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Dev Diary #134 – The Art of Wards & Wardens

As the release date of “Wards & Wardens” draws near, we're taking a moment to reflect on the artistic endeavors that have brought it to life. This time our focus is on animations and some of the 2D icons and illustrations.


Icons​

Hey there! I'm Nicolas, 2D artist working on this royal game CK3.

I'm pretty sure many of you checking out this dev diary must get pretty stoked about game designers writing about numbers going up and down, but as cool as it is to dive into the game's new meta, my piece of this dev diary is all about the art! Let me tell you a bit about creating game icons - in particular, how I went about creating the new icon for the eccentric personality trait!

Alright, let's break it down in a kinda rough step-by-step. First things first, the game designers sent me a short brief describing what they needed, as well as ideas of what the icon might look like. Luckily for me, I was given the idea that the icon could depict a bag of marbles of various colors. I think it’s a pretty fitting metaphor for an eccentric individual, embodying their propensity for collecting unconventional ideas and perspectives, much like the colorful assortment of marbles within the bag.

A guideline we try to adhere to when creating icons is to not necessarily create an image that literally depicts what the function/meaning of the icon will be. Instead, we want to be more figurative in our approach. For example, the icon for craven doesn't show a person being cowardly, but instead shows a frantic chicken, a symbol of cowardice.

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Starting off, I create a handful of initial sketches outlining the basic composition and values. These sketches don't require fine detailing; their purpose is solely for experimentation and estimating the best read of the image.

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When I have decided (When my art director decides which one he likes the most), I move on to making a more refined value render of the image. Paying close attention to the values and how they aid in the composition. For example, how the image goes from brighter in the focal point in the middle of the icon out to a much darker value on the edges, forming a vignette of sorts.


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Quite a straightforward step, adding colors to the image. Going over color theory is beyond my paygrade, so let's just say that these colors of warm red/yellow and cool blue look good together!

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Now it is time for my favorite part of the process - the refining stage! Now, I fine-tune the image, adding those last touches of light, textures, intricate details, and any minor adjustments to give the icon that final polished look. Make it feel like “candy”, like an old art director of mine used to say.

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And there you have it: resize it to the appropriate size and slap a border on it and we have anew, fresh personality icon! Hopefully the trait is good according to the meta, so people will actually see and appreciate it sometimes!

Here are also a few interesting images of game concepts that depict the same thing, but in various styles - depending on the context in the UI.

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Illustrations​


Naturally, we are also adding some new scene illustrations. With the option to pursue education as an adult, we've incorporated a University setting tailored for your scholarly characters. Additionally, we've added a Nursery and several scenes that enrich the cultural diversity of some existing locations.

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[University]

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[Courtyard]

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[Nursery]

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[Tavern - MENA variation]

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[Study - Indian variation]

Animations​

For this Event Pack we have added child-related animations, such as playing with toys. Among our new props we have a ball, a doll, stickhorses, and wooden swords, which all get used in the animations.

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Nothing more comforting when running a kingdom than your favorite toy!



That’s it for this time. Stay tuned for next week's update as we gear up for the release of "Wards & Wardens" on August 22nd!
 
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Looking good:)
The birdcages seem to me to be related to the hostage-mechanic. On that note tho, unless I am missing something, we haven't heard anything about that during the DD's... Am I missing it or will the inner workings of that system be more of a suprise? (I mean the store clearly says it is still going to be included...)
 
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I especially like the illustrations, they set the mood for a scene. Very powerful scenes, makes me wish to retire to my medieval estate and enjoy life. If only I had such an estate, and if only I could retire... *sigh*

Since we're on the topic of art, is there any chance you could add a different pic to either Huscarls or Varangian Veterans, who use the same pic currently? That one bugs me for years now.

Thanks again for sharing your art and thoughts with us!
 
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Looking good:)
The birdcages seem to me to be related to the hostage-mechanic. On that note tho, unless I am missing something, we haven't heard anything about that during the DD's... Am I missing it or will the inner workings of that system be more of a suprise? (I mean the store clearly says it is still going to be included...)
I‘m very interested about this mechanic too… The initial Wards&Wardens DD said that we would get some more information about in in a future DD, which we haven‘t gotten as of yet. Can we expect next weeks DD to elaborate a bit on the mechanic and how exactly it will tie into gameplay?
 
