Ema, known on Twitter as Spookymeal, was the character and CG artist for My Sweet Confession. Mixing her own design with descriptions of characters from author Ebi-hime, Ema planned and brought each character to life with her unique style! Not to mention the heartbreaking CG!
Read about her experience working on My Sweet Confession and see some of her sketches and preliminary designs for the visual novel.
What was your inspiration for the character designs and CGs in My Sweet Confession?
"I was actually given art references from the game's writer, ebihime, which were basically her ideas of how characters could look like. For Ichika, she was picturing Gudako (Fate Grand/Order), for Ayumi, she referenced Mai (Nichijou) and for Hana she just gave an illustration from an author I don't know, unfortunately.
Personally, I didn't think of any particular characters or artworks. Rather, I drew on a combination of my memories with Visual Novels I had played in the past, and my memories of high school. I wanted to give myself the freedom to just go with what felt right, without actively trying to resemble any particular style. If I had to point out to an artist that played an influence, though, that would be Takashi Takeuchi, whose work is still a big inspiration for me.
One fun dynamic that helped me design the characters was to picture Ichika as a deer, which is why I went with a red-brown-green color palette, long limbs and freckles, I felt it suited her personality. In contrast, I thought of Hana as a wolf; being more serious looking, smaller, and having dark and slightly messy hair. (If this was a different kind of game, maybe she would have ended with fangs too, haha).
Something I also find interesting is that prior to starting work on this VN, I was a little hesitant to lean into anime aesthetics for my art, as I still had some shadow of doubt in me that told me I would not be taken seriously because of them. However, allowing myself to dive into those shojo-like elements and adapting them was something very liberating, and from then on I have started to incorporate that more on my personal work. So in a way, the work I made here is what has inspired me, instead of the other way around."
When working on a project such as My Sweet Confession, is there a process that begins your illustrations?
"Yes. I tend to start by writing down ideas for the illustration, detailing what needs to be there, what the mood is, and how it should be portrayed. Among other details.
In this case, however, Dara, my (very lovely) art supervisor already had such descriptions ready for me.
Going from there, my first step starts with sketching very loosely on individual paper sheets. I like to get the first rough ideas out just going from my imagination without looking for any references.
Once I have a somewhat solid idea, I begin a back-and-forth process of working with the references I find, going back to the sketches and start reiterating them until I'm happy enough with something I can take to the computer.
I tend to work simultaneously on both mediums, going back to paper when necessary. That's why there are so many paper sketches, though these were only the ones I kept!"
When working on My Sweet Confession, did you have any favorite parts about the visual novel?
"I enjoyed fleshing out visually the characters' personalities and figuring out how to best represent them, while also contextualizing their writing in return.
In terms of the illustrations, the CG for the ~secret ending~ was a delight from start to end (I even took a couple of reference photos of myself doing the very extra posing, which I love). And I also quite enjoyed working on the Ichika rejection CG, which was a bit more dynamic (as painful as it may be for our poor heroine).
Also, this is a big secret, but just between us- Designing outfits (both the uniforms and the casual clothing) was an unexpectedly fun process and I can't wait to do more of it. <3"
Make sure to follow Ema on Twitter to see all her incredible work!