Case Studies

Case study: RollPlay Dogs in the Vineyard Twitch Overlay

By 24 October, 2016 No Comments

Here we are again with another case study. I’ve been working hard after TwitchCon as you can tell so this is yet another week with case studies and to be more specific it’s all RollPlay case studies. Starting of the week is this weekends one shot Dogs in the Vineyard with Austin Walker (from Waypoint/Vice Gaming), Matt Mercer (Critical Role/Voice actor), Jerry Holkins (aka Tycho Brahe from Penny Arcade), itmeJP and gamemaster Adam Koebel.


We actually planned to do Dogs in the Vineyard during the RollPlay R&D series, I don’t know why that didn’t happen. However I did do research back then into the Dogs in the Vineyard universe so I was fairly familiar with the setting.

There where a few key things that I knew that I wanted to have in the overlays and the logo. All of that came from reading the description of the game and looking at the cover art. From the description I saw the time period and the more violent setting for the game. From the cover art I noticed two things and the first was the coats and the tree of life symbol. I had three things in front of me at that time, the woven coats, western era and the symbol. I now needed to infuse all of those into one thing without over explaining it and at the same time explaining enough. This is the eternal designer balance for the RollPlay shows since I have no control over what might happen in the games nor do I know exactly what Adam has in mind as I start my work weeks ahead of him preparing his notes.


There was no sketching involved this time around as I had already done enough research to know what I wanted it to look like. For RollPlay One Shots I have all the creative freedom that I need so there’s really no feedback from itmeJP. What I knew was that I wanted to have a wooden sign, I had looked up signs from that era, and I wanted it to have a etched or burnt feel to it. There was no need to make it look old (since it wouldn’t have been old during their time) but I knew that I wanted to have some sort of bloodstain on it.

RollPlay: Dogs in the Vineyard logo

Logo build up

With that in mind I started to create a created, with the Pen Tool, a basic shape for the sign. I kept a few reference images that I could both look at for reference but also to pick colors from. In the past I’ve often used textures or images of wood to get the right look. However this time around I wanted to see if I couldn’t hand draw everything. I had done wood textures in the past for… some show that I can’t remember right now… but that was more old tree type of texture than sawed crafted sign wood.

I started by picking a primer color and after that I started to build up with a smooth brush to get a bit of dimension with darker and lighter colors. After that I started to look for brushes that had some fiber to them or would sort of look like wood texture. Then by painting in different colors and different lights I started to get more and more of the look that I wanted.

As I started to feel satisfied with the look of the texture I began to work with the highlights and shadows. I knew that wood isn’t exactly perfect so I created a few organic looking indents in the wood with a dark brush. After that I used a light brush to do the lights so that the indents would pop out at you, looking at the reference images I drew a bit wider highlights. To finalize the highlights I used finer brush to push out some of the details in the texture as well.

The text was a bit harder to get right and I had to use a bunch of tricks. Thanks to Smart Objects the text can be changed pretty easily. I decided to go bit harder on the effect for the title of the show rather than on the RollPlay logo and subtitle. It just made sense to make the title the focal point of the logo.


RollPlay: Dogs in the Vineyard background


For the background I knew that I wanted to use the coat concept since that would make sense as large object. The pattern in itself I created in illustrator with very simple shapes and Step and Repeat to repeat the objects. I took that entire pattern into Photoshop, used one of the textures that I bought in the past and used blending modes and blend if to get the the texture to some through the text. With a large soft brush I started to build up dimension with dark and light orange/brown colors, the same way as with the logo.

RollPlay: Dogs in the Vineyard background details

Background details

When I had that I duplicated that layer and turned it black and white, messed around with it a bit more to get the highlight and shadows to look a bit better. I then went back to the pattern layer, made it a Smart Object, and used a distortion filter combined with the black and white version. Added in a little extra on the vertical for the distortion and that made the entire pattern image wrap around it and give it the look that it’s not flat.


For the overlays I knew that I couldn’t morph or distort them since they would have people with flat camera under them. Instead I used a Photoshop action that I also had bought, since it would have taken way too long to create this effect without it. The action creates a sown seam after a alpha image. That way I could create a simple layout for the frames and use the action to get the desired effect.

This was partly due to that we have 4 projects running at once and partly to save time for the other shows. At the moment I was also working on RollPlay: Blades, Dropped Frames Live and RollPlay: Court of Swords Live, so time had to be made so that focus could shift to the other projects. As I’m writing this there’s another project coming from itmeJP. At time, even if you want, there’s moment where you need to cut corners you do this by cutting those corners without anyone noticing and without it effecting the outcome and quality of the end product.

To create the wooden boards I actually reused the same texture I’ve created for the big sign. Since that was on several different layers it was easy to import and since it was bigger I could even move them around a bit to get a different look.

Getting to make overlays for people like Jerry and Matthew is pretty amazing. There’s really no difference between making these but it adds a layer of legitimacy to the entire thing. 

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