Archive for the ‘pixel art’ Category

Starfarer: Modern Ship Designs


(This post is written to promote the game Starfarer by Fractal Softworks.)

There’s more to space combat in Starfarer than nearly-obsolete front-line sluggers like the Onslaught. Meet the Astral class capital-ship carrier: a modern, refined platform for supporting squadrons of small fighters and bombers such as the Dagger torpedo-bomber you can see below. Escorting the Astral is a nimble Wolf class frigate.

This Astral carrier has some top-of-the-line point defense systems on its starboard side while the port has some nasty repeating torpedo launchers. Once you get past the escorts and fighter-bomber cover, you’ll have to be sure to choose your approach carefully — and that’s before dealing with the full-coverage shield. Astral-class carriers should not be taken lightly.

What follows is a bit about how I went about designing the modern ship classes of Starfarer along with some concept sketches for the Astral and Wolf.

Read the rest on the Starfarer blog

“Binb is not Bomberman”


Here’s a trailer for “Binb”, a simple but compelling game by Maxim Karpenko (posted on IndieGames at the end of December) for which I drew some cute animated pixel-art sprites and terrain:

Very bomberman, but it of course isn’t, as it’s given a somewhat different game format and goal, plus special items. And look at those cute little guys!

I’ll be sure to post the link to the playable game when it’s released somewhere.

Starfarer: Pew Pew!


Or: Weapon design & graphics modularity in Starfarer

A game which revolves around combat in space naturally places great importance on the weapons uses in said space. In short: They must look really cool. Here’s a picture to show how I’ve been going about this:

Click to view full size. You see here the process of taking a weapon design from concept art to pixel-art sprite to in-game screenshot. The barrels of the Heavy Autocannon — a nice standard warship cannon — recoil individually upon firing.

And how about some background on what influenced this outlook on displaying weapons?

Read the rest of this entry on the Starfarer blog

Bard’s Apprentice


Bard’s Apprentice,  a cute little Flash combat rpg, was released earlier this month on Age of Games. It was developed by Cun Sun for whom I drew the overworld terrain tilesets, some UI backgrounds, and some items.

You can play Bard’s Apprentice for free online here.

Some screenshots here! :

Dredmor Design Dialog


At Gaslamp Games, I’ve long since learned that it’s far better to present Nicholas with a fait accompli which he finds amusing to implement rather than a rational argument for a feature. Allow me to demonstrate.

NV: What am I supposed to do with ingots, herbs, and fruit?
DB: *shrug*
NV: You do this just to tempt me, don’t you.
NV: …Fine, I’ll play your little game.

NV: Fuck you for making me add smelting.
DB: You didn’t have to.

NV: What’s the coal for?
DB: The iron needs a carbon source to be turned into steel.

Just another day at Gaslamp Games.

Pixelcraft: The Colors of Frogatto


For quite some time I’ve been intending to write about pixel art technique. Today I stumbled on a pixel-art platformer game called Frogatto & Friends which has inspired me to get on this because I was struck by the game’s lovely art. (I haven’t actually played the game yet, though it is available for free on PC/Mac/Linux, and the code, but not the assets, is open source.)

So let’s see if I can explain what’s going on with the pixels of Guido Bos and Richard Kettering (who it seems also lead the art for Battle For Wesnoth; neat).

Use of Color

The artwork of Frogatto nicely demonstrates the intentional use of color (hue, in particular) to emphasize the depth of a scene. Warm colors pop out to the foreground while cooler colors recede to the background. I’ve pulled some of the color palettes out of a screenshot to show how this is operating:

Notice how much warmer the lighter colors are – the green and brown are pretty much the same shade of yellow at their lightest, while the stone’s gray takes on a noticeable brown tone at its highlights. On the other end, the green cools down even to the point of using a shade of blue while the stone goes toward a more neutral (and relatively cooler) gray.

The use of a blue tone in the tree is particularly interesting. It’s actually lighter than the mid-dark green but is so much cooler that it fits with the shadowy parts of the leaves – and the blue reflects the ambient, bluer light of the sky rather than the direct yellow sunlight — the use of color in the tree tells us a lot, very subtly, about the lighting in the environment.

As an experiment I replaced the original colors with “naive” color palettes that are simply light to dark gradients of a single hue with no change in ‘temperature’ or saturation.

The scene still works (ignore the yellowish leaves in the lower right), which is a testament to the skillful use of tone and shapes, but it’s flatter and less full of life than before.

  • In general, warm hues bring things forward, cool hues set things back. (Sometimes I like to play with inverting this rule to make a scene look weird.)
  • Ambiantly lit shadowy areas can be ‘lit’ with a color that offsets the primary lighting; Consider what color is coming from the rest of the environment, or what color the sky is.
  • Color can be used very subjectively. It doesn’t matter what exact color your color-picker displays, and it definitely doesn’t have to match the “naive” understanding of what color something is. What matters is how the color you use works in-context with the rest of the colors of the scene; Indeed, leaves can be blue.

[Yes, I’ve spoken out about how I don’t care for using small fixed palettes in pixel art. The upside of the practice is that it forces artists to be very conscious about their color choices, so from that perspective it promotes some artistic rigor and, on occasion, very creative use of color.]

And that’s that for now. This game has wonderfully rendered shapes – those pointy leaves and contrast between bulbous and cubic rocks – so it feels like there’s going to have to be another post on the art of Frogatto. Soon.