Key Art Reveal! Check out Nina & co like you’ve never seen them before!

Several months ago, we asked you, our community, to help us solve a problem. NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE needed a “key art” image; a high quality piece of media to go front-and-centre when we’re introducing the game to new people, or in press-releases.

Through sales of the game and a limited crowdfunding appeal, you raised the budget that would allow us to commission a piece of art for this purpose, as well as being a fantastic bit of NALE art that fans could enjoy.

After an extensive selection process, we worked closely with NiahtiArt over on Twitter to produce the piece, which we can finally unveil below!

Expect to see this in various forms as part of the game’s branding in the near future, and thanks again for all your help! And if you’re just finding out about the game, check out the links below!

Also, fans should be aware that we’re looking into offering a line of prints of this image! Not sure on the ETA for that as we’re assessing the various suppliers etc., but make sure you follow us over on Twitter if you don’t want to miss out!


NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE is now available for both Windows & Linux,
on Steam (with Steam Deck support!) and Itch.io!
Step into court in a world where all anime genres exist at once!

CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT MORE!


From Start to Finish

For this image, we wanted to incorporate the wider cast of the game, which would include Anya, pensive and ever in thought; Chad Hawke, Nina’s courtroom rival; the enigmatic LIVEWIRE; Judge Tawny, Nina Aquila herself and of course, Nina’s secretary Dylan Merlo.

These sorts of “cast images” are pretty common in VNs, anime and JRPGs, so we felt it was time NALE had something similar.

Naturally we started with a sketch, and I thought fans might be interested in seeing how this progressed. Honestly Niahiti pretty much nailed the concept immediately; we only needed some minor revisions on the way to the final image.

We hope fans love the image just as much as we do!

TSS Policy on Fan-Art & Fan Works

This page contains a summary of Tanuki-sama Studios’ (hereafter referred to as TSS or simply “the studio”) policy regarding fan-art & other fan works.

If you want to produce fan-works based on our properties, please make sure you read this policy in its entirety.

General Policy

We love fan works, having produced many of our own on our journey to founding TSS. We believe they’re an important part of any creative person’s growth and we value the existence of transformative works for society as a whole.

Similarly, we believe in “fair use” doctrine.

As a generalisation, we permit fans to make fan works of our characters & scenarios, but this must not be interpreted as a renouncement of our intellectual property.

We also ask that you let us know about any fan-art you create! We love to see it, and may even promote it on Twitter and via other channels.

If you are a fan creator and wish to produce fan works based on our IP, you are generally free to do this, provided your fan work is not produced for financial gain/sold as a revenue-earning product. This includes (but is not limited to) creating art for sale via printed medium, or in other commercial videogames.

Additionally, we do not usually endorse specific fan-works. If you see a work related to our studio’s properties which is not on one of our official channels/platforms, we do not endorse this (unless we specifically choose to do so at some point). Naturally we are not responsible for the works of fan creators, for these reasons.

TSS’s promotion of fan works (e.g. retweeting) should not be taken as a de facto sign of our approval of that creator or their personal political views.

Key terms

If your work has “credits” or similar, we ask that fans add, in some relevant place, a disclaimer, stating which characters are used, and that their work is not an official product of TSS.

This is not needed for most fan-art images, as your audience will doubtless assume the work isn’t official – though please ensure you state this clearly if asked.

If you do have credits, here is some boilerplate copy for this; you do not have to use these exact words but should include terms to the effect:

This is a fan-work, and although it depicts certain characters/situations inspired by the work of Tanuki-sama Studios, the studio has not given their endorsement or approval. These elements appear in accordance with TSS’s fan-works policy in the interests of “fair use”.

I am an artist who earns via Patreon/makes commercial art as prints/creates art for fan tips, etc. – what can I do?

In this situation, we may make exceptions to the above rules for specific artists. Please contact us at tanukisamastudios AT gmail DOT com, or DM us via Twitter.

Please do NOT send fan fiction directly to us

To avoid compromising our own work, we prefer not to read fan works created about our characters or settings. This is nothing personal; we would love to be able to read fan works – it’s just to avoid situations where fan works could “bleed” into our actual work.

Once a game/story is complete, we may look through older fan works at that time, but during development, we typically try to avoid doing this.

Concerning NSFW and “adult” fan works

We are not inherently opposed to NSFW fan-works, and don’t consider “adult” topics as a “no-go” for fan creators. We permit fans to create works of this nature, provided you do so respectfully.

Please remember the words above concerning making it clear the work if not official/not affiliated with TSS – this is even more important for NSFW works.

However, NSFW creators should be aware we are unlikely to promote any NSFW works via our channels. This is not to be taken as slight against your work; it’s just that our games are largely SFW, so it makes sense that our official social channels don’t feature erotica or ero-images.

