AuthorTopic: [WIP] Forest scene  (Read 2042 times)

Offline Marscaleb

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[WIP] Forest scene

on: September 04, 2018, 07:18:55 am
Hello fine folks, I've been working on a forest scene for my game.  This is a work in progress; all I have right now is the dirt.
I wanted to share it at this state because I would like to get some feedback.  Please be completely open in your feedback; rip it to shreds, draw over my work, make me cry.
I personally see dozens of flaws in what I've made so far, but I've been staring at it so long I can't tell if they are as bad as I think.

I'm loosely following the restrictions for SNES backgrounds.  I'm not actually counting the number of tiles, but I am keeping everything within appropriate tile sizes and trying to keep the number of tiles looking close to what I've seen other SNES games do.

Main character sprite included for comparison.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #1 on: September 04, 2018, 03:09:53 pm
Your character doesn't appear to be standing on the tiles, the way the feet are shaded makes it look like heels are higher up than the toes.
Another common trick in games is to not outline the bottom of the characters' feet when they're on the ground. This eliminates the appearance of an underside/shadow, making the feet look planted on the floor rather than hovering just above.

The dirt tiles feel rather busy. The tops of them are nice, but the fill pattern on the sides is a bit distracting, there's too much going on. Keep the fill patterns simple, more like what you have on the dark dirt in the background. A solid colour with occasional detail is a lot less distracting than a constant pattern.

This ground doesn't feel very "foresty". The light colour suggests sand rather than the sort of soil full of decomposed leaves and wood that most forests grow in. I'd expect this ground colour in a prairie or desert area. Try using some darker colours and adding some vaguely leavy patterns instead of just rocks, to add the look of dead leaves. A couple of refs you might find useful, cut-aways of forest ground: Root-filled but otherwise clean, sub-tropical, leafy and natural, temperate. In particular, look at the colours of that dirt, and how it's not particularly rocky. A few adapted species aside, trees don't do so well in rocky soil because they can't get well-rooted in rocks, and tend to not get enough nutrients, or to topple over from wind.

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #2 on: September 05, 2018, 07:42:22 am
Your character doesn't appear to be standing on the tiles, the way the feet are shaded makes it look like heels are higher up than the toes.
Another common trick in games is to not outline the bottom of the characters' feet when they're on the ground. This eliminates the appearance of an underside/shadow, making the feet look planted on the floor rather than hovering just above.

I never really noticed that, but I do see that in many of the examples I have on-hand.  I'll keep this in mind when I get back to drawing character sprites.

This ground doesn't feel very "foresty". The light colour suggests sand rather than the sort of soil full of decomposed leaves and wood that most forests grow in. I'd expect this ground colour in a prairie or desert area. Try using some darker colours

Okay, I'll try that.  But I think I should get the trees and other elements in before I make any major changes to the color, because I'll need to see how it balances with the other colors.

Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #3 on: September 05, 2018, 08:28:49 am
Counterpoint, for a cleaner Color Palette you're going to want to use whatever greens and Browns you use for the grass on the trees
« Last Edit: October 05, 2018, 02:51:56 am by MysteryMeat »
PSA: use imgur
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Offline Marscaleb

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #4 on: October 04, 2018, 12:53:31 am
So I already knew I wasn't going to have much time these last couple weeks, so I decided to make some water instead of starting on the trees.

Here's a sample with a water tile:


And here it is a detail with the water animated:

It uses three frames, but they are offset which makes the animation six frames long.

By the way, while this is a work-in-progress, I would appreciate it if you critiqued the art as if it were a finished product; (barring the obvious placeholder elements of course,) because I'm generally not planning on going back and revising any of this if nobody seems to notice any flaws.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #5 on: October 04, 2018, 01:09:48 pm
I think the wave pattern feels very repetitive, even more so in motion. Using smaller waves would make it easier to hide the pattern. Alternatively, you could "stack" waves (exaggerated illustration, effect in motion), e.g. a big wave that takes 3 frames, and a much smaller sequence of waves that stacks with it that takes e.g. 2 frames (having different periods for the waves looks more natural), so you'll get a 6-frame animation loop.

