Weee

A long blurb from a Katawa Shoujo Artist

I’ve been occupied this month so sorry for not answering asks as soon as i wanted to. Same with doodle commissions. I’ll get to them eventually though!

Anyway, Happy KS month! it’s been two years since Katawa Shoujo was released. Time sure goes by fast.

Music by nicolarmarfi

Because Nicol wrote a blog post about his old music tracks from Katawa Shoujo, it kinda inspired me to do the same, but my writing seems more angsty than happy lol. I’m sure the 4LS guys won’t be anal about me showing old pieces of work that the artists have done in the past for Katawa Shoujo, it’s old stuff anyway.

Oh, this post is super long and may contain spoilers from Katawa Shoujo and light NSFW. But it also has concept art and a bunch of random junk as well. So read more for looking at piccies and a lot of rant!

It may seem unimportant to you guys how the artists and I got a hold of KS but I felt like I should write it down anyway. Moekki, my sister Gebyy, and I found out about KS since does tie a connection how the artists in the KS team worked. The three of us were actually working on our own VN at the time back in 2006 or 2007; the first VN concept we came up with was pokemon however we lost some files because my family’s hard drive destroyed itself. After that we lost motivation working on our pokemon project and started a new one. (some our pokemonVN concept art seen here)

Our organization and communication skills were actually pretty damn good since we were all close since we were all into the project and we were excited to create something no matter how horrible the idea was. We didn’t care what appealed to audiences or how bad we were at drawing or writing, we were just enjoying ourselves and having fun. But this was when I was around 12~13, moekki was around 14~15, sis was 16. We were just little chuuni kids! Maybe this is the reason why kids’ creativity explode during these years: they explore what things they can do and they do whatever what’s fun or interesting for them and not giving a fuck what other people like or do. But it seems like some grown ups or adults may have forgotten what that was like or how to feel that way.

This was also the time where 4chan became infamous for its supposed anonymity and secret-secret stuff. I didn’t browse 4chan as much because I couldn’t understand the website too well but Sis and Moekki came across a post where it showed Raita’s original zettai-shoujo illustration as the OP pic and the thread had a bunch of waifu wars already and this was like what 2007? People already had waifu wars for KS! At least I think they did. Anyway, I think a lot of people came up with a lot of stories for them and after that VN project launched and they came up with the group name Four Leaf Studios (4LS for short) since the project idea originated from 4chan.

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Raita’s Illustration. Zettai Shoujo was his circle’s name.

So Moekki came up with idea doodling some of the disabled zettai-shoujo characters because we were also interested in making VNs as well. So Sis and I were like, sure why not!

imageMoekki’s Hanako back in 2007

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Gebyy’s 2007 sketch of the cast

imageMy hanako drawing back in 2007. Trust me I didn’t draw that good when I was 12 or 13, my sister basically drew the body and I drew the gigantic head.

I think these were still back when they were looking for artists and stuff and I believe they picked out ke^4 since his illustrations were great. Sis, Moekki, and I went back doing our own VN thing.

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My 2008 drawing. Our Mascot for our VN project lol.

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My 2007 or 2008 concept drawing of one our VN characters.

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Moekki’s 2008 Concept art for one of the characters.

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Gebyy’s 2008 concept art for two of the characters

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One of my 2008 character concept drawings. It looks like I was heavily influenced by Sakuya or something lol.

At one point our motivation for our VN projects began to deteriorate, most likely because of files we lost and sis and I began to grow to other personal interests. It’s hard to keep a project in unison when one or two guys become disinterested in doing the project. When a project is free and/or no money on the line, people will become disinterested, or they would rather invest their time doing other priorities first then go back to the project. Having a deadline for a project is ideal, what’s there to lose? A Job? Money? You will, however, lose, some sort of connection and tie with people working within the project. That wouldn’t be so good if you’re working with close friends, right?

Because of that, I think Moekki tried to revive our motivation by submitting our art in the Katawa Shoujo forums so we can apply as artists. The original post can be viewed here actually. Now that I look at it I guess Sis wasn’t there in the original post lol. Ambi was also a close friend of ours and he was also one of the few KS artists that started and left the group.

So I guess they were interested and invited us in IRC. To be honest I had no idea what the hell IRC was since the only instant messaging thing that existed to me back in the day was MSN. There was AIM but I thought it looked silly. Anyway, we presented some drawings like this one.

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Hanako Drawing in 2008. Wow I improved a lot in one year! I think Gebyy helped me with the boobs on this one though lol

I think that’s where we kicked off. This is also how I got my nick “Weee” since I didn’t know how IRC worked so I just used Weee as a test. Now everyone calls me Weee which is ok! I’ve gotten attached to the name now since people have been calling me that several years. My artist credit is still Raemz though.

image2008 Sprite artwork.
Artist from left to right: Moekki, Gebyy, SilentKyon, Raemz (me), Ambi.

Silent Kyon was actually 4LS’ main artist before my artist group friends joined. Since there were issues and dorama, he left the group and Kamifish, Moekki’s friend, replaced him for the Rin artist.

