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Topics - Tsugumo
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Pixel Art / RPG tileset mock-up
« on: March 14, 2007, 07:39:09 pm »

took about 9 hours from scratch...not for anything in particular, just hobby stuff.  Haven't done tiles in a while so I'm seein' if I still have the groove haha

colors were a pain...I started out by having grass bright, bushes dark, it was all pretty gross looking.  Spent a solid hour tweaking colors until it clicked for me, how to get leaves to stand out from grass and dirt to stand out from grass and then it all just flowed.  w00t w00t.  I find initial colors are hard to choose sometimes, but once you have a solid set, all the rest of the new colors you introduce are based off the original scheme so they're easier to put in.

To make the tree top I took the bush and stamped it a bunch of times haha so lazy, but I like how it worked out, go figure.  Had to do a ton of touch-up to it.  The tree itself is like, 18 colors I think.  something like that.  Worth it though, I originally had a flat looking tree-top with like 5 colors, but there wasn't enough upper/lower light/shadow variation to make it feel 3d, so I overlayed solid darker colors then grabbed those chunks and color reduced it automatically so it'd be a low # of colors.  hard to explain, I can do up an example sometime if anyone's curious.  big time saver. - massively useful for anyone who hasn't seen it.  I went through a bunch of RPG shots for inspiration/analysis on how they chose their colors.

- Tsugumo

Pixel Art / Mage Knight art-dump, lots of sprites & info
« on: February 28, 2007, 03:21:48 am »
heyo, so we made a Mage Knight game for the Nintendo DS a while ago and I asked my boss and I'm allowed to post up some stuff, so I rounded up random junk from throughout development.  A lot of this is just sketchy rough stuff before it was cleaned up, but some of you might want to see it.  MK is originall a tabletop RPG, so all the character sprites were based off little miniature figures that have a dial under them that you turn to lose hit-points and stuff.  If you're an MK fan at all, you'll probably recognize the characters...I thought their designs were generally pretty cool and were fun to draw/animate...except some of them you're like "shit, how the fuck am I supposed to do THIS as a sprite??" 'cause the guys who made the tabletop figures clearly weren't thinking about how a poor pixel artist was going to try to animate their creations haha...

This isn't all the characters, just the ones I could find and with animations I dig, and most of this isn't final...we were pressed for time at the end so some of the final stuff was done by other artists who took my block-figure animations and added the details/shading in.  Some of those turned out nice, some turned out like shit, so either way I'd rather not post 'em if I didn't do 'em.

The quality on some of the other characters was pretty bad, and we got pretty restricted due to time (6 frame walk cycles, but like 4 frame attacks, which looks cheap in some cases).  The scheduling for this project was insane, bit off more than we could chew for sure.  I had to do 30-ish(?  can't remember) characters, like, a full character (6 frames walking up/right, right, down/right, 4 - 8 frame attacks up/right, right, down/right, 4 frame idle animation up/right, right, down/ we're talking like 42+ frames) every 4 spell effects and stuff.  Crazy shit but I learned a lot about speeding up my process.

Any questions, feel free to ask, I'll blab about each as I go:


This guy's called Hangart in the game (part of my last name, haha).  Yes, he looks like a ninja turtle.  I didn't design him!  His attacks are one of the set that suffered...only 4 frames.  I figured out fast that there wasn't going to be time to do 6+ Frame attacks, so I went with the blur cheat to save frames...where I do the start pose, end pose, and in-between is just a motion blur effect.  This worked out nice 'cause it saved doing a bunch of in-between frames where the weapon starts speeding up and slows down and stuff.  Wish there had been time to do 6 frame attacks for everyone, but I did what I could with what I had, heh.

I had fun with the skull necklace and cape on his run cycle.  If you look close you can see he gets "simpler" during the run cycle than his standing frame that has a bunch of loincloth folds and stuff.  Stole that from Capcom, again as a time-saver.  In Darkstalkers (3, I think), I remember looking at a sprite of Felicia (the cat chick) doing some sweep attack and the idle animation has tons of detail, but when she attacks it loses most of it.  But you don't even really notice it unless you look for it, especially in-game when other shit's going on.

