Watch Real Human Hands Paint King’s Quest

The art direction in the new King’s Quest [official website] is a prickly subject. While some people are unimpressed with the final outcome, at least we can all agree that it comes from a good place. The latest ‘Behind The Scenes With The Odd Gentlemen’ video (which will never stop being creepy) shows that everything you see in the game will be hand-painted. Whether you’re a fan of the painting or not is up to you.

The emphasis here seems to be on a lack of digital painting, which makes the process less efficient, but more… Well, it means that it’s all hand painted, which is a nice bullet point for the back of the box. Of course, most textures are hand painted, technically, using digital brushes instead of horsehair. And most paints and brushes can be replicated in Photoshop nowadays, so really it’s about romanticising the old methods.

I love a good bit of romanticising, and if seems fitting for a series like King’s Quest. One built around fairy tales, forged in the early fires of the games industry. I think it results in some fantastic matte paintings and texture work, even if some of the models leave a little to be desired. I’ll be reserving judgement until I get my hand on the full game, though. As a fan of the series, I’m hoping that won’t be too far away.


  1. MrNash says:

    I don’t mind ogling art for an upcoming game, but this video just irked me. Too much of the typical cavalcade of PR talking points, and not enough of the actual art. I know they’ve got a game to sell, but the tone videos like this have just bugs me. =\

    • Jekhar says:

      I don’t know why they’re even parading the term “hand painted” when the finished result still looks like some sterile CGI crap.

  2. Saarlaender39 says:

    I like the style. And I like the fact, that the artists do it the “oldschool”-way.
    Even if drawing/painting on a (let’s say) Cintiq is technically speaking no big difference to drawing/painting on a sheet of paper – it’s nice to see, that people appreciate their art enough, to do the extra step necessary, to bring it onto our screens.

    • Smashbox says:

      I don’t know that I buy the claim (in the article or here) that there’s no functional difference between physical and virtual painting. I think there are huge differences

      • skorpeyon says:

        Personally, I’ve seen artwork done in Microsoft Paint, with a mouse, look as though it were hand-painted on canvas. You can, digitally, emulate physical art. It takes practice, and it takes dedication, but it’s very possible. That being said, it’s a rare talent. Someone who can paint is far more likely to put a brush to canvas and do a good job than someone who can draw digitally is to emulate the painted product using a purely digital setup.

  3. skalpadda says:

    The backgrounds look gorgeous, but I can’t help but wonder why they’re using 3D assets at all. I’ve been replaying a bunch of old 90s adventure games lately and while they’re low res and the animations are sometimes a bit clunky, that unified and very personal style is something we don’t see very often these days.

  4. acespade22 says:

    I LOVE the art direction of this game although it may have more to do with “nostalgia” than anything else… Loved seirra games back in the day and i cant help but look at the art direction and be reminded of Don Bluth’s style in the 80’s arcade hit Dragons Lair.

  5. tomimt says:

    Clearly because they want both, the aesthetics of handpainted backgrounds and the freedom of freely moving 3D camera. On that they’re doing pretty good work, though I’m not yet quite sold about the character celshading.

    • tomimt says:

      ^ This was meant for replay to skalpadda.

    • shoptroll says:

      I think the other benefit is that it’s probably cheaper to animate 3D models than 2D sprites which require doing everything by hand.

      I really like that they’re painting the backgrounds and much of the textures. That’s basically how Sierra did their P&C games back in the day. It’s cool to hear they’re using a similar technique for this game.

      • tomimt says:

        Sure, the animation costs of 2D vs 3D are also a big factor. I remember seeing an old King’s Quest making of video some time ago, I think it was in Youtube, where they showed the animators of Sierra doing the animations in traditional cel style. It really is a damned shame that they had to put all that awesome work to such a low resolutions back then, as the details on the backrounds and in the characters would most likely look astonishing on modern high resolutions.

    • skalpadda says:

      Didn’t really see anything in the trailer that made much use of a 3D camera, but they were just short snippets of course. And yeah, both that and costs/time investment of 2D vs 3D are probably factors. I just love the look of well done 2D animation and it’s almost becoming a lost art outside of pixely indie games.

    • skorpeyon says:

      I feel it really depends on how good of a job they do making sure the animated characters don’t stand out TOO much. In the quick clip of him running into a forest I felt it was actually very well-done, but most of the rest of the quick scenes they showed had me doubting. Cell shading just clashes really hard on hand-painted art in my opinion. That’s mostly because cell shading often uses very bright colors, and hand-painted art is almost always darker, somewhat duller. It’s rarely as super-bright as cell shading comes out. If they tone it down a bit, make it not so bright, I think it can work.