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Detailed Feedback on the Shyvana, Vayne, and Akali Splash Updates

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HotKnife

Junior Member

09-01-2014

Hey Guys,

I'm an avid League of Legends player and enthusiast of the arts. I wanted to give some constructive feedback on the most recent updated champion splashes.

First of all, I want to thank Riot for their relentless efforts to keep League of Legends fresh and modern. It's almost astonishing how much interaction occurs between the player base and the LoL team, and it seems to be a pretty healthy relationship.

Now, to the visuals!

It seems Riot is cranking out a LOT of new splashes recently, which, considering the number of champions that need them, is a good thing. Shyvana, Vayne, and Akali have received splash updates so far. I'll attack them in this order.

Note: There is a TL;DR at the end of each section! For all you skimmers!


Shyvana

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I am impressed. The artwork is Dragonslayer Pantheon and Mecha Malphite-tier, but it matches the current style of champion splashes better than they do. The dramatic high contrast, sharp but smooth image, and hot/cold color scheme makes the splash VERY compelling. The splash is oozing with personality and it gives Shyvana a more mature and dynamic persona. At first, I was afraid that it was a bit too masculine, but I've decided that the masculine aspect comes strictly from the armor, making her appear to have broad shoulders, a masculine swagger,etc. Without the armor, she has very exaggerated feminine features: broad hips, delicate upper frame, small and pointed chin, etc.

A note to Shyvana's artist(s):

I love the red/blue contrast between the armor and body. It juxtaposes Shyvana's masculine war ethic (red armor and flames) with her feminine body (blue-purple skin). Don't know if that was intentional, but it characterizes her.

Constructive Advice

I have one concern. The artwork is striking. VERY striking. Perhaps, FAR MORE striking than current modern champion splashes (take Aatrox). I fear that future splashes of comparable quality and style will create yet another visual gap between old and new splashes, which is dissatisfying to players. I think that it is important that Riot keeps the future updated splashes congruent with the current style of splashes (Aatrox, Lux, Diana, Lissandra, Lucian, Zed, Zyra, Vladimir, Ziggs, Riven, Vi, Nami, Kha'Zix, Yasuo, Rengar, Brand, Ezreal, Nasus, Morgana and Xerath, to name a few). I understand that new technology, techniques, and skills come into play when making new splashes, but if this results in an art style change, then current splashes will have a hard time keeping up.

TL;DR

The art is excellent. Future splashes should retain the style of current splashes a bit more.


Vayne

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"the Night Hunter." The name and lore imply a mysterious and dark figure that prowls the night in search of prey. "It is said that those who practice the black arts quake when they hear that the Night Hunter is on the prowl."

Two words from the lore are key to the character of Vayne, the Night Hunter: "quake" and "prowl". The word quake is indicative of paralyzing fear. In war, their are many types of fear, but the type of fear that Vayne utilizes is that of an ambiguous threat. At any moment, Vayne could appear and righteously slay a fearful evildoer, and the fear of that evildoer is rooted in the ambiguity of when that will happen. The word prowl is indicative of a stealthy hunter adept at concealment. Accordingly, her lore indicates that she is a lurking menace that literally preys on evildoers. What element is essential to incorporate both of these words faithfully into the character of Vayne? Darkness!

This is where I think the updated splash is unfaithful to the character of Vayne. The new splash portrays an action hero with a sci-fi feel. She has a sort of a Super Woman demeanor... with an odd wardrobe. The artwork itself is solid. Minus the slightly sketchy edges (which I am glad to see fixed in PBE), the artwork is good. In fact, take Vayne's lore and title out of the picture, and you have a pretty compelling action hero portrait. The problem, I believe, is the departure from the character of Vayne who relies on darkness, stealth, concealment, and night.

If there's one fatal flaw in the new splash, it would have to do with color choice. The new splash is predominantly composed of blues and light blues, with accents of red and black. The dominance of lighter and brighter colors detracts from any notion of stealth or night (although it appears that the moon is directly behind Vayne in the splash, if I'm not mistaken). Even a color scheme adjustment toward darker base colors (while having some key bright accents) would greatly improve congruence with the lore.

