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On the art of Splash! II

My most recent collaboration with my friend and fellow video game musician, Christoph Jakob, is a Splatoon-inspired album called Splash! II (styled on many places as Splash! 2).



I rarely talk at length about collaborations with other users that are either directly or loosely based on other existing intellectual properties -- there are plenty that I have contributed to over the years -- and, in fact, I haven't blogged about the very first Splash! album, which was released last year, where I was the vocalist on tracks 5 and 6. (The album does get a mention in the Extras section of my website, though.) This one, however, is different. I'm contributing to a sizeable portion of an album of this kind at a time when my website is online. The last time I did so was for the two albums from my doujin circle, Aetherhythm, which I listed on the Extras page that I was involved in. This website was still down when both of those albums were released.


Splash! II has given me a great deal of creative vigour. Whether that vigour has come through listening to works in progress or recording vocals or drums, it has gotten my creative juices flowing. But before I talk about my contributions to Splash! II, I'd like to go back to the first Splash! album for a bit.


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The details of how Christoph approached me asking if I'd like to put vocals down on his tracks for the first Splash! album are hazy right now. By that point I had already done vocals and voice acting for Revita, which he scored, and in the months to follow, Revita would go on to win two awards.


Both of us are fans of Splatoon, and at the time, we played Splatoon 2 with each other occasionally. I was happy to collaborate with him again, and so we went on to talk about the fictional bands he would create for the Splash! album. For my tracks, it was a little hazy. I was (and still am) somewhat known for my vocal layers. The tracks I would sing over were bright and cheerful and made my brain itch in wonderful ways. I imagined a varsity band, with a following that always included a gaggle of cheerleaders. He gave me the melodies he had in mind, and I did my best.


A drawing I did of an Inkling girl playing bass drums, and an Octoling girl posing with her bass and amp. The colour scheme here is yellow, purple, and various shades of grey.

I was moved to draw something based on the tracks that I'd done, almost as if to mark the occasion, and so I ended up drawing the two characters, Úna and Dis, facsimiles of our Splatoon 2 avatars. That image became the visuals for the fictional band whose tracks I sang for -- Hip Campus. That name will become relevant later.


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My involvement with Splash! II began early on, as early as December '22, in fact. Christoph commissioned me to do the sleeve artwork. I drew heavy influence from the Splatfest artwork of Splatoon 2 -- those pieces with the cleaner lines, at least.


The same Octoling and Inkling from the previous drawing appear here, along with a third character, Trey, who is an Inkling holding a megaphone. Úna is seated on her bass drum, while Dis is holding her bass, with her amp next to her. The colour scheme here is red and blue, like the default colours of the Nintendo Switch.

The band I drew here was none other than Hip Campus, but with an extra member. Splash! II lore, like much of Splatoon lore, talks about the interactions with band members as either close-knit and strong, or transitory and fleeting. Trey, a singer from another fictional band mentioned in the first Splash! album, Turf Twins, chanced upon Hip Campus and stuck around for the journey.


I don't recall how long the process of making the artwork took me, but I must've finished it by the end of December '22. I streamed some of my process as I went about doing this. Seeing as Splatoon 3 is likely the last game in the series to be on the Nintendo Switch (Nintendo is developing the successor to the Switch at the minute), I wanted the cover artwork to be a tribute to the Switch, and so I used the red and blue of the default JoyCons.


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While still on the subject of the art of Splash! II, I drew images for some of the other bands:


A drawing I did of the band, IKA-RI, whose musicians are performing on a dais. The band's singers are waving to the crowd, who are watching from the surrounding buildings. In between the buildings and the dais are a series of raised platforms, wide enough for a person to stand on. Dancers are running on them, carrying giant balloons in the shape of sea creatures. There are banners and buntings and balloons and lanterns all over. This is a Splatfest.
This was the artwork I drew for the fictional Splatfest band, IKA-RI. It's a theatrical folk fusion band, with musicians, singers, and dancers tugging a menagerie of floating sea creatures.

A coral girl, named Amanda Toll, or A. Toll for short. She has pink coral "hair" and more pink coral growing on her right shoulder, and pink eyebrows and eyelids. She has orange pupils and tan skin. She has an incomplete five-point star drawn on her left cheek in pink.
This is A. Toll, a synthwave musician whose musicianship was conceived by Christoph Jakob and MoolaMixtape. She's a coral girl!

A Splatoon 3-style poster in purple, orange, and green, of a Splatoon-inspired rock band called Zebrafish. There's a slant upwards to the right throughout. Image has an orange border with green and purple ink splashes on the top left and bottom right corners. The name "ZEBRAFISH" appears in Inkling script on the bottom right. Bottom row has the singer, guitarist, and bassist, and back row has the violinist and the drummer.
This was my attempt at drawing a band poster for the fictional band Zebrafish, a metal outfit with a violinist among its members. I based the violinist on the actual session violinist on the Zebrafish tracks, Lucia La Rezza!

The three images above feel different to each other, and yet, I used the same brush for all of them. I wanted to expand my artistry, I wanted to convey different feels with the same brush. All these images were used as promotional material for the album on Twitter and YouTube at least.


For the Zebrafish poster above, I imagined a poster in the style of those available in Splatoon 3. IKA-RI, and to a lesser extent, A. Toll, were the result of powerful visual images that came to my mind. IKA-RI was strongly influenced by the Chinese dragon dance, which I witnessed a fair bit, given that I grew up in an area with a sizeable Chinese diaspora.


I wanted to cover the art side of things first, because I have a much more complex discourse about the music of Splash! II coming up, and specifically, my involvement in that album. But I can say this with confidence: as is typically the case with my own work, my own drawing style influenced my musicianship here and vice versa.


If you haven't already checked the album out, it's out on Bandcamp, and streamable on YouTube at the time of writing. Releases to other streaming platforms will come at a later date!


Stay tuned for Part 2!

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