Anime Valentine’s DLC

This is part of Jon’s server event.

K occasionally has a “DLC” post to show how things went behind the scenes, hence the name of the post. Basically, I spent a few hours over 2 days perfecting these and almost threw everything out at one point because I was worried people would take the lines the wrong way, but people seem to be really happy with the results (even if my original result got somewhat deviated from).

I started this wanting to create a design with a lovecore aesthetic.

I started by brainstorming a bunch of ideas and ended up with a trio of lines for Fling Posse (from Hypnosis Mic – all you really need to know about them for this post is Fling Posse is Ramuda, Gentaro and Dice and they’re normally juxtaposed against Matenrou, which is Jakurai, Hifumi and Doppo) and a trio of designs. I then took the line I thought would be mostly understood by people and turned it into a proof of concept of sorts, using the very clear mental image I had as a guide (I’m bad at imagining colours when I think up ideas, so I just had a layout fully formed in my head). I dubbed them:

  1. The classic (?) meme Valentine.

2. A derivation of the first one, but with a bunch of candy hearts in the corner. I envisaged it with either a corner decoration or a clump of hearts together, but couldn’t decide on which corner to put it in because I could easily imagine it with the decoration on either side. However, I found a picture under Creative Commons licence which had a bunch of hearts, so the proof of concept became the meme with hearts covering the bottom third of the image.

3. A design based on a chocolate box, with a bow and writing on the label. For the label, I used shape tools in Paint.net to generate a right-angled triangle and a rectangle, rotated them, then bridged the resulting gap with a thick line.

This proof of concept was a bunch of pinks and purples because in Paint.net (the program I use), the purple I used for the ribbon and the raspberry pink I used for the background are next to each other on the very right of the selector, making them easy to use while still also fitting the lovecore aesthetic I was aiming for and contrasting with Dice. The truly astute will realise I used the ARB (i.e. game) PNGs on every HypMic Valentine but Dice’s – ones with drop shadows – and this was also for a reason. I imagined Dice’s with his official visual, but to save time I used the ARB images (which I’d saved beforehand) for the other ones.

After asking for clarification from Jon, I got the best response and some feedback on design no. 3: change the colour (Jon suggested for no. 1 to have a diamond design, so I bounced off that to create a shade of gold) and give the ribbon some texture (from K). There is no texture tool in Paint.net, so I found a fancy purple bow under Creative Commons and luckily, there was one part which was just ribbon with no watermarks.

I tried to make the bow out of a bunch of shapes, but then the lines in the middle made it obvious I’d handdrawn them and so I found a bow (again, Creative Commons) and made it transparent instead.

This, I admitted, was the design I wanted…but it looked like a birthday present. Since Ramuda’s birthday actually is Valentine’s Day and one of the lines I thought of alluded to this, I kept this version for the final version of his but squashed the text.

Sidebar: Paint.net is a free Photoshop alternative and so it’s possible to have a bunch of layers saved using the extension “.pdn”. I saved a PDN at certain points and saved as PNG at the end, because PNG has less compression than JPG.

I named the files by using numbers to distinguish them (e.g. the image above is “valentine3-2”, i.e. design no. 3, vers. 2) – a habit from all those days doing IT things that could be rolled back.

While making these proof of concepts and continuing with my daily life, I’d thought up a bunch of other lines and by this point, I was starting to doubt myself. I also had the idea that I would cater the final product to the recipient, but I didn’t have a person in mind, so I started trying to make lines to match characters. By late Thursday night (by which I mean 2 am Friday, because as with other tweets, I spent an hour wrestling with Twitter constraints), I had about 9 ideas written down. Rider was intended for Moya after seeing her review of Spring Song and Shoya was intended for K, but seeing Koe no Katachi on Jon’s favourites list and remembering Moya had watched it for a post revealed this wasn’t as catered as I would have liked it to be.

The list I ended up with. If you must know why I refer to this song in particular, the charity store had the album with Barbie Girl on it (Aquarium) on repeat at the time, but Jon’s task is to make an original Valentine, so that got the axe first.

