AuthorTopic: About character design  (Read 2210 times)

Offline odedrt9

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About character design

on: February 05, 2016, 08:49:03 pm
Hey there,

So my friend and I are working on a game(roguelike-ish) and I thought on making the tiles 16x16.
Now, the entities doesn't have to be the size of the tiles but can't be too big also so I thought about making the character 16x16 or 16x20.

But as I'm mainly a coder, not an artist, I don't really know anything about designing characters and especially this small.
So I came here looking for advices, what styles are fitting for this size, the game is a side-scroller platformer but the I want the character to have a slight tilt in perspective.
I'd really appreciate some advices and then I could try some things and post them here for critics.

Thanks in advance!

Offline astraldata

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Re: About character design

Reply #1 on: February 22, 2016, 04:32:19 pm
The biggest issue with what you're trying to do isn't that you don't know how to design small characters, but that you are designing characters before you have a solid grasp on what exactly you need the characters to actually do in the game.

If you say that you want your character to have a slight upward tilt, but your canvas size doesn't allow that easily, then you have some creative design options, assuming you're willing to throw away your line/concept art. If not, then you'll struggle perpetually throughout your game on art, losing the charm, as well as the speeds, that pixel art can offer you when you embrace its quirky ways (i.e. Not enough pixels? That's fine by me -- I'll just draw less details and get it finished in a fraction of the time!)

With your character, a valid design approach is this:

First, draw the character silhouette in such a way that the upward tilt is exaggerated, next decide on a color scheme, and finally fill out the proportions of those colors on your character in whatever manner suits his identity best. This being said, it is his identity that matters more than a nice line art drawing in Photoshop colored with fancy gradients and speculars. You won't see those in the pixel art, so why not start with what it is you do see first in order to determine your design?

Shigeru Miyamoto designed Mario the same way -- the stashe exists because he didn't have enough canvas to indicate a mouth, and the hat for a similar reason (because he didn't have enough room for the top of the head and hair.) Mario was built for a single purpose: to jump (thus the name "jumpman"as he was originally known.) For tiny chars such as Mario, what they do matters more than how they look, so the omission of a lot of potential details leaves us with only the most prominent ones that characterise the character most (the pudgy belly, the feet, which emphasizes what he does, and the hat and big nose, which emphasizes who he is to the audience). These omissions, and by extension, these prominent features that remain, leads to the charm we love so much in these old game sprites. They are simple, direct, visually, and serve a purpose that is echoed in the way they are used in the game. A hat on Mario, and a stashe, were just so much more readable (and entertaining) than a simple mouth and a forehead+ hair, don't you think?

I suspect Shovel knight was designed in a similar way, looking at the high-res art for it. Sprite first, then tweak its art to resemble the sprite, possibly adding on only very minor details (such as Mario's overalls from smash bros vs. Mario from galaxy, the former being the hires box art for your character, and the latter lores sprite you actually see in the game.)
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