AuthorTopic: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes  (Read 4672 times)

Offline Arachne

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[WIP] Forest assets and palettes

on: February 22, 2015, 05:16:00 pm
Hey, everyone! ;D

Here's a set of assets I've been working on for a while. I don't have any specific plans for it, so at the moment it's merely an experiment which will hopefully turn into something useful.

I wanted to make a set of non-tiling assets for a change. I ended up with tiles for the ground, but I made them much larger than my usual tiles to keep the tile count low and reduce the number of transitions. Drawing larger assets means more work, so I'm trying to make the most of them through palette swapping and layering. There are three layers at the moment. Eventually, I'd like to add another layer in the back (mountains or something) and another one in front (some greenery to break up the monotony of the rocks).



Middle layer

Back layer
   
The two layers in the back simply use color swapped versions of the main asset set.

Progress animations: medium broadleaf, small broadleaf, large broadleaf large spruce, rock tile.

I chose a simple workflow for the assets. The color count is low, and I've tried to keep the different ramps clearly separated in the assets so that I have more freedom when palette swapping. The later assets are a bit more polished.

I've made a set of six different palettes for the set so far. The palettes are each divided into six main ramps: leaf ramp, with two alternative ramps for color variation; bark ramp; apples and toadstools; small mushrooms and toadstool stalks; grass, which I've made a subset of the default leaf ramp; and rocks. In addition, there will be a sky ramp, but for now it's only a single color.



The front layer uses the most colors. In the middle layer, some of the palette entries have the same color in order to reduce contrast. The back layer uses only two colors, which may look out of place with a more detailed sky.



The snow palette differs a bit from the other palettes as I have some of the palette entries in the front layer also share a color in an attempt to hide the grass structure.



This is the initial palette. Relatively saturated, warm and sunny.



With rain added

Here I've used less saturation overall. Foggy atmosphere means less contrast, but I'm also trying to give the impression of wet, reflective surfaces by brightening the highlights. I think the middle layer works best, since I feel that the leaf highlights reflect the sky color more closely there than in the front layer.



The original assets were drawn against a neutral background color brighter than the assets themselves. Making the assets work with a darker background is tricky.



Here I added a separate ramp for the fir trees in the middle layer. I also changed the rock color to make it differ from the grass and leaves.



This is mostly just a desaturated fall palette. With less saturation in the front layer, it doesn't stand out from the middle layer as much anymore.



This was an experiment that worked better than I expected.

Initially, I was more focused on the creation of the assets themselves and how to create different moods with palette swapping. The set as it is right now doesn't feel as functional as it should. For instance, using the dark end of the leaf greens for the grass seems counterproductive in retrospect, as the grass should stand out as a collision element in a game. Also, the width of the grassy parts is inconsistent. In other words, I think it's time these assets got an overhaul, so any suggestions are welcome, both for the palettes and the assets themselves. ;D

Offline ErekT

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Re: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes

Reply #1 on: February 22, 2015, 05:48:26 pm
That's extremely pleasant-looking, great stuff :yay:

The leaves are disjointed in some places as I'm sure you're aware of. It's much less visible when mixed into layers tho, so no biggie. The pines look slightly flat and washed out, maybe try to add/redistribute some highlighting to the branches closest to the viewer for more sense of volume? The rock tiles look great but when they're all sitting together they look a bit flat as well, it might work better to put the left and right end pieces more into shadow.

Offline Decroded

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Re: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes

Reply #2 on: February 23, 2015, 02:03:15 am
fantastic work and thanks for sharing the progress.
the large tiles are so liberating to create more structure than stressing about lining up little lines everywhere.
inspiring  :)

will u be adding slopes and stuff?

Offline AlcopopStar

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Re: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes

Reply #3 on: February 23, 2015, 03:54:33 am
Outstanding work Arachne.

A few small gripes I can find,

The leaves on the broadleaf trees look a little plasticy and fake. This is mostly due to the bright highlight colour your using (#7fd6a4), and the way your circularly curving it around the edges of the leaves. You could push this back, but honestly there isn't a whole lot lost by simply filling this colour in with the next brightest green imo. The  exception there would be those leafy foreground plants, where the added detail looks a bit more appropriate.

I think this gets to the heart of this issue in general, all of these assets are beautiful, but in a holistic sense are kind of of fighting for my attention. At least in the immediate background, further back then that looks very pleasant, but your inner most background is a bit distracting in terms of all of it's sharp detail & bright highlights . This may be less of an issue if you plan not to have character or object assets over the top, but it's something to consider it you wish to take this further.

All your pallet variations look lovely, especially the foggy scene and snow scene in particular, but again those highlights are a bit of an issue in variations where it is less pushed back, the night scene in particular stands out. One exception is the rain scene, where the shine makes a certain amount of sense.

Awesome work all up, defiantly a lot for me to get out of these and i'm really looking forward to where this ends up.

Offline Seiseki

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Re: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes

Reply #4 on: February 23, 2015, 05:24:46 am
This looks amazing and very detailed, but I think it's too detailed, there is no where to rest your eyes. As Alcopop says everything is fighting for attention..

I made a quick and dirty edit to show some simple ways to tone down the details..
It's really hard though, because details look great when you look at them individually and instinctively you want to keep them.



