Critique => Pixel Art => Pixel Art Feature Chest => Topic started by: Doppleganger on March 17, 2009, 08:59:39 pm

Title: GR#006 - Game Artin - Faces
Post by: Doppleganger on March 17, 2009, 08:59:39 pm
So my latest task at work is pretty immense, to say the least; not only I am reskinning an entire game in a month's time (2, if you count a month of "pre-production"), but this game is also our most succesful franchise, and it currently features some nicely done non-pixel art graphics. What it all amounts to is a demand for expeditious work of extraordinary quality. Definitely not an easy task. So those who've read thus far, I ask you to join me in this one-month endeavor. To stifle any leaks, I'm not going to mention the name of this game series, but if you happen to know what it is, please don't implicate it.

So, with that being said, allow me to introduce what I have done, and give you an idea of what lies ahead.

Mockup With All Assets Together (http://www.wayofthepixel.net/pixelation/index.php?topic=3973.msg92923#msg92923)

The first bit is the in-game ui. I took some advice and replaced the end turn button with a more consistent font. It's an actual font, because we need a decorative and scaleable font for other aspects of the game.

This is the in-game map. Everything but the ore tile (left of the mountain) has been signed off on. These are just the starter tiles, from which variants will be made, but I think that I'm going to try and rework some of the tiles completely. Things that strike me as off are: the rough patches in the grass, the two-dimensionality of the hills, the sparseness of the forest, and the sharpness of the sea tile waves. Although I think that last one could be alleviated when animation is introduced. Anyways, I won't be touching the tileset anytime super soon, but the tile dimensions are 56x56 and allow for vertical overlap, in case anybody wanted to know.

These are the units in the game. In all there are over 20 different units. Right now I'm just getting the side-facing of each design signed off on. The Warmachine, condor, albatross, raptor, jammer truck and infantry are all okayed at this point. But improvements are never really frowned upon. The stealth tank will eventually be an edited version of the scorpion tank, so it's blacked out for now. My weakness seems to be related to tanks and tank-like vehicles. While none of the units are really bad, the scorpion tank and the flak tank fail to stand out as anything special. The rocket truck will probably be getting the empty right triangle of space between it and the truck filled with something similar to that on the jammer truck.

(http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww13/pixelgroover/battalion/female_01.png) (http://i701.photobucket.com/albums/ww13/pixelgroover/battalion/male_01.png)
Finally, we have avatars. These will be displayed prominantly in the game and will be the primary source of residual income; through the purchase of different accessories, clothing and other such things related to individualization. Because of their prominence, both game and success-wise, it should be evident that it's very important for me to get these right. Both have been signed off on, but I am not happy enough with how either have turned out. A lack of proper anatomy knowledge is a key culprit, and my combining that with a general anime style further hurts it. With that being said, it's important to note that these were signed off on, and my boss quite adores the female base, so any changes you might suggest need to stay within the bounds of what there is, or markedly improve the images enough to go outside those bounds.

So that's everything as of now. Keep checking regularly, as the updates for this topic should be coming almost daily.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Coconut on March 17, 2009, 09:03:14 pm
I love the Interface.
It might be the best one i ever seen, the units are just awesome, as well as the golden and hp/mana bars.
My sincere Congratulations!
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Batzy on March 17, 2009, 09:27:58 pm
The new dude looks cool but the woman looks like a kid to me  :) maybe it's cause the big head. I also like the interface and wouldn't change anything in it  :hehe:
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Accident on March 17, 2009, 11:48:12 pm
I'll be coming with critique once I'm finished with some work, but I couldn't resist saying this;

Whenever I look at your work, I can turn around and say 'Oh, that's definitely Doppleganger's work'. But for some reason, when I look at this, I wouldn't have believed it was yours unless I looked at the trees. I'm not sure, it may be the time-limit, but something about it seems very... sub-par to me.

c: don't get me wrong, it's eons beyond what I could do. I'll edit this post with a critique soon.

edit: nevermind. xD Post is below.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: El Huesudo II on March 17, 2009, 11:48:40 pm
The font in the "End Turn" button is messy. Hell, all the fonts are. But the End Turn one is the most notorious one. The upper caps have thinner lines than the lower caps and also they're on a different style. They simply don't fit with each other.

A little edit of mine on the font would be:


Also, the 3 buttons above (Undo Move, Next Unit, Open Menu) also have font problems. Mainly Open Menu, where "Op" is black instead of green and "p" is in a different font than anything else.

...Other than that, the female avatar has a HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE forehead.

