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Survive the Shadows

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Hello everyone! Aileen Rose is the name and art and animation are my game. I'm new to the forum and well, happy to be here to meet other fellow Don't Starve fans and well, share my work.


You've probably heard of Survive the Shadows from two videos that were put up on You Tube not too long ago. Mainly a rough animation and animatic to be more specific. Well, I'm the person who did the artwork and animation for those suckers. And I don't plan to stop at those two videos. I've got too many idea to just leave it at that.


Anyhow, I wanted to share more things concerning Survive the Shadows besides videos and well, my co-writer talked me into coming here so here we are. I'll mainly be sharing artwork for the story and sneak peaks for projects as well as process work and heck, maybe post the chapters here along with their covers.


Though I would like to hear from you guys personally of what you would like to see from me since I have a lot of work that has already been posted to other sites so, please, let me hear your voices. Like would you like to see some of the step by steps I did for the animations? Or how I draw certain things? Let me know! I'd be more than happy to share.


Also, I'm open to questions about pretty much anything concerning Survive the Shadows. Don't be shy. You can ask me anything in regards to animation, story questions, etc. I'm game for all. Well as long as you don't ask for spoilers. Mehehe, can't tell you everything. In the words of my co-writer Storm. NO SPOILERS!


Anyways, looking forward to getting to know all you people! And I hope I can some what entertain you!


- Aileen Rose

Edited by Aileen-Rose
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Wilson Chart
Let's start simple I guess. When I first started doing artwork for Survive the Shadows I just started with Wilson since well it was obvious he was going to be lead character. Things have changed a bit since then in how I draw the guy but that's art growth for ya. I was originally planning on giving everyone a chart like this but I never got around to it since well I never produced enough sketches for everyone to get their own personal chart. So only Wilson really got one. (Willow did too but I'm not sharing it.) All started with random pen sketches that eventually became this.

Not to say the others didn't get some form of a chart.

Survivor Chart

Shadow Beings

These both took two days of work to color and finalize. I had the sketches of the characters for quite a few months I just hadn't bothered to colored them till I realized I was going to need color refs for future chapters. I was happy with how all the characters came out in the style since translating did take thinking. Though Wilson and Willow are a bit dated in looks on these charts since, as mentioned before, I've developed a certain way of drawing them since I first started. But eh, still works for the charts. Drawing each survivor was a ball for me since it was a challenge to try some new body types and facial types. Then for the Shadow Beings I got to design a character which was also fun. So... Yeah. I just love doing character stuff. I just find it fun. (Small note. The Grue design was created before "A New Reign" trailer had come out so I didn't know what Charlie officially looked like till it was too late since the design had already shown up in a chapter cover. I kept the design since well, artistic license. And it's special to Survive the Shadows.)

And that's it for now. Let me know what else you guys would like to see and I'll show it to ya.

See ya!

- Aileen Rose

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Wilson Walk Cycle


My relationship with animation is weird. There are days that I'm down right frustrated with it, then there are days that I just shrug at the frustrating part and just start enjoying myself. Then again, it depends what part is driving me nuts. With this, it was mainly getting the leg movement right during the rough draft stages. Emphasis on rough for me since there have been moments of insanity of not being happy with what it looks like right off the bat. Then I have to remind myself "It's the rough version, you can fix it in the next stage." So yeah, I got a walk cycle for Wilson which I am happy for since I do have a use for this thing. (I'm sure you can probably put together what it's probably going to be used for.) And yeah, that's it for now. I have intentions on coloring this when it is time for the thing it is for to get underway, for now, I'm just happy I was able to get it working as a line work.

Enjoy. =)

- Aileen Rose

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Welcome! :D No offense but I didn't expect you to join the forums. I thought since you hadn't already joined, it wasn't really your thing (or you didn't know about it). Anyway it's good to see you here :) now you can kinda get to know us on a more personal level if you wanted to.

I still have yet to see your more recent stuff on DA. My internet went down for 3 days and I haven't had a chance to start on the 90+ notifs I have ^^'

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On 7/16/2016 at 3:26 AM, Mobbstar said:

uh... uh..


just... everything?

Minimal Spamming.png

I figure I'll go about it like this. I'll do a daily post about something be it animation, story, etc. I'll try to have variety in posts though some might be a sequence of stuff that all links together. Just all depends what it is I want to talk about that day. If something gets requested then I'll talk about that. If not, then I'll just keep to my schedule. The only days I won't be posting are Sundays since those are days that I take a break from doing heavy work and from online stuff. (Today is an exception since I wanted to post this yesterday but things weren't working properly on my end.) So yeah. Plan is tomorrow I'm doing a post on some BTS stuff for Welcome to the Shadows. What that stuff is you'll have to wait and see.

