[POLL] Introducing CUSTOMIZED SPOTLIGHT! (Well... kinda.)

opinion

#1

Hi everyone!
Soooo… I’ve been thinking of doing this for a while now (see here). I’m not a fan of the new spotlight style and animating every line of dialogue frankly exhausts me sometimes and takes some precious time away that I’d prefer to be using on complex directing and choice branching. I don’t mean to throw any shade to the people who like the Cinematic style. I like it too; I’m just pointing out some advantages of the Spotlight style. If you dislike the Spotlight style, this thread is likely not for you.

Thanks to @Trying_To_Help and @Lemniscate I was able to download a bunch of the old spotlight style’s character portraits and upload them to my account as overlays. And as excited as I am to write a story with them, I have to admit that their use is quite limited (no change of clothing, a few characters and expressions are missing, almost all seem to be from our current time period, there aren’t as many as I’d probably need, etc). They’d be great for short stories in our current time, though, so I encourage everyone to quickly download and use them. I also recommend you to read Black Absinthe by Kay Elle and The B-Team by MeMyselfAndI to get an idea of how much this style can enhance a story.

So I thought of designing my own characters from scratch… But my God that was difficult and so time-consuming! And as much as I like writing and drawing, I’d rather invest some of that time elsewhere than on Episode (Sorry, I hope you understand, Episode…).

Therefore…! I decided to edit Episode characters instead and create a “customized Spotlight style”. I wanted realistic-ish characters, so I opted for Limelight and tested it out:

I know there’s progress to be made in terms of the image quality but I’m pretty sure I know how to fix it. I’d like to encourage everyone to also create their own “customized spotlight”. Use the old spotlight characters (as they are or by editing them), edit some Episode characters, design your own from scratch… I hope this inspires somebody because I really want to see more styles on the app that differ from the usual Cinematic style.

This is just a test. I haven’t written a story for it yet and I don’t know when it’ll happen. Leave your opinion in the poll below and/or a comment to let everyone know how you feel about this “customized spotlight” style. Again, if you’re “repulsed” by the Spotlight style, please remain respectful and mindful that this thread is all about Spotlight. Thank you :slightly_smiling_face:

  • This looks great!
  • I like the idea, but I don’t like the way it looks on the test.
  • I don’t like Spotlight either way.

0 voters


#2

@AllyJay Simply amazing.

I am very pleased to see that you’ve given it a shot. In my opinion, the spotlight frame that you created is a very lovely design. There is so much potential and possibilities that you can do with this that not many will consider. For example, I feel that this can also visualize a character’s personality, depending on the design. I also enjoyed the minor edit on the dyed hair. The quality of the images seems just fine, though.

An idea thought outside the box, now a reality; that’s what I like to see.


#3

I can’t get over the spotlight frame!! Looks so cute :slightly_smiling_face:


#4

Technically they are in a box… or at least in a frame :wink:
…I’ll see myself out.

(But no, that looks great!)


#5

Thank you so much! Your help and words of encouragement really gave me the necessary motivation to try this. All kinds of changes in appearance can be added to the characters now with the corresponding editing tools and skills. Different facial features, facial expressions, hair dye, wrinkles, facial hair, freckles, beauty marks, piercings… Even the clothing can be changed. Finally we can have hats fit the characters’ heads and hairstyles.

When I think about it though… I mean… I did this mostly because I prefer this style over the others so that’s great. But it’s not anywhere near as much of a time-saver as I thought, haha. Editing all the characters is going to takes ages. All that time I thought I’d be saving on not using cinematic is put on creating this new style. I don’t regret it, it’s just kind of funny to realize it now, haha.


#6

Thank you! It’s just an edit that took me a few hours, not drawn from scratch. The stone frame comes from parts of the EXT. JUNGLE LOST TEMPLE - DAY background :blush:


#7

I never really was a fan of the spotlight style but I love the way this looks and I’m actually starting to warm up to the idea the more I think about your concept.


#8

Thank you! I was hoping to get more people rooting for Spotlight with this idea so your comment means a lot :blush: This style has so much potential.


#9

@AllyJay For the sake of convenience, you are correct; I would agree that it is defiently more time consuming. But for creative’s sake? I love the concept.

I think it is worth it when you consider what you can actually do with this. You don’t even have to use Episode’s characters or edit them; one could even create their own art style with their own customized characters and use it in their stories. This would require some artistic motivation or skills, or using non-copyrighted objects even. But it isnt, for a fact, impossible.

Overall, this is very inspirational. Some may not like Spotlight, but I think this concept is going to inspire a lot of people and give them more of an open, positive mindset towards the current Spotlight and the possibilities of utilizing this customized Spotlight. I also prefer the original style, and this is the closest thing to that; probably even better, to be honest.

I’m definitely going to play around with this and see where it goes. And when I do, I’ll share my results here. Although I literally have zero experience with writing stories using the Writer’s Portal, this will be a great experiment to get started!

@Caitoriri lol, I see what you did there! :laughing:


#10

I love it! It is extremely time consuming coming up with expressions, outfits, and characters from scratch and using limelight would really help those who are not as artistically inclined.