Finally, all creators should carefully read the following section, but NSFW creators most of all:

No-go topics & content warnings

Our policies above are generous, however, there are certain topics that you should consider “no-go” for our characters or situations.

In minor cases, this will likely result in TSS ceasing all comms with you, and actively making clear that your work does not represent ours. In serious cases we may even denounce your work.

Egregious cases may result in a cease-and-desist request.

These include…

  • Depicting our characters in situations involving grossly illegal acts of a type uncharacteristic of their depictions in the original works – this bold part is important as naturally, some characters in our works perform acts that are illegal
  • Depicting our characters in situations involving war-crimes or acts of that nature
  • Depicting our characters/scenarios mixed up with fascist imagery, or the iconography/ideology/behaviour of hate groups, past and present
  • Intentionally depicting our characters bullying or abusing a real-world group, be that social, racial, sexual orientation or any similar group
  • Claiming that any fan-made work, NSFW or SFW, is endorsed/a product of TSS when that is not the case

As a general guide; TSS endorses anti-racism, anti-fascism, anti-bullying, sex-positivity, body-positivity & recognising a multitude of sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions. We would prefer not to see our characters in scenarios that decry these principles.

Timestamp

This guide was first created on 12/3/2022, and is subject to change. These changes will be itemised below:

No changes at this time.

[Press Release] Indie “Eagle” smashes crowdfunding goal in less than a week

BRIGHTON, UK: Indie developer Tanuki-sama Studios are proud to share that their community have smashed their latest crowdfunding goal just days after launch!

Tanuki-sama Studios (TSS), the creators of the award-winning Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle franchise, asked their community to help crowdfund part of the budget for a piece of key art to pair with the acclaimed Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle, Season One (available on Windows, Linux & Steam Deck via Steam & Itchio).

Preview of the image being created as a result of the crowdfunding campaign

TSS has successfully produced its games on a budget raised incrementally through creating successively more ambitious products, buoyed by support from their community. This string of successes led to the creation of Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle, Season One – a title that has, on multiple occasions, held the top spot in several prestigious categories on itchio, and won the “Best of November 2020” award on Newgrounds.

Recently, fans stepped up to help fund several parts of TSS’ projects, including an upcoming key art image to be used as part of the game’s PR materials. This latest campaign challenged the community to raise $350 in one month, via sales of Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle, Season One (on Itch and Steam), merchandise through TSS’s TeePublic store, or direct donations via Ko-Fi. Through their efforts, TSS’ goal was surpassed in just under a week!

As the initiative earned over its $350 goal before this announcement, and due to recent events, TSS will be making a donation to the British Red Cross’s Ukraine appeal with the excess funds.

TSS and our fans are excited to see the upcoming results of this work, commissioned from the fantastically talented NiahtiArt. They invite fans to keep an eye on their social channels to see the result:

Follow NALE on Twitter:
https://twitter.com/NinaAquilaGame

Wishlist on our Steam page:
https://store.steampowered.com/app/1547290/Nina_Aquila_Legal_Eagle_Season_One/

About NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE

Step into court as Nina Aquila, rookie lawyer, in a world where all anime genres exist at once!

Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle is a series of courtroom-adventure games, in which players step into the shoes of the titular proudly plus-size protagonist. In each chapter, Nina finds herself representing the defendant in an anime genre-themed court case, with contexts as diverse as cosplay, card games and illegal downhill auto racing!

As Nina, players investigate crime scenes and individuals for clues, often participating in minigames to uncover evidence. Finally, players go to court to defend their client against accusations of capital crime!

Meet a vibrant cast of characters (including anime-industry regular Rachael Messer providing utterances for Nina)!

Enjoy a fun, comedic tone, shored up by a variety of accessibility features!

With a 5-star rating in over 150 reviews on indie gaming service Itch.io, a “best of November 2020” award from Newgrounds and a Positive rating on Steam, Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle is a homegrown hit!

About Rachael Messer

Rachael is an industry veteran, recently voicing Enterprise in Funimation’s Azur Lane dub. She has a long history of dub roles in both anime & videogames, including Paladins, Warframe, Akashic Records, Princess Principal, Knight’s & Magic, A Centaur’s Life, Infinite Dendogram and the remake of System Shock.

Ethan originally contacted Rachael after hearing her performance as the protagonist in Forgotten Anne, by Square-Enix, believing her voice would be perfect for the role.

About Tanuki-sama Studios

Tanuki-sama Studios is an indie videogame developer, based in the UK, owned and managed by the solo developer Ethan Fox, who came to the Visual Novel space from a Kindle author background.

Ethan’s games draw upon his past experiences living in Japan, as well as a lifelong love of anime & manga. Lately, he is watching 86: Eighty Six and My Dress-up Darling.

NALE was conceived as a way to create a narrative experience that has plotting, pacing and direction similar to that of watching an anime show, as well as serving as a homage to multiple anime genres. TSS’s ambition is to see NALE realised as a fully-fledged anime production.