Archer guy, rough version...I was just trying to get the motion down so I could go back and make him nice.  This is pretty much what I did through the project, there was no way I could hand-draw, scan, retrace, etc. frames so I had to go with the block method.  On the plus side I got pretty fast with it.  Here I was mainly focusing on how his cape would flow and where/when the feet would step, so he has no movement in his head or arrows or anything.  Basically I start animating the major body motions first (rising up/down if he's walking), then focus on the difficult parts (cape/cloth movement, tricky arm/leg movements, etc.), and then save all the little details (hair flowing, hat bouncing, arrows quivering, etc.) for the revamp stage where I make him all nice and final.  No sense wasting time on the shit I know how to animate easy, but I also don't want to go into something difficult to animate without a rough plan, so I found this was a nice halfway point.

You can see the walking up uses like 4 or 5 shades of blue for the cape, while the side just uses 2...when I'm roughing it out it just comes down to getting it to a stage where it's obvious enough to me how it should look.  The back was trickier in my mind and I wanted to get it more final to make sure it looked good before tightening things up.  But the side was pretty simple so I didn't spend as much time roughing it.

BAMF!!  haha we needed a death animation that could just obliterate the character instantly 'cause we didn't have time for death animations/frames for each character, so I went with a magic Nightcrawler style poof effect.  For the spells I believe we got 32 colors, with 8 levels of translucency.  It was on the Nintendo DS which can handle translucency, but only on 3d objects (otherwise it's normal GBA style translucency where the whole layer turns translucent).  So we used polys for everything (some of the characters have translucent effects on them) to be able to do it.  8 levels of translucency basically means you can make any part of the image 8 levels of see-thru.  So I could have a rainbow, and just streak up the middle of it with an Eraser tool set at 25% and that chunk will be only 75% opaque (even though it's a bunch of colors 'cause it's a rainbow, it doesn't matter, with the method we used).

This led to being able to do some badass spell effects...the only problem is the source material (Mage Knight itself) doesn't really INVOLVE a lot of spells like something like Final Fantasy would.  It basically has maybe 8 spells in total that just everyone uses...we could've had a cool-ass glowy dragon shooting fireballs and shit out of it's mouth but there was just no need to, heh.  I was a little disappointed by that 'cause I had a blast making the effects I did get to make and learned a lot about doing it and wanted to do a lot more with it.  Lately I've been working on systems that don't allow translucency so I haven't gotten to do fun stuff like that...I swear, making things glow is like, a stupid amount of fun for me haha

The colors I used for this are white in the middle, then yellow around it, then pink/purple around that.  I didn't know about this color combo till I was looking at some font effects and one looked really "magical"...I realized these were the colors it used so I used them in a spell.  I've used the color combo in other things since then, I think it gives a neat mystical or laser feel to things (as opposed to using just yellows or just pinks).

haha rock on little drummer  I think I was just fucking around with the frames when I was setting up the preview animation 'cause he doesn't do this in the game, heh.  I did the first frame or two up nice and then the rest just block-shaded it to get the motion right.  Again the same process though, I focus on the major motions (rising up/down), then the "tricky" motions (the drum pound effect, big arm positions), then leave the tiny details for the final stage (like having that cloth on the flagpole on his back shake during the motion, it's in the final animation, but not in this stage because it's a trivial task to me).  And yes, that's an Elf Warrior head on the top of that flagpole.  MK has some weirdly cool designs, heh...

