The Art of Shuyan

Shuyan is a story-driven kung-fu action graphic novel, which is told through a blend of comic book narrative cutscenes where readers make dramatic choices, and 3D action scenes with an in-depth combat system. We want Shuyan to be visually striking, while also having an authentic feel; so the art style has played an important role—and this is where our art director, Daxiong has come into play.

I briefly introduced Daxiong in a recent post. He was China’s first comic book artist, and is known for some of his works that depict ancient Chinese stories and legends such as his recreation of scenes from the ancient Chinese novel, “Outlaws of the Marsh.”

According to Daxiong, while Western art is more focused on what’s seen on the outside, Asian art is more focused on the spirit. His style brings a unique feel to the experience, and he has a deep grasp of ancient Chinese architecture, clothing, jewelry, and landscape that has helped form the world we’ve envisioned for Shuyan.

Here's a more zoomed out version from a scene I showed part of a couple weeks ago:

This style of art isn’t just in the comic-like animated scenes in the story, but also in its 3D animations. We replicate some of the style using cell shading, and the overall goal is to make it as seamless as possible when readers switch between the comic-drive story parts, and the 3D kung-fu combat scenes.

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