When the world is in turmoil, fashion is everything. Guild Wars 2 character artist Kristen Perry discusses the process of creating the clothes the races of Tyria will wear 250 years after the first game.
Guild Wars 2 is a completely different animal than Guild Wars. Rather than having to create styles for the handful of non-player characters inhabiting any particular location, Perry has to design clothes for entire cities filled with the various races of Guild Wars 2, from the lowiest pauper to the loftiest lords. She takes on the daunting task with unbridled enthusiasm.
Designing the clothing for a race is a lot of fun, particularly when you start at the beginning with a clean slate. One of the things I really like about GW2 is it gave us the opportunity to see the town inhabitants as a whole, rather than just an individual list of needed people (even though what I got was a list of needed people, heh heh). This allowed me to draw a block of designs at once and see them all together. Doing that gives insight into how the NPCs work as a crowd, spreading out interesting silhouettes and shapes that make them simultaneously a good backdrop for the players as well as appealing individually.
Of course it helps that Perry has much more to work with in terms of resources and tools.
Perhaps one of the most significant new tools is the use of normal maps. For the first time, we can make use of much higher modeling techniques to add richness to an otherwise modest poly budget. We do have more polys to throw around as well, but there's a lot to be said for the smoke-and-mirror use of a good normal map. I think perhaps what I love the most, besides normals and the fun of 3D sculpting, would be the silhouette polys I can now add and the higher texture resolution that goes with it. A collar may have edge depth, whereas before it may have just been a texture shadow. I can add more fullness to forms and folds and really get a nice layered look.I can add more fullness to forms and folds and really get a nice layered look.
Reading through the whole article, linked below, one thing is perfectly clear: ArenaNet picked the right person for the job. Kristen Perry is manic about fashion, and that should reflect greatly on the well-dressed characters of Guild Wars 2.