Constructive Advice

Frankly I don't know if it's practical to change the splash at this point, although that might be ideal with the current lore. An alternative to changing the splash to fit the lore... is changing the lore to fit the splash. With some tweaks to the lore, Riot could remove the implication of Vayne, one who hunts in the night, to Vayne, one who hunts night itself. Of course implying that the "night itself" is the hordes of evildoers in the world. This would effectively remove the pressure of having Vayne be portrayed prowling in darkness and open up the possibility for the updated splash to work. While this might be the simpler solution to solve the conflict between splash and character, Vayne players and fans might be upset by the shift.

Honestly, I'm not a hater. I am pretty open minded about Riot's changes, whatever they may be. But I was very disappointed when I saw the updated Vayne, and I believe I speak for many others as well.

TL;DR

The updated Vayne splash is unfaithful to the character Vayne we all know and love, and a change in either the lore or the splash is needed.


Akali

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Her face, hair, and flourishing kamas are great. Her new in-game portrait is one of my personal favorites. RiotSilver really nailed the attitude of the splash! There is one aspect that detracts from all of this, however, and it unfortunately happens to be a focal point: her legs.

The first thing I noticed upon previewing the splash was the disproportionate left leg size. While Akali's upper body is thin and agile, her lower half (particularly her left leg) is both thicker and longer than what human anatomical proportions would dictate in accordance with her upper body. I've seen several other posts regarding the conflict.

Their are three potential arguments that would save the new Akali splash from a much needed fix:

1. Thick and muscular legs are required to do the complex acrobatics that the character Akali performs in battle, and are the inevitable result of years of ninja training.

2. If Riot where to make Akali's legs thinner, it would be just another case of the undue hypersexualiztion of women.

3. "We purposefully break anatomy to enhance the gesture of the pose and push characters into extreme perspective." -RiotSilver (http://www.newsoflegends.com/index.php/tag/splash-art/)

Why these arguments have no bearing in this instance:

1. Upon googling "ninja," "modern ninja," "ninja training," and "females in martial arts," I didn't find one portrayal of trained female fighters having the leg thickness or overall size of Akali's. In fact, they were all surprisingly thin.

2. This has absolutely nothing to do with making women look too skinny. There is an anatomical conflict between her upper and lower halves. To have the splash be visually acceptable to the player, there should be one consistent BMI.

3. Breaking anatomy for effect is a clever tool. In fact, it can really enhance art when done right. In this instance, oversized legs neither enhance the gesture of the pose nor push Akali into a meaningful extreme perspective.

Now why in the heck are you making this such a big deal, HotKnife?!

I'm afraid for Akali! I don't want Riot to forgo a fix for the sake of political correctness. There is a time and a place for the argument against hypersexualization. But we're talking anatomy here!

Regarding a Side Boob Buff

Yes, I am indeed an advocate.

Constructive Advice

The updated splash is good on many fronts: it brings maturity and clarity to the character Akali, but her anatomy could use a touch up. My best suggestion: make Akali's legs (particularly her left one) thinner and shorter. It will make the splash read better with the player base, and (I think) encourage more people to play Akali.

TL;DR

Akali's anatomy is too inconsistent between her upper and lower halves, and should be adjusted.



I have a lot of faith in Riot's artists. I respect their changes to the game, and know that they take great pride in their work and put in countless hours to keep us all happy. Because of their hard work, they've created a game that is full of impressive and varied art. Here are some of my personal favorite updated splashes:

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The reminiscence to Einstein here is subtle, but definitive of the character Heimerdinger. The vibrant color scheme is awesome!

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Caitlyn was never well defined as a character by her previous splash. Through the subtle symbolism of the birds and emphasis on her rifle, I feel Caitlyn now fills a character niche and has a place among the ranks of the League.

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I was amazed at the transformation. Instead of a cliche knockoff of the grim reaper, Karthus now presents himself as an esteemed mage-wielder of death. The moody blues contribute to his new originality.


Thoughts? Suggestions? Comment!!