A couple tips I can offer to help save time for anyone who is interested in doing a story this way-

  1. Make a save file with layers in a program like Gimp or Adobe with the base character ‘naked’. Then just simply draw new clothes on a new layer and reupload!
  2. Do the same thing for expressions. Have the edited facial features just drawn/edited right over top of a new layer, so all you have to do is click through them after you have designed a new outfit and reupload all expressions to that new outfit!
  3. Have a set frame size and use the exact same file size to do all characters. This keeps them from being oddly proportioned when talking.
  4. Have a document somewhere with set overlay placement templates and speechbubble spot placement templates for where people are on the screen. It takes a while to set up, but then you can just copy paste for every new scene :wink:

The reason I know all of this is from Duemadiri VN! I actually did make an entire story in my own art in a style similar to this. This isn’t advertising or anything, I actually love the beach look of this frame and think using limelight is a great idea. I just share so that you know if you have any questions to just DM me or reply and ask!

Good luck to anyone who does make a story in this style. If anyone does, I’d love to hear about it, too!


#11

Exactly. I’d love to see more authors design their own characters in their own different styles. I would’ve loved to do it if time was on my side. But if this inspires someone out there to think outside the box and get creative with this new style, then I’ll at least put in the time to edit all the characters I need for a brand new story.

I never fully understood why Spotlight was shunned by the majority of the Episode community. It’s, in my opinion, a style that truly enhances the writing and other coding aspects of stories. If you do use the customized spotlight style (or even the original), I beg you to share the results!


#12

Wow, that’s exactly how I’ve been doing all this but I didn’t know how to make a tutorial for it, thank you so much! I’m sure this is going to help a lot of Episode authors! :smile: I’m also so happy you shared your story, Duemadiri VN; I started reading it and I’m already hooked. The feel of the story is exactly what I wish to see more of with the customized spotlight style and I can’t believe I hadn’t found it sooner.

If I may add an optional 5th step: Have fun with making your own character transitions. Make them fade in and out of sight or appear and exit from on side of the screen. Or have different colors inside their frame, Choices style. It adds some life to the visual aspect of the story.


#13

I’ve been doing some more testing. I haven’t fixed the image quality yet since I’m still working with the old portraits:


#14

Looks good! And glad you are enjoying Duemadiri :slight_smile:


#15

Oh! Another trick I used when transferring full body to frame- if you have the frame base on its own layer (fair to assume most would) you can slide the character in on a new layer then select the frame base (the solid color section for anyone who doesn’t know what I mean), invert the selection, then go to the character layer and hit ‘delete’.
Tadaa~ Your character fits neatly inside the frame :slight_smile:

(It looks like you have this down, @AllyJay, it’s just for anyone else who wants to try this but is not that familiar with editing, either.)


#16

Yes, that’s exactly it! Thank you again for explaining. For any other kind of cropping, I usually use the Polygonal Lasso Tool. Especially when it comes to the hair which needs to be in front of the clothes or the eyes that should look at the “camera” or the viewer. A lot of minor cropping is involved with this. I need to find more practical ways to edit clothes on the characters.

Speaking of layers, the amount of layers I’m using for this is insane :sweat_smile: I’m an anxious perfectionist, so I’m always way too scared to modify anything in the same layer as something I’m already happy with. The option “Merge Down” in Photoshop remains pretty much untouched in my case and I use a lot of layer Groups. If anyone’s thinking of learning photo editing for the first time, the best first piece of advice I can give is make good use of layers and use as many as you need but remain organized. It’s so important.


#17

Yep, my art always has around 20-30 layers unless I rush. I only merge down if I am 100% sure I won’t want to tweak the shading or anything later. OR if I want to do a quick color change because it is much easier to colorize a single layer than to copy paste alterations to multiple layers.

As to the hair… yeah, that can be a pain. My only idea would be to float and clip any hair that is in front of the torso to its own layers, and move it above the face. Depending on outfit, though, that might still be an issue. I actually just ended up redrawing the hair in a lot of cases in Duemadiri.


#18

Each mood comes from a different animation. Since I can’t edit post #13, I’ll indicate them here:

Neutral (blue): idle
Happy (yellow): laugh_chuckle
Sad (grey): idle_sad_timid_loop
Angry (red): idle_argument_angry_loop
Surprised (green): react_terrified_pose

  1. Take screenshots of the character making the faces you want to use.
  2. Take a screenshot of a pose in which the character is looking at the camera and crop only their eyes to later place them on each posing characters’ face. This way, they’ll all look like they’re looking at the viewer, if that’s what you want.
  3. Use the “idle” body to replace each posing character’s body so that clothing is easier to place later.
  4. Edit their face and hair as you please.

@Vaena I thought of doing that for the hair, but because the sad and angry body and hair positions are different from the other moods, the hair doesn’t look natural when I try to crop and place it on top of the clothing. So I have to change the clothing instead. Sigh… Annoying photo editing details… :pensive:

EDIT: I corrected myself for writing “their” instead of “they’re”… Shame on me :cold_sweat: This never happens, I swear…


#19

Another tip- Don’t feel like you need to do every single character that ever talks. If there is, say, a barkeep that just says a line or two you could have them represented by a simple black silhouette. A story has way more characters than you realize initially when you do it this way, so feel free to ‘cheat’ a bit. I believe even Choices often doesn’t completely show all NPCs.


#20

You’re right, even if making the main characters will still take forever, I’ll take any tips and tricks to save time :blush: