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Nepenthe

SegaSonic Art: What It Is, What It Isn't, and What It Can Be!

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Makes sense if anything. I kinda like how much variety you could pull off with the shapes they have and how you can still identify the individual silouettes of something like their heads. Sure it's the same shape, but you can tell the difference from a bird, a hedgehog, a fox, a cat, or a bat from one another despite having similar shapes that make them up.

 

On the subject of clothing, I've always wondered how it would be if male characters were actually given full body clothing like that of the females. Not that I would entirely do away with them not having clothes, but I think it would be awesome to see what other styles they could wear instead of being left to just shoes and gloves as a default. You have female characters given shirts, pants, dresses, skirts, jackets, catsuits, you'd think the male characters would be given more choices in wear.

 

I suppose the closest idea would be imagining the clothing/armor they would wear like that in the Storybook games. But I want more cloth than metal.

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I always liked the art by Uekawa and Oshima. Both of them have styles that everyone can mimic but no one can't really capture the "spirit" behind their art.

 

The only thing I would say is that I feel like Uekawa's art has becomed a little bit too "restrictive." A better way of putting it is that I feel he tends to recycle a lot of poses or ideas again and again.

 

I liked his art more when Oshima played a role in his art during Sonic Adventure since I feel his art had more graffiti/emblem dare I say more "free" feeling than the art we starting getting SA2-onwards.

 

Though the SegaSonic art style has made me want to draw since I was little and even though I don't have an artistic background, I feel like it has helped me a lot in my drawing skills.

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I never thought that Vanilla's 'hair' was akin to human hair. I always thought it was a fur marking that merely grew tufty with age and can't really be described as human-esque hair as a result. And I also don't believe that Sonic characters have fingernails either except for the Werehog, who's nails I interpret to merely be a design choice to emphasize the form's rugged toughness and to facilitate his hook-type and slashing moves in gameplay and not an example that suggests that all Sonic characters have fingernails. I mean Darkspine Sonic is not so much a 'radical' design change from normal Sonic, the form has the same proportions and overall body-type of normal Sonic yet he has no fingernails.

 

Additionally, what proves the fact that Archie don't have any complete grasp of SEGASonic art design is how it's artists actually make their own edits to established character design standards which detract from the design of the character and stand-out by how inappropriate they are, which just shows how even their edits are terrible. For a particularly good example of this, see the toeless-ness aspect of Sonic character design.

 

On Sonic X issue #34, Amy and Knuckles are given rather ugly humanoid feet, which clashes horribly with the rest of their designs and is a direct and clearly conscious contradiction of their established character designs in X;

 

01.jpg

 

This image of Tikal is a particularly stark example;

 

TikalProfile.jpg

 

This is obviously a case of artists forcing their own preferences for character design on an already established Sonic character design standard and it looks so awful that it alone defies that rule about Sonic character design; They are not excessively humanoid.

 

A big peeve of mine though is ugly human-esque hair that is so atypical of non-SEGA characters. No Sonic Team designed character has a human-like barnet of hair atop her head unless she/he is actually human or human-like i.e Maria, Shahra, Merlina. Marine's pigtails, Rouge's tufts at the bottom of the the back of her head are just 'extensions' of their fur and are not defined as separate hair.

 

The SatAM's cast's recently revealed redesigns however seem to show that Archie is finally actually getting it though.

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A thing to notice is that nothing Nepenthe wrote is actually SEGASonic.

 

It's called "Good Cartooning 101", or maybe "Anime Rubberhose Cartooning 101". Solid shapes, good construction, lines of action? That's the basic skillset for literally anything, otherwise we'd have to consider John K a Sonic fanartist :P

 

I'd say the SEGASonic flavour comes from specific design aesthetics, which I normally sum as "Characters are 80's anime rubberhose, but machinery is 90's anime cyberpunk, simplified". Except the badniks in Lost World are throwing this last part away, harrumpf.

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I like that if you look at that cover, the only character who actually wears sandals (Big) has been given flippers to hide the typical sonicy bean feet and not look out of place with knuckles and Amy

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Also regarding the examples of Archie art, I'd be interested to see Nepenthe write on Ben Bates, as Bates is the one artist actively trying to crack the SEGASonic-artwork question open. Spaz is too much "let's copy Sonic and add in Capcom artwork", and Yardley! is a good worker but frankly wonky and if it weren't for the awful art before him he wouldn't be as revered. Let's not talk Butler.

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The Archie examples you used, they are definitely not Uekawa styled but the thing is I don't see that as a bad thing. I think they are good in their own right and that the comic is not obligated to follow the SEGASonic/Uekawa style. 

 

But that's off topic. Good read.

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The Archie examples you used, they are definitely not Uekawa styled but the thing is I don't see that as a bad thing. I think they are good in their own right and that the comic is not obligated to follow the SEGASonic/Uekawa style. 

 

But that's off topic. Good read.

 

That and each artsit has their own style and I don't think they should try to pidgeonhole themselves into trying to emulate Sega Sonic asthetics down to the letter, but I digress.

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The Archie examples you used, they are definitely not Uekawa styled but the thing is I don't see that as a bad thing. I think they are good in their own right and that the comic is not obligated to follow the SEGASonic/Uekawa style. 

 

But that's off topic. Good read.

 

 

That and each artsit has their own style and I don't think they should try to pidgeonhole themselves into trying to emulate Sega Sonic asthetics down to the letter, but I digress.

 

 

Could sworn she said that she criticized Archie simply for comparative purposes, and never said anything about Archie being bad.

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I like a sense of consistency amongst character designs and adherence to established character design standards so the anthro characters have some common thread of familiarity amongst them despite different bodyframes, not an artist thinking they can take any route they damn well please out of personal preference. That's how you get stuff like that Sonic X cover, Tikal and monstrosities like this;

 

KnucklesJulieSukiss.png

 

tumblr_lxu22swYcR1qedo7io1_500.png

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One thing I tend not to like about Sega!Sonic's style is how most of the characters are cut from the same cloth in terms of body proportions. Obviously, there are exceptions like Big & Vector as pointed out, but then characters like Cream & Marine stick out to me. If I recall isn't Marine's design based on a prototype Cream?

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I prefer Uekawa's older work to his newer works, the much edgier and slanted style, let me explain.

 

 

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Recent Uekawa art linked in with the Generations promotion, comparing the modern work with..

 

sonic-adventure.png

 

Uekawa's Sonic Adventure art.

 

Right, comparison time, this is effectively how Uekawa's art style for Sonic has evolved over nearly 15 years.

 

Sonic Adventure style

  • Incredibly bendy limbs to the point of unbelievable proportions and poses, this is entirely possible due to the fact Sonic characters don't have any physical joints like elbows or knees, they have what I like to call "Spaghetti Limbs" which gives them the ability to pull off impossibly crazy poses and actions, not just this but...

  • Proportions - Sonic is only 3 foot tall but maintains actual human sized arms on his stout body which means when his arms are full extended to his sides, they literally reach his socks, his proportions pretty much work out like "beach ball head, Bean body, spherical fists, noodle arms and legs and cone feet.

  • Limb size - Sonic's body is incredibly disproportionate due to his design, he has 7 large quills, an oversized head, a tiny body and elongated arms, but how does he even stand? or maintain balance? It's a mix of 2 things, his arm length is equal on both sides which in turn, causes him to maintain balance, but how does he not fall back with all that extra head weight going against him, simple his actual feet cover a large surface area in FRONT of him, having pretty much clown feet in his design means he can counteract his back weight with weight and surface area in his shoes, also not to mention he has extra aid with his enormous hands.

  • Hands & Feet - Uekawa's SA art is famous for the exaggerated style he spins on his accessories, hands, feet and quills, Sonic's fingers are HUGE, if you think his overall hands are big, have you SEEN the size of his hands once he displays his fingers into a fan motion? Each finger has a bulbous tip to an otherwise spindly noodle giving him that iconic curve and flick we've all come to love from his iconic finger points and general hand poses in various art works over the years. His feet now have always been big, ever since Sonic 1 he's had boat feet, but they are taken to ridiculous lengths in SA art, adding even more length to them, a curve and a toe lift, the over all design choice makes Sonic look edgy, hip and cool with the way Uekawa bolds out the line art, making Sonic look sharp without no actual sharp edges, it's just an illusion because a staple in all of the full SA art work is all the edges are rounded.

  • Eyes, Muzzle and Expressions - Uekawa's eyes are very squashed and slanted giving Sonic a sort of cocky and confident look without passing off as dark or evil, his muzzles are normally oddly shaped and his expressions are always so over the top, and gave us that satisfying Nike grin.