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KamiKazi

Junior Member

09-01-2014

Bump


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Jarmander

Senior Member

09-01-2014

Amazing, non-raging, detailed, well thought-out feedback. Very impressive. I am totally with you for the Akali splash art. Ninjas are shaped more like acrobats, not athletes.

Skinny = nimble/agile = ninja = Akali


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KamiKazi

Junior Member

09-01-2014

Totally agree with the arguments for these new splashes


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Sayath

Senior Member

09-01-2014

Impressive. You seem to be an artist yourself?

Given that Riot has another week of PBE left, maybe they still adjust the Akali splash art / use the next cycle after that (like they did with Vayne). However, the lack of presence from Riot artists is kind of disheartening. Design is significantly more open to player interaction.


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HotKnife

Junior Member

09-01-2014

Quote:
Sayath:
Impressive. You seem to be an artist yourself?



Certainly not at the tier of our splash artists, but I dabble. Actually, I'm more of a musician myself.

Quote:
Sayath:
Given that Riot has another week of PBE left, maybe they still adjust the Akali splash art / use the next cycle after that (like they did with Vayne). However, the lack of presence from Riot artists is kind of disheartening. Design is significantly more open to player interaction.



That really is disheartening. I shot Riot an email after I uploaded the post. We'll see if they get back to me. Double points if they consider a change!


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RadiumBlue

Junior Member

09-01-2014

While I do love it, one complaint I have about Shyvana's splash is that thigh gap. She's crossing one knee over each other but she still has that enormous gap. If she uncrossed her legs, she'd be standing in a sumo wrestler position. I'm all for thigh gap, but I think it looks a bit off and incongruous here, especially since I expect Shyvana to have lots of muscle, she's a half dragon! It's okay for her to have thicker thighs! I saw an edit where someone filled it in and it seemed to flow better with her stance.

Other than that bit though, I absolutely love it. It's a great splash for her and captures her character well!


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LuckyBags

Junior Member

09-02-2014

Great post HotKnife, I tried to dig into the Vayne splash myself in another thread as I was also disappointed but you've done a much more thorough and comprehensive comparison here. Having the old and new splash art really makes it easy to see your points. Couldn't have said anything better myself here, completely agree with everything. Well said!


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Motajo

Senior Member

09-02-2014

Overall, this is a great, detailed post! Though I know squat about art, I have some thoughts on a couple specific points.


Quote:
HotKnife:
An alternative to changing the splash to fit the lore... is changing the lore to fit the splash.

I don't have a particular fondness for Vayne, but I have to disagree with this solution. As you note, Vayne lore fans aren't likely to enjoy characterization changes (however small or large the difference is). Compounding this, Riot gets flak all the time for making changes (some changes less necessary than others) to characters' lore. Isn't splash art meant to present the closest portrayal it can of a champ's lore and theme, not dictate changes to an established character? With that in mind, I think it's on the splash artist to make adjustments to better accomplish that. Even if rewriting lore may be the "easier" solution at this point, retconning simply because new art doesn't completely adhere to established characterization would probably feel like another 'screw you' to many lore fans.


Quote:
Breaking anatomy for effect is a clever tool. In fact, it can really enhance art when done right.

How necessary do you think breaking anatomy is to making this kind of art? Are there splash arts you think have used too much of this tool, and if so, which ones?

I ask these because a lot of splashes over the past couple years or so have been critiqued for going overboard with things like spine-breaking and action poses. There are plenty of examples I agree with this on, but I'm not sure I even get to comment on that aspect, aside from the most egregious examples, because I know next to nothing about art or anatomy.

I also ask because it feels like some poses are to the point where they undermine the character that's posing. For example, when Lux's new splash first spread around, the... boob-squish-thing and the disregard for her spine (along with the horrifying face, but that's not pose- or anatomy-related) looked like a mockery and shallow representation of her character; people actually complained enough to get it edited. When Sivir's new splash came, I could hardly take the one-legged throwing crouch seriously, let alone that pose in sand.