USEFUL LINKS

We need your help to create a new piece of Key Art!

We’re starting a funding drive to produce a new piece of of Key Art for Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle, and to raise the budget, we ask for your help!

Following on from some recent discussions with members of the press, it’s been brought to our attention that one of the things that Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle lacks is a piece of attractive “key art”, which serves several purposes:

  • It tends to be the first thing people see, and sets the tone for the game
  • It’s used by journalists and the like to provide a point-of-reference; an image around which they can build stories about the game
  • It’s an awesome piece of art for fans to enjoy, that shows off NALE’s characters; (potentially we may even sell canvases on the merch store, if we can arrange that)

These sorts of images are very common for adventure games and VNs; the banner image above shows a bunch of examples from different famous games and shows.

Up until now, we haven’t had one of these pieces, because they’re expensive to commission. Instead, we’ve been using this:

… and variants of it. It’s done the job, but it’s potentially one of the reasons that we’ve never had mainstream media coverage of the game, and we’re hoping to fix that.

The image we’re going to commission will be similar to these examples…

… and feature Nina, Dylan, Anya, Chad, Judge Tawny and LIVEWIRE.

We’re still working to find the artist, and we’re part-funding it with sales of NALE up until this point, but based on the quotes we’ve already received, we’re asking the community to help raise $350 to add to this within the next 4 weeks.

This will run from the 18th of February to the 18th of March 2022.

If we hit the target, we’ll close the drive. On the chance we over-shoot before we’re able to do that, we will donate the remainder to a suitable charity. We haven’t decided who, as of yet, but typically we focus on those which present videogames as a force for good in the world.

How can I help?

If you’re able to help out, you click one of the following links:

  • Buy NALE over on Steam or Itchio (existing owners, consider gifting a copy to a friend!)
  • Donate to our Ko-Fi
  • Buy any items from the merch store

These methods are all equal; all of the support goes into the same pot.

How close are you?

We’ll be using the goal bar on the Ko-Fi page to show current progress (we can add stuff to the goal that wasn’t donated via Ko-Fi too), so check that link to see how close we are!

Thanks for your interest! And check out the links above to get involved!

We need your help to add Anya and Tawny busts to NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE v5!

Since the release of NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE on Steam on July 9th, we’ve been absolutely blown away by the response from the community – so many streams, tweets, reviews… But also, feedback. One of its major enhancements over prior episodic releases of the game were the character busts of Nina, Dylan and Chad, and you people said you wanted more! But we need YOUR help to make that possible.

Version 5 of the game (the released version is v4) is intended to go out in November. It’s our intent that this update will contain a number of improvements, such as native Linux support, running on an upgraded framework for better performance, and a range of smaller fixes like addressing some typos that slipped through the net on the first release.

However, the biggest change we intend to make is to add busts of Anya Miller & Judge Tawny to the game!

Left-to-right – sketch of Anya, final image of Nina, sketch of Judge Tawny, final image of Chad
These Anya & Tawny images are just initial sketches, but we wanted to give a little preview!

These will include all three of Anya’s outfits (regular clothes, prison jumpsuit and catgirl attire) as well as Judge Tawny in her traditional judge’s robes, and will be completed in a similar style to the Nina, Chad & Dylan busts already present in-game.

These are made by a new artist, working under the guidance from our prior Nina/Chad bust artist, @Koahri1.

Why do you need help?

As always with additional art, the biggest obstacle for NALE is cost; we need to pay for these assets to go into the game.

NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE on Steam has made $1115 in revenue to-date, which means we beat our revenue target of $1000 (the budget we spent to get the game ready for release), and had some additional funds to help offset some of our costs. However, we’re at a point now where we’ve made pretty much 0$. We’re “cost neutral”.

Although we’re really happy that we managed to do this, it makes it difficult for us to afford additional features or assets for updates.

NALE has never previously accepted donations. We don’t run a Patreon. We wanted players to be able to support the game by buying the game, so you (and us!) have certainty, when you’re giving us money, that you’re going to get what’s promised.

This is the first time we’ve ever tried to crowdfund anything for the project, but we’re hoping fans are okay with doing this because the end goal is so specific and quantifiable. We hope you’ll be up for this chance to support us and make a tangible improvement to the game (and because we know some of you really love Anya & Tawny’s characters, and have voiced that you’d like to see busts of them).

How do I help?

In order to help pay for this, we’re trying to raise $500 from the community to cover some of the costs of the busts for Anya & Tawny.

You can help us in several ways.

From now until September 30th 2021, all revenue from NALE will go towards this target.

If we hit the target, that means we get the bust set for Anya & Tawny; if we go beyond the target, then we’ll look into adding more characters or some other art improvement. If we miss the target, we’ll still channel the money into NALE art – potentially just doing one character, or some other similar purpose that will improve v5.

