AuthorTopic: Dwarf Fortress Sprites - dwarves, tree, boulder, grass  (Read 8585 times)

Offline mikemayday

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Hello! I'm trying some work on ~3/4 top-down small graphics for Bay12games' Dwarf Fortress. I'd be very happy to receive constructive criticism. Please shoot me with both technical tips and general stylistic ideas (composition, colour, shapes).

I'm posting the steps on this one (first attempts were horrible, ugh!). It's going to be animated. It's my first tree ever!

« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 10:36:18 pm by mikemayday »

Offline Facet

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Re: Small game sprites- no.1: a tree!

Reply #1 on: March 18, 2012, 02:02:07 am
Hi there & welcome :), Your newest tree looks great! lovely colours & sense of form and a huge improvement from your first attempts. However it doesn't conform to 3/4 perspective which seems to be a common issue. I made you a little diagram that I hope will help (in retrospect I shouldn't have pixeled it; it's a bit messy) ;)  



Once you've decided on your viewing angle; in this case 3/4, try and make sure everything conforms to those proportions; in the case of the tree, that ellipse. I like to visualise objects as a series of stacked discs (like the Michelin man) to help me estimate quickly but make sure you're thinking about the whole form and how it connects to the ground, not just superficial, surface elements. On the left is a series of cross-sections through the tree and on the right is a wireframe or skin sketched on top; I use these as guides to wrap shading and details onto.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2012, 04:59:49 am by Facet »

Offline mikemayday

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Re: Small game sprites- no.1: a tree!

Reply #2 on: March 18, 2012, 01:32:38 pm
Thanks for the tip! That's a great way to keep track of the perspective!

I am actually not sure what to do with the view. The frontend is supposed to use square tiles, which suggests straight top-down view (though that could probably be changed). I'm thinking of keeping things symbolic (there will be no sense of scale to the sprites anyway) and having the sprites viewed mostly from the front- that way I could convey more detail on the creatures (those bother me the most)

The biggest problem is that the graphics set has to combine a clear representation of the terrain map (from a design perspective as well) AND clean/readable creature/object graphics.
I feel like I'd be more free to pixel the way I want when drawing things from about the eye-level, but at the same time I understand the need for a sense of uniformity to the tileset.
Huge dilemma for me! Guess I'll try doing a bit of both and see how it works.

E: yeah, I did some renders to check what things look like and I think 1/2 topdown is the most I can manage here :P
1/4
1/2
3/4
« Last Edit: March 18, 2012, 08:40:49 pm by mikemayday »

Offline jams0988

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Re: Small game sprites- no.1: a tree!

Reply #3 on: March 18, 2012, 05:37:57 pm
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E: yeah, I did some renders to check what things look like and I think 1/2 topdown is the most I can manage here Tongue
Your 1/2 looks like what most people call 3/4 anyway, hahah. Should be fine. X3
I like your tree, but like Facet said, it's a little weird seeing something so large from directly to the side. It really does draw attention to the perspective. For smaller characters, most games get away with fudging the perspective, so I don't think it should matter too much if you draw those from more of a side view.

What program are you using for the 3D renders? I like the texture on those things. Cool white clay look. I haven't played with Maya or Lightwave in years, now... X3

Offline mikemayday

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Re: Small game sprites- no.1: a tree!

Reply #4 on: March 18, 2012, 07:46:43 pm
Well, so here's this:

I feel like it came out too ROUND... but maybe it's still not enough 'from above'?

About the renders- well it appears most people would be wrong because these are EXACTLY 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4 :P I made them in Blender- and this is the default material! It's really ugly in general but I'm using a scene I've set up for nice, natural lighting (all the light comes from the skysphere texture).

Offline Facet

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Re: Small game sprites- no.1: a tree!

Reply #5 on: March 18, 2012, 08:21:23 pm
Ah, so you're aiming for the fabled 'RPG perspective' which is quite often a strange mash-up :)

Symbolic can look good too; perhaps pure profile sprites on a top-down field especially if they're not going to be scaled or animated? (I haven't played DF) but I think it's important to define what you're aiming for from the start for the sake of consistency. Using basic 3D renders as a guide is great if you still want to achieve that viewpoint but perhaps quickly sketching a mock-up of a whole DF screen could help you figure out where and when to bend or break rules.

Offline jams0988

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Re: Small game sprites- no.1: a tree!

Reply #6 on: March 18, 2012, 09:25:16 pm
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About the renders- well it appears most people would be wrong because these are EXACTLY 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4
Hahah, exactly. XD
That's why you can draw them in 1/2 instead! =D

And that's Blender, eh? I played with Blender a year or two ago, but I don't remember the default material looking like that. Hmm. Maybe they changed it, or maybe I have a terrible memory.
I'm liking the new tree. It feels like the trunk and the leaves might be on two different perspective planes, though. It's hard to tell for me, though. Maybe making the trunk slightly wider at the top than the bottom would help, but you don't have much room to do that with such a small sprite. Maybe just a pixel or two?

Offline mikemayday

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Re: Small game sprites- no.1: a tree!

Reply #7 on: March 18, 2012, 09:53:45 pm
Facet: I'll try both options and do some mockups. Gotta make sure everything clicks together!

jams: the default material has stayed exactly the same. It's just that using typical Blender Lighting it looks like cheap shiny plastic. Like I said, it's all in the global illumination- it makes materials behave differently.

I changed the trunk a bit before reading your post and now I've added two pixels at the top. I'm not sure if it made a difference, really :/
Anyway, some animation!

Offline jams0988

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Re: Small game sprites- no.1: a tree (now animated)!

Reply #8 on: March 18, 2012, 11:40:34 pm
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I changed the trunk a bit before reading your post and now I've added two pixels at the top. I'm not sure if it made a difference, really :/
Whattt? It made a huge difference, hahah! Much better looking. =D
The shape of the roots has a lot to do with that too though, I think. It's much more obvious that we're seeing it from the top with the roots the way they are now. Like the animation!

Offline mikemayday

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Re: Small game sprites- no.1: a tree (now animated)!

Reply #9 on: March 19, 2012, 12:52:15 pm
Trying out the messed-up perspective. Somehow it doesn't bother ME- what about you guys?
The creatures lovingly 'borrowed' from RedShrike (who agreed to donating his graphics for the project, yay!), tiles by Dusty (temporarily).

« Last Edit: March 24, 2012, 10:42:39 pm by mikemayday »