So yeah, if you find something you want me to expand on, by all means, let me know. I'd be more than happy to talk about it. Because while I have my plans, there may be something that might not have crossed my mind. So, there ya go.

Catch ya later!

- Aileen Rose

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3 hours ago, DragonMage156 said:

Are you gonna post your Survive the Shadows story and additional comics here? (I mean I assume so but...)

Story Stack.png

Oh yeah I totally will though two questions on that matter.

Should I copy and paste stories here on posts or just copy and paste the links to the FF.net version under the chapter covers?

Should I have a separate thread for just the story so it doesn't get lost under all the other posts I have planned for this thing or should I just keep it under this one despite that fact?

I need opinions. PLEASE. Whatever would be easier for you guys.

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1 hour ago, Aileen-Rose said:

Story Stack.png


packing too much.png

Hey, something we both have in common(the piles of art in my house I need to organize and such, sheesh).arielgoesheh.png


So yeah, looking forward to what you have to post in this thread. You seem to have a lot going into this project so good luck on it's future. The Klei forums is a warm community, we're all at edge and excitement with what you have to bring to the table.



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9 hours ago, Aileen-Rose said:

I'll do a daily post about something be it animation, story, etc.

I'll do a daily post about something

do a daily post

daily post


Oh boy!

I sincerely don't mind if you just link to FF. Depends on what is better for you.

A seperate thread is a good idea. Storm has started one already, so maybe you can just use that one.

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4 hours ago, Asparagus said:

Question: Now that you do know what Charlie actually looks like, will you be doing a few changes while keeping the your original concept? O__O

Also, have you heard about the William Carter Puzzles? (I bet you already have... it's where Charlie's face first made an appearance)

Also, welcome (again) :)

Charlie Changes.png

Let me explain. By the time New Reign had come out she had already appeared in the design I had for her in two different chapters of Survive the Shadows as seen by the top two images. (Left: Chapter 5 Cover Right: Chapter 6 Cover) So it was kind of too late to make any dramatic changes. However! Didn't mean I couldn't make any at all. The image on the bottom was something I composed for a concept art concerning Charlie in an inbetween state of human and full on Grue. So, I borrowed some of the elements of her official design, mainly the face and blended it with mine. Thus we get the middle form of Charlie in Survive the Shadows. And that's about as far as changes go for her design, least I could do was make some reference back to the original source material. But one thing to bear in mind, Survive the Shadows doesn't follow everything 100% so there is going to be difference in lore and characters. (Reason I had that disclaimer on the Welcome to the Shadows video.) It's the beauty of artistic license.

As for that second question.

Magic Muffin.png

Yes I'm very aware. =D It's where this magic muffin came from and he's been one of my favorites thus far to develop as a character for Survive the Shadows. Even if the backstory for this version is a bit different than that of the puzzles, I still took inspiration from it. Just... he's fun to play with.

And that's it. Thanks for asking!

And thank you again for the welcome.

- Aileen Rose

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9 hours ago, minespatch said:

Hey, something we both have in common(the piles of art in my house I need to organize and such, sheesh).arielgoesheh.png

Yeah about that...

Sea of Sketches.png

Okay, I might be exaggerating a little for the sake of being funny, but I'm not kidding in the department of I have misplaced things from time to time. And the 4 months of work is just Survive the Shadows stuff. There's also my other works to keep in mind as well so... thus it is kind of a sea.

And Wilson you're not helping!

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WttS BtS.png

As promised, here is my post for the day. For this post, we're going to look at some behind the scenes for the making of Welcome to the Shadows. Mainly, we are going to talk about the process that went behind creating the visuals.

So to begin, I want to show these two images:

Teaser ImageColor Tests

Before actual production began, there was a debate over how I was gonna go about in style since with every video up to this point I was trying something new. With Top of the World, it was all rough sketched. With Nightmare, it was a bit more detailed but still messy. With Confrontation, it was more cleaned up and had a lot of shading to it. So for this one I just tossed around different styles. Ultimately, I wound up doing color since it worked out rather well and went with a soft shading style.

I've said this over and over again, but this video was originally supposed to be more like a storyboard/animatic. There should've been minimal animation and almost no lip syncing, but um... let's just say I got carried away in making the frames.Or rather... I just couldn't stand the character's mouths not moving so we got what we got. Speaking of frames, let's talk about the actual process of making a sequence.

Starting with the break down of how each frame is made.