To break it down, this means you can do any of the following to contribute:

  • Donate via our Ko-Fi page
  • Buy NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE on Steam if you haven’t already
  • Buy NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE as a gift on Steam for someone else
  • Buy any merch on the NALE Teepublic store

We would really love it if fans considered the “Steam gift” option above, because this is great for twofold reasons – firstly, it contributes to the goal, but it also introduces NALE to whoever you give the gift!

Fans will be able to see our progress towards the goal over on Ko-Fi. The goal auto-magically ticks up when people donate via Ko-Fi, but we’ll also manually edit it to include the support via the other methods above. We’ll also periodically post progress on Twitter.

At present it looks like this:

So we have 7 weeks to raise $500. Fingers crossed!

Thanks for reading this, and if you’re in a position to contribute, it’d be fantastic if you could help us out. But if you’ve read this far, whether you donate or not, we hope you’re enjoying the Steam release and continue to enjoy it with the upcoming v5!

Artists, do you want to maximise your commission revenue? Then here are 9 ways to secure more commissions!

Are you an artist who produces work via commission? If you are, this article is for you. It’s about how you can increase your revenue by avoiding some of the pitfalls that are probably costing you commissions without you even realising it.

A bit about me, first. I’m Ethan Fox, primary developer at Tanuki-sama Studios, and I’m not an artist. However, I have commissioned quite a lot of artwork over the years, both on Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle and prior projects before forming the studio, and in that time, I’ve seen countless portfolios from artists across the globe who work via commission, and I’ll say right here, right now, plenty of you have ended up on the “no” pile despite being fantastic artists, purely because your portfolios were difficult to find, or navigate, or understand.

And that’s a shame! You’re a talented bunch, and it’s unfortunate that you miss out on commissions this way.

This article is explains some of the reasons why this might happen from a commissioner’s perspective, and how you can fix them. It’s entirely my opinion, however, hopefully you’ll see that all of these suggestions are grounded in reasonable explanations.

None of this stuff is difficult to change, some of it might be controversial, but I assure you, all of it comes from my experience at looking for commissioned art, and it will help you capture those commissions that might otherwise get away.

So without further ado…

1) Place your portfolio somewhere accessible & with no login

No login screens!!

Put yourself in a commissioner’s shoes. You’ve been given a link to look at an artist’s portfolio. You open it, and either right away or before you can scroll, you are hit by a login screen. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you don’t have an account for that service… What do you do?

Do you go back to the artist and kindly ask them to provide you another link? Remember, you’ve got 40 other portfolios to look at.

Most likely you just close it, throw that person on the “no” pile, and move on. It’s sad but true; your time is limited and you can’t waste it on commissioners who don’t meet your needs.

Quick aside here – make sure you always provide a link to your portfolio! Sometimes I’ve had people respond and just say “I can do this commission”, and that’s it… Okay, great. You go on the “no” pile.

If you take anything away from this article, it should be this – do not put your portfolio in a place where a commissioner may need to log in to see it.

This means NO to Instagram.

This means NO to Facebook.

Not saying you can’t have an Instagram or whatever (social networking is important!) but do not make this the primary place you link a commissioner, unless that commissioner contacted you via that service (if they contact you via IG, it’s safe to assume they have IG).

You might be sitting there thinking “but everyone has a Tumblr” or “everyone has IG”… Firstly, no, not everyone has those. But secondly, coverage of services is not the same globally. Relatively few people in the western world have Pixiv or LINE accounts, and people in the Chinese-speaking sphere tend to use different services to outside those countries.

ArtStation, Behance & DeviantArt are fine, if you want to use them – though if you’re doing NSFW commissions, be aware that often people need to login to these services to prove age.

I also strongly recommend Carrd; this is very powerful one-page website creation service which is perfect for one-topic websites like portfolios & profiles (our NALE homepage was made using this).

2) Don’t “fall at the first hurdle”

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The commissioner has clicked on your profile, and it didn’t require a login. Great!

The next step is the dreaded “first hurdle”.

This is the first seven seconds in which I have your profile open.

As a commissioner, I often close a portfolio within this short window if I see certain problems.

Don’t make any of the most basic web design mistakes. This should be obvious but it’s worth saying. Your page should have no auto-playing sound or music, have clear, easy-to-read fonts (no cursive or decorative fonts for body text) and no colour clashes. Honestly, “less is more” here; your work should speak for itself (unless you’re taking commissions as a web designer, then go nuts I guess).

Make sure you have no immediately visible work of a very poor quality. That picture of Naruto you scrawled on pencil on lined paper back in middle school? Get rid of it; this isn’t amateur hour. Stick to just your best material (see below, “Be Selective”).