(Shoya’s one was “I want to hear nobody but you”, which I’d imagined with the climactic shot of him uncovering his ears as the Xs fall from people’s faces. Also, there was no way I was going to swear in a Valentine just to be true to Samatoki’s character…but I didn’t want to say “dumb” either, which was the original idea.)

As you can see from the list, the results of my brainstorming were very mixed and I became afraid the lines wouldn’t be interpreted as romantic, too platonic in the case of Jakurai or worse, I would be taken as a yandere in the case of Rider or Shoya.

After trying to do a bunch of tweaks which I thought were final, including adding an empty circle to suggest there was a hole punched there (see below), I became really dissatisfied when I saw the Valentine I had, to the point I wanted to throw everything I’d worked on out and go work on something else, so I gave myself a moment to collect myself. After admitting I needed someone to talk it over with, Nabe jumped in and suggested a few things, namely the drop shadow and rotation to the left.

This became the final result and I built off Dice’s to make the others by switching out the colours and the lines. The Hue/Saturation tool automatically remembers an old selection if you’re using the same image and the ribbon, tag and background were saved as different layers, so it was just tearing it apart, building a new one in about 10 minutes (minimum) and slapping a note in the corner to admit the character wasn’t mine.

The order I made them in was Dice -> Jakurai -> Zhongli (from Genshin Impact, to thank Nabe for her troubles) -> Gentaro -> Hifumi -> Doppo -> Izaya (from Durarara!!, a last-minute request from Rose, with the character suggested by Scott). I had to read up on these characters I didn’t know about on their respective wikis and think of lines that would work for them. Oddly enough, I would liken this to translation, because you take an existing thing, turn it over in your head a bit, do something with it and turn it into your own thing in the process.

You can see the final results in the tweets below:

Other notes:

  • Hifumi’s took a bit to get right because I added candy hearts from design no. 2, as well as the fact Hifumi already spouts cheesy Valentine’s-worthy lines on the regular. I ended up making a rather suggestive line by playing with the fact he’s a host.
  • Izaya’s black/caramel was directly inspired by Gentaro’s black/yellow combo, although Gentaro’s was originally going to be a mint shade. Gentaro’s also meant I struggled with Hifumi’s because I didn’t want the purple ribbon again, nor did I want the black/yellow. The red/yellow I went with seems to suggest Anchorman (which I have not watched, but have seen the posters of). If you stare at it for a while, the red looks like the red velvet used for ring boxes and…well, red velvet cakes.
  • Doppo’s is a reference to Tigridia.
  • Jakurai’s is a reference to the fact his catchphrase of sorts is “kyoumi bukai” (fascinating, interesting). I was happy with the fact it can be interpreted with both suggestive and platonic meanings at one point, but then thought overwhelmingly with the latter and got stuck in that funk. At different points, this one was addressed to Jon and Nabe.
  • Ramuda’s “Run away with me” line refers to the bit at the climax of Rhyme Anima. His speech in various sources, including ARB, has little hearts, stars and other similar touches in it, so I tried to imitate that, only to drop it from the final result.
  • I thought Gentaro’s initial line was far too blunt, so I had to take his lie shtick and make it work a different way. This line probably has the biggest cheesiness to it and I can see other people using it on their meme Valentines with Comic Sans.
  • At one point, I realised I wrote “for you” instead of “on you” on some of Dice’s proof of concepts and had to fix them all. As I explained in the server, betting your life for someone is stupid, as it implies you’re tossing away your life for the gamble (…which, admittedly, Dice would do), but betting your life on them is potentially romantic (which Dice would also do, if he ever loved someone as much as he loved gambling).
  • It didn’t seem right to have Jakurai by himself when Fling Posse were together, which is why I made Hifumi and Doppo’s lines up (almost) on the fly.
  • The font used is Chihaya Font (aka “chifont”). It has little hearts in places, which is why I think it appropriate for the season.
  • All in all, it took about 3 days of work (didn’t do much on the middle day) to do this much.

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