Frame Process.png

For this video in particular there was only four steps. Sketch - Lines - Colors and BG - Lighting and Shading

In an actual full production there would've been a process to clean up the lines entirely. But since I was going for a rough animation the process was cut entirely. Not that it really changed anything time wise in trying to create the frames. Thankfully, I don't have to redraw the BG over and over again thanks to Photoshop. I can just keep it on a separate layer and just worry about drawing Wilson over and over again or Maxwell depending on the shot. Though of course, this is keeping in mind this is only one frame of who knows how many in a sequence. This one was one of 18 different frames.

Sequence Breakdown.png

All this for one set of lines. And this one took two separate days to just do the process above. All of that gives us this:

Wilson Gif

And the sequence only lasts about 5 seconds, for a video that is about 4 minutes. I've really grown to respect animators in general just because of all the projects I've done thus far. I understand why it takes so long for movies or shows to be made. Making each individual drawing takes a good chunk of time, and being sure it flows properly can be taxing too. So yeah, animation is no walk in the park.

Some fun facts about the animation part of this project:

- It took 18 separate days to create all the pictures and sequences.

- There is a total of 33 different shots, 24 of those shots being animated and the rest being still frames.

- The hardest character to animate was Maxwell, surprisingly. Though, compared to Wilson he has more details on him. He also had the most lip syncing shots and well... lip syncing can drive me insane some days.

- If you pay attention, Wilson's hair moves sometimes in accordance to his expression. (See the animation above, his hair kind of curls back when he's angry.) It was a way of helping the character be more expressive.

- There were multiple times I kept forgetting to draw Maxwell's corsage. Thankfully it was fixed before the final, but it always drove me nuts when I realized I forgot to put the darn thing in.

- The sequence with the most frames was the one where Maxwell is saying "I know coming here for the first time can be a bit of a shock...". It has a total of 45 different frames for his mouth to move the way it does.

- The images you see in the beginning were all drawn in one day under 2-3 hours. (They were drawn the same day the video was uploaded.)

- Originally, the opening sequence called for no images. It was just going to be completely black and then fade into Wilson waking up. It was changed after Storm and I looked it over and thought it would be better if there were some visuals to go with the dialogue. (Consensus: It was too boring keeping it the way it was.) I saved those images for last since they required no animation.

- Favorite sequence to animate was the one with Maxwell disappearing. (It was also one of the easier ones, funnily enough.)

- Hardest sequence was the one where Maxwell is circling around Wilson. Body movement and lip syncing equals a VERY grumpy Aileen during the process.

And that's it for this post. If there's something you'd like to know more about, by all means ask me! =) I'd love to share. I do plan to do more things like this. Probably two more concerning adaption from story to animation and maybe one on voice acting/lip syncing. But if there is something else you'd like to know that I didn't mention, just ask.

To end this post, I shall end with an extra animation I did. Wilson's actor accidentally yawned during the last part of the script where he was supposed to sigh for the ending shot. So... I couldn't resist making this:

Yawning Wildork

Sums up how I was feeling after I was finished with the project. Exhausted.

Catch ya next time!

- Aileen Rose




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I know you probably might not watch it but there's a great South Park documentary called "6 days to air" which goes into the process of each episode. Due to how fast they make the episodes, your description on how you feel toward the end of each process makes me think of Trey Parker and Matt Stones "crashing days" so I highly understand what you mean.


I'm really glad you have the patience, freedom, and time to make these projects. The quality from the execution shows the care you put into these projects.

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I have a question: Why did you opt for (kind of) proper lip synching instead of flashing four or five "talk faces" like the game does? It would have probably required some more "faces" for the quieter and slower parts, but still less than drawing twenty to fourty frames.

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1 hour ago, Mobbstar said:

I have a question: Why did you opt for (kind of) proper lip synching instead of flashing four or five "talk faces" like the game does? It would have probably required some more "faces" for the quieter and slower parts, but still less than drawing twenty to fourty frames.

I'm pretty sure there are only two frames for Wilson's talking facial animation. Also, I doubt that would work well with facial expressions and it looks much better.

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8 hours ago, Aileen-Rose said:

- If you pay attention, Wilson's hair moves sometimes in accordance to his expression. (See the animation above, his hair kind of curls back when he's angry.) It was a way of helping the character be more expressive.

I just noticed that when I saw that frame sheet :p

Also, I'm interested to see how the process of animation and lip syncing works (since I'll be starting a course next year on animation :) ).

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Aileen: Hello and welcome to another daily post. I mentioned yesterday I would possibly do a post about adapting a story to animation and that's what today's post is about, though with one minor tweak to that topic. We're going to be talking about adaption in general. After all, Survive the Shadows as a whole is an adaption. And joining me today is my co-writer Storm since it wouldn’t exactly be fair to leave out the other half of the team that adapted Survive the Shadows into the story it is.


