The Learnings of Food in Games

On Restaurant Story 2, one of our prominent visual challenges was how we were to convey the way food looked.  How does an artist make a food look iconic? 

Lessons learned in styling food:

  • You cannot simply create an icon of that food and have it look appetizing
  • Presentation and color are everything.  Two shades off can make a meal look spoiled or undercooked
  • It's worth it to research various preparations of the same dish to find the most iconic, and most appealing shapes and colors
  • Way too much of the food we eat is brown, yellow, or red.  Use of things like parsley or green onions aren't just for flavor, they're to break up the mundane
  • Rendering believable food is not easy
  • Going a step further into understanding the science behind food helps.  Why/when/how things like char marks or carmelization happen are just as important as picking the right colors
  • All the most desirable foods are brown.  Sandwiches, fried chicken, roasted chicken, burgers, buns, chocolate...even coq au vin.



Above, on the left is one of the team artist's concepts for the classic dish, Coq Au Vin.  It does represent the dish, but how could we improve.  I took their concept, and pushed.  I went for a triangular plating, looking to cues from haute cuisine food photography.  Simple, graphic shapes, textured brushes, and the use of simple multiple and overlay layers to give the classic roasted, wine soaked presentation.  It is always easy to copy food photography.   Taking the time to push the team to look for the quintessential shapes and colors proved that our food always looked its best.