You have some highlights in the water that are almost static, they look unnatural.

I'd have the water fade in colour more gently. I'd go into the second colour only slightly below the waves, and then fade from there to the darkest colour. Having a big space of light and then fading to dark suddenly makes it look like a shadow on a tube, rather than darkness in transparent water.
Consider making each colour transition its own tile, with solid-coloured water tiles optionally between them. That way you can have a gradient between all the colours for a water column of any height, and you could have the fading end on a lighter colour in shallower pools if you wanted to.


A critique I missed on the ground last time: The dark background dirt tangents with the corners/tops of the platforms. I think it would look more natural if it didn't, but rather came out of the sides of them, or went above them in some cases, e.g.

I think this way, the platform edges are clearer, and the scene feels more interesting because there's some visual overlap and more interesting silhouettes.
(Also, while I was editing, I noticed you seem to have some semi-transparent pixels on the edges of the background rocks! Might be left-overs from when you sketched stuff in first? IMHO it's best to sketch with pencil tool, so your colours are under control and sketches easy to get rid of.)

Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #6 on: October 05, 2018, 02:52:11 am
Counterpoint, for a cleaner Color Palette you're going to want to use whatever greens and Browns you use for the grass on the trees

I have only now just caught and corrected my horrid typo
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline Marscaleb

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #7 on: October 05, 2018, 05:05:16 am
I think the wave pattern feels very repetitive, even more so in motion. Using smaller waves would make it easier to hide the pattern. Alternatively, you could "stack" waves
Yeah, I think I'm gonna have to draw this again.  I might keep it for use in some area though, where it would look better to have "rushing" water.

You have some highlights in the water that are almost static, they look unnatural.
Highlights in water actually are very static; they just glimmer but they stay in the same spot.  So I'm not sure what highlights you are referring to.

I'd have the water fade in colour more gently. I'd go into the second colour only slightly below the waves, and then fade from there to the darkest colour. Having a big space of light and then fading to dark suddenly makes it look like a shadow on a tube, rather than darkness in transparent water.
I was going for having a dark portion just at the bottom to signal to the player that they die if they go down that far, but yeah, I don't need so many color transitions to do that.

A critique I missed on the ground last time: The dark background dirt tangents with the corners/tops of the platforms. I think it would look more natural if it didn't, but rather came out of the sides of them, or went above them in some cases, e.g.

That looks a lot better; Imma do that.

(Also, while I was editing, I noticed you seem to have some semi-transparent pixels on the edges of the background rocks! Might be left-overs from when you sketched stuff in first? IMHO it's best to sketch with pencil tool, so your colours are under control and sketches easy to get rid of.)

I see what you're talking about.  It's actually on a separate layer; the same layer as the tree sketches, so its really gone already.  (But thanks for pointing that out; I would have hated to have left that in the final version.)
« Last Edit: October 05, 2018, 05:08:27 am by Marscaleb »

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #8 on: October 05, 2018, 11:38:49 am
You have some highlights in the water that are almost static, they look unnatural.
Highlights in water actually are very static; they just glimmer but they stay in the same spot.  So I'm not sure what highlights you are referring to.
It's true that highlights generally tend to retain their general position, but you've got waves on your water, so the entire reflective surface should be undulating. In addition, even with only minor waves, the highlights are only static in the longer term, in the short term they dance, they disappear, etc, they don't look that static if you follow a specific glimmer rather than the entire reflection.

I suppose part of the issue is it's unclear whether we're seeing the water's surface, or the interior, since you have both highlights and the light-dark fade with no clear transition between surface and interior. Because of the lack of other transition, to me it reads like this water is a cut-away, with the interior starting right below the bright highlighted ridge of the waves, which would place the static glimmers underneath the surface, where they don't belong xP

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #9 on: January 14, 2019, 03:36:44 pm
Finally got some time to work on this again.
Got some tree trunks made today.