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HotKnife

Junior Member

09-02-2014

Quote:
Motajo:
Even if rewriting [Vayne's] lore may be the "easier" solution at this point, retconning simply because new art doesn't completely adhere to established characterization would probably feel like another 'screw you' to many lore fans.



Wow. I couldn't have said it better myself. I may not be a Vayne main myself, but I absolutely know what it's like to be deeply attached to a champion. For me, it's Katarina. If Riot were to fundamentally change who Katarina was, I would be devastated. I don't think changing Vayne's lore is even remotely practical, as it would likely cause Vayne fans a lot of grief. But I suggested the change in order to present a fuller case against the feel of the updated splash, knowing full well that Riot wouldn't actually change Vayne's time-tested lore to fit a newly released image.

Quote:
Motajo:
How necessary do you think breaking anatomy is to making this kind of art? Are there splash arts you think have used too much of this tool, and if so, which ones?



First, let's define this kind of art. Here are some fundamental elements of the League's champion splashes, and how they apply to anatomy and body language:

Portrayal of a Hero

This is the first and foremost element in all splashes. All of our champions are heroes! And a hero must look like a hero! Exceptional bravery, charisma, charm, and strength are all qualities that contribute to this. Anatomy and body language determine which of these qualities the hero appears to have.

Portrayal of a Fitting Environment

This is perhaps the second most important element. How well an environment (or backdrop) matches the hero communicates to us how esteemed the hero is. Imagine if Mundo was swimming through Nami's backdrop. People certainly wouldn't take him as seriously, regardless of whether or not he has a cleaver the size of a refrigerator! If the backdrop complements Mundo, however, (the industrial streets of Zaun) he looks much more intimidating. Perceived esteem is a subconscious byproduct of seeing Mundo's environment "respect" him. Similarly, Mundo's anatomy and body language must fit his environment for him to look esteemed.

Portrayal of Motion

The third common element of splashes. Motion gives the hero a look of urgency. We want our champions to be fighters. And we want them to be fighting now! A splash with lots of motion (sweeping blades, etc.) indicates that the hero is involved in something important (a battle) at the moment, and this makes him or her look more like a fighter, as opposed to a model. Even subtle apparent motion (like birds flying in the background or wind in the trees) will make the champion appear more ready-for-action. Anatomy and body language can significantly contribute to the appearance of motion. For example, if the pose looks really hard for a human being to hold for more than a few seconds (think Lux... and Sivir!), it communicates motion.

Is breaking anatomy necessary?

Not at all. But if breaking anatomy would contribute to any of the three elements listed above, it might enhance the splash.

Are there splash arts that have broken too much anatomy?

It all depends on who's looking at it. I myself have never noticed Lux's "broken spine" until you brought it up. I've always thought of it as a cute pose with exaggerated posture that was rotated left for the motion effect. And Sivir is a main of mine, and I love her strange anatomy. For me, the intensity of the dramatic effect outweighs any apparency of unrealistic body language (spine, legs, and all). Should Riot aim to keep anatomy realistic for the most part? Yes, and I think they do. *cough* except for Dragonblade Riven *cough*

Of course, these are just my preferences. I like excessive use of dramatic artistic tools rather than excessive realism. Why? Because champions are extreme! They deviate far, far from the norm! Why not make human champions look a little inhuman for the sake of being epic?

Quote:
Motajo:
I also ask because it feels like some poses are to the point where they undermine the character that's posing.



Correct me if I'm wrong:

You're saying that the broken anatomy of certain splashes (like Lux and Sivir) distract the player from enjoying both the character itself and the rest of the splash.

Again, I can't say I feel the same way about Lux and Sivir (I didn't play much before they got their remakes), but I can say I've experienced this with Dragonblade Riven. It's difficult to take the splash seriously when it looks like half of the bones in her body are... missing. That being said, I don't have a problem with the splash. I respect the use of odd anatomy as the result of an art style. And it certainly has character.

I hope I answered your questions! It seems we feel a little differently about the use of broken anatomy, but I believe that it's simply the result of personal preferences.

Thanks for the feedback! Feel free to respond!


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