AuthorTopic: 2D Terrain Tiles Tips  (Read 1501 times)

Offline OrangeLeaf

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2D Terrain Tiles Tips

on: January 01, 2018, 02:59:02 am
Are there any tips / guidelines to follow to 'learn' how to draw distinct looking 2D tiles for terrain / landscape?

Like grass, rocks, buildings etc. I'm looking for styles ranging from hyper light drifter, secret of mana, and even earthbound.

I only have a very basic tileset for a "tutorial" arena like place that's just a grid with green tints.


I like this color scheme. The main colors of the game would be this green, purple and blue.



Any Advice would be great, thanks.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 04:37:18 am by OrangeLeaf »

Offline eishiya

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Re: 2D Terrain Tiles Tips

Reply #1 on: January 01, 2018, 04:21:01 am
Could you please remove the image link and just leave the image? The link is making it impossible to zoom using the forum's zoom feature.

What do you mean by "distinct"-looking? Do you mean having a unique style for the game, or making it clear what type of tile each is?
- A unique, cohesive style is achieved by setting out to establish a tone for the game (or each area), and stylising everything to help communicate that tone. To aid in this, it helps to reuse certain broad stylistic elements, for example: having a lot of rounded shapes everywhere, or a lot of sharp corners; using mostly pastel colours or mostly dark low-saturation colours instead of colours from all over the colour space. Not having such repeated elements makes things look a little less cohesive.
- Making tiles that are clear in what they depict comes down to studying what it is you want to show before you sit down to actually do the tile. Do some studies. Want to make rock tiles? Take the time to look at various kinds of rocks and learn to draw them. Grass? Same thing, learn how different kinds of grasses look. Choose the kinds of elements that fit well with your game's overall tone, too - don't set a level in a dark obsidian cave filled with sharp corners if your game's meant to be full of bright colours and round shapes.

The colours look nice, but they're a bit intense for a background. Make sure you take a look with the sprites (or some placeholder sprites) in place. Bright colours can easily overwhelm them.

Offline OrangeLeaf

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Re: 2D Terrain Tiles Tips

Reply #2 on: January 01, 2018, 04:45:58 am
Sorry about that.

Fixed it.

What I meant by distinct looking is, what about things that are not natural? Like say, a material that looks like grass but isn't. I suppose it would use the same elements of normal grass. But I know for a fact that sketching the actual thing is very different from pixel art. I know how to draw sprites properly now. I like minimal details like in hyper light drifter.


See that grass? It looks nice because of the colors, and the little details by the edges. I also like Secret of mana's grass tiles.


Where do pixel artists learn these techniques for landscape pixel art? I seem to have difficulty with the conceptualizing of what it should look like rather than colors. My character sprites have solid colors so the colors used in that arena tileset shouldn't overwhelm them I would think. I have yet to test it out.

Would you care to share a technique you know to draw out concept tiles , or do you have a particular style of drawing the typical grass, rock, water tilesets?

Offline eishiya

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Re: 2D Terrain Tiles Tips

Reply #3 on: January 01, 2018, 04:32:25 pm
I didn't start drawing (in general) with pixel art, and I think that probably made my pixel art journey a lot easier, because I was able to focus on pixel-level techniques on their own, without also having to learn to draw at the same time. I recommend it. If you struggle with visualising things, practice it in a medium you're already familiar with (or, lacking that, just any high-res medium where you don't have to worry about pixel-level polish, such as digital painting or pencil and paper). It's much easier to learn to draw in an "easy" medium where you can focus on just drawing.

As for learning to depict different things, it mostly comes down to drawing things a lot, and trying different ways. Do studies from life and photos, try drawing the same kinds of stuff in different styles and different contexts. You can also study others' art (not just pixel art!) to see how they stylised various things, and ask yourself what you think is effective about that style, what isn't, why they chose to deviate from reality in the ways that they did. Drawing well comes down to a lot of observation and questions, of reality and of fiction.
I know that's not the "how do I do the visuals for THIS game" answer you want, but coming up with a specific game's visuals comes from knowing how to draw things in general, and being able to select the appropriate look for the game's tone.


Before you worry about tiles, try to make some mockups of full scenes without worrying about tiling, so you learn to communicate the visuals in pixel art before you add the extra challenge of making them tile. Or, maybe even try making a mockup at a much larger resolution than your game, so that you can focus on just communicating your visuals, without the additional requirements of pixel art. In any case, starting with mockups, regardless of how you do them, is a good idea, as it allows you to work on whole scenes and make them work well. Creating tiles or objects in isolation tends to lead to mismatching scales and styles. It's common to find that things don't quite work together if you do everything separately, and starting from mockups helps avoid the extra re-doing.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2018, 04:41:22 pm by eishiya »

Offline OrangeLeaf

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Re: 2D Terrain Tiles Tips

Reply #4 on: January 02, 2018, 05:16:41 am
Makes sense. I made an attempt at combining the hyper light drifter and secret of mana look, with jagged edges and with a bit more detail in the tile. Not sure if I got it right. I'm still playing around with it.



The right one is a 'prototype' it looks more like a bush, but I thought the left looked more grassy. First thing I did was create a simple color palette of five colors for other tiles.

Let me know if I'm getting close to anything that resembles a grass tile.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2018, 05:18:38 am by OrangeLeaf »

Offline OrangeLeaf

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Re: 2D Terrain Tiles Tips

Reply #5 on: January 03, 2018, 03:10:40 am
Sorry about the rushed reply yesterday. It was a late night and I just wanted to leave the tiles here to see if I was going to get feedback.

I have studied still-life, drawing gestures and anatomy of things... I guess I was simply looking if there were techniques other pixel artists used to draw certain things.

For example, I'd found an online resource where a pixel artist would simply draw out a big rectangle ( or circle depending on your potential character's overall stature), and chiseling away at it until it looks like a silhouette. This really works for me for character sprites.

But landscape tiles don't really have a silhouette or a person's stature, so I was wondering if there was a similar technique for those (if that makes sense.)

I do agree, I have been seeing many pixel artists sketching out whole scenes. I'm comfortable with that as well. Thanks for sharing!