If your portfolio has an excessive amount of pornography, that’s fine (most artists draw porn, that’s just how the art industry works these days) but you should warn the would-be commissioner beforehand (assuming they contacted you from a SFW space; if they got in touch via a Hentai Commissions subreddit then obviously that’s different). If I’m at a public place where I can’t reasonably browse a portfolio like that, I’m going to close your portfolio pretty quick and I might remember it later, but best not to gamble on that.

Try to have things like your terms/prices accessible and obvious; you don’t need to have these visible on your profile on the very front page, but seeing that they exist right away is a real plus.

If you do commissions in multiple fields (e.g. web design, graphic design, character illustration) try to have these split up somehow, such as into different sub-pages/gallery tags, because relatively few commissioners need a generalist; most of them come to your page with something in mind.

3) Consider “the experience” – be their hero

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There’s a tendency to think that, when a commissioner clicks upon your link, you’re then locked in some kind of war to try and get them to choose you for a commission. I strongly suggest thinking about this a very different way.

As a commissioner, when I click on your link, once you get past those first 7 seconds, I’m on your side. I need your help and I want you to be my hero. When I open your profile, I’m looking for reasons to pick you… And hopefully not see reasons to immediately eliminate you from the running.

But at the same time, I’ve got 40 portfolios to look at and not enough time, so realistically, you’ve got maybe 30 seconds, or roughly how long it takes to ride an elevator, to grab my attention, and every second counts. This is called the elevator test and it’s a pretty well-recognised concept in creative media.

The best way to do this is to ensure you have absolute control of everything on the page.

I strongly recommend that the link to the page you provide to commissioners exists only for that purpose. Many artists do this already, where they might use their DeviantArt as their “anything goes” portfolio, and their ArtStation is their “professional” portfolio, and that’s a good way of dividing stuff up.

There’s one other problem with using services like DeviantArt though; while people are viewing your sample images, they’re being shown similar images by other artists, and there’s always a danger they might get distracted:

This is why it’s best to have your own portfolio site, because then you have absolute control over everything the commissioner sees.

4) Provide examples with your price sheet

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

Speaks for itself. A lot of commissioners have a price sheet which looks like this:

  • Sketch $x
  • Flat colours $x
  • Shading $x
  • Anime cel style $x
  • Complex backrounds +$x

This type of breakdown is really useful, but it’s much more useful if each tier has an example of what that means.

Remember, your commissioner might not be an artist, or know very much about art – but everyone can see a picture and point to it, saying “I want this”.

5) Make sure everything’s easy to find

Photo by William Fortunato on Pexels.com

Make sure that it’s very easy for the commissioner to find…

  • Your prices (see above)
  • Your work terms
  • Your contact info
  • Your queue (not absolutely necessary but it’s good to see; I recommend Trello for this)
  • Your delivery ETA for each style (are we talking days, weeks, months…)

You don’t want to miss out on a commission just because these were hard to find.

Please provide prices and work terms, at least – don’t make people email for these if you seriously want commissions.

Also, if you do/do not work on commercial commissions, definitely state this up-front. You can save yourself and commissioners a lot of time.

Finally, try to have something about yourself on the page. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but enough to give a touch of personality. Just saying who you are, your nationality/timezone (also useful info). We’re literally talking the equivalent of a Twitter bio, but it’s enough to make you memorable, which is important when a commissioner is looking through 40 portfolios back-to-back.

6) Set your prices

Photo by Maria Orlova on Pexels.com

As a commissioner, I won’t spill a great deal of ink here talking about guidance for prices, as that’s a clear conflict of interest. As an artist, you have absolute freedom to charge what you want, and commissioners have the right to refuse an artist on the grounds of price. This is just how things work.

The one thing I will say is that commissioners often evaluate work differently to artists. We look at your work from the perspective of what it means to us, and that affects our perception. If we’re making a videogame, or assets for a streamer or YouTube channel, we’re forced to consider our budget, and our budget is based upon our estimates of lifetime sales or a similar metric.

That means if a developer is making a videogame with lifetime sales expectations of $500, they just can’t hire someone who charges $300 per-image for their CGs, no matter how good their art might be. It’s not necessarily that the artist is charging too much; it’s just that the numbers don’t work for that particular commissioner.

Speaking as a commissioner here, I often walk away from a portfolio while not feeling angry at the artist’s prices, rather, I feel sad that I can’t afford their awesome work.

Does this mean you should lower your prices? No, of course not. You should always charge a combination of what your research suggests your work is worth and what you’re willing to accept/what you need as a creator.

But if you find you’re getting passed up a lot due to cost, it might be worth asking creators why. For example, let’s say in one month you get 10 requests from people who are all looking for VTuber avatar designs, and all of them say they can’t afford your prices – you may want to find out why so many of these people are reaching out to you. It might suggest that where-ever you’re advertising your work, it’s just not the right type of customer for you, and you need to cast a different net.

