Posts Tagged ‘pixel art’

Starfarer: Modern Ship Designs

2011/01/27

(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

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“Binb is not Bomberman”

2011/01/19

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!

2010/12/23

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

2010/12/21

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! :



Starfarer Ship Design

2010/11/29

This is from a series of posts I’m writing to promote the space combat sandbox/rpg game Starfarer by Fractal Softworks.

Ahoy there! My name is David and I’m what passes for an artist around here. But enough about me; I’d like to talk a little about how the graphics of Starfarer come to be, starting with the Onslaught-class battleship which we have already featured from a standpoint of gameplay and game fiction. I’d like to show you my process of creating the visual design of the Onslaught from concept sketch to final sprite.

The Onslaught-class Battleship from concept to sprite:

Read the rest of this entry on the Starfarer blog

Starfarer by Fractal Softworks

2010/11/20

The game “Starfarer” by Fractal Softworks has just been publicly announced! It’s a sandboxy spaceship combat/strategy/roleplaying game and is still in production.

Oh, by the way – all the graphics are by me! (And the lovely background is by NASA, I should add.)

Art for this have been a ton of fun to draw. It’s been really hard to keep quiet about this but now I can spill the beans, so count on me writing more posts about how I approached the ship and weapon designs, drawing planets, and everything else graphical.

Starfarer will be released sometime in 2011; be sure to follow development and release news at the Fractal Softworks webpage.

Dredmor Design Dialog

2010/10/13

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.

Why do a job once when you can do it eight times in only eight times the time?

2010/10/04

[Posted to the Gaslamp Games blog]

Quiet? Only outwardly. Our Dear Leader saw fit to allow ye players to select your own resolution rather than be limited to a proper and traditional 800×600 screen. Oh, we have such things in store. You will be able to descend far deeper into the Dungeons of Dredmor than ever imagined previously!

Now come with me and perform a cheap analogue of descending into the dungeon by scrolling down past this large image which is a crop of the title screen painting, showing how I’m expanding it to fit higher resolutions!

By deeper I’m referring only to the resolution of the game, of course. We’re not radically changing the actual number of levels, though one could say that the depth of the gameplay you will find in said levels will be much greater than before. I won’t get into it much, but the thought process is to focus gameplay more on what you see in the game (eg. the items, the skills, the tactics involved in using the grid of the dungeon layout, finding crazy stuff) than on what you don’t see in the game (eg. percentile bonuses to hidden stats).

Back to the art aspect, as the official Gaslamp art janitor, I get to clean up the messes that other people make as they change the fundamental requirements of the game. Bitter? Never! Well, only most of the time! — at Gaslamp I expect, nay, demand pain. Please sir, may I have another artistic beating? (Actually this turn of phrase reminds me of a certain performance art piece from back in art school, but I digress.) In short, redrawing the entire UI really does get easier when you’ve done it seven times before.

Worse yet, the clever new pixel scaling algorithm which Nicholas is employing works much better with low-color art than with the high-color art style which I used to draw everything. Pixel art formalism, which I’ve railed against before, has struck back at me, and I have surrendered to it. And I’m finding that I like it.

You’ll never find me drawing a dither gradient though, unless it’s very intentionally for texture. I may be a videogame artist, but I do have some pride left. Here, check out new items:

Feel free to speculate wildly about the significance of fruit, a top hat, and ingots of various metals.

Pixelcraft: The Colors of Frogatto

2010/07/29

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.

Against Pixel Art Formalism

2010/07/15

Pixel art is for the pixels!

I don’t care for being formalistic about pixel art, of adhering to a limited palette or carefully anti-aliasing my lines by hand, of using all-or-nothing transparency (actually, I do the latter two more often than I’d like to admit). What matters is what I wish to do with the aesthetic of pixels – and what specifications I must meet for the graphics to work at all in the given platform. It is ridiculous to throw away perfectly good tools like brush effects, gradient tools, and overall image adjustments. Tedium is not artistically uplifting.

If the art is about pixels, it’s pixel art. It doesn’t matter how I make it.

I actually followed all the “rules” of pixel art to draw these. Oops. Then I used the adjust levels tool in Photoshop. Ha! I have overthrown the tyranny of aesthetic canon!

There! It’s not a manifesto unless you try to sound controversial in the first paragraph.

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