Hallo friends! In this first episode of the making of-series we will explain the creation process of one selected portrait for Santria. All time favorite Olivia is the chosen example.

Sam and I are very hyped for our monthly procedure: while working on the game and getting a more detailed vision of the story, the need of certain characters becomes clearer. I imagined four departments for the Santria Corporation, with unique supervisors on top of them, reporting to Charlotte, the CEO of Santria Co.

One supervisor is head of the antarctic expedition department. Santria Co. is maintaining an expedition on the antarctic continent to investigate mysterious occasions there. Aliens maybe?! I approached Sam with the following pieces of information:

  • Blond ponytail and with long bangs and optional trapper hat
  • Winter jacket with fur collar (no animals were harmed!), expedition badge and pullover with comfy warm collar
  • Looking down on people with a “puh, troublesome…” attitude
  • Sucking a lollipop all the time, such a sweets addict!

Sam was hyped and told me, “A very good place to start, Schotti! It should be easy to design her based on this! :)” before she starts with the second step of the monthly procedure: the sketch.

Early sketch of Olivia done by Sam

Usually, Sam is drawing a sketch before she translates it into pixel art. Sometimes several iterations are needed before both of us are happy but in case of Olivia, Sam created the concept on point with her first try. The big challenge is to introduce new features and accessories while keeping the Santria style and let the portrait fit to the already existing ones.

The next step is figuring out the color scheme for the character. Santria is using DawnBringer’s DB32 palette and this limited restriction helps to keep a cohesive look and make pixel art extra crispy! The Santria Co. brand involves a lot of blue and Sam tried to include this in Olivia’s design. She came up with four different color schemes:

Picking the right color scheme is haaard!

Sometimes it is not easy to decide for one color scheme, especially if all of them have their own charm. In this case we like to ask our friends on Patreon or Twitter about their opinion! In the end, we decided for version 4, which has the best contrast between pullover and winter jacket. With this base, Sam started to work on the pixel portrait, most of the time on stream, and here is the final result:

Final pixel version of Olivia with a neutral face expression animation.

Of course, the portrait creation is not finished at this point. Different expressions to define the vibe of dialogues are essential for Santria and therefore Sam and I are brainstorming about suitable expressions and what kind of details are important. One expression which was a staple from the beginning was cringe, showing her contemptuous character:

Olivia might feel annoyed most of the time, but this doesn’t mean that she cannot be shocked by someone or something:

Employees of the Santria Co. need to train a sinister grin, right? Wonder what Olivia is scheming…

The last expression from Olivia’s big selection is thinking, something we always like to include to the character portraits as a base:

Um… can we, like, wrap this up?
I don’t have all day, y’know. Get real!

Olivia sighing

One minute, Olivia! Hey guys, Sam here! Schotti has summarized the process so well that I can’t think of much else to say, so I’ll just show you! Here are a couple speedpixel recordings of how I pixel portraits for Santria using the template I developed:

Back to you, Schotti!

Thanks, Sam! Well, this was our little Making of Santria’s portraits! We hope you enjoyed the read and feel motivated to try your own creations for your projects! As mentioned above, Sam created a portrait template with some curated expressions you can use as a base to tinker around. She has made the template available to our patrons here as a way to say thanks for all the generous support!

Feel free to leave a comment, and see you next time!

Your friends,

Schotti & Sam