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I‘m very interested about this mechanic too… The initial Wards&Wardens DD said that we would get some more information about in in a future DD, which we haven‘t gotten as of yet. Can we expect next weeks DD to elaborate a bit on the mechanic and how exactly it will tie into gameplay?
Yes I'm very surprised we're on an art diary already yet have yet to properly discuss the most important mechanical change of the DLC.
 
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Looking good:)
The birdcages seem to me to be related to the hostage-mechanic. On that note tho, unless I am missing something, we haven't heard anything about that during the DD's... Am I missing it or will the inner workings of that system be more of a suprise? (I mean the store clearly says it is still going to be included...)

I‘m very interested about this mechanic too… The initial Wards&Wardens DD said that we would get some more information about in in a future DD, which we haven‘t gotten as of yet. Can we expect next weeks DD to elaborate a bit on the mechanic and how exactly it will tie into gameplay?

Yes I'm very surprised we're on an art diary already yet have yet to properly discuss the most important mechanical change of the DLC.

We covered the Hostage mechanic in Dev Diary #130, so you can read about it there!
 
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Ok this is nice. New Art is always good. As one or two dev diaries were before the summer break it seems a rather swift one. As an Event Pack I don't expect much groundbreaking (well it will be Modbreaking for a few days but that is ok). I am obviously looking forward to the Flavour Pack in Autumn/Winter and what will come afterwards.
 
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Everything looks good! I always appreciate these art posts because I'm not always the best at looking at / appreciating the art when I am actually playing the game.

While I was initially sad that Villains and Vagabonds was not chosen, I'm very excited for WaWa (if we're following the ToTo abbreviation scheme) to come out.
 
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Great job with the illustration.
 
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Alright, let's break it down in a kinda rough step-by-step. First things first, the game designers sent me a short brief describing what they needed, as well as ideas of what the icon might look like. Luckily for me, I was given the idea that the icon could depict a bag of marbles of various colors. I think it’s a pretty fitting metaphor for an eccentric individual, embodying their propensity for collecting unconventional ideas and perspectives, much like the colorful assortment of marbles within the bag.

Huh, I thought it was because they lost their marbles.
 
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I really love the art in this game. Great job art people.

This is sort of a non-Wards & Wardens question, but is there a reason for keeping the Lifestyle trait frame out of the game's gfx files? I found the background frame of every other trait (I think), except for the teal-y square one. Assuming I didn't just miss it, and the Lifestyle frame isn't in the gfx files already, would it be possible to add it to the files for modding use? All good I found it!
 
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I just wanna throw some praise: The icons in CK3 are some of the best work in the game, and most games out there have failed to par that status. As someone who used to volunteer ideas for art making, seeing others' thought processes is always a good thing in my book!

Aside from the highly praised "Ambitious" trait icon, I really like the "Paranoid" and "Deviant" ones. I think there's some poetic joke and beautiful ideas put on each icon. Sure, some of them are the weakest, but they never fail to give me and my friend chuckes at least. Keep up the good work!
 
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We covered the Hostage mechanic in Dev Diary #130, so you can read about it there!
I see…
In that case I hope that hostages and the circumstances under which they play a role will be expanded upon in the future. I hope that eventually hostages will be integrated into more of the core gameplay mechanics (alliances, non-agression pacts (like in CK2 as a stage before an actual alliance), war goals, hooks etc.)
For example a very simple way of integrating hostages with a core mechanic could have been that if you have a strong hook against a ruler you could demand a hostage from them. This way you could prevent them from declaring war on you.
Anyways, I‘m looking forward to the pack:)
 
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I hope we get a nice chunk of free updated content as well just to flesh the game out like tours and tournaments. Not sure why the game still feels super bland.

Adding more congenital traits and increasing the percentage of people having them would be cool. Currently it's too low, there's some cool congenital traits but out of maybe 100 characters 3 might have congenital traits. Seems to rare compared to CK2.

Also I would like to see more diplomacy as Currently there isn't diplomacy between leaders besides go to war or have an alliance. I would like trading agreements, non aggression pacts, defensive allies, being able to join a world alliance like confederations, just more ways to interact with other people.
 
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