I couldn't resist continuing work on Belle of the Ball last week. I made several changes based on people's suggestions from the last round of design. The primary suggestion? Move all the relevant game data up to the top, so players can fan their cards and see what they have at a glance.
Opinions differed on whether to place data on the left or right. If you go by Hoyle playing cards as a standard, it's obvious to put the data on the top left. If you go by Magic: the Gathering or Pokémon, then it ought to be on the top right. I decided to go with the classics.
So now the nameplate is way up at the top. That left the flavor text block at the bottom of the card, kinda lonely. I would've left it there if I didn't run into another problem.
See, I was never really satisfied with the action symbols being in those white circles in the previous round of design. It just felt too tacked on. All my solutions felt tacked on, really. A bookmark hanging from the family suit? Floating on the flood of color as white symbols? I slept on that problem for a few days.
Finally I saw the obvious solution. Just move the freakin' text block up to the top! Ah, and then the portraits could be a bit larger and overlap the text block, creating a nice dimensionality to each card. Sure, that obscures the fancy version of the family suit in the background, but that was always intended as redundant coding anyway.
Megan said this solution looked like an old-school 8-bit RPG. The ones where the speaking character has a little avatar in the corner and a huge text window where their words crawl onto screen. This is a good thing! This way, the cards use natural, existing visual cues to better serve the flavor text.
With all those elements in place, I got to work coloring the actual illustrations. I've been intimidated by this task for a long time. Mori and Liz gave me great material, and I'm honestly not very experienced at pure coloring in photoshop, so I was just hoping I wouldn't mess up their hard work.
It took some experimentation, but I eventually settled on a cel shading style that seemed to complement the portraits very well. I kept each portrait monochromatic to its respective suit. So, any Crawhole portrait is going to have lots of oranges. The neutral tans and whites are used sparingly to create highlights and bring out the facial features.
Aaaand lastly, I wrote up some flavor text for each card that had an illustration. I plan for each card to have a bit of flavor text. A kind of solo fun for the players to enjoy during and away from the game. Each family has its own quirks and each guest is doing different actions. These in combination help guide how that character talks. I've been writing a lot more scripts for my day job lately, so that practice came in handy here. If I have to self-produce, I hope to connect with a proper writer for these blurbs.
So those are the guest card designs. Next, I'll talk about double-coding in game graphics and how I've used it in Belle of the Ball.