1. #1
    The Lightbringer Malthurius's Avatar
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    The Difference Between Eastern and Western Art Styles

    I see this misconception a lot, and art is an important thing to a game. It's the aesthetic and it's one of the biggest parts of Guild Wars 2. The Aesthetic is very stylized, very easy on your cpu and very easy on the eyes. Realism isn't the goal, but rather beauty is. I see far too often the automatic assumption that Guild Wars 2 is a Korean MMO (Of course it isn't ArenaNet is settled in Seattle USA) and I'm making this topic here to compare the two art styles: Western Traditional Art, to Eastern Traditional Art.

    Our first video here is a slide show of concept art from Guild Wars 2.

    Here are some key things to note on the art style. Notice the colors and lack of defined lines. Any lines used are created by color and shape, not the literal existence of an inked line. On the subject of color, that is one of the main differences in the styles. Colors are the king in this Western style of art, they create the form, shapes, emphasis, balance, and rhythm of the pieces.

    Guild Wars 2's planned aesthetic is based on it's concepts. The concept work you see, it what the game will ultimately look like (Minus the fact that concepts are traditional mediums or emulated traditional mediums and 3d models simply cannot embellish all that the concepts represent and convey to the brush stroke.) I believe this is why people assume a Korean/Eastern art style because rarely games are made with this kind of aesthetic.

    Here is another western concept slideshow from Skyrim. Not an MMO, but I think we'll all agree that it's, in fact, a Western RPG.

    Notice that lines aren't obvious once again. Colors and the way the pieces are painted create the lines for us. Skyrim is very different from Guild Wars 2 in it's aesthetic, but you'll notice that the concept pieces are still very close in style. Skyrim simply went for realism while Guild Wars 2 chose to follow their concepts closer to create the stylized Aesthetic.

    Now for the Eastern Style. Eastern Traditional art. Here is a slideshow of concepts from Square Enix's leading Art man, Yoshitaka Amano.

    You'll notice that lines are more prominent and tend to overshadow the lighter colors. Less color is used to create emphasis on the bolder colors. The lines sweep and create motion in the piece, leading your eyes.

    Let's use another game that created an Aesthetic very close to it's concepts in the Eastern Style: Okami.

    Lines dominate the art, they are king of the design while color takes back seat to help define and not to be at the forefront.

    Now here is an example that blurs the lines. Aion. While not a great game, it holds elements in it's concepts that resemble both Eastern and Western Styles.

    I'll direct your attention towards color once again. Colors are light and are used to create emphasis on parts of the pieces that are darker. However, they lines are created by the colors as well, giving it a western aesthetic while still being Eastern in spirit. Aion was very much trying to be a Westernized RPG with it's concepts, which may be why Guild Wars 2 Aesthetics have people fooled about it's art style (Being overseen and distributed by NCsoft doesn't help.)

    Thank you for your time, I actually enjoyed making this thread as it was a good art study. Hopefully you can see the difference in Eastern and Western art styles now, but in all honesty we're in a world of blending cultures and it's all but natural for some art styles to meld, Aion is a good example of this. Just don't assume on a glance whether a game is from the states or overseas; to be honest, it doesn't really matter.

    NOTE - This was a comparison of Traditional PAINTED art styles, not cartoons and mangas. If you want me to point out the differences in those, just ask, and I will, but I'm sure we can all tell the difference in Aesthetics when it comes to comparing shows like G.I. Joe and Death Note.

    EDIT - I realized I used a lot of art terms that some might not be familiar with. Here is a link to the Elements and Principles of art. http://www.projectarticulate.org/principles.php

    TL;DR Western paint Styles have a stronger use of color and tend to avoid drawn, obvious lines. Lines are formed by shapes and form. Eastern paint Styles emphasize lines and use shapes and colors to compliment but not be the focus. These styles can be blurred and mostly depends on the artist himself/herself.
    Last edited by Malthurius; 2012-01-18 at 11:19 PM.
    "Questions are for those seeking answers. Those who have answers are those who have asked questions." -Mike R. (Malthurius)

  2. #2
    Very nice post, I hope it decreases the amount of ignorant post about the artwork, but I doubt it, as people always fail to read before making comments, or they wouldn't be ignorant to begin with.

