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Here is a fan art of my favorite character from the old 2D fight game The Last Blade 2 released by SNK in 1998 when I was 17 years old. Her name is Hibiki Takane: daughter of a famed swordsmith and I painted her holding her saber draped into a fabric while walking into a garden. The Last Blade series art-direction, beautiful design, flat colors saturated, dynamic animation, polished painterly backgrounds and musics had certainly a strong influence on my general taste for art because I kept playing it and thinking about it through the years. That's probably because I can feel in it the love for a high quality anime 2D art style. Maybe this specific art-direction was even a survival choice for the series at a period in time when 3D fight games started to be the new standard and 2D was called to disappear. Twenty years later, I'm glad this had never really happened and 2D is still around! You can still play this old title on one of the many adaptations it has for consoles (even modern) or via on Steam.
A thought about fan art
You might be surprised to read that I painted a fan art because I rarely do fan-arts: I know the legal issues that can rise dealing with them and also I'm deeply disgusted by the artists who do only fan art to accumulate a big audience over the social-medias (the professional-fan-artists as I like to call them). Making only fan arts is a lucrative way to attract donations from fandoms and it became over the last ten years the sad norm of digital painting. Before that, we had mostly original contents around and it wasn't necessary to write a stupid hashtag like #OC to describe "Original Character". So, you can easily understand that I'm not happy about how grew the art community on Internet regarding fan art... But while I painted this artwork, I decided to reconsider and think positive about fan art. It's a great way to connect with other fan of the series through hashtags and praising a masterpiece that deserve it if the fan art is done sincerely and not to jump on the band-wagon of a trend. I should even practice that more often. It helps at studying something else and connect with the universe of the original creators and in fine enjoy the source even more.
Episode 32 preproduction
But why spending time on a fan-art?.. It's part of my graphical research on the preproduction of episode 32: it helps me at testing my comic workflow and breathe another air outside Pepper&Carrot. My recent experiments with the canvas texture have not convinced me for the art-direction of Pepper&Carrot episode 31 "The Fight"; it was hard to manage and I'm not satisfied fully by the visual it produces inside the context of comic episode (it's fine for illustrations). A most recent experiment with the artwork The Winter (a girl reading on the back of a dragon) also failed on this research: pseudo-realistic shading is fine for classic high fantasy style illustration, but 'meh' on Pepper&Carrot too. When I write a Pepper&Carrot story, I have something else appearing in mind; a more stylized world where I can hold a saturated color over flat areas only to emphasis the 2D shapes while keeping a painterly and anime with advanced modeling design. That's how I came back to study the art-direction of the game The Last Blades and producing a fan art was a good way to check if I could create a workflow to prioritize a color palette over the modeling and the drawing. I'll detail that later in a tutorial if I adopt this technique for a longer period: it's too fresh to teach it.