This guy made me shit my pants when I saw his model figure...he's so intricate and cumbersome...his figure looks really cool, but it's like "wtf do I do with this??"  He was supposed to have an attack where he does damage when he stops moving beside another character, but his drum is huge and he's holding bones and shit.  But his drum had a horned skull on the end, so I went with a charging motion so it's like he charges into them.  Again trying to save and reuse frames as much as possible for the time limit.  I'm really happy with how he turned out though, just because it seemed like such a difficult task to animate.  But once you break him down into block groups it gets a bit easier...still massively time consuming, but at least you know where you're going with it.  This guy wasn't even the most ridiculous of the designs, heh...yet it feels good when you get him in sprite form and go "shit, ya, this DOES look like him, sweet!"

Just showing the process here...because of that stupid thing on his back, I had to animate him in chunks.  So I did him running first, then put those shoulder things on (they're skulls with long hair, again, wtf), then put the bare pole on his back and animated that, then made the cloth motion follow the whole thing.  Note that at this stage I'm figuring out my lighting...the arm on our left goes dark as it goes back and bright as it comes forward.  Same with the thigh on our left, when it's forward the thigh is bright, and it gets darker as it rotates downward (check out the semi-new lighting stuff in my tutorial for the lighting theory I'm using these days...the shading on Kim's legs in Capcom VS SNK was the guide I went by).

I'm not sure this even made it into the final game...I think it did.  Maybe with less frames or something though, I'd swear it got cut in some way at the end.  Anyway, someone a LONG time ago on Pixelation, for a "make a magic spell" pixel challenge (using my little laughing FFTactics looking avatar guy) did some animations using a 3d program to make cool effects that rendered out to perfect pixel art so you couldn't even tell it was done in 3d.  They were really awesome, I think he did two effects...if ANYONE out there stil has those and could post them, that'd be awesome, I lost them a long time ago.

Anyway, I didn't know how to do that exactly, so I went with a more ghetto method...I made a circle in Photoshop, did the design, then rotated it slightly for a bunch of frames so it did a full loop.  Then I just squashed the whole thing vertically a bit to get the perspective right, and it was just a matter of touching up slightly from there.  I was pretty pleased with myself for the final look.  All the cool glowy shit is just a vertical motion blur of purple above it.  Note the way the glow goes from purple to lighter purple then to white with a purple outline...various degrees of glowiness.  It's really fun to play with...

I watched episodes of Visionaries (old 80s cartoon with knights that could turn into animals (their toys had holograms on them), and it used a bunch of glow effects) and random anime for ideas on effects.  Oddly enough I didn't use other games as reference much for spell effects, because other games were either still using old-school effects that don't have glows (SFAlpha stuff, Neo Geo fighters, etc.), or use too MUCH glow to where it doesn't blend in with the 2d look in my opinion (Capcom VS SNKs crazy glowy fireballs and shit, I don't like their look personally).  So instead I was using cartoons as inspiration for what to do with the effects and I like to think that some of the effects have a feel like they're right out of an anime flick (specifically the Delphana chick's fire column thing somewhere in this post).

I'm not really a big fan of this effect.  I'm just throwing it in 'cause it was in my spell directory, heh.  If you zoom in you can see the glow hit the 32x32 box limits, but zoomed out and in-game it's not as noticable.  Generally I tried to avoid that by selecting the 32x32 box at the end and using the Eraser airbrush along the edges to nice it out...

Just a walk cycle for a guy who's design I don't really like (I made a palette swap of him that looks almost exactly like Skeletor from He-Man as a joke, heh)...But check out those fingers on his front walk!  haha I only posted him because of that.  But check out the way the cloth flows on his covered leg when he steps forward, it ripples across the front.  I tried to make cloth ripple whenever I had to draw it for this game 'cause it makes it look lively and thin.  Big inspirations were Capcom's capes/trenchcoats/etc. on their fighters, they always have them rippling in the wind.  The upward walk, again, lots of ripply effects...just on the loose parts though.  Like notice his thigh in the front view, and his shoulders in the back view, don't have any ripple effect on them, they're almost constantly solid, like they're hugging the body shape.  But then the part that's hanging loose is the part that goes all flowy.  Having the two beside eachother makes it get the cloth material point across easily.