7) Be selective with your work – “you’re as good as your worst”

Photo by Markus Spiske on Pexels.com

What goes onto your portfolio and what stays off?

Well, only you can make that decision. Obviously, you should put up what shows your work (1) honestly and (2) in a good light.

As a commissioner, when browsing your portfolio, I fixate on the bad images. I can’t help it! But I’m not being mean; there’s a very important reason for this.

If I commission you, realistically, I expect your work to be somewhere between your best and worst images in terms of quality.

The work you turn in might be equal to your best… But it might not be much better than your worst.

So when I commission you, I have to be prepared to accept that if you turn in something similar to your worst image, that I would be happy with this.

At the same time, you should pick work which is representative of your skills, and be reasonably honest with this, because if you turn in bad work (like if your commissions can be clearly far worse than your examples), then obviously people are going to be unhappy with that. You don’t want to disappoint your commissioners.

My main suggestion here is this: be brutal. Ten awesome images are much more useful to see than 20 where 4 of those aren’t so good.

8) Testimonials are useful

Photo by Dayvison de Oliveira Silva on Pexels.com

Something I’ve noticed when looking at portfolios is that very few people seem to list testimonials; this is strange, considering that in some industries, this is really common.

A testimonial might just be as short as…

“Hired this person to produce my channel bumpers. They’re fantastic! Great to work with. Will work with this person again.” Goku_Xx_82, YouTube, 2020

But if you have 3-4 of them, and you can search to find these people, it does a huge amount to make you seem more legitimate. Your work shows what you can make, but testimonials tell people what you’re like to work with. Do you compose yourself professionally? Do you deliver on-time?

9) A humble request

Photo by Charles on Pexels.com

The last thing I want to mention as a commissioner is this:

Please, please, please – only apply for commissions that you can demonstrate you can do.

I’ve lost track of the number of commissions I’ve either posted up on Reddit (or seen posted by other people) where the commissioner says something like…

Must be someone who can do character pieces in traditional media

… and they get 100 responses, where only maybe half them do character pieces OR traditional media.

Look, I get it. You want to cast a wide net. You miss all the shots you don’t take. I understand.

But I can’t speak/read Norwegian, so I wouldn’t apply for a commission to translate Norwegian into English.

I can’t play the violin, so I wouldn’t apply for a commission to write a violin concerto.

If you’re a generalist, maybe you could turn your hand to most things, but as a commissioner, nothing gets me to throw an artist on the “no” pile faster than “this person clearly didn’t read the brief”.

Don’t waste your time, and don’t waste other people’s. It’s simple courtesy.

Final Thoughts

Thanks for reading. If you’ve got this far, I hope this information proves helpful. If you care enough to read this ramble about portfolios & commissions, I’m sure you’re the sort of person who goes the extra mile for your work, and I hope that some of the stuff here will be useful for you.

Happy commissioning!


Ethan Fox is the owner of Tanuki-sama Studios, creators of Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle, Season One over on Steam.

You can follow him at @By_Ethan_Fox on Twitter, or follow @NinaAquilaGame for game updates.

Nina Aquila Fan-Art Reference

Following a bunch of questions about fan-art lately, we’ve decided to place our ref-sheet for Nina art below. Hope this is useful for people, and we can’t wait to see what you make!

Some of the language in the images below is quite strict; obviously, if you’re making fan-art, we’re interested to see your interpretations of Nina, so don’t take this as instructional! This is the ref-sheet we give artists who are making official NALE stuff, so it just provides a reference, if you want it.

Some of the text is mosaic’d out; that was intentional – it contained spoilers.

The image below is compressed; if you need the full-size version please go here: https://imgur.com/aVIO1n7

[NALE launches tomorrow] A personal thank-you

NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE′s out TOMORROW, and today, on a “very special episode” of this studio blog, I want to take some time to thank our community.

1,000 days.

That’s roughly how long NALE has been in development, leading up to this Steam release.

A lot can happen in a thousand days.

I got married.

The UK left the EU.

We lived through a pandemic (one that’s still going on!).

I developed and released three chapters of the game, and collected them together into the bumper Steam release coming tomorrow.

You people, many of you, played the games. You left reviews. You left comments. You posted about it to your friends and family. You joined our Discord, followed NALE on Twitter, voted for it on Newgrounds.

And whether you discovered NALE early on through itch.io, or via searching Newgrounds, or maybe got Chapter 2 as part of the giant itchio Black Lives Matter bundle, whether you’ve been here since 2018 or if you found out about the game moments before reading these words and you’re excited to play it for the first time tomorrow…

… you are all an equal part of NALE’s community, if you want to be. You all came with us on this journey, and we appreciate that immensely.

I want to mention some people below who have been a huge influence on NALE’s success. If you’re not named below, please don’t take this as a snub, as that’s not the intention; it would be impossible to name everyone.

