informa
3 min read
article

Sundered: Art Direction and Visual Storytelling in a Hand-drawn Indie Game

Here, we'll go in detail about the influences, art direction and creative process behind Sundered, the upcoming hand-drawn replayable metriovania from Thunder Lotus Games, the creators of Jotun.

The Eschatons - vaguely human terrors from Sundered.

When Thunder Lotus Games' Creative Director Will Dubé tasked me with writing about the art direction for Sundered, I figured it would be simpler than it turned out to be. 

Or at least more straight forward. It's hard to pinpoint one or two inspirations when your your learning experience boils down to being inspired by other artists.

Sundered is certainly an amalgam of everything I've learned from watching movies from Disney, Dreamworks, Ghibli, Don BluthLaika, (and many more!) and I've retained things from every one of those movies in terms of style, as well from studying 2D animation. Many great artists I know have influenced the work I do in one way or another, be it composition, use of color, design, but a few sources were key to give the initial push to some concepts in Sundered.

An Eschaton Cultist.

The Eschatons—those strange tentacled people that screech at you before they swarm you—were a challenge to work on because they needed to retain a vague human feel to them while being monstrous. The idea of hiding the face to create uneasiness is as old as time, but the Eschaton's mask was inspired by No Face (Spirited Away) for its uncertainty, for its slight creepiness once paired with an non-human body. But it must be said that before their fate was bestowed upon them and before they became only shadows of their former selves, their masks were a sign of reverence, of peace. It needed to be able to represent the two extremes.

The Valkyries - Technology gone wrong

The Valkyries are designed to appear as the embodiment of progress. They're the ones with all of this technology that, somehow, has gone wrong and seems to be acting out of its own volition and attacking Eshe, with no one to reign them in or shut them down. Sci-Fi media, be it games, movies, books, (etc.) have been affluent for the past years, so I tried to internalize it all when it came to their designs. A large military force with big guns, big mechs, big drills!

Wakey, wakey!

The overall color schemes in Sundered are very intentional; all factions involved have their own color coding, including the environment and its hazards, and within those groups are different color tiers for each class or difficulty tier. (For example, you should probably be wary of anything green, but you are encouraged to interact with those purple!) If what prompted the initial spark for Sundered was the Alien movies for their suspense and feel, we knew that we wanted to keep going with our signature use of vibrant colors and try to avoid limiting our palettes.

A shrine from the Sundered underground.

Telling stories through the environments' designs and compositions is something we are working hard to achieve so that we may maximize the player's experience when discovering the regions. After all, I hear the people who once lived in there had a lot to report on what happened in this eerie underground world...

Sundered is live until February 16th, 2017 on Kickstarter! Check out the campaign here: http://kck.st/2kTdRKl

Latest Jobs

Treyarch

Playa Vista, California
6.20.22
Audio Engineer

Digital Extremes

London, Ontario, Canada
6.20.22
Communications Director

High Moon Studios

Carlsbad, California
6.20.22
Senior Producer

Build a Rocket Boy Games

Edinburgh, Scotland
6.20.22
Lead UI Programmer
More Jobs   

CONNECT WITH US

Register for a
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Account

Game Developer Newsletter

@gamedevdotcom

Register for a

Game Developer Account

Gain full access to resources (events, white paper, webinars, reports, etc)
Single sign-on to all Informa products

Register
Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Subscribe
Follow us

@gamedevdotcom

Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more