Before and after.  On the left is just the raw spell itself.  I looked at King of Fighters fire spells for what to do with the flame part, and just general anime for the ball/column effect.  For the flame, note that the bottom "intense" area is all white, and the pieces that bust off as it burns upward get yellower, then oranger, as they get further away, like they're fading out.  All of these style effects were done just frame by frame.  I found the easiest method was to make the entire fire effect in white, so just a silhouette of it, then draw that dissolving...spreading out and splitting up into pieces starting with tiny pieces breaking off at the top, and large holes breaking out at the bottom where it's "thicker", and then THOSE pieces splitting up into more pieces, etc. until it has a cool particle effect going on...but ya, I had to go through and like, follow a lick of flame as it flowed up and dissolved, and did that across the whole animation.  It was a little time consuming, but the end effect...I mean shit, so worth it.

To give the beam more impact, I started it out as a circle.  Anime does this all the's like there's energy building up about to burst and that circle will get bigger and bigger and then slow down as it's getting bigger so it's like baseball, bowling ball, beach ball, slightly bigger beach ball, slightly bigger beach ball, as if it's trying to just barely contain itself until KAZAM, it explodes into a beam.  Then the beam motion closes in on itself thinning out, as the bubble that exploded dissipates outward from it's original shape.  EVERYTHING has velocity in spell effects like the licks of flame break off on the fire part, they slow down and eventually stop moving upward and just suck up into themselves.  The energy ball expands fast then slows down.  When it bursts the thin lines from it move outward a few pixels then just one pixel, then just stay in one spot and dissolve.  I animated the different parts of this one at a time, layering them on top of eachother (so that the bubble is expanding as the fire is dissolving, and the beam is shooting up while the bubble is still dissolving)...multiple velocities/layers to a special effect add a LOT.

To the right is the exact same spell, but I went through and added the glow effects to it.  I was proud when I first made it and I'm still proud of how it came's a stylin' effect and was one of the first ones I tried (I hadn't really messed with big effect animations before this).  Most static things just have a gaussian blur glow, and most moving things have either a motion blur if they just move in one direction, or I used the Airbrush to manually tease out the shape of the glow that I wanted to show the path something took.  Going back to not having translucency for glow effects after this project was killer, haha...making an explosion without a final glow added to it feels like having one hand tied behind my back.  ah well!

Boring.  Why am I posting this one?  It was just in the directory.  Simple attack.  An odd thing I found was that red does NOT glow nicely.  Something about the way the color works, it just doesn't look nice like green or blue or yellow.  At best it either looks murky blah, or really pink and light.  So I tried to avoid red for any other spells, and still do, if I have to make glows.  Stupid red, grr!

- Tsugumo (damn character limit, haha)

Pixel Art / Fighter guy anim, first draft (just a block figure)
« on: February 22, 2007, 12:29:15 am »
I don't even know if I'll get around to doing more with this, my CPU at home is pretty shitty for doing art so I stayed late at work for like 2 hours to make this, heh:

Just getting the motion down for an ideal world where I have time to do this step I find it saves a lot of frustration later.  If the block figure looks good, odds are the rest will.  I was watching an anim with SF3 sprites so I threw in more frames than I normally would and gave the guy some cloth and baggy pants to flop around.  On the actual kick frame I'm shooting for having his leg bigger/longer/stretched a bit and if I do this up that's going to be motion blurred with color...SF3 does this (at least the stretchy limb part) and it looks sweet so I tried messing with it.

Nothing exciting, critique if you like, I'm just throwin' it up to convince myself to do SOMETHING in my spare time, haha  I don't do much personal stuff these days.

- Tsugumo

Pixel Art / Updated my tutorial.
« on: August 10, 2005, 01:28:21 pm »

I'll be working on new chapters when I get some free time.  Good to see the pixel art community is still alive...If we ever happen to meet up, drinks are on me, Pep.

- Tsugumo

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