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DevBlog – Art Direction part 1

by | Apr 14, 2020 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

First, we would like to thank everyone who’s been following us on twitter recently and has shared our post, we really appreciate the help towards our project, thanks to everyone!!!

This post is part of a series dedicated to the development of INNER. If you want to know more about what is the game about, please check this other post.

Hi everyone, my name is Isaac Cortissoz. In Killa, we assume many roles as what we call us “Creative creators” but if you ask me what do I do, I am in charge on both the game and art direction.

In this post, I will show some work we have done in creating the look and feel of the game. How does the art direction affects the environment and many tricks on how we are dealing with creating a solid black and white world.

First, we have to start by defining what are our pillars in the art direction of the game and what we want to whichever, for INNER, they are the following:

We present the future as a cold
and dark enviroment where
there are no soft edges or
happy colors.

INNER’s design rules

this phrase helped us create rules to our world, helping us defying our pillars:

  • Black & white aesthetic.
  • Sharp edges.
  • Red for violence and contrast.

with that in mind, we started to work in concept art

we wanted to create the feeling of a world under construction, with old buildings at the bottom and more modern at the top.

we established rules on how to handle curves in 3D since we wanted to follow our concept art as true as possible and avoid any use of curve surfaces.

we took rules from the low poly technique to create interesting shapes that fit what we had in mind and not fitting into “low poly aesthetic”.

Considering all this, we started to create our world in 3D.

it looked weird because it was the first time for the team working with Unreal Engine 4 so we noticed something odd on how the engine renders the black and white graphics, so we decided to add temporal anti-aliasing with a better way of rendering textures.

that gave a better and sharper look at what we created, we felt that we were hitting the right spot.

but there was still something missing in our skybox… more buildings! but we just couldn’t create more buildings and expect they just look the way we wanted, we wanted to create the feel of a huge city behind all of this.

we did some research in games like Splatoon 2, How they handle skyboxes and we found out that creating small props that simulate buildings and place them outside of the map and positioning them in a smart way will create the illusion of depth and size that we wanted.

After that, we added post-processing to get the right “white yellow-ish” color we wanted. Here are some examples of before and after:

before: too many white and no contrast, not what we wanted. (that’s the old Aaron model, hi old Aaron)
after: more balance between black and white, so there are no predominant colors.

“Woah Shots”

In Inner we want to create areas where the player can just stop and look at an amazing view. We took Portal 2 and Team fortress 2 as an inspiration for that, spaces where you just stop and “admire the view”.

So we took some areas of the maps and transform them into what we call “Woah Shots”, because we want the players to say “Woah”.

We took this part from one of our maps to experiment with what we had in mind since it gave us a nice spot to see the horizon.
we used basic design rules to guide the player’s eye to what we wanted.
and we came up with our first “Woah Shot”.

INNER is filled with places like this, where the player can just stop for a second, move the camera a bit and admire the nice view.

Working with black and white…

Working with black and white is really difficult and hard, we don’t recommend anyone to do that ever again…and with that said, we love black and white but that love comes with many difficult and hard decisions, from technical to artistically.

The use of limited colors is a challenge in a videogame and we had to set our own rules on how to handle them…

Avoiding Grid and Void effect

one of the problems we faced during the early stages of development was creating the floor texture. If we placed the character or any other object over a plain black texture it will feel like the object was floating, simulating a world void effect.

here we can see how the player looks like it’s floating on an empty space, but its actually on the floor, we called this “the void effect”

Other problem was with chess-like floor, it looked like the player was on a 3D software grid, making it look dizzy and hard to watch.

example of the “grid effect”

after facing these two big problems with our floor texture, we started doing more research in what we can do to avoid those two effects.

We looked at MadWorld for the Wii and how they solved these kind of problems, the solution was to add small dots that simulate noise in our floor to break the effect of a void, and for the grid effect, we added some wear and tear details to the textures, avoiding them to connect and form a full grid.

example on how we added dots and scratches to the texture to break those two effects.

Smart Outlines

Reading an object’s depth was really hard and we came up with a solution, we took inspiration from traditional ink art and how they use lines to separate objects.

In INNER we want to have control of the entire look of the game, so we created outlines on the wall’s edges only for specific areas of the game, these outlines help with readability problems.

Before: no clear idea where the roof is.
After: small outline added to the edge of the roof, corner wall and ladders to help readability.

We didn’t wanted to fill the entire world of INNER with outlines, since we wanted to respect our art direction and how outline works in inked art so we made them in way that they are only visible trough certain angles.

white outline on a corner wall to separate it from the objects at the back.
same corner wall seen in a different angle, no outline, the floor is already giving the player the direction of the wall.

Our Challenge

As the Art Director of the project, I know we will face many challenges during the rest of the game development, we are still in our early steps but we feel we are capable of working around any problem we can face in the future.

Thanks everyone!
I am to open to any comment, please email me at

more post like this will come in the future, we are working the best we can.