AuthorTopic: GR#173 - Battlebackground - Gameart Scenery  (Read 9459 times)

Offline Johasu

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GR#173 - Battlebackground - Gameart Scenery

on: February 28, 2014, 06:37:07 pm

Been mashing my brains out on this.  I feel as if my bones and the floor are at a place I am comfortable with, but the walls are killing me!
Anyone have any advice on how I can bring these to a more detailed point while not stealing the show?
I want them to feel somewhat muted, but not simple blobs of color.
Of course as always I am willing to accept critique and advice on any part of this piece so if something can be improved... feel free to pipe in with advice.

[Current]                                                             

[Applied Mockup]
« Last Edit: March 05, 2014, 04:03:33 pm by Johasu »
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Offline Alp

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #1 on: February 28, 2014, 07:04:38 pm
Eh, why not. I can mock up a quick example for ya'.
(I'm sitting on my arse, waiting to go to a funeral.)

Here's something quick, with some advice:
(Try to ignore my wonky colour selection.)


Don't be afraid to paint out your volumes directly, with a pixel brush, and go back and touch it up later. Try to create organic clusters, and just go with what "feels right". Looking at some photos will help you with this.

Your palette is a tad muddy-looking. You may want to improve those colours.

Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #2 on: February 28, 2014, 07:13:12 pm
Thank you for helping out.  [Sorry about the funeral]
What do you mean by "organic clusters"?  Are you saying to use clusters in the shape of the wall segments?
The setting is a cave near a river in which a tribe of primitive ape men reside. So I was going for like a wet sedimentary floor.  Like clay or hard packed sand.
I don't know how well I accomplished that.
Shouldn't I keep my wall a similar color to the floor?  Most cave images I find show very similar color ratios because the floor is basically made out of the wall in most cases.
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Offline Alp

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #3 on: February 28, 2014, 07:39:01 pm
Thank you.
Yeah, that's what I mean. By organic clusters, I simply mean natural or realistic shape.
(I'm sorry if anything I say is not helpful/understood, English is not my native tongue.)

Oh? Is that what kind of cave, you were going for? Allow me to make another edit.

Yeah, the colours in a cave should generally be similar, but you should account for the light source, and reduction.  Below is another, more refined edit towards a clay cave, with some colour adjustments closer to your original palette. The floor and wall colour-ramps have been partially merged.



Note the thick ridges at the bottom of the wall. This is common in these types of caves. The wall details are also closer to what you were aiming for, so try to take some note from what I have done here.

Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #4 on: February 28, 2014, 10:37:51 pm

Trying this.  I was having a hard time getting grooves/recessions to look correct and ended up with a sort of boulder pile look.
Thoughts on how this looks.  I feel like maybe the wall is leaning a bit too yellow/green to match well with the floor so I will experiment with colors some too.  I think if I contrast the solid green masses with the shadows by taking the green more towards a gray I will it will pull it out a lot.

Conceptually?
Palette advice?
Is the shadowy area where the floor meets the wall readable or is it too flat?
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Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #5 on: March 01, 2014, 02:52:01 pm

Took this to a further level of detail.  I adjusted the palette some to pull some of the green out.
Thoughts?
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Offline Alp

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #6 on: March 01, 2014, 06:27:26 pm
Well that works! Also, good job on improving the colour range.

Though on close inspection, you appear to have rings of banding in the shadows (Colour index 10 appears to be the culprit.), making things look a bit pillow-y. So you may want to break up the texture in the shadows a little more. Don't worry about  breaking up those lines, it will help improve the texture definition.

Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #7 on: March 01, 2014, 07:07:56 pm
Thank you for the compliment.
Can you explain what you mean by "color index 10" ?
I was struggling with pulling my stones outward or pushing them inward and giving them less of a uniform depth.
What I mean is: at first glance it seems okay to me, but when I think about the composition realistically, all of my rocks are piled up on a flat plane that doesn't really create any depth.
I've been toying a bit with this, but I haven't yet captured my goals.
Advice or ideas on how to adjust that are appreciated until I get a satisfactory edit ready to post.

Thanks again!
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Offline Alp

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #8 on: March 01, 2014, 07:48:13 pm
A Colour Index Number, is the exact number out of 0-255, in your palette.
I think I may have been a little TOO specific, here! :lol:

To invert rocks inwards, what you want to do, is separate the rock using shadow, and apply somewhat heavier shading to the top of the rock, and have light to the bottom.

I have applied this, to your newest version on one of the rocks as an example. Try to ignore those smaller ones on the ground, I was just trying something out.

Offline Manupix

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #9 on: March 02, 2014, 02:43:19 am
I have questions ;)

Is this a stand-alone piece, a mockup, a game background? Is there going to be something in the foreground, sprites or other?
Why the long narrow format? Is it part of a larger image?
I'm asking because unless there's a reason, the composition is not so good.