HawkZombie & Missylaneous

NALE has been streamed by many people, and I sincerely thank them all – but I wanted to give special thanks to the two of you.

HawkZombie was one of the very first streamers to carry NALE, and watching them play the game was a surreal experience for me; having never watched someone do a complete playthrough before.

Missylaneous did an amazing job with her playthrough, which caused a noticeable uptick in our traffic; they’re also fantastically entertaining.

Thank-you.

Arcturus64

This person volunteered with the huge task of recording large amounts of video footage of NALE for the chapter trailers; really I can’t explain how much this helped me, as it freed up time for development that I would’ve otherwise had to spend recording good-looking playthroughs.

Arcturus64, thanks for your help.

& The NALE Beta Testers

Our Discord server has a subgroup of volunteer testers who found literally hundreds of bugs that we were able to resolve for both the chapter and Season One releases. Many of these were things I could never have found myself, even if I’d played the game for years.

  • Autumn Leaves
  • BuckytheDucky
  • CamCam the Legalese Queen
  • Derp
  • Doctor Joshua
  • doobes
  • Gui
  • IllegalLoli
  • iornhide132
  • Lulink
  • retroPacifist
  • SentientViolin
  • srime
  • Tempest
  • Sebastian
  • Arashi
  • Scarlet
  • Swansong
  • Andrew
  • Dlanor

All of you, thank-you.

The communities of itch.io and Newgrounds

This can’t be overstated; with all your reviews and comments… When I uploaded NALE originally, to both platforms, I honestly didn’t expect much. I mean if you upload a book to Amazon Kindle and don’t support it, it sinks without a trace like gently dropping a brick in a lake.

In both cases, the response I got from the community was warm, welcoming and, well, there. I couldn’t believe the number of reviews that kept coming in each week, month, and, eventually, year!

Each and every one of you is part of NALE’s success. Thanks a bunch.

Sam Ferreira

Sam is the editor of Anime Herald, and runs their Discord of which I’m a member. However, more importantly, she’s an incredibly supportive soul who gives so much back to her community, as well as a very creative person in her own right.

Sam, thanks for all your edits to my press-releases. You’re amazing.

Starwulfen

Starwulfen is one of the moderators of our Discord server, so many fans will have had contact with her at some point.

Starwulfen is my longtime friend and was one of the first fans of my work. She read through both my books in beta form and the final versions, before I moved onto NALE, and she’s always gone as far as they could to help me get the message of the game out to other people.

More than that, they’re a fantastic person, who in my experience never fails to bring happiness to any room that she’s in.

Starwulfen, you’re an important part of NALE’s success and I can’t thank you enough.

My wife

I saved the one most vital until last. I won’t labour this point (the wedding speech did that!) but my wife is my friend, my partner, my cheerleader, my sounding board, and an endless source of encouragement.

And thanks for understanding about the thousands of hours I’ve spent in our back room, hunched over my desk.

Wrapping up

I’m signing off.

Thanks, once more, all of you, for your help so far.

Launch tomorrow. Let’s see if we can crush it.


Thanks for reading this!

NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE will be released on Steam TOMORROW!

We’re inviting players to WISHLIST the game now; just click here and hit the “Add to my Wishlist” button!

We’re marking the run-up to launch with a range of daily blogposts about many different topics relating to NALE, such as how we achieved certain things in the editor, character bios and even a giveaway, which you can enter now over on Twitter!

Finally, if you’re a fan of the game, make sure you join our newsletter (and get a free pack of high-res NALE backgrounds for desktop displays & mobile devices).

And we hope to see you TOMORROW over on Steam!

[2 Days to launch] NALE’s Artists

NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE′s out in 2 days, and today we’re celebrating several of the wonderful artists that have helped bring the game to life with their key art & CGs!


NALE, as most fans will know, was made with RPG Maker MV, and uses a great many assets that form part of that program’s libraries of sprites. This was actually one of the reasons why I created the game in MV in the first place. I have some background in industrial graphic design, however, I am not an illustrator, nor an artist, and didn’t believe I could make a compelling VN in the traditional style, as character art is so important in that medium.

NALE’s first prototypes. Note the older costume for Nina & Chad, and the early design for Dylan.

MV’s top-down perspective allows the characters to move, to “act”, like characters in a movie or a play, without needing enormous amounts of art – at least to start with. This meant that I would be able to prove out the concept, and artwork would come later.

NALE’s original cover image from 2018, using an edited RPGM headshot

All of this, ultimately, was to keep costs to a minimum (practically zero). The plan was that NALE’s first chapter would, initially, only have stuff I could source or create myself, with as few commissioned assets as possible; that way, if the game hadn’t really sparked much interest from fans, I could’ve just parked it as a fun curio, and carried on with the project in this manner.

