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Art Update: How We Make the Costumes

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Shadow Elusive
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Art Update: How We Make the Costumes

Welcome to the latest art update. Today we want show how we are doing the costumes. Yes! We are working with them right now!

While it is likely many of you know how games, or parts of games, are made, we want to show how we are building the costumes and related pieces of the game. For this month’s Art update, we are going to use one of our tech armor concepts to show you the process we are using.

Hard Armour Suit Concept Workflow - Carapace IFS

We start with one or more concepts. Sometimes these come from our writers via a group concept or a background piece, others come from general staff suggestions - but the vast majority of them come from our 2D and 3D team. This piece came from one of our primary costume artists, Pyewackit. Let’s let her describe the process she used in her own words.


I worked at 300 dpi, and adjusted the size once I was finished.

Step 1: Blue lines

I start off with several silhouettes and pick one that works. I'm not too familiar with this character, so I chose a simple standing pose that should show off the armor best. Once I got a general shape down, I started to flesh it out. I used the default Pencil for the first three steps.

Step 2: Pencils

I made a new layer and chose a medium gray color. Here, I'm refining the body shape and roughing in the armor plates. I had various possibilities for the gauntlets and boots-- I included a few here as examples.

Step 3: Inks

Time to tighten up the lineart. I made another layer and picked a deep black; I went over my pencils and added in details, and fixed a few troublesome spots. After this point, I turned off my blue lines and pencil layers so I could focus on adding color.

Step 4: Colors

I went first with copper and olive green (initial version) then a deep purple (final version) for the armor plates and black for the bodysuit underneath. I used several layers, some set to Multiply for shadows, and some set to Add in order to achieve certain effects. This is where I pulled out the Synthetic Brushes and adjusted their settings until I got the look I wanted.

Step 5: Background

A final layer is made, and I drag it to the bottom of the Layer Menu. I picked some neutral reddish-gray colors and blocked them in with a large textured brush.


As with many of our upcoming sets, there are multiple components and variations. In this set, for example, we have a more masculine design done by Akizanen.

Next step on our workflow is to get the high-poly mesh done. This mesh is meant to be closer to the realism end of the scale of our concept. This is used to improve the simpler mesh used by the engine without overloading the engine, using what is called a Normal map.

Using this last high-poly mesh as reference piece, our 3D artists work on the simpler mesh that you are going to see in the game. Due to LoD effects (level of detail - the game actively reduces the level of detail displayed relative to your distance to make the game run more smoothly) you will actually have one or more meshes in-between this simplest and our most complex. In this workflow you’ll see two more.

Now it looks more like a videogame costume, but now it still needs something - the UV. UVs are how the polygons are distributed along a plane to fit a texture on them.

I know this looks like a pile of weird polygons, but trust me - all the helmet surfaces are here and that will help on baking our detailed mesh over this one.

I personally think it has some kind of beauty. The more space used, the better the texture resolution. This arduous task was executed by CapedKay. Thanks to her the helmet is going to look gorgeous up close with almost every material.

Now things start to come together. Here we bake the 2 different meshes (high and low) and get a texture map that gives the extra details we can't afford with polygons without stressing video cards. This individual piece isn’t so much a problem - you have to consider how many will be on the map at any one time.

It looks good, leaving us with the final step - materials and colors. As we want to have a high customizable character generator we tested the helmet with several combinations of patterns, colors, and scratches. You are going to be able to select not only the colors, but often the materials too, so it can be a shiny golden helmet or a plastic one, as best fits your concept.

For the first pass, we use an RGB that doesn't look very cool at first. This lays out where the player selected colors and materials will map out on the costume.

Let see some examples of the possibilities:

Our material artist BobMC worked on a video to show how it works, and at same time we can see it working on a last shiny silver helmet.

Hope you like them :)
Thanks to all Art Team for making this possible - this is a highly collaborative process and we couldn’t do it without each other.


Update Written by - The Art Department

Discuss the update here: http://cityoftitans.com/forum/discuss-how-we-make-costumes

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Community Manager