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2008 concept art by Kamifish

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2008 Hanako concept by Raemz. Lion by Gebyy.

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2008 or 2009 Unused Hanako CG by Raemz. I believe this was when Hanako was still suicidal and weird lol.

Since all of us five artists were friends and we knew each other, we never said a word to the 4LS team for about half a year. We were unfamiliar with the new staff, the people, the large age gap, and the atmosphere of the group. What shocked me the most was when they actually spoke serious to each other. Not kidding. Because here we are, some chuuni artists wanting to draw VNs and animu and doing dumb stuff, coming across and seeing the world of adult for the first time. I may be exaggerating, but we didn’t like working on it. They were too “serious” for us.

Ambi was the oldest in our age group so he was actually the spokesperson for all of us artists and he would speak to them then he would tell us what the writers/devs would think. Since we were so used to our relaxed, fun, creative environment, we wanted to avoid working on KS. We created art, but we didn’t understand the story, we didn’t know the writers, we couldn’t understand the concept of working with people, and a bunch of other junk. We were merely just artists working for people, and it felt like we couldn’t put our creativity into our work. We Just drew what was listed as in “Draw sprites, draw this kind of cg, do this”.

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2008-2009 Shizune Concept by Moekki

We were only 14, 16, 17, 18 year old kids doing art for a VN. It felt sort of like homework but there were no benefits. It felt like we couldn’t expand our creativity as we should or as much as we wanted to since the art had to be consistent through out the five of us. That’s why Gebyy and Ambi dropped out, and Raide and Pimmy joined. At one point I felt like quitting because our “art director” at the time commented something about my drawing style that hurt me deeply since he was comparing me to another artist on the team. It’s probably why I drew so much in 2009 and 2010 since I wanted to get better and do my own thing and just have fun playing games.

But because Sis and Ambi dropped out, Moekki didn’t speak to them for a while. At one point my sister and I didn’t talk to each other and I always said mean things to her. Most likely because I was jealous how people at our high school acknowledged her how she was always person who was “really good at drawing” and I was just the “little sister” and nothing more. Our child hood VN days were over and the person I really had left was Moekki. It’s probably why I never ended up quitting. (don’t worry sis and i are in good terms now)

Our artist communication skills were dying. What made our communication worse was that CGs were just listed out as a table. The table list itself was not a flaw since it was well organized, but the artist only drew what was described in the description. There was no writer and artist communication between these processes. The list was also organized as to which CGs were assigned to which artist so we all went at our own pace.

At this point the only person that all the artists talked to were Moekki. I probably have never spoken a word to kamifish throughout the development of KS even though she was close friends with Moekki and I have never talked to Pimmy about CGs, and as for Raide I just touched up on his CGs. Moekki talked to me whenever I need to get something done. We never really talked about how to make the artwork consistent. We did give feedback to each other, but it was hard to keep the coloring style consistent. It was just, “yeah, follow Leaf’s style” since Leaf was our all time favorite eroge company when we were kids. The only time we really did discuss about consistency in CGs and touching them up was during the beta phase of KS.

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2009 Kenji and Hisao CG illustrated/colored by Raide.

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Kenji Hisao CG retouched by Moekki, Colored by Raemz. Sometimes CGs were touched by the writers themselves so I don’t remember who added the pink blush color lol. Maybe it was an artist instead. Just shows how bad we are at commuting lol or I just forgot.

Also the only artist who probably connected with their writer was probably Kamifish, main artist of Rin. I don’t really know how the other artists communicated to their writers but as for me, I didn’t commute to my writer until 2010 or 2011.( KS was released in January 2012)

There was also this set up how the CGs worked and who would get to draw/color it. It was basically: one artist draws one route, but they color another person’s route. It was an attempt to make the game look consistent, but deep inside I was really eager to retouch/recolor some of the CGs in KS.

This does happen in real industries since the main artist doesn’t have enough time to color all of their own lines, but it gets difficult when someone else’s coloring looks completely different from what you’ve imagined: The coloring can look messy, the value/tone range is off, or some have some other mistakes. And that’s where we lacked; we had no consistent coloring director or no tonal value range for reference. Also¬† in most promotional illustrations, the coloring artist is usually uncredited.

Since Raide and Pimmy couldn’t capture the similar coloring style Moekki, Kamifish, and I had, the three of us had to do every CG. Moekki assigned us to do certain characters for CGs: Moekki colored most of hanako’s route, Kamifish colored most of Shizune’s, and I colored most of Emi’s, and Moekki and I sorta did half and half of Rin’s and Lilly’s route. We all eventually did colored one cg from each girls route though so it’s a mix mash between styles.

imageIllustrated/Lined by Moekki. Colors by Raemz.

imageIllustrated/lined by Kamifish. Colors by Moekki.

imageIllustrated/Lined by Raemz. Colors by Moekki

Lilly’s route was just a huge mess though since we tried to teach Raide our coloring style but we weren’t satisfied with his coloring style. At one point he disappeared for a while lol..

imageIllustrated/Lined by Moekki, colors by Kamifish.

imageimageOriginal lines and Colors by Raide. CG retouched by Moekki.

imageIllustrated/lined and Colored by Raemz

Emi’s route was also a mess since Pimmy’s drawing style was a bit different from the majority of the art and I think moekki lost patience with Pimmy since her drawing pace was a bit slow compare to the rest of the team (I think she disappeared at one point too). So a lot of the CGs in Emi’s route were illustrated by Moekki (who did the emi sprites and as well as several CGs in her route), Pimmy, and me.

imageIllustrated/Lined by Pimmy. Colored by Raemz

imageRetouched face by Raemz because the inconsistency with other Emi CGs.

