Customer Story

How LBC Studios brewed up game assets in record time using Layer

Learn how this independent mobile games studio in Vancouver was able to leverage Layer’s professional AI tools to unblock and ultimately accelerate their art pipeline for Brewtopia producing 10 high quality style consistent game characters as well as vehicles, icons and props in a work week.
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About LBC Studios

LBC Studios, a Vancouver-based independent mobile gaming studio and publisher, was established in 2015 by Solon Bucholtz and Dennis Molloy, both originally from Langley, British Columbia. The abbreviation "LBC" hints at their roots.

Since its inception, LBC has expanded to include over 40 skilled team members, dedicated to developing four distinct mobile gaming titles. Guided by principles of accountability, growth, honesty, and passion, LBC persistently redefines the essence of a successful indie gaming studio, both locally and globally.

Changing the AI mindset

LBC Studios’ journey into the realm of generative AI tools began with Layer, and represented a big step for a game studio that traditionally created art in-house or outsourced to trusted partners. 

At the onset, LBC was curious about the potential for AI tools in game production - but had reasonable concerns about quality, usefulness, and if it could potentially even replace team members. Adoption of gen-AI could rapidly increase their ability to create game assets, but also represented a pretty big change in creative approach. The question lingered: could these tools truly enhance their work, or were they merely novelties, devoid of practical application?

Despite their doubts, LBC Studios embraced the challenge, guided by their commitment to innovation. As they delved deeper into the capabilities of Layer's generative AI tools, the practicality became apparent with an 8x increase in production for game character assets. Traditionally, similar character development would take upwards of 320 hours - with Layer the average was closer to 40 hours for all assets. What began as a tentative exploration soon became a strong partnership.

Our team has been researching and experimenting with AI for the past year across all disciplines. For the art team the verdict was a clear “it’s not there yet”. Then through a talk at PgC London I discovered Layer. The team tested again and this time we all agreed this is a step towards real value in production ready asset creation. We expect this space to only get better and for Layer to be a leader in AI driven game art production.
Solon , CEO LBC Studios

Accelerating art pipelines with Layer’s custom styles

Custom style training

One major thing that attracted LBC to Layer was the ability to train the model on custom art styles. This meant that LBC was able to keep their visual style on-brand and IP tight while generating new assets. They began by uploading their library of hand-drawn character art (about 10 of them) to the Layer platform, which set up the LBC art team to begin creating revisions. As the AI generated a number of on-brand variations, LBC Studios curated a selection that resonated with their artistic sensibilities, leveraging the flexibility of Layer's canvas to fine-tune each iteration.

I was incredibly impressed with Layer’s ability to replicate our art style. Other generative AI art tools could never get very close, but Layer could understand the intricacies of it, down to fine details such as hand proportions and the small line breaks in our outline strokes.
Michael Cheal, Art Lead at LBC Studios
Screenshot from LBC’s Layer Workspace Style Creation Page

Creating unique player experiences

We had a feature where you served individual customers coffee products, which originally was presented with a UI-only representation. Instead of a simple screen mostly filled with UI panels and buttons, we were able to bring a personal touch to the experience with actual characters walking up to the player to be served, which helps with immersion as well as more selling points through our marketing creatives. 

Now that we've built a pipeline for creating characters in Layer, we can add more personality to our game, which is always a costly task otherwise.
Michael Cheal, Art Lead at LBC Studios
UI-only representation with simple UI panels and buttons vs UI with characters we were able to create using Layer

Infinite Variations

Since Layer was able to capture their art style very well, LBC studios trained a couple other models for other purposes and created icons and map elements. Using Layer’s ‘Add a reference’ feature they were able to provide real-world photos as reference images and let Layer render them. 

Exportability of assets for finer touches

One feature in particular was key for the studio workflows - the ability to export Layer assets directly into Photoshop via the PSD format. This proved instrumental, affording them the freedom to apply final touches in Photoshop, ensuring a fusion of AI power combined with human guidance. Illustrative examples showcasing side-by-side comparisons of artist-crafted characters and their AI-generated counterparts underscored the impact of this collaboration.

Speeding up the process

Enabled by Layer's artist-focused tools, LBC Studios witnessed a transformation in their ability to create production-ready game assets. By integrating Layer into their workflows, they were able to bypass the limitations of traditional methods and multiply the output of their art team. 

What once took an entire week to accomplish now yielded four 10 realized characters within the same timeframe, marking a monumental 8x increase in production velocity.

If we had to spend the full time for these customer characters traditionally, it would take us 100s of hours. With Layer it was around 40 hours for all of them, so a huge increase in productivity for these types of assets.
Michael Cheal, Art Lead at LBC Studios
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