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Topics - Arne
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Pixel Art / Zelda 1 enemies in GBC style
« on: November 25, 2011, 07:03:55 pm »
I was a bit frustrated by how GBC Zeldas treated some of the original enemy designs, so I thought I'd take a shot at them.

Also, Star Control in Final Fantasy Legends style, GB.

As you can see here (and on my Marne Bros project if you remember), I'm trying to do lost lines here and there, because I think full outlines make the sprites a bit heavy looking. I also like to remove lines where there's ground contact (Compare my mountains with the Final Fantasy Legend mountains for example.). I'm not really sure how it's working out. It looks inconsistent here and there. The Tektite is tricky because of its thin legs, and for some reason I didn't want to expand the body with outlines.

The slime is tricky in a way. DQ has the best slimes because they have expression-ability. Zelda slimes were sort of generic. I quite liked Lufia 3's slimes (GBC game) and graphics in general. They did the transparant slime thing where you can see the "butt" press against the ground. However, in an attempt to give the Zelda slime some character of it's own, I decided to reference the manual image and suggest segmentation and opaqueness. I think it's a bit too stretchy/bouncy still. The Zelda 1 original is more quiet.

The Like-Like is something out of a Lovecraft story isn't it? Mine looks close to the GBC original, but I changed the animation.

Peahat is boring.

Keese could be in that Japanese Red Riding Hood commercial... Maybe it should flap the wings... more flappily.

That is all. It's just some loose stuff but I haven't posted anything in quite a while. I did some Zelda 2+1 sprite interpretations a while ago.

General Discussion / C21 - Online
« on: October 29, 2010, 09:55:39 am »
I stumbled upon a game called  C21 - Online on Youtube (trailer). It looks like a low poly, robot battle, customization, multiplayer thing.

Now, most of the player made models are just greeble, because it appears that you can combine parts and draw your own skins (and perhaps most players don't care about the aesthetics). However, the enemies in what appears to be single player missions are very nicely designed robotic animals.

Have anyone played this? I'd like to know more about it. It's in Japanese so I'm guessing it's a little hard to play for me.

Pixel Art / SMB 1 sprites
« on: September 14, 2010, 07:23:38 pm »
I decided to take a break from what I'm supposed to be doing and just play around a bit -> Reinterpreting the SMB 1 sprites with a partially lost black line style, using a 4-5 color restriction. I didn't think much about palette limits or anything like that.

Bit if a rush work. I guess awesomeface Starman turned out the best.

Small lessons rubbed in: The importance of simplifying any sort of random noise or squigglyness into a simple line, curve, circle, definite structure (or remove completely). Extra colors can actually reduce readability. Roadsigns have few colors, after all.

Lessons not learned: ?

General Discussion / Hegagons viewed at an angle
« on: January 22, 2010, 10:45:22 pm »
I compiled a page for my Skeleton Wars project today. It's inspired by a game called Warlords, which is a TBS with 2D grid movement. Now, I'm thinking of doing a hexagonal solution, since: I don't need to do straight walls. Movement is more accurate. I haven't done it before.

Also, structures often look better at an angle. I know you can cheat a bit with perspective and do side view and top view at the same time, but I want to try and go for a more accurate perspective (with no diminishing point). After pondering the issue for minutes, I came up with this solution:

Now, since it's probably good form to do a '2 slope', the problem becomes: calculating the length of the horizontal line, and my viewing angle. I could probably do this using... math (I'm guessing it's about SinBackwards (aSin?)( angled height / topdown height  ), not sure though. ), but perhaps someone else have already researched this kind of problem and made a neat page about it. I did a few quick searches but found nothing, so I ask you guys.

The most practical solution for me as an artist is probably to pop up a 3D program, put a cube or cylinder on a hexagon and rotate until it fits (or faster, rotate until a '2 slope' appears). Then I know which angle I'm working at (visually, the angle in degrees is less interesting).

General Discussion / Holy Background Pixels Batman!
« on: September 11, 2009, 05:37:26 pm »
I was just playing Air Fortress and noticed how inefficient it is with its tiles (Yeah, it's probably an old mapper, but I looked at the tile tables and there was a lot space left for fun).

So, I came to think of Batman 1 for the NES, and I ended up writing down some notes.

The Video Game Atlas has the delicious level maps.