Storm: Hi everyone, glad to be here apart of today’s post. Boy was this story fun to work on and especially in the process of adapting it from the game we love so much. Quite a few questions went into this story that lead to the writing process including my favorite: “What if?”


Aileen: Oh yes, we ask that question A LOT around here when we write any story, along with the standard “Who? What? When? Where? And Why?” and all that other stuff. This wouldn’t be our first go at adapting a game. Awhile back Storm and I did some light novels for another game series known as Trauma Team so we had some practice in. However, unlike Trauma Team there is one beautiful thing about Don’t Starve as a whole.


There is no set story.


Storm: Which for us is a huge HUGE thing. Did we love adapting Trauma Team? Yeah… Did we get tired of triple checking everything because even though we took HUGE deviations whenever the chance possible was hard? YES. Don’t Starve gave us a chance to really see this world for how we wished to see it. The characters for how we could picture them. From Wilson all the way down to Wes, they all took on a life of their own… And we can also blame some of the folks around us at the time for some of our ideas too. 8T Including a certain friend of Aileen’s.


Aileen: A fun fact of the day. A lot of the ideas that went into Survive the Shadows came from my friend Beatrice. I was just having a conversation with her about the content we had already written and she was acting as a sounding board. We originally didn’t have plans for the whole cast, but thanks to her, we found a use for everyone so we got what we got because of her, in which Storm and I are forever grateful.


While Don’t Starve does have some set things, like Wilson’s origin, the backstory of Maxwell and Charlie, and some personality traits for the cast as a whole, it’s still a lot of room for exploring new concepts and developing new ideas since these are bare minimum standards of storytelling. It’s why we get to see so many amazing and different interpretations of the characters in the Don’t Starve community as a whole. Its because the original content is easily malleable.


Storm: Because while once again, there’s some definite things or traits about characters, it’s not enough, at least for us, to build a whole story on. We couldn’t just leave them as they were, that would not be fun for us nor for our audience, at least I don’t think so anyway. Like Wilson’s personality and reactions to the world around him. We kept some of his dorkiness because… He IS the Wildork… But a lot of it was our own interpretations.


Aileen: And that’s part of the beauty of adapting something like Don’t Starve. You take what you’re given and run with it. And the best part? There really isn’t a wrong way to do it. Long as you can recognize the characters and that it’s Don’t Starve, you can’t go wrong. I’d list off some stuff I’ve seen but um… *gets buried under papers* the list is kind of long. (The community is awesome like that.)


Storm: *sitting in row boat on top of paper sea* Yeeeaaaah. But that is the beauty of it. No one can say you’re wrong, even if you make huge deviations. Like we couldn’t use a lot of the actual game mechanics because in a real life sense it just wouldn’t work. Some things, yeah like the time it takes for the crock pot to cook.. But that’s because it’d be insane to say “THEN THEY WAITED EIGHT TO TEN HOURS FOR THEIR LOVELY HONEY HAM!” As much as I love actual cooking… 8T That’s the fun part. Regular logic can get thrown out the window or mixed in a story format. Like Chester. We could’ve just had him sitting there panting all the time but we didn’t. We gave him his own personality too or left Abigail as just a ghost who floated around all the time instead of exploring her and Wendy’s characters. Or Willow’s fear of being locked up again.


Aileen: What we’re basically saying is don’t limit yourself to the laws of the game. Try bending the logic. Add a twist. Look at the character and ask questions about what makes them who they are. Go beyond character quotes. Construct your own interpretation of how the Don’t Starve World came to be. Just… be you. As someone who has struggled with comparing herself to others, I really can’t stress how important it is for you to just be yourself in your work. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. It isn’t healthy, and in some cases you’re stunting your growth. It’s okay to look up and take inspiration from others, but in the end you gotta find what makes your writing and or art you.


Storm: And while we’re on that subject… another little fun fact, before me and Aileen were friends, we kept getting ideas from looking at each other’s works or getting motivated from talking to each other about our stories. It wasn’t til a few months later I think that we started actually writing together and became as close as we are today.

Aileen: Tis true. Back on subject, so, when it comes to adapting, the basic rule is just keep it recognizable, but have fun with it. Add your touches to the mix and well, you get what you get. If I may indulge myself a little.