This will likely not read as a cave, because all we see in this narrow frame is a patch of ground and the base of a wall; there is no idea of an inner space surrounding these elements, no depth, darkness, mysterious passageways.
The frame is cut in two equal halves, and is mostly empty except for the piles of bones at both ends: the viewer's eye is lost, unguided and not knowing what to do with the empty space.

Again, unless reasons, I think you need to redefine all these major options before going on. Check references (lots!). Visit a cave if you can!

There will also arise the question of light. Caves are dark except near the entrance (and in that case the light is very specific); you'll have to define a light source that will likely appear in the image: explorer's torch, phosphorescent fungus, vampire eyes or whatever ;)
It won't read as underground if you shade it as you would a wall and floor in a building or outside, with low contrast, soft light and no shadows.

Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #10 on: March 02, 2014, 03:37:06 am


It is part of a game that I'm building a demo for actually.  The landscape scenes, as I am calling them, are frames of battle sequences similar to what was seen in the Shining Force games of old.  Sort of a pokemon-esque faceoff between players and enemies as you can see in my mockup.

The character sprite was an early mockup and I'm not quite practiced at metals and such yet so it's not very good.
The player will know that this takes place in a river-side cave setting and the landscape is a backdrop for the battle sequence that will take place over a few moments of actions playing out before it returns to an overhead tactical map (very much like Shining Force).
I guess my description isn't very good of the area.  I'm thinking sort of a wide open to the air cave area that the ape-men hide in.  Sort of a cave lean-to?  A couple similar examples.
http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/a0/26/64/a026641654f4b019fe8416bef8fb2c8b.jpg
http://nobodyhikesinla.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/img_0637.jpg

I tried to frame the action around the placement of the enemy sprite so the brighter areas and elements of the screen are laid out in such a way to push your view to the enemy.
The black bars at top and bottom will be where text boxes frame up the text, health, and whatnot.
The character is standing on a platform from another terrain area so it looks different.  (I don't have the platform for this floor done as the landscape isn't finished and it will reflect the final product.

Thanks for the input.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions for improvement?
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Offline Manupix

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #11 on: March 02, 2014, 04:09:01 am
Ok, this makes much more sense =)

You could make it a sinkhole ('doline') if that's ok with the gameplay: the top down light would be easier on the sprites and compatible with the shadows you have. The wall would be poorly lit by grazing light, could have some hanging vines and stuff. Reference, more references, pixel reference (check the PJ search feature: use the old one, at the bottom of each page).

Edit, more pixel refs: 1, 2. 2 is a nice example of lateral cave light from a side entrance.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2014, 04:19:25 am by Manupix »

Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #12 on: March 02, 2014, 03:43:51 pm
Thanks for taking the time to find these references for me.  It is very appreciated.  Nature is so cool.
I'm going to be fairly busy today, but I will try to get an edit out by this evening/tonight.   :)


Tried to layer my boulders a little better and give them more depth.
I feel like the composition is probably where I want it, but I'm not sure I'm happy with the shading/lighting on the boulders and the ground.
15 colors used.  I don't want to flatten it out anymore on the palette because I want to keep the framing arranged the way it is with the lighting.

Any thoughts, ideas, opinions, criticisms, and/or scathing mockery of my poor ability to render stone are all greatly appreciated.  :blind:

merged: reason, double post
« Last Edit: March 04, 2014, 07:27:23 am by Grimsane »
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Offline Mr. Fahrenheit

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #13 on: March 03, 2014, 08:37:46 pm


I made an edit reducing and messing with the colors. I reduced it to six and upped the contrast and gave it some hue shifting. I think it looks basically comparable. Obviously you could change some color placement in that so the gradient on the ground is smoother with the green color, but I didnt. Keep going man!

Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #14 on: March 03, 2014, 11:30:31 pm

I have so much to learn still.   :o
I really like how your ramp brings out the highlight and deepens the shadow.  I'm not sure how I feel about reducing the color that far. It feels so minimalist and apart from the style of the other pieces I have done in the set so far.
I did want to go in this direction and I played with it for a while here. 
1) Before edits
2) Deepened the shadows and a subtle shift to the highlight color to take it further back.
3) Same as 2 but I kept the floor highlight as the original because I felt like maybe it should be brighter.
4) Taking the hue shift to a deeper level with the green and blue.
5) Letting reducing colors and spreading the new colors everywhere. (little cleanup on a few strays too.)