The game backgrounds on the NES seems to be limited to 4 palettes with 4 colors each, with one color being shadow black in the case of Batman. The highlights in Batman are often gray (resulting in a cold look) or saturated (giving a chrome-ish look).

Shadow black amoebas consume large parts of the background, and even the walkable tiles use a lot of black. Because of the variation in the background structures, the shadow shapes are organic, like an ominous amoeba, setting the mood right.

A top left light source is common. Drop shadows come from the roof, but also from the floor in some cases (black floor fog effect), and corners (resulting in an ambient light effect). All this prevents the background from becoming a boring monotonous flat fill of some texture. The spacing using shadows also helps to isolate the collide-able tiles from the background ones.

There are also a lot of vertical elements in the background which break against the floor. Horizontal ones might cause a "can I continue to walk on this?" confusion (and maybe the human platform player's eyes are wired to see horizontal shapes as walkable).

Dithering is used, in particular between the dark color and the black.

Sometimes the middle color is not that far from the darkest, but the highlight pops (see red ramp). Ramped colors do not need to be evenly spaced.

Animated tiles with shadow casting for the gears, sewer blenders and other stuff. The effect is lost with this static image.

There are hardly any wear marks or embossed cuts. Structures like plating seems to be clean. The Dithering into black provides enough noise as it is, perhaps. There are some vertical some rust lines on a few background plates though.

The background tiles aren't really that much darker. Instead it's established which tile color or style the player can stand on.

Note use of highlights on the top (or sides) of the tiles which the player can stand on or collide with. Sometimes the topmost pixel row is not the brightest, giving the shape a more round look.

Little chunks of tiles with a different palette are used to spice up monotonous areas. Note the excellent drop-into-cold-shadow effect on the red pipes.

Pipes with bends are used, but often often bend in the same direction because there are not enough PPU mem for more variants, and in some cases it gives a consistent look.

The same vertical stripes tile is used in both the FG (orange) and BG (green). It also appears with different lighting (flat, top, bottom, side).

Tempo with calm and busy areas, like music. See the big red flat chunk in the roof versus the 6 little keys. It's like sections in a music track. There are repeating structures, yet variation. It's not just structureless greeble noise or monotonously repeating square blocks. The segments play into each other.

Also note the gray little wires spicing things up. 

Dotted lines and various textures break up the monotony of solid lines or solid fields.

Water effect with palette swap. The sewer blenders animate just fine halfway submerged of course, and the effect is quite nice.

2D & 3D / Sprite interpretations
« on: September 10, 2009, 09:09:52 am »
I like to draw stuff based on old sprites, especially if there's very little other high-res art around.

Maybe I'm not alone? I think it would be fun if others joined in.

Z - Bitmap Brothers


Since the sprite and 3D version of the robot looks different, I took the liberty of picking the cherries.

The 3D guys had a nasty solid red (or whatever color) look, making them look like plastic soldiers. I decided to use the light gray (looks kind beige) torso color from the sprite to break up the monotone. The ribcage area (and perhaps the whole chest) still needs some work.

The eyes are green on the smaller sprites, but not on the portraits. I went for green eyes even though it's cheap (glowing cool eyes) and not as expressive as the organic eyes in the portraits. I thought it would be a good way to mark the face with a special eye catching color contrast.

I did draw some inspiration from the 3D designs. The belly disc was fun and serves to break up the red armor plating theme. It suggests some kind of core / engine.

I was trying to keep the 90 and 45 degree angles which are often used in the pixel art.

The darker piston parts are intended to break up the red with something of a darker value.

The rifles and grenades are based on the designs in the game. The head is just some kind of average of all the different portraits in the game though.

I made the drill sergeant a human because I like to add a familiar scale reference. The design is pretty much made up by nonsense and needs some work. The torso clothing splits in two around the abs, just like on the 3D robots. The beige color comes from the drill sergeant. The rifle is a modified version of the sniper rifle in the game.

The sketches are the exploration thumbnails which I haven't explored further, but I wanted to try and go for light, medium and heavy designs.

General Discussion / Kontora/Contra/Probotector/Gryzor
« on: May 16, 2009, 09:03:54 am »
I was reading about Contra on Wikipedia and spotted this screenshot. It looks rather pale and foggy with the full black jumping out (and it's the same in Youtube videos), so I pulled down the darks with a curve.

? It's supposed to look like that to prevent the BG from interfering with the characters. (Perhaps it was a late change.)
? It looks OK on the monitor in the cabinet because it's calibrated differently.
? The original artist worked on a rather dark monitor.
? Mame isn't emulating it properly. Perhaps there's palette/gamma file or something?