Style Adaption.png


It was interesting developing an art style for Survive the Shadows that was reminiscent of the original, but had myself in it. I now have three main ones (Eh kind of. Illustration and animation style aren’t too much different) that I use for my work in general. The one you see for the story covers and illustrations along with animation and my little spin off that sticks closer to the original style. There were a few failed attempts in creating the style for Survive the Shadows. From failed shading to just… not drawing the characters very well.


Style Evolution.png


But eventually we got what we got in the end and it’s by far one of my favorite styles to use.


Storm: It was a lot of talk and thought that went into even the art process too. While I’m not too great of an artist myself, I am Aileen’s sounding board when it comes to this stuff. If she needs my opinion I’m always open to seeing whatever she’s got cooking up… And usually (as in almost always) it’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.


And the other fun part of adapting things like this… When it can turn into other mediums. Like adapting the chapters into scripts for our actors to work with… Oh man did we not expect the turn out we had when we sent those out.


Aileen: Oh yeah. And one thing to keep in mind when you do a visual adaption of something that was once literature be it for a comic version of it or animation. Cut back on the dialogue. While Welcome to the Shadows was a word for word adaptation in means of what the characters said (save one cut line.) it was not word for word in everything. And by that we mean, we left out any form of inner monologuing or thought processing. It isn’t a needed in visual mediums.


Storm: Because let us tell you... One of our pet peeves with some adaptations is where there’s a lot of inner monologuing that just doesn’t need to be there or wasn’t there originally. If there’s no way to express it visually it gets cut. While it worked in lit format and does work rather well with most literature animation and other visual formats is it’s own animal entirely. Imagine watching an action movie and seeing a character like Tony Stark having an inner monologue to himself about everything. Would you wanna sit there the entire time through it?


Aileen: Again, it works for somethings, but if you can tell how the character is feeling just by looking at their face, then there is no need for them to say it. It’s the basic concept of show don’t tell at its finest. Wilson originally in the literature version mentions the incident when he recognizes Maxwell’s voice with his inner thoughts. In the animation, we see Wilson react and then get a flashback to when Maxwell contacted him. He could’ve easily said the exact same thing he did in the literature, but he didn’t because the point was already made in just two images.


Storm: That really is the key. Can you tell it in visuals versus telling it in literature? Because in literature, you’re relying on your reader’s imagination to build up the reactions and the scene in their minds and hopefully get the same picture you got as you wrote it. Visuals, you’re showing what you’re imagining exactly basically. And it can be tricky to picture. We did a lot of brainstorming over the course of it over how it should look.


Aileen: And with more animation adaptations in the works, more alterations are quite possible. Just depends on the needs of the story.


I think that about sums up adaption in general. Any final thoughts Storm?


Storm: I think you covered it well. That really is the method to our madness.


Aileen: Keep asking questions and don’t be afraid to experiment. Also… general rule about stories. Never post your first draft. Give it a good comb over before you publish. Also, have a few chapters written to be sure your plot is solid.


Storm: And don’t be afraid to rewrite parts. Even entire chapters. It doesn’t matter if it was one paragraph or ten. If you don't feel it’s flowing right scrap it and try again. Who’s to know if you don’t announce it?


Aileen: Yup. Main thing is to just keep trying till you finally get it to work the way you want it.You wouldn’t fly a plane that wasn’t fully functional, would you?


Storm: Never. So just keep at it. Look at things to get inspired, read books by published authors, see what their thought process was, listen to music, take walks… It’s all about how you get motivated and get inspired. Never EVER give up. (Though if your story has hit the five+ draft numbers THEN it’s time to reconsider aspects of it… Yeah there’s been some we’ve never let people see but they gave leverage to others like this one)

Aileen: (*shudder* There’s some very good reasons why some stories we’ve attempted have never seen the light of day.)


And that’s it. I hope this might be helpful to someone who might just be getting started on their adaption of Don’t Starve or was at least informative in how Storm and I do things. Next post, we shall see if I wind up talking about voice acting/lip syncing or not. All depends on the day.


Have a nice day and stay awesome!


And keep on writing!


- Aileen Rose and Storm Arashi



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William and Maxwell.png

No long post today. Little break since yesterday was kind of a long day for me. (Too... much... cleaning...)

So thought I'd start shelling out some of the art stuff since this is a concept art thread too.

Today I give you the image that actually planted the idea for Confrontation. This was created on April 8th and it wouldn't be till April 25th that the thought of doing an animatic would come to mind. It's kind of funny since I figured this would be the only thing I would do in regards to Confrontation, but life is full of surprises.

I admit the song inspired a lot in how I view these two as a whole. Two completely different personalities colliding together and well, one unfortunately is in a losing battle with the other.

And yeah, that's all I got for now.


- Aileen Rose

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