Besides that, everything looks awesome. Congrats.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Helm on March 17, 2009, 11:50:34 pm

You know the problems yourself: more anatomical knowledge and then a better grasp of where you can stand halfway between a more illustrative style and outright animenes.  Also I would suggest against using that greenish tint on the darker shade on the face because green = rot, decay, sickness, doesn't fit for happy anime girl, I think. Check where you connect neck to head, a lot of anime is awful at that too but without neck support your figure will look like a fake head hovering over the face of a real person. Why do you have the lightsource not apply on the top of the head? Generally there needs more study to de-symbolicize the effects you use for eyes, noses, mouths here. I am not saying go full out life study here, as you see my version is far away from reality too, but a mouth isn't two lines and a nose isn't made by an angle placed on the head... I know a lot of anime does similar things and when it works it works, but I cannot suggest to you here in good conscience 'work on it until it is good'. The method I suggest goes through study and replication of more realistic facial features. I hope I helped in any case.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: tocky on March 18, 2009, 01:34:03 am
looks pretty good so far.

these people:
-their ears need to stretch down more, usually down to where the neck connects (and lined up with the nose). check the head-neck connection in a mirror or against photos or something, it is tricky.
-eyelids are sexy.
-the man's nose connects a bit oddly - the woman's is suitable but doesn't match his. also, nostrils: i recommend them.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Accident on March 18, 2009, 02:22:46 am

If you want explanations, then please say so-- I'll be more than happy to oblige. c:

Edit: Waitwaitwait why are they all white people again? xD Other skintones exist!


(Careless value editing.)
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: EvilEye on March 18, 2009, 05:27:01 am
It looks to me like you just pixeled the avatars without doing a freehand sketch first. Am I right?

If so, I recommend you do a freehand, referenced sketch FIRST, get everything looking the way you want it, then use that for reference or scan it in and pixel over it.

Believe it or not the pro's do not freehand-pixel large sprites. They draw them traditionally and then someone uses that for reference. Look at the avatars in games like langrisser 2 and other anime genre's.

Take it from me you will waste lots of hours trying to freehand-pixel line art.

Since I needed the practice, I made an example:


This was done in photoshop at 10 x the resolution of your image.

Then I shrunk it down and traced over the lines with a 1 pixel brush.

The result:

 ( yes I know the lines need to be cleaned, but that takes time, I just did this to show most of the detail survives the downsize. Took about 3 minutes )


Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: huZba on March 18, 2009, 05:49:36 pm
The errors in construction remain in the edits, except for evileyes, that's a completely different character. Also wouldn't it be better for the characters to face the battlefield?
The base construction suggests the head is level, not pointing down, but the facial features all tell a different story which makes the forehead extremely protruding and the chin way too short.

You get used to the errors from staring at a face for too long and i think that's what happened to all of you. I stopped seeing the error from looking at these for just a few minutes. Flipping them really reveals things and lets you see it anew.
It's not even about having accurate human construction, just some construction will do to keep it looking like a face.

here's my take. I went the same way with evil cause i had trouble doing it in pixel level. I first tried going big head chibi style, but i honestly can't get it right. To make the top of the head really big you'd probably have to go eyes wide and low too to get it associated with baby look?
I ended up going through one revision with this so I might be blind to it's mistakes already.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Helm on March 18, 2009, 06:58:48 pm
For the record:

I didn't even at the time I was editing thought about the construction at such a formal level but it still seems reasonable enough.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: huZba on March 18, 2009, 08:26:43 pm
You're stretching your perspective lines to meet you halfway, i read multiple intersections instead of one, but i do agree in my picture (its the same lines as the other two) i made it look unnecessarily bad in trying to figure out why it struck me as creepy when i first saw it(I'm still trusting my first impression on it, and i did get some second opinions on each of the edits, including mine). The issue is probably then with the facial angle and the form of the face that doesn't agree with the horizontal squishing of the far side and stretching of the near side of the face, among other things. The far eye + eyebrow are too small even with those perspective lines. I suggest the whole bunch heads to the creativity thread for some donald ducks and bugs bunnies as well as realistic faces.

Do you trust your taste with confidence on the matter btw? Not just anime stuffs, but cartoons too. Maybe you should go for something you've never really done before and see what comes of it.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Helm on March 18, 2009, 08:51:23 pm
I'm not sure what you mean about having confidence in one's taste, as tastes are something you just have, it's not a matter of whether you're feeling confident about them. I agree I should perhaps try a few cartoonish/anime-ish things for practise, but as far as the perspective guide above, I think it's in the safe. If anything the problems I see with my edit are relevant to the parts of the original I decided to keep to not go 'too far' with the edit as Doppleganger said it shouldn't. I'd have never done small shoulders or that sort of round head, personally. So whereas even my own version is not exactly to my taste, I tried to meet the anime-thing halfway.

Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: tocky on March 19, 2009, 01:39:51 am
huzba: I think you're claiming skewed perspecitive where generally no persective was intended. in dopp's original everything lines up horizontally and vertically, just that the jaw curves oddly, and most of the edits follow that. I don't know that anyone fixed the jaw (except you and evileye, who fixed it basically by starting a new portrait from scratch.) I guess it's generally a bad idea to claim that everybody else is wrong, people'll get defensive. Just state your case.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Accident on March 19, 2009, 01:45:31 am
... haha, I personally agree that I was wrong. I just wanted to make her look female. Suppose I got carried away at her beauty?  :-*

But even though my perspective is messed up, my comment about skin tones stand. 100%. :'D -south american bby-
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: huZba on March 19, 2009, 08:16:57 am
@Helm. okay, yeah, i get what you were aiming for now. About taste, i mean confident that yours conforms to that of the target audience, since this is stuff that is targeting something with the portraits. That your view of something good in this style is also good for someone who stares at anime pictures many hours a day. I know from experience that the loudest and most opinionated gamers are a minority and many people would probably be fine with doppelgangers original too. Some stuff i consider completely attrocious hasn't gotten any negative feedback from a huge pool of users, but dipping that in forum of a games magazine and oh boy.....

@tocky. I was aware of stepping on everyones toes and thought it was actually a splendid idea. I show you guys what i see and in doing so get my own ideas challenged as well as yours. Regardless of me being right or wrong, someone stands to gain  ;D.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: EvilEye on March 19, 2009, 12:15:37 pm
Just for the record HuZba, I thought your edit was pretty good, probably the closest to Doppleganger's original intent :y:

And how come sometimes your avatar is animated and sometimes it isn't. I've been staring at it for a few minutes now waiting for it to do that little air swoosh.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Helm on March 19, 2009, 12:49:15 pm
I don't think people should shy away from counteredits, we are all here to learn. Just as long as they don't mind the resulting dialogue.

huzba: yes I think my version is 'prettier' than the original, for what it's worth, even though it's walf-way to what I would actually do if it was my own game. I think if you asked a large gaming public which they found prettier a large percentage would go with don't know/don't care and a smaller group would go with mine. The don't know/don't care guy's opinions do not matter to us as people who want to get better at our craft.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish
Post by: Doppleganger on March 19, 2009, 04:29:57 pm
Wow! Lots of discussion going on! Everything going on is pretty enlightening, and I'm grateful for all the edits I've received on the female portrait.

El Huesudo II: I really like the end turn that you've done, and I don't think any of your comments are without merit. Initially I just used the font from my boss' mockup, copy and pasting the letters as I needed them. This was mostly done for speed when first starting my mock, but eventually I came across letters that I needed that were not in his mock. When I found out what font he used (verdana), it turned out that for some reason a non-aliased version of verdana didn't match his. I have no clue why. Either way, I ended up just pixeling whatever letters I needed. It's messy.

Everybody Else: Looking at all these edits, it is easy to see that I've got a lot of fundamental errors scattered in a bunch of places. Probably one of the most useful pieces of advice was to draw the portrait first and then scan it in. Something that I'll definitely be doing for the revisions. When drawing figures I will usually do that, but for some reason I just straight pixeled them this time around. Sometimes it's easier to just add and shave pixels until something looks good, but not so much this time. It was probably for that reason that she had lost her chin.

Currently I am working on finishing up the first drafts of the units, which I'll post up when they're done. After that, I will be getting to the portraits again. So all of you who've put in your own time to help, fret not, as your help will be reciprocated in my revisions soon.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish (updated 3/20/09)
Post by: Doppleganger on June 27, 2009, 09:22:05 am
Sorry for the MASSIVE delay. It crossed my mind that in order for critique to be worth anything, I have to have some semblance of what I'm doing. So, I went ahead and studied my anatomy a bit.

We ended up outsourcing the avatar work to a Russian Arthouse (always a good idea  ::)), and they came up with avatars like this.

So, it became my task to fix these avatars up. And I came up with something like this.

Since that was only marginally better, I took it upon myself to have one more go, with a little bit more dedication and fervor. In the end I came up with this.

Overall, I'm quite happy with the progress that I've made. And glad that I will be able to do some justice to the avatars which could have uglified an otherwise awesome looking game.

(that avatar is soon to be outdated. Although the BG and clothes (also outsourced) are there to stay. For now at least.)

Here are how all of the units turned out.

And here's a pretty cool pic of a complete avatar with only the outfit being done by the Russians, and the nice background done by Inquisitor.
The BG and the outfit are both most likely NPA, although I can not vouch for them one way or the other.

