Unused Artwork & Visual Clues
So, since it's Halloween, which is quite obviously a very important date in regards to SHINRAI, I wanted to do a little post here fitting the occasion. And what better thing to post than a couple of gory pieces of artwork that went unused!

As you probably remember, a certain someone suffered a rather brutal death via knife. The CGs depicting the body were certainly among the more difficult things I had to draw. A big part of that being the fact that they had to serve as visual clues.

I had a hard time figuring out the best way to draw those CGs, especially the very first one when Raiko stumbles upon the corpse for the first time, only able to throw a quick glance at it before chasing after the culprit.

The environment was pretty dark and I didn't want to show too much. One of my ideas was to have Raiko look down at the body and the camera look up at her, with the knife handle depicted in a blurry fashion at the bottom of the screen. That way, we would have needed to rely a bit more on her inner monologue in order to get an idea of what exactly she’s seeing.

However, for that particular part, I didn't want to write a long, detailed description. I wanted it to be a bit more fast-paced due to the chase scene that would follow immediately afterwards. Furthermore, I didn't want to spend too much time on a description of the body, since Raiko would later be able to examine it in detail (at the end of chapter 5), anyway.

There was one thing I definitely had to bring up her though: the buttoned up jacket. After all, this became a very important clue later on, regarding the time of death. By letting Raiko mention the buttoned up jacket, however, I feared I'd draw a suspicious amount of attention to it. You know, to the point where people would go: “Wait, why was that specifically mentioned? It’s probably gonna be super important!!”

If you have played/read a lot of murder mysteries, you eventually begin to get a feeling for what kinds of things mentioned in text might be of special significance. It's something I'm experiencing myself right know while I'm still playing through Danganronpa V3. There are many times when characters make certain remarks most people probably wouldn't think much about. But my immediate response often is: "The author wouldn't have specifically mentioned this detail if it wasn't important!" And that’s usually the way it turns out in the end.

So how do you inform a player about such an important detail without literally spelling it out? Through visuals, of course. You let them see the clue and hopefully, they'll remember it later on. That's what I mean when I talk about visual clues.

I really needed the players to know that Hiro's jacket was buttoned up when Raiko first laid eyes upon his body, which meant that I had to draw the CG in a way that would show it. And that's how I eventually ended up with the CG that you now see in the game, not the one I described above. Nor this other one, which I did get serious enough about to actually start drawing it, though:

As you can see, I didn't get too far. Just for the sake of this posting, I cleaned up the outlines a little and quickly added some colors and very simple shading. However, a lot of detailing is still missing, like the blood splatters on the knife and clothes, or even the entire background (I just used a quick color gradient here, because I didn’t want to leave it white).

I wanted to add Raiko's foot as well, as though she almost stepped on him. But eventually, I realized the problem I explained above and with it the fact that I couldn't really use this. It doesn't show enough of his chest area to work as a fair visual clue. So I simply gave up on it. 

This is not the only picture that went unused, however. There is one more, very similar to it:

The difference here is that the first one had been planned as an in-game CG. This one, however... was supposed to be used as promo art. I wanted some kind of promotional artwork that would really drive the "this is a murder mystery" point home.

With this kind of story, it's always difficult to find something to show and garner interest with. Because almost everything after a certain point in the story can be seen as a potential spoiler. I still wanted to hint at one of the deaths, though. 

Sadly, this was one of those “it looked really cool inside my mind, but I just couldn’t properly translate it to paper”-kinda deals. The idea of the moonlight coming through the window, the victim in the foreground, mostly veiled by shadows, except for the contours... it seemed super neat. I just couldn’t get it to work in a way where you were actually unable to recognize the victim. I tried changing the hairstyle and color, but in the end, that kinda felt like cheating. And eventually I realized that this generally wasn’t as good as an idea as I had initially thought, so... yeah.

There’s a lot of stuff still missing here too, like the trees and stars outside the window, but... why bother finishing something after realizing it sucks anyway, haha.

In any case, there you go. Two unused pieces of artwork I thought I’d never share. But I promised to do so here on Patreon and I hope that they at least served as an interesting look behind the scenes. There sure are a lot of things to consider in just about every aspect of creating a product such as a visual novel. Whether it’s in regards to promotional material, in-game CGs or even the balance and interplay of writing and visuals.