After several weekends of toiling about on my portrait boxes for my personal Vain Dream Renewal Graphics project (pet project), I finally completed them. There were two main portrait boxes I had designed, based off of the originals in the PC-98 edition of Vain Dream.
I recreated the portrait box for the dragon, and the standard character portrait boxes. Both were difficult to recreate! The question was ... "Should they look entirely like their pixel based versions, or should they incorporate similar design features but largely stand as their own?". When recreating 'things' from past media, I think it's important to stay true to the original, but to also stuff the recreations with the new artist's style, too.
The portrait boxes are entirely created in Illustrator. I was going to paint them in SAI and Photoshop, but in the end, it was more efficient to colour them in Illustrator (... easier too). With the mega powerful Appearance panel, I was able to make sure these borders didn't suffer from a mechanical, static looking appearance; a 'cartoonish' appearance that I see in a lot of vector art and which I really dislike. I went all out on the gradient feature so I think I've pretty much mastered that tool... maybe. It's a lot of fun to experiment with anyways.
The PARM error
The main portrait box was going swell until I decided to tinker with the extrude and bevel effect. My laptop is not a mega powerhouse, and the 3D effects tool can slow down the computer considerably (for example, a freeze when you turn on preview and forget to lower the default extrude depth from 50 pts to something lower .... .... ...).
Because of this, I received the inefficient memory and some PARM error. Well I decided the extrude & bevel was unnecessary, so it was removed. No slow downs. No PARMesian. Then I decided to add a texture to the corner graphics, as shown in the image below.
And to make matters worse, I also live traced the texture on low fidelity. Wow. What a mess (it also took more than 2 minutes to fully trace the entire texture).
Each time I moved the corner graphics, or rotate, reflect, whatever, there were several errors including PARM ... The problem? no other than the texture which I applied via the Transparency panel as a mask and live traced it to oblivion. When I removed it, there was no longer a PARM error. Furthermore, it could be that this live traced texture is very much overloading my computer, which is why AI is spitting out those memory and PARM errors every time I try to do something with just the corner graphics. (yes I've done the PREF trick too, and it didn't work).
Looking at it now, the texture looks pretty good overlayed on those gems. Might change the final portrait box in the future.
Dragon's Diamond (or gem)
So on the dragon's border, there are 4 45 degree blue 'orbs', or gems. Really, they look like orbs but because they are ensconced in the border's corner, which look like arrows pointing out, they should be recreated as gems. Besides, round orbs would look boring.
Before colouring the diamond, I winged the cuts and made many paths. Naturally, if I had added more line segments, the diamond would look more 3-D. I then used the live paint bucket tool to colour inside each area. I was going to have coloured strokes, but weird stuff happened in Illustrator (not unusual).
The base diamond has 7 colours. Since I had a limited palette, I couldn't use a lot of different shades. To get around that, it's important to manipulate the colours and to use other colours that are sphincterogous (the purples). As you can see from the second diamond, the colours weren't spaced out properly, making it look 'clumped' and slightly minimalist, which clashes with the luxurious and heavy golds.
Some process pictures...
The corner borders were going to be this mixture of green, gold and periwinkle. But it looks very weak, so I went with the golden and blue tone. I didn't want everything to be gold, and desired some blue mixed into the graphics to make the gold and blue contrast beautifully.
The basic process in creating the corner border (and the rest of the borders) were to first sketch (although I didn't sketch the long stretches of border), trace over in Illustrator as black and white, then fill in the colours (expanding too).