However, the game was an immediate success in terms of itchio traffic, so I decided to “think bigger”, and that put me in touch with NALE’s first and longest-standing artist, @Koahri1 on Twitter.


Koahri1

Koahri was originally commissioned for a couple of pieces of “key art”, and given a brief, largely based on the sprites and a moodboard of relevant images. This produced the first Nina design, which we now refer to as “Legacy Nina”:

This was the design that was used in NALE’s chapter-based releases. I still remember receiving the first versions back, and feeling elated at how much personality they had managed to elicit from the reference. These are actually a revision; very first version of each was much slimmer, leading me to clarify with the artist that Nina was a plus-size character. Time and budget didn’t allow for a second round of illustrations, but Koahri was able to make some changes to make her curvier.

It didn’t quite fit the character perfectly, however, the quality of the work itself was high, and we’d made so many creative compromises in development of NALE that we decided to move forward with what we had, in the hope we might get to revisit this in the future.

This is actually what we mean when we say that Nina was always visualised as plus-sized character. Fortunately, the success of Chapters 1-3 allowed us to come back to this for Season One.

Nina’s key art in Nina Aquila: Legal Eagle, Season One

This is the revised version of each of these poses, reworked to give Nina the plus size appearance that was always intended. These are quite similar to the above poses, but are far higher quality (this is a small image, but these images are gigantic, with so many little details – which was important, as they’re often seen in-game in a very zoomed-in fashion).

Koahri also created the images of Nina seen in the racing mode as well as the busts for Nina & Chad which are used in the Season One release:

Again, totally nailed it. We haven’t even revealed all of these in the pre-release material; you’re going to love what some of these expressions look like in-game.

Koahri1 can be found on Twitter


NALE’s development has been a long process, with requirements for art popping up at different times – and, honestly, it hasn’t always been smooth. Many, many times we’ve had to revise what we wanted to do in-game to work around the cost of art, reworking sequences to reduce the amount of bespoke images that we need. Also, this means that when we need art, people’s availability varies, and this lead to us working with multiple artists for the project.

This led to us working with NeoLucky.


Neolucky

Neolucky is a fantastically talented artist from the US, who has produced two very important pieces for NALE.

One of them will be well-known to existing players; the image of Nina which appears on the loading screen in-game:

We were so happy with what they delivered for this. For the “night” image of Nina, we wanted something that showed Nina in her sleeping attire; but at the same time, we wanted the overwhelming concept to be “cute”, not “sexy”, as well as carrying the idea that Nina is a person with which people can hopefully identify. She doesn’t “have it all together”, but she’s doing her best. I really feel they delivered on this, as well as introducing the world to Gordito’s, the Fledge City Setting’s ubiquitous snack.

Neolucky also produced another very important image; however this image forms the final moments of Chapter 3, and as a result, I won’t share it here for spoiler reasons! But we’ve had fans reach out and say it’s one of their favourite moments of the game, and their art plays a huge part in that.

Neolucky has a website


When it came time to produce the busts for Season One, time-constraints forced us to bring on another commissioned artist, Omi B. Gamboa.


Omi B. Gamboa

Omi came along at the perfect time. With the deadline for the Season One release looming, we needed to bring someone in to work on Dylan’s busts, and they did a fantastic job in a very taxing timescale.

Dylan has two costumes (his regular biker attire, and a school uniform outfit), and they did a great job with each. This was difficult, because prior to the creation of these busts, we’d had very few Dylan images made, so Omi had to work off their own interpretation and my not-an-artist input.

Omi has an Instagram.


This is just a sampling of the art featured in NALE. For instance, we commissioned SluggishSnail to produce the end-of-chapter-2 image, which I won’t post here as it’s a massive spoiler – but they did a fantastic job, and we hope new fans will love seeing it when it pops up in-game.

NALE’s art is really important. From the very first pieces, I’ve worked hard to find people I can commission to produce the high-quality assets needed for the characters, and in return, these people have brought their awesome talents to bear in bringing them to life. They’re a huge part of NALE’s success, and I encourage people to check out the links above, and maybe ask for some commissions!


Thanks for reading this!

NINA AQUILA: LEGAL EAGLE, SEASON ONE will be released on Steam on July 9th!

We’re inviting players to WISHLIST the game now; just click here and hit the “Add to my Wishlist” button!

We’re marking the run-up to launch with a range of daily blogposts about many different topics relating to NALE, such as how we achieved certain things in the editor, character bios and even a giveaway, which you can enter now over on Twitter!

Finally, if you’re a fan of the game, make sure you join our newsletter (and get a free pack of high-res NALE backgrounds for desktop displays & mobile devices).

Come back tomorrow for a blogpost about NALE’s “Fledge City setting”, the fictional world in which the game takes place.

And we hope to see you on July 9th over on Steam!