Right now I'm not even sure what I like.
Any comments?  Thoughts?  What looks better?  I think I played with it too much at this point to criticize it with my own eyes.  Am I doing a horrible job of this?
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Offline hobbler_toppler

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #15 on: March 03, 2014, 11:40:43 pm
Hello. I am also in the process of learning to draw cave rocks, mountains, and cliffs. Although I'm no expert, I feel like the edit I made might help you out a little bit. (if my image hosting site works properly  >:( )



I think what it all boils down to is being brave and willing to imply big chunky shapes with your shadows. In order to make the image pop out more (instead of all your rocks looking as though they're piled evenly on a flat plane like you said), I added some rocks to the front that serve as a second layer of rocks, and also made shadows of the higher rocks fall over the lower rocks. This helps to imply that many of the rocks are sticking out of the wall at differing intensities. I noticed that the bones on the floor were shaded as though a light source were coming from the top left, so I chose to use that light source on the cave rock wall as well. Using a more dynamic light source is always an easy way to give more depth to an image.

I also changed the colors a bit, as others in this thread have done. At first I chose a drastic hue-shifting approach from blue lights to green darks, but I felt like it was a bit excessive. Now the colors are still washed out, but the green begins to show in the shadows. The brightness of your shades before were very close to one another, making the image seem very muted.

I hope this helps, and of course I don't promise that my edit of your work is anything close to the best possible interpretation of it. Keep improving!

Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #16 on: March 04, 2014, 03:40:36 am

Being a little adventurous here...
That last edit got me thinking about grey tones and I decided to play around a bit.
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Offline Grimsane

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #17 on: March 04, 2014, 07:51:09 am
interesting I feel the colours of the moss and stone collide majorly, and don't go together,



some really quick edits, one very non-pixel, to illustrate some suggestions, if you wanted it to be a darker cave with light, dappling on the floor would probably more effective than that quick light shaft

but top left, suggestions for making it read with more depth by introducing another 2 brighter tones using a receding value technique, with that you can make rocks look like they sit on different planes merely by making them subtly lighter or darker

liking the mockup and goal of this, very megadrive/genesis shining force-esque :D

Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #18 on: March 04, 2014, 07:00:39 pm

Oh I have so much to learn!  Thanks for the compliment and the ideas.
I added another level to the highlights and scaled the floor colors.  A little clean up and tidy work.  Then I applied new highlighting and shadows to the foremost stones.
I tried to move more towards that yellow green color of grass you have but I feel like maybe my shades are too close together or are too dark.  I'm not sure yet.
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Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #19 on: March 05, 2014, 04:01:48 pm

Updating with a mockup testing out the composition and playing with a font I made this morning. Im not sold on my numbers yet.
Open for criticism and critical assessment.   :y:
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Offline Manupix

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #20 on: March 05, 2014, 05:06:22 pm
The light source information is conflicting.
The rocks are front lit (source behind and slightly left of the viewer), the guy is lit from the right, the monster from the top (not strongly defined), and the sprite shadows should imply strongly contrasted top-down light.
It's quite possible that this is not critical in a game context, but on the other hand it would not hurt to get things right ;)
The rocks in Hobbler's edit were more consistent in this respect.

I'd go further in bringing the rock and moss colors closer, mostly by tweaking the palette for better integration (hue shifting and bridging!).
The bones are competing with the sprites for visual attention. I'd try to use the same colors as the rocks for them, as if they were ancient and covered in the same dust as the rocks.

Offline Johasu

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #21 on: March 05, 2014, 05:33:09 pm
The game will take place in a variety of settings including buildings, caves, forests, ravines, and more.  It's probably not going to be possible to keep all of the shadows and lighting in every scene perfectly aligned with the sprites, but I'm definitely going to try to keep all of that in mind as I move forward and setup the backgrounds more to match up with the lighting from my sprites.

I really didn't think about the lighting conflict between my enemy sprites and character sprites.  Thank you for pointing that out to me. I sort of just mimicked the style from Shining Force for my player sprite and created the enemy sprite directly from my brain.  So... There you have that.  :-[

I pictured the stones being front lit as if the light from outside were coming in and reflecting off of the floor up onto them.
I picture the light source coming from straight out and above.  But I did try to divert attention in a diagonal line from player sprite to enemy sprite with the lighting and floor elements.
The bones aren't that old as they are remnants from recent meals, but I will play with the coloring to see if I can reduce their presence a bit.

Can you give me an explanation of what bridging is specifically and how to accomplish it?
What direction would be best for my light source on the sprites since I will have a variety of lighting effects on my landscapes: including torches, windows, and outdoor sunshine?
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Offline Manupix

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Re: Monster Den [WIP] Advice on cave walls please.

Reply #22 on: March 05, 2014, 06:02:38 pm
I pictured the stones being front lit as if the light from outside were coming in and reflecting off of the floor up onto them.

In that case the floor should be waaaay brighter!


Can you give me an explanation of what bridging is specifically and how to accomplish it?

This: (from here). Integrated palette vs separate ramps.


What direction would be best for my light source on the sprites since I will have a variety of lighting effects on my landscapes: including torches, windows, and outdoor sunshine?

The only real constraint I see is the cast shadow, if you keep it as it is: it means top down. But again, there has to be a degree of compromise in games, and I have no experience with that. I'd aim for background internal consistency, and some flexibility in sprites, whatever that may mean.