But some more drastic measures might be required as it's still amazingly sharp in a lot of places.
Maybe tweaking the palette and saturation of the darker shades might help take some edge off?
« Last Edit: February 23, 2015, 05:27:16 am by Seiseki »

Offline hawken

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Re: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes

Reply #5 on: February 23, 2015, 06:34:32 am
really nice foliage  :)

maybe you could make the grass and leaves different tones? (like in autumn) That might help to break up visuals.

Or you may just want to put the trees into the parallax layer, and have ledges as the platform layer.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2015, 06:36:29 am by hawken »
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Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes

Reply #6 on: May 06, 2015, 10:20:45 pm
Hey, all. ;D I've started working on this again after a break. I'm trying to go for something slightly less ambitious, so that might make it easier to follow up on feedback more regularly.

The pines look slightly flat and washed out, maybe try to add/redistribute some highlighting to the branches closest to the viewer for more sense of volume?

I'm barely using the highlight color at all in those trees, so I'll try to bring out the center branches a bit more.

I think this gets to the heart of this issue in general, all of these assets are beautiful, but in a holistic sense are kind of of fighting for my attention. At least in the immediate background, further back then that looks very pleasant, but your inner most background is a bit distracting in terms of all of it's sharp detail & bright highlights . This may be less of an issue if you plan not to have character or object assets over the top, but it's something to consider it you wish to take this further.

Yeah, the over-detailing became obvious when I started adding sprites to the mix, something I should have done much sooner. I suppose the front layer assets could still be useful in a title screen or something similar where they don't have to compete with sprites for attention.

I made a quick and dirty edit to show some simple ways to tone down the details..
It's really hard though, because details look great when you look at them individually and instinctively you want to keep them.



But some more drastic measures might be required as it's still amazingly sharp in a lot of places.
Maybe tweaking the palette and saturation of the darker shades might help take some edge off?

That looks much better, especially with the more muted middle layer. I also think the darker rock tiles look nicer, but it was tricky getting the darker style to work when I started working on additional tiles.

maybe you could make the grass and leaves different tones? (like in autumn) That might help to break up visuals.

The grass and leaf ramps are separate now, which should help make the separation between platform and scenery more obvious.

Quote
Or you may just want to put the trees into the parallax layer, and have ledges as the platform layer.

I like this approach, mainly because it's simple, but I think creating a separate asset set for the foreground greenery will make it easier to reduce clutter.

will u be adding slopes and stuff?

I'm going to add 1:1 slopes next, yeah.



All right. The new tiles are 32 x 32 pixels, so one third of the size of the old ones. The main disadvantage is that they're much more repetitive and uniform, so I'll have to add more tiles of the same type for variation. I want to try to reintroduce some of those larger rock planes somehow, while keeping the tile count limited. That's going to be tricky, but editing the tiles will be a lot easier now.

As much as I liked the larger tiles, they were extremely tedious to create and iterate over. The initial set was going to be those three original tiles combined with three more. I darkened the bottom tiles by limiting myself to the darkest colors, but I found it difficult to achieve the same level of detail that way. They also were a little too dark compared to the rest of the assets, mainly because the tile size also resulted in really large platforms.

It also become much clearer just how simple the old grass was. I tried to squeeze in another grass color in the old tiles, so that I could swap the green ramp in the trees with the grass, but it turned out easier to start from scratch, as the platform parts of the old tiles weren't uniform enough and would have to be changed anyway.



Here's a mockup using an older version of the new tiles. I tried to reduce the contrast in the middle layer by darkening the highlights and brightening the shadows and also pushed the shadows more towards blue for stronger atmospheric perspective.

I've added some floating platforms, which means the assets are distributed more in the vertical direction, unlike in the old mockups. It looks a bit more game-like this way, I guess, but there's also no clear horizon anymore. Adding slopes might make it easier to achieve a more horizontal geography.



Here I've tried to reduce the clutter in the rocks a bit. I've been struggling with elimination of the grid while at the same time keeping some variation in the tiles.



Here's the current iteration of the player sprite. I've tried to make her dress look mushroom-like, something that resembles a mushroom cap in texture. I'm also trying to limit the color ramps for sprites more than for the tiles (which mainly use 4-color ramps) to make sprites cleaner and easier to animate.

What I'd like to do next is add a few more sprite elements and then try to add some more greenery to the front layer, but in a way that doesn't compete with the platform parts. Maybe greenery as platforms would work?

Offline ptoing

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Re: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes

Reply #7 on: May 07, 2015, 06:22:01 am
Some edits to the sprite.



The bangs looked too high up and no hair at the sides looked a bit weird.
Moved ear up a bit.
More contrast in palette and some outline contrast stuff.
Also edits on the face because she totally looks like a middle-aged Indian guy dressed as a little girl.

Hope this helps.
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Offline bengo

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Re: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes

Reply #8 on: May 07, 2015, 06:41:07 am

Edited eyes, shading on hand doesn't work imo, changed palette a bit.

Offline skittlefuck

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Re: [WIP] Forest assets and palettes

Reply #9 on: May 07, 2015, 02:20:59 pm
Imho the current pose makes her look hesitant or something, it's not much, but here's an edit.



The tiles are really grand!