  3. #3
    Bloodsail Admiral Cuchulainn's Avatar
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    Honestly, I believe GW1&2 are the only games that have mixed western and eastern styles of art in a very beautiful fashion. The art team isn't eastern people trying to capture a western look, nor are they westerners trying to capture an eastern look. The team has a mixed culture (Daniel and Kekai being the lead of the art team) working together to create perfect synergy between the two styles of art. This is done in a way that it's aesthetically appealing to both easterners and westerners. Especially when it comes to facial customization.

    So in a way, everyone is wrong. GW2 does have eastern styles of art, but it doesn't make it an eastern game. Since after all, it's developed right here on American soil. Remember that! Yes, I'm talking to you; British people who still call us "colonial pigs".

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    The Lightbringer Malthurius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuchulainn View Post
    Honestly, I believe GW1&2 are the only games that have mixed western and eastern styles of art in a very beautiful fashion. The art team isn't eastern people trying to capture a western look, nor are they westerners trying to capture an eastern look. The team has a mixed culture (Daniel and Kekai being the lead of the art team) working together to create perfect synergy between the two styles of art. This is done in a way that it's aesthetically appealing to both easterners and westerners. Especially when it comes to facial customization.

    So in a way, everyone is wrong. GW2 does have eastern styles of art, but it doesn't make it an eastern game. Since after all, it's developed right here on American soil. Remember that! Yes, I'm talking to you; British people who still call us "colonial pigs".
    Aye, but it is still a very Western Style in comparison to the Eastern art I used. But you're right, and I acknowledge this blend in the last little bit of my post. My avatar is very Eastern in design actually, albeit rough Guild Wars concept art.
    Last edited by Malthurius; 2012-01-18 at 07:10 PM.
    "Questions are for those seeking answers. Those who have answers are those who have asked questions." -Mike R. (Malthurius)

  5. #5
    While the art is clearly western, just as you say, I think that many of the concepts (especially in the different races) are influenced by eastern art. Especially Sylvari and Asura have much more in common with eastern design then western. On the other hand, the Humans and Charr are very clearly modeled in a western style.

    Also several areas (again, Sylvari and Asura inspired areas) have allot of eastern art in them, but drawn in a western fashion.

  6. #6
    Warchief Maarius's Avatar
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    thank you OP for this post

  7. #7
    Well, the only thing I can draw is stick figures...does that make me more of an eastern artist because I use lines? :P

    Back on topic: nice post, very informative for people like me who spend all day staring at code instead of making pretty pictures.

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    The Lightbringer Malthurius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibben View Post
    Well, the only thing I can draw is stick figures...does that make me more of an eastern artist because I use lines? :P

    Back on topic: nice post, very informative for people like me who spend all day staring at code instead of making pretty pictures.
    That's a really funny comment about the stick figures. But I believe they would fall under the category of 'Cartoons', and both Eastern and Western artists take full advantage of lines in cartoons (Except for VERY rare cases). Of course there are exceptions to every style, but generally speaking, the norm, is what I'm referring to.
    "Questions are for those seeking answers. Those who have answers are those who have asked questions." -Mike R. (Malthurius)

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    Bloodsail Admiral Cuchulainn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tibben View Post
    Well, the only thing I can draw is stick figures...does that make me more of an eastern artist because I use lines? :P

    Back on topic: nice post, very informative for people like me who spend all day staring at code instead of making pretty pictures.
    No, but it makes you a Wizard.

