I'm glad to see people come back to the reskins effort, thanks for doing this! I'm sorry you weren't able to pitch to Episode III, I hope as you continue to practice and learn more, you'll have an opportunity in the future.
Also, don't be too hard on yourself - I also was basically an Asian rando from Canada who came into TF2 in late 2014-2015, with not much experience or skill in competitive TF2's scene, and contributed what I could by not just sticking to SFM stuff but reviving eXtine's custom jerseys project after asked if I would be interested in doing it. I learned a lot while I worked on it, and you will too - especially visual/character design theory you can carry onto work outside of this.
Some suggestions I have based on experience:
- Make sure you uniform scale when working with logos. I notice that the Se7en logo is stretched on Medic's backpack. Assuming you're editing the UV directly in a picture-editing program rather than using Blender painting, most of the skins don't really stretch the logos too badly IIRC that you need to shrink things too weirdly. Also, try to avoid using black logos on top of dark (e.g. Ascent's black logo on Demo's vest, white Nursey name on off-white it WILL wash out in bright light); swap the black to white (with organization's permission) or vice-versa depending on where the logo goes. Keep sponsor logos all one colour if you can get away with it (e.g. black or white).
- Logos with text on one arm (or the logo itself) flipping on the other arm. You probably accepted there's not much you can do about it since both arms read off one part of the texture, so honestly it doesn't matter that much but it was something I wish I would have been more conscious of; I should have removed the FROYOTECH text from the FROYO arms (and I forgot if I did in the end for i58, I probably didn't) but there's nothing that you can really do if the text is 100% part of the logo.
- Avoid using full black & full white (#000000/#FFFFFF) for jersey colours due to how TF2's lighting interacts with these colours (e.g. Se7en's full-white uniforms or the white BLOYO uses). You might notice that white-painted hats on bright maps such as Process or Sunshine have their shading washed out almost completely. Use either an off-white or a dark grey to light black. I had to relaunch TF2 a few times and check if shit looked okay on certain maps, within the tourney's rotation, in certain places, before going back and making things not as bright/lighter if too dark.
- Avoid using bright/saturated colours (e.g. Se7en's red skins). TF2's default art style (not including obnoxious ugly paints) leans towards faded colours. It's easier on the eyes and matches its surroundings. I know some logos have bright colours and incorporating the brand colour is key, so how I've gone about this in the past is I'll keep the logo or do standard red/blue swaps (with organization's permission), but keep jersey colours more muted. I understand that TF2 weapon skins are pretty bad with this too, but weapons will always look more flashy than the character skins, even with cosmetics, paints, and unusuals factored in.
- Your time as well as your textures (and the file size) adds up if you customize each skin with a player name. Post ESEA LAN, we chose to focus on Sniper & Spy retextures out of the non-cookie cutter specialist classes to save time, and slapped logos on the others. Altogether that's at least 20 textures per team (18 + 2 for Medic's RED/BLU backpacks). Customizing each class for each individual player means you'll be making 20 textures per player, which is 120 textures per team. 120 textures is minimum for a 6-team game if it's only team textures. If you do things such as edit bump maps for Scout's bandage normal map to look more like gamer gloves, this adds more textures.
- Keep elements from the default skins. Less is more. (e.g. Se7en's all white uniforms might be overdoing it.) This wasn't something I realized until I did more TF2 concept art outside of esports-style brainding. It really helps to make things sort of blend in better, while still making them stand out with a special touch. i55 FROYO vs i58 FROYO's skins from the design theory slides in the i55/i58 retexture DL are the best way I can explain this. I also really liked what Jasmine did for nR's skins since those reds/blues she picked basically became the default on those textures instead of the default TF2 RED/BLU. Also this is due to how cosmetics work; a RED Scout jacket attached onto that Se7en skin will still show up as dull red since it's basically a prosthetic attachment that's meant to match the original RED/BLU.
I really like these things you did:
- Mimicing elements from the official jerseys or uniforms/merch of teams. I don't know if it was intentional but Se7en's skins look really similar to the jerseys they wore at i63. My favourite example in the past of incorporating jersey design wasCrowns Esports Club's i58 textures, which utilized elements from Crowns' jerseys and incorporating it as best as we could into the TF2 style; Jasmine Tea's concept also did this but more for the logo since they had no apparel at the time. I think BLOYO could use more black than grey though.
- The player names. As mentioned before, the logistics of this is nuts. For a 6-team invite tournament with teams branded, you have 120 textures to deliver. For a 6-team invite tournament with individual players branded, you have 720 textures to deliver. Is it worth it? From experience from not just me but the numerous people I asked to help me reskin + design in-game jerseys, I personally don't think so, and that doesn't factor in how big the VPK/custom folder would be when you finish (which should be okay). Does it look sweet anyway and adds a nice personalized touch? Yes it does.
- Retaining gamer gloves. There is absolutely no good reason I had to start putting edgy fingerless gamer gloves on Team Fortress 2 characters from the year 1968. There is no reason you should have to either other than ESPORTS. That being said, TF2's 1968 has teleporters, healing bongs, and ugly banana hats with flames, so fuck that. I'm very much allowed to advise you against using bright colours on jerseys but I, speaking for myself and myself only, will very much support your endeavour to ESPORTS gamer gloves. (People probably disagree and that's 100% valid.)
- Reviving this in general, let alone committing to it. My respect to you for taking the time to create these; it's very labourous and requires more trial & error than most people realize. This is thankless sometimes. Your work will be flamed, 100%. It will be flamed without criticism, no matter how good it is, because there are a good chunk of people who just don't like team skins. But know your efforts are, and will be, appreciated by a good chunk of this community, and I wish those people had spoken up more.
I hope you don't get burnt out from wanting to continue doing these or refining them for any future tourneys, seasons, or LANs you might ever pitch to. Remember, it doesn't even have to be teams: I saw Moscow LAN using some custom retextures on their classes that were specific to the event itself. It's basically just a nice personalized touch, like adding logos to the cap point such as what TempusTV does and what a lot of casting orgs/other tournaments do.