Again, thanks for all the effort put into the edits and critique. They were not in vain. For it was your guys' doing that set this whole avatar fiasco into motion.  ;D :y:
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish (updated 6/27/09)
Post by: ndchristie on June 27, 2009, 05:43:22 pm
Looking good, although i think that the terrain is too busy and over-relies on those battle-scars.

If you look at these random references from somewhere in google-mapped france (http://xs140.xs.to/xs140/09266/france239.jpg) and vermont (http://www.bristolvermont.us/Birds-eye-view.jpg), you'll see that pouplated temperate regions tend to have pretty smooth grass.

Now, if those blasts are where your tank has fired and tiles which have yet to be attacked show up as smooth as before, that's both a different matter and sweet :P.
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish (updated 6/27/09)
Post by: Doppleganger on June 28, 2009, 06:21:17 am
I absolutely agree with you, and one of the last disconcerting things about the in-game image (aside from the avatars) was specifically what you have mentioned. It has always been my intention to revisit the grass terrain, but time has not been in my favor, unfortunately.

Another thing that I wanted to explore was tileable forest and mountain terrain, and if possible, subtiles that would make it possible to connect forest tiles to mountain tiles and mountain tiles to sea tiles, etc...

None of that is necessarily out of the question but, it is definitely something that would have to be done in my own free time. Which, is actually very minimal at the moment, for the shear number of projects we have going on right now is, more or less, unheard of. Especially when you consider that I am the lead artist for all of them. Specific numbers range at 5-6 projecst at the moment, with artistic help available for maybe one or two at most.

But, doing the sort of work that would make variable terrain, based on actions taken upon it, a possibility, might be worth it if I could reflect that effort back to the coders. :)
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish (updated 6/27/09)
Post by: Fuzzyleaves on June 30, 2009, 06:55:11 am
Back to the female, if you make her eyes smaller, like Accident did she seems older, that's what the anime ppl do...  :)

edit: also I was reading where it explains the plains... It doesn't make sense

I THINK it should say;
 Plains: fast (maybe) movement, and provides minimal cover against enemy attacks.

Also your vehicles, when most of them face you, they seem to have a small lip around the opening, and yet there is no evidence of that lip at any other direction, does anyone else see that?

Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish (updated 6/27/09)
Post by: ndchristie on June 30, 2009, 06:18:22 pm
re-edit:[/b] Also your vehicles, when most of them face you, they seem to have a small lip around the opening, and yet there is no evidence of that lip at any other direction, does anyone else see that?


that to me looks like a trick to make the barrel look nicer rather than an actual lip.  I don't think the casual eye would consider it an actual change in size.  Could be wrong though...
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish (updated 6/27/09)
Post by: Stefano on June 30, 2009, 09:23:35 pm

I know you declared this thread finished and I also know that enough has been said about anatomy.
But just because this is an awesome thread, I did an edit anyway, just to show you a few more ways to use anatomy on your male character.


final product:

Apart from the anatomy part I have absolutely nothing to add!
Awesome mockup my friend. :y:
Title: Re: Game Artin': Start -> Finish (updated 6/27/09)
Post by: Doppleganger on July 01, 2009, 03:48:38 pm
Adarias is right, in the fact that it is a trick/technique to make the barrel more appealing. In the south-facing sprites, the barrel is slightly widened near the tip to portray a certain amount of depth. As the barrel is in the air and pointed toward the viewer. Just a simple mechanic to get a little more perspective out of an otherwise rigid point of view.

Thanks for the edit, man. I see what you've done, and definitely appreciate the changes. I think the eyes in your edit suffer from a lack of eyelashes, or rather, a darker color to represent eyelashes. Which kind of gives them this albino/simpleton/stoned kind of expression. But, the placement and sizing are on point for sure. I like what you've done to the mouth. That's akin to what I was hoping to achieve, but I couldn't quite get it before. Aside from deviating a bit from the facial planes I devised, I gather that you just applied general smoothing and polish to the piece, which I can definitely take some pointers from in future scenarios. In the end, it's a very good edit, although I do feel that it strays away from the simple and precise shading of the original. Something that has been put into effect because these avatars will actually be constructed via layers of the individual pieces that make up the face.

I'm not actually done with this game, as I've got a fair amount of avatars to clean up yet. In addition to formulating a decent base for the female characters. I'm currently on a new project atm, so my time to do such is limited, but I'll most likely post progress as it comes. Something I hope to learn from this is properly portraying racial characteristics. One, for the learning experience, and two, so that all players of this game are afforded facial features that acknowledge their place in humanity. I'm sure that it's pretty easy to be subjective about how good or accurate those characteristics are, so I don't think I'm quite done with this topic yet.