I could gush all day about Uekawa's SA/SA2 art but now we need to compare the modern Uekawa art!

 

  • Limbs - Are far more reserved in his newer work, Sonic somewhat now has elbows and knees since he has actual edges to his arms and legs when he has them bent due to the art approach Uekawa takes to constructing his poses, not to mention Sonic has gained form and weight in his limbs which make his poses far more natural and believable.
  • Proportions - Sonic's proportions are more believable now, with a slightly larger and thinner body, a reduced head size based entirely from a circle, and the new form his quills pull off because of the reduction in length, but addition in thickness makes it entirely believable that his design is far easier to work with with the simplified design.
  • Hands & Feet- Greatly reduced, still large but reduced to much smaller size, plus a more believable hand with joints as well as the bulbous rounded tip has now been hacked to a straight tip, His foot size has also been reduced and the shape of it has also changed, his back spikes are smaller and more reserved and his ears have been widened and reduced in height.
  • Eyes, Muzzles & Expressions - His eyes have been widened and rounded greatly so he's lost his edgy attitude look he had from SA/SA2, his brow is no where near as profound as it used to be, getting rid of that angry look, the muzzle itself is far more natural looking to the crazy shapes and proportioning the SA art got, but sadly his expression work is heavily lacking because I see a lot of "same face syndrome" on most of his work, you could argue the fact the nike grin was over used in the SA work, but for some reason it always looked fresh in all of the work and I never get tired of it personally, but I'm sick of the hald assed smirk Uekawa always uses.

This is just my personal analysis on the styles, but I really miss his old stuff, his expressions and pose work was always so bizarre and awesome to see, the SA Sonic boxart pose is literally my favourite official piece ever.

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Thanks to everyone that responded. I appreciate it. x3
 

One thing I tend not to like about Sega!Sonic's style is how most of the characters are cut from the same cloth in terms of body proportions. Obviously, there are exceptions like Big & Vector as pointed out, but then characters like Cream & Marine stick out to me. If I recall isn't Marine's design based on a prototype Cream?

 

I've never heard of this being true. Seems more along the lines of that "Mighty is a prototype Sonic!" deal that went around for years. With her head being so square however, she feels more so like a hybrid between Tails and Cream than simply a straight deviation off the latter.
 

Also regarding the examples of Archie art, I'd be interested to see Nepenthe write on Ben Bates, as Bates is the one artist actively trying to crack the SEGASonic-artwork question open. Spaz is too much "let's copy Sonic and add in Capcom artwork", and Yardley! is a good worker but frankly wonky and if it weren't for the awful art before him he wouldn't be as revered. Let's not talk Butler.

 

I could probably find some space to talk about Archie artists (though, might that suit its own thread?) I just took a quick look through his Sonic work on dA, and some pieces immediately evoke nostalgia for Sonic X... the good Sonic X art, mind you. xP

 

On the subject of expressions, I don't consider that a particular weakness for this style. Rather, I think it's a symptom of the fact that most of the art we get is promotional, thus it's meant to highlight the characters in neutral situations that in turn emphasize their pose and what personality can be gleaned from those poses. The overwhelming majority of video game art is the same way. We know Uekawa can definitely draw expressions however, mainly because the style just doesn't inherently inhibit the ability to do so:
 

Artworksg3dsmarinev2.png

 

And of course, we're also getting a lot more Channel art putting the characters in more context-specific situations like holidays, hobbies, and travel which makes them just as personable as a good expression shot. Frankly, I'd be more curious to see what the man draws on his off days, when he actually feels like drawing Sonic outside of his day job. It's good stuff, no doubt. x3

However, I also understand the preference for the old style, mainly because it was so completely bonkers! The rubber hosing was so apparent that it almost went on the other end of the spectrum as what we're getting now, where more cubic shapes and solids were almost completely gone. Everything was a curve. Everything. But it gave the characters a really unique look; like someone here said, they felt "graffiti-like." It was cool, which is sad because I've seen the layman think the art nowadays comes across as way too "extreme" or "trying too hard." Meh; there's no accounting for taste.

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I just don't find the jaggedy and close-to-the-refs posing/design to be all that interesting. Even with them doing neat things like dressing up for holidays and interacting with other characters/environments, they don't look particularly lively or interesting when doing so. The most their facial expressions go is basically "generic happy/angry/sad/blank face", and their poses sacrifices dynamics for proper proportions.

