Computer graphics (CG) lies at the intersection of two fields — technology and design. Therefore, CG specialists can implement almost any idea using only their devices and skills. CG is especially important in esports because most viewers watch the game by turning on the broadcast. And only CG artists can put in the details that make the tournament complete and unique.
The job of a CG artist may include preparing concept art, titles, intermissions between matches, and more. However, behind every last detail, there are hours of a specialist’s work. Dmitry Drapikovsky, head of CG at WePlay Esports, will tell more about how the team prepared the design for one of the best Dota 2 Majors in history — WePlay AniMajor.
WePlay AniMajor was an anime-themed Dota 2 Major. As recently as in 2021, Netflix released an anime series based on Dota 2 that caused a huge stir among the fans of both cultures, so there was no better time to implement the idea of an anime-themed esport event.
“Naturally, the Dota: Dragon’s Blood opening by South Korean studio Mir inspired many. Even the main colors of the tournament—lilac, blue, and orange—echoed the color palette of the series a bit. These are the colors of the hero Invoker, who is one of the series characters too,” shares Dmitry Drapikovsky.
Just like you can’t come up with and write a book in one minute, you can’t create an event in a blink. Everything starts small, right?
“The first stage of preparation is widely known and used — we start with a brainstorming session. We created a mood board that consolidated all our ideas. The team included both members who were well versed in anime culture and those who only had superficial knowledge. And we sat down together and shared ideas and thoughts, filling our mood board,” comments Dmitry.
There are a huge number of styles in the world, and choosing only one seems to be an overwhelming task. Therefore, in addition to the mood board, the team does deep research, analyzing which style is more suitable for the show.
“We settled on the toon shading technique. The essence is that three-dimensional models are displayed as two-dimensional drawings with watercolor paint.
To recreate the authenticity of the anime genre, we resorted to advanced technologies — neural networks. Some of them helped boil down the 3D image to a 2D drawing style, while some dropped the animation frames to make it look like classic anime,” says Dmitry.
WePlay AniMajor POG. Video: WePlay Holding
Using toon shading, the CG artists drew avatars of talents, logos, and banners. Plus, the team drew all of the Dota 2 characters, which is about 120 heroes, each with its nuances.
“The most important thing is to stick to a common main theme. Our artistic team prepared 2D concepts, which motion designers used to take care of the broadcast graphics, graphic designers made the titles for the tournament, and animators started working with characters to create videos.
The creation of a tournament is the result of detailed planning and well-coordinated work of all departments: design, marketing, esports, and studio teams. To stay on the same page, we hold regular pre-production meetings. And as head of CG, I always inform the management of the current progress in developing the show’s design,” says Dmitry Drapikovsky.
The CG work may seem invisible, but it adds to the uniqueness of a tournament. During WePlay AniMajor, each tournament stage differed from the others. If there was a DJ, the stage would explode with flashes of bright colors, for example.
There is no small job when it comes to such a big event as WePlay AniMajor. From the first seconds of the tournament, the viewer is immersed in a new world, in which the hands of talented professionals create everything. Only the devotion of the whole team helps to achieve the wow effect.
Every detail that designers develop has its own meaning and purpose. Starting with the smallest titles and ending with the opening, the team draws everything and ensures that the final result will delight the viewer and improve the overall picture of the event.