This Contra arcade flyer is not much to go on.


Slightly related, Famicom 'Kontora' had a sweet intro, but it was ripped out because Nintendo didn't allow third party mappers for the NES or something. Also, the first level has moving palm leaf, snow level has... snow, and the last level has a lot of animated organic tiles.
Kontora Youtube video - fan translation

General Discussion / Day of the Tentacle art
« on: May 09, 2009, 04:32:42 pm »
So, over at vgmaps they have the Day of the Tentacle screens / environments (warning, long page, I've used an anchor so it should scroll down). I think the stuff looks gorgeous. I had this game for Mac many years ago but lost it.

Judging by the slight hue shifts in the aliasing and gradients, it seems like they have indexed the images. I'm guessing they painted them then cleaned them up. There's a lot of very clean areas without any noise, and many edges are nice and crisp. I think this reduces the clash between the interactive characters/items and the background. In some other games the backgrounds have been kind of blurry.

I'd love to see the character / animation sheets, and 'the making of' material. Is there any?

Pixel Art / Walk animation
« on: May 08, 2009, 06:14:43 pm »
This is probably my first 8 frame walk animation. I've never really animated more than a few frames before.

I used the Space Quest 1 space suit for reference...,266177/

... and a tutorial page on walk animations.

So, here are my problems:

- Too big steps, almost a half run. This is probably easy to remedy though.
- While I did go for somewhat female proportions on the figure, the animation is not very feminine. Perhaps the figure is too hunched for that.
- The hands jerk. I could not quite figure out how to smooth recoil->passing, but I think the elbow needs to straighten out. (Marked them with color, they should be skin tone.) (Are they in the most extreme position during contact?)
- I don't know which frames the head should turn, or if it should turn at all.
- Needs more subpixel movement.
- backback/jetpack is too static.
- Should anything be done with horizontal movement (Head? Leaning the torso?).

So, I'm guessing, smaller steps, head back with dignity. Hands attached more loosely so they follow the arms rather than lead them. Less bobbing/stomping. More torso twist (although I'd need to mark the hip and shoulder with a detail to do that more effectively).

General Discussion / BBC Micro -> Generic 8 color palette
« on: April 30, 2009, 01:09:29 am »
Here's another palette project. First, the BBC micro palette. It's has the basic extreme colors.

Again, the idea is to do a palette which is less abstract/graphical and more useful for figurative game stuff. First, I brought down the saturation overall, and also warmed up some colors.

  • Red -> A red-brown can work as blood, wood and earth. Games often have terrain and I think a dirt color is needed. The new red can work as a shadow color for the yellow.
  • Green -> I think a warm green is more pleasant, so I threw some yellow into it.
  • Blue -> An extreme blue is already kind of dark. It's not really useful as a solid color for character appearing against black. I could make it lighter, but I already have the cyan. I decided to go even darker and decrease saturation further. This gave me a shadow color which can be used with the gray, cyan, brown and green. I might have made it too dark, or not. A dark blue works as a background color for the underwater environments in Exile for example.
  • Cyan -> Is this a sky color, or just a generic cyan? I didn't like the super cyan, so I pulled it towards blue a bit. This darkened it, but since I no longer have a plain blue, maybe I needed to shift the cyan towards blue.
  • Magenta -> So, I'm not a fan of magenta. It's such an... abstract color. I turned it into gray. The magenta was really close to the red, so one option I had was turning it into something more purple/blue, or maybe a lighter pink. However, I felt a gray was overall more useful.
  • Yellow -> A pure yellow is pretty bright, and almost too close to the white. I made a darker yellow skin tone of sorts instead.
  • White -> No change.
  • Black -> No change.

The palette works pretty well on Sim City where you need a dirt color, as well as gray for the concrete and asphalt stuff. I can't find a good screenshot of the game to work on though. Exile is another game which has a lot of earth environments, and I think my palette might work there.

Edit: Only screen I could find. Made a sloppy edit. Certainly less graphical and striking, but also easier on the eyes I think.

Edit: The palette doesn't work that great with abstract/graphical games like Pacman, because of the lack of a blue for the mid-blue maze and pink for pinky.

Edit again: The colors were desaturated on a TV. I've seen screenshots where the magenta almost looks gray. My palette is made for modern monitors of course.

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