 

Those reasons are why I see Uekawa's current style to be very similar to "anime-izing" Sonic. And thats pretty bad whenever even the OVA (an actual anime film) shows more emotion and life in the art!

 

005_zps44db5d3d.jpg

Ouch_zps1c3ebf01.jpg

tumblr_m8wn1fPzU01qlj42ao1_400_zps3cdcf9
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tumblr_m8ta9g79DV1qlj42ao1_400_zps13e6ad
 

 

Lots of usage in exaggeration and emotion in each pose, a mixture of simple and smooth lines/shapes/curves followed by sharp points, and a very rubberhose look while still managing to pull off "joints". Its not afraid to jump off the reference sheet and rather do what looks good (or funny) with the character designs in mind. I like that mindset as well.

 

Also if I could, I'd post more screenshots, but I think I'll just leave this here as an example of how this works in 3D.

 

 

I guess I just have a hard time seeing Uekawa's current style be that flexible.

Edited by Azookara

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Sonic's expressions don't look divorced from the stuff present in the expression sheet for Marine, though, as well as the Storybook games' cut scene artwork, or even some shots we got from Sonic X of all things which at least attempted to imitate the games' 2D artwork:
 

005sonic.jpg
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Knuckles' expression seems like the only one where they did a Kricfalusci of sorts and tossed the model sheet out the door outright, but that seems to be the greatest extent of exaggerating form and emotion, which is understandable for a fairly throwaway joke. It also helps that the characters were all drawn within the context of a film, which means there's plot and underlying character motivations to help give context to expression, as with the Sonic X shots. Not that standalone pictures can lack narrative of course, but I think it's a factor to take into account.

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I often forget that in a few instances Sonic X had fairly well done expressions and movements (most notably in the early episodes; since I only remember it happening less and less as more episodes were made), but I guess thats because it was infrequent and the animation itself wasn't too great. XD 

 

I know that the OVA art as well as those shots were supposed to have a plot that made them react in certain ways to stuff too, but that doesn't excuse that normal shots still shouldn't be so generic. :v

Edited by Azookara

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I love Modern Sonic's expressions and I don't really believe that his facial anatomy is a damper on what he can show expression-wise. Even Unleashed and SatSR showed Sonic with expressive ears which is quite uncommon. It was particularly good in NOTW. Werehog's expressions in particular really got across the form's overall whimsicalness for me and gives him off as a funny character if his fighting style/moves weren't evidence enough;

 

tumblr_mn83qqnrzV1s9pusko1_500.png

 

I almost bust my gut laughing whilst compiling these

 

It's really cool how his wide mouth is utilized. You can even see in concept art sheets for NOTW how evident the mouth-usage is;

 

090227_ve_04.jpg

 

It's a real contrast to normal form Sonic's small side-mouth.

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Shh. We don't speak of the middle episodes. :x

 

But when it was on point, the animators were wringing expression out of the characters left and right, and the underlying design was basically taken from the Adventure stylings of Uekawa's art. So again, I don't think it's a problem with the style so much as it is the circumstances under which the art has to be done and what it's purpose is.

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I like a sense of consistency amongst character designs and adherence to established character design standards so the anthro characters have some common thread of familiarity amongst them despite different bodyframes, not an artist thinking they can take any route they damn well please out of personal preference. That's how you get stuff like that Sonic X cover, Tikal and monstrosities like this;

 

KnucklesJulieSukiss.png

 

tumblr_lxu22swYcR1qedo7io1_500.png

 

Okay, the Sonic picture isn't too bad (though it is awkward, I'll give it that.) But the picture above it? What the hell is going on here?

 

But yeah, I love Uekawa's style. And I never noticed that about the flow thing, but now that I look at it, it does make a lot of sense.

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That bottom picture seems like an intent to give Sonic some semblance of more nuanced anatomy while still sticking in the confines of his cartoony design. He has more prominent shoulders, spine and hips, as well as more natural looking bending at the legs. Frankly, I think you could get away with it, but emphasizing different body parts as basically circles on top of one another- with no smooth transition into the different body parts- gets a little weird and makes him look like he has a prominent butt instead, or at least no fat on his abdomen whatsoever. xP

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I actually kinda like the bottom picture. Gives Sonic a more powerful look to him.

 

The top image tho? Yeah, we can all see that looks wrong...

 

The question is, what is right about it?

 

I mean, it even goes to the whole wrongness factor by giving Knuckles boobs on his face.

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