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #10 on: January 28, 2019, 07:14:35 pm
Update!





I tweaked the color for the tree bark to help it stand out against the dirt.
Making the canopy has been a huge challenge; I had to try several different methods before I got to one that felt passable.  Even now, I feel like I need to make a dozen different tweaks.  But I think it's good enough that I should at least share it with others who will see this with a fresh set of eyes; I'll wait to see if the problems I see are noticed by anyone else.

After this, I've got to draw the background layer, then I'm ready to start tweaking colors, fixing errors, adding details, etcetera.

Please let me know what you think so far; I welcome all feedback.

The final game on a standard monitor would be zoomed in to 400%.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2019, 07:46:09 pm by Marscaleb »

Offline Vinik

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #11 on: January 28, 2019, 10:45:31 pm
What would be the general value and/or texture of the background behind the trunks? Will it be parallaxed? Dark? I think that is critical in choosing how much they stand out or blend in, considering they are not collision enabled objects. I think that many games have trees that are wrongly color-coded and end up reading like they are collision enabled like floors and walls.

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #12 on: January 28, 2019, 11:00:52 pm
The background would be paralaxed, yes.  But I'm still on the fence of what kind of hue/value it should have.  I plopped in a couple backgrounds from some other games and was noting some of the wildly different emotions they gave the scene.  This next step is going to be tricky so I don't think I'm going to tackle it today.

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #13 on: February 06, 2019, 01:45:31 am
Okay, here's the latest update, now including the background layer. (parallax scrolling, single layer.)
I also made a slight tweak to the canopy on a couple tiles.





The background by itself:


I don't want to mention the things I don't like because that makes it harder to get some honest feedback, but I will say that I'm not satisfied with the background layer, as well as several other elements.

The only thing that really needs to still be "made" at this point are some tiles to round out the bottom of the trunks, and some grass or bush tiles to place sporadically on the ground.

Please comment and offer suggestions.  How should I tweak the color?  Do the elements seem to have a cohesive style?  Is there anything that seems to stick out or look off?
My end goal is to use these tiles in a commercial project, so please don't try to spare my feelings.  If this isn't good enough to be in something you'd pay for, let me know.

I might be taking a break from this scene and working on some other environments for a while, so I can look at it with some "fresh eyes" before I finish it.  But I promise I will be reading and considering all your comments.

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #14 on: February 07, 2019, 04:18:29 am
The background is rather high-contrast, and the character is a bit hard to spot as a result. Try either lightening the darker layers, or darkening the lighter layers, so that the background covers only a smallish value range.

Offline Odovedesign

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #15 on: February 07, 2019, 01:29:07 pm
I agree with eishiya, this is making really good progress though! I've been following this post quite excitedly
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Offline falz

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #16 on: February 07, 2019, 06:50:21 pm
Oh yeah, that background ties a lot together. What I'd love to see is it split into multiple layers and have great parallax during gameplay a la Odin Sphere. I see 5 layers?

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #17 on: February 08, 2019, 12:04:27 am
Oh yeah, that background ties a lot together. What I'd love to see is it split into multiple layers and have great parallax during gameplay a la Odin Sphere. I see 5 layers?

I'm going for a 16-bit era aesthetic.  So that would mean just two layers.

Offline Marscaleb

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Re: [WIP] Forest scene

Reply #18 on: February 08, 2019, 12:24:13 am
The background is rather high-contrast, and the character is a bit hard to spot as a result. Try either lightening the darker layers, or darkening the lighter layers, so that the background covers only a smallish value range.

Not exactly what you suggested, but...


Hmm, I think I went too dark.  It doesn't have the vibe I really want.  I might hold on to this for an alternate area, though.