The game, called Kanji Kami, is meant to help the player study Japanese. It isn’t necessarily meant to teach you kanji; it’s mostly meant to help you recognize certain kanji and match them to their bases. To do this, Eric decided the gamer would play as one of two characters: Matsuo Basho and Murasaki Shikibu.
The inking was done with a calligraphy brush while all the shading was done in Photoshop. We wanted Basho’s geta to stand out so they were actually colored in. Unfortunately, we never reached the point of design for Shikibu.
Aside from characters, there was the matter of creating all the background elements. Eric wanted only a few assets but each one had to be versatile so we could use them multiple times and in different areas of the game at different scales.
The most important part, as with most productions, was to stick to the style. We wanted to mimic a traditional sumi-e painting as best we could.
Various trees and mountains…
... and, of course, a neko.
Basho’s finished run-cycle. The animation was only tested in After Effects.
After the animation was approved each drawing was then compressed into JPEG form and re-sized to a perfect square so that it could be imported directly into Torq, the program we used to make the final demo.