    OT: In a way I wonder why people care what the style looks like? I've always enjoyed most eastern art, but it seems some people bash GW2 for having some eastern concepts in order to further make it seem like GW2 is being developed by NCsoft. Which is just a dumb argument if you ask me. There are, however, some styles of eastern art that really bites my ass. Such as the overuse of "angelic/demonic themed" armor. When will the Japanese stop with that crap? It's so overused in every JRPG that I've played that now...it feels as though every JRPG I play is the same artistically. I'm just glad that GW2 doesn't have 9001 armor sets themed like that.

    I mean, look at Aion. EVERY armor set looks the same, and EVERY area looks the same as EVERY jrpg that has EVER been made. Silly, because it's a Korean MMO.
    I honestly think the concern I just brought up might be the reason why most people worry about the eastern styled art. Unless they're GW2 bashing, that is.

  10. #10
    Indeed a thoughtful, intelligent post. Thank you!

  11. #11
    Pit Lord SourceOfInfection's Avatar
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    Sweet, delicious knowledge nomnomnom.

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  12. #12
    Dreadlord Verazh's Avatar
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    Thank you Malthurius for this thread. Thank you thank you thank you!

  13. #13
    I've never been a student of painted art, never struck my fancy to be honest. However I do appreciate a good analysis of this (or any) subject in a format even a layman can understand. Thanks Malthurius, most insightful.

    I think more of the arguments we hear about GW2's art being eastern, at least those that are derogitory about it, are more from the camp trying to find any excuse to anti hype the game. Oh some honestly dont like it but often the loudest screams are from those trying to draw a line from GW2 to Aion through NCsoft as proof that its a crapy eastern F2P MMO and not worth our time.

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  14. #14
    Mechagnome Vewen's Avatar
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    Thank you. Was already convinced of its hybrid style, but it's still an informative post, backed up with nice examples.

  15. #15
    The Lightbringer Malthurius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuchulainn View Post
    No, but it makes you a Wizard.

    OT: In a way I wonder why people care what the style looks like? I've always enjoyed most eastern art, but it seems some people bash GW2 for having some eastern concepts in order to further make it seem like GW2 is being developed by NCsoft. Which is just a dumb argument if you ask me. There are, however, some styles of eastern art that really bites my ass. Such as the overuse of "angelic/demonic themed" armor. When will the Japanese stop with that crap? It's so overused in every JRPG that I've played that now...it feels as though every JRPG I play is the same artistically. I'm just glad that GW2 doesn't have 9001 armor sets themed like that.

    I mean, look at Aion. EVERY armor set looks the same, and EVERY area looks the same as EVERY jrpg that has EVER been made. Silly, because it's a Korean MMO.
    I honestly think the concern I just brought up might be the reason why most people worry about the eastern styled art. Unless they're GW2 bashing, that is.
    That's more an issue of art direction and not cultural style. If all the art director can come up with is Demonic and Angelic motif armor then they have failed as an art director (Unless their game's subject matter supports it, and MMOs do not, they require some form of variety to stay fresh.)
    "Questions are for those seeking answers. Those who have answers are those who have asked questions." -Mike R. (Malthurius)

  16. #16
    Stood in the Fire Zazajin's Avatar
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    I can see the Eastern influences, though I do worry whether I'll be able to make more tough looking humans rather than bishonen...Not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just I prefer to play more rugged looking males for warriors and bishonen males for casters. That said the other races look awesome as well.

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Zazajin View Post
    I can see the Eastern influences, though I do worry whether I'll be able to make more tough looking humans rather than bishonen...Not that there's anything wrong with it, it's just I prefer to play more rugged looking males for warriors and bishonen males for casters. That said the other races look awesome as well.
    You should check out some of the character creation vids Zaza, there are a wide variety of options for human males (from err..pretty to quite rugged). Also, you can't get any manlier than a Norn. I would post links but I don't think I have enough posts to do so...google is your friend I guess.
    Last edited by nysha; 2012-01-20 at 06:57 PM. Reason: typo

  18. #18
    Very well done OP on a very nice post "it's an eastern style game and will suck" is a common ignorant misconception that really gets my hackles up lol

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