travellers. She would have two forms but I am interested in only the second, the first being a beautiful young woman shining in the night elegantly walking away from the victim calling out to them, the second is where the Will-o'-the-wisp brings her victims out far from their path to cause them to be lost and reveals her might and appearance so ravaged by anger and revenge. The lead characters of the game would be inclined to answer her cries and follow her (maybe led more by male orientation from the Will-o'-the-wisp's apparent beauty) into a dangerous Marshy area or like the story from Seke's book at the end of a cliff where a battle could ensue.

Helpful sources -'-the-wisp

Kitsune idea

So thinking about where to take the transcription project I've been trying to zone in on different folklore and Myth. Thinking about the Kitsune at this particular moment the idea resolves around creating a character for a game born of a Kitsune. This character would wield special powers and abilities to overcome her journey of avenging her family who were killed by an evil Kitsune (Nogitsune) and his leash (group of foxes).

The back story would be that the evil Kitsune and the female characters Kitsune mother were once together but due to the evil Kitsune's rebellion from the Inari (they protect the Inari shrine - the Shinto deity of rice -  as guardians warding off evil Nogitsune) he was exiled to the spirit world. The Kitsune mother helped a lonely young man who was very loyal to the fox to which she made it her goal to find enough reeds to place on her head and become human. After the Kitsune mother transformed into a beautiful young woman the lonely young man fell in love and the two became soul mates. The evil Kitsune became wild with jealousy and vowed revenge on the couple and the Inari. Over many years the evil Kitsune trained himself to become extremely powerful and gain a skull to travel back to the normal world to disguise himself as a human. The main character is born and some of her mother's powers and abilities are transferred. Unfortunately the evil Kitsune returns and acts out his revenge by burning the families house down killing all inside but the young girl, just as the flames are about to end her a member of the Inari bursts in and saves the child. The Nogitsune leash not yet powerful enough to hold against the Inari retreat to the spirit world. Knowing that Nogitsune would return to wreak the final part of revenge on the Inari, they train the girl to ready her powers and abilities to face them.

This is an idea which I've gained inspiration from reading through different websites with stories about Kitsune.

For the character I will have to decide on a certain form that I will portray her in as through the gaining of power the kitsune are said to gain more tails and when they reach nine tails their fur goes white or gold. This could propel the plot with the main character having to gain tails to become more powerful and intelligent to face the Evil Kitsune.

Helpful sources -