Ambi, who was the main artist for Emi left, we had to redraw and touch up some sprites since they weren’t available drawing any more poses or CGs, Moekki had to redo the sprites to keep the consistency of the game. Most of the consistency retouch was ordered by Delta or Moekki just did things on her own. Those two argued a lot since both had all sorts of ideas going on in their heads.

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original Meiko concept by Ambi

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Meiko Final sprite. Illustrated/Lines by Moekki. Colors by Raemz.

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Emi Illustrated/Lined by Moekki. Original Emi Sprite by Ambi.

Another problem KS art team had was the format of the PSDs. There was no specific guideline as to what to separate layers since I never knew what Delta was going to do with them. There probably was a guideline, but I don’t think the guideline reached to all of us so my layers were either all filled with Overlay spam, filters, etc and Moekki’s layers were the most unorganized thing I’ve ever seen, but I don’t have any of her PSDs available right now because she never uploaded them to our main KS art directory. Don’t follow our footsteps, please.

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Back then I would merge my layers and add a soft light/overlay filter on top to brighten the picture. But LOL directors and companies do not like that at all. Delta got pretty pissed at my PSD formatting because of that, but if I were him, I’d be pretty piss as well since it’s hard for directors to be flexible with flattened CGs. I can’t remember but I believe that’s partially why Moekki never uploaded CGs since she didn’t want anyone messing with her stuff or something. I can’t remember the real reason why.

Doing backgrounds wasn’t that much of a problem. We had 3D programs to back us up with classroom designs with the help of Doomfest and Suriko.

imageModeled by Doomfest. Used in Classroom CG.

imageModeled by Suriko. Used in Shizune’s H Scenes.

Now that there were some completed CGs to work with, another problem laid behind how messy CGs were. Kamifish’s and my work weren’t much as a problem, but cleaning Moekki’s lines and colors were probably the most troublesome thing I had to take care of (which is why I was annoyed by her layer formatting. she wont mind me talking about her :3c).

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Before and after.

I know I make it seem like everything was bad and the art team was unorganized as fuck, but it really WAS unorganized. Though, I dont regret the experience since it taught me what to do and what not to do in my future career. Of course there were times I got pretty stressed from the project, but it was still enjoyable in its own way. Even though Moekki had her own flaws, I think the artist team wouldn’t have survived without her.

I also believe KS art team wouldn’t have made it if we weren’t in high school or not in college. I was 18 when KS was released so the majority of the art was done during my high school years (just in time for legal issues :3); Moekki took a gap year before university; Kamifish finished all of her art before she did her shounen training; Gebyy drew some bits, but she wasn’t going to school. So if there are any writers out there wanting to find an artist for free, find some lolis to work with. Just give them candy money and they’ll work with you.

There were a lot of things wrong during development. I guess I just really wanted to blurt out how unorganized we were when a few people thought it was so well thought out lol.. (it wasn’t). I also wanted blurt out how I got into drawing VNs in the first place.

But it’s a miracle how KS was even released since it was such a large scale project. But I’m still glad that I took a part of it. I’m not saying that ungrateful for the project or hated working on it, it’s just that it’s been so long that I can pretty much make fun of our stupid mistakes and flaws. If I didn’t enjoy or learn anything from it, I wouldn’t have stayed until the end for that either.

If i were to make another VN, it’d probably be on a much smaller scale than KS and organize things a lot better. Basically dont do any of the stupid things we did back during the development stages of KS. Communication, organization, interest, passion, and time is really the key. I feel like I have i have some of these elements, but I just don’t have enough time these days, or I don’t passion as I once had when I was a teenager. If you have the passion for something, you WILL make the time for it.

Everything I’ve written here is how I felt about the project and how I saw it in my own eyes. Other artists may saw the KS work flow differently or some may feel great or accomplished. As for me, it was pretty much a learning experience and I feel pretty much indifferent about KS now because I want to move on and make more things in my life. Moekki is pretty attached to KS since she was the one nurturing the artists and felt like it was a great accomplishment, but as for me, it felt like, “wow i drew a lot of stuff. weird.” Each dev probably has their different views and emotions towards KS.

But looking back at KS feels weird to me since it feels foreign to me, yet at the same time it’s not. I was always confused as to why some people in our group thought it was shameful that they were working on KS. Is it because it has disabled girls or is it because it has porn? Disabled people aren’t shameful and drawing porn/nude is actually something artists will have to train. I guess it depends on people’s philosophies, tastes, or pride, but I don’t really give a fuck.

I drew crippled girl porn. Happy Birthday KS.

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