AuthorTopic: Using 3D models to trace pixels?  (Read 15284 times)

Offline Mike

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 294
  • Karma: +0/-3
    • View Profile
    • Scribble onto the Abyss

Using 3D models to trace pixels?

on: January 19, 2009, 05:25:23 pm
Have you ever suspected 3D models being used as a base for tracing pixel work?  Specifically for rotating machines, and other mechanical devices.  Hell I even suspect that the sprites drawn in "The World Ends With You" were based on 3D models.  Oh and before a riot starts I'm not talking about directly screen capping from a 3D program resizing it and calling it a day.  I'm talking about taking a 3D model with the pose you want, shrinking it to the size you want and then tracing from it.

What do you guys think of using 3D models for pixel work bases?

Has anyone here used this technique?

Personally if I had the skills of constructing a 3D model that was rigged well, I would totally trace from it so that way I could get proportion, and angles perfect.

Take a look at these(I'm probably just being a fool)

http://sdb.drshnaps.com/sheets/Misc/Square/Other/IAWW/Neku.png

I've also been told that the sprites in Symphony of the Night used 3D models, but that I don't believe.

I really wish I could remember more examples  :(

Offline ndchristie

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 2426
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Using 3D models to trace pixels?

Reply #1 on: January 19, 2009, 06:46:12 pm
Why word this like a conspiracy theory?  dozens of games have used 3d as a base for sprites, some more and some less obviously than others. 

Blizzard used prerendered sprites in many early titles, including starcraft, diablo, and warcraft.  Many interplay-published games, such as Conquest of the New World and titles within the popular Fallout, Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale games also use prerendered sprites.  Command and Conquer is another one that comes to mind, along with the popular Total War games (Shogun and Medieval), Ultima online...the list goes on for AGES.

the ultimate reality of of a resized render and particularly mid-90's capabilities is that they require either extensive redrawing or tracing, so while many games on this list appear pixelled (outlines, low color counts, very few frames), the reality is that it was at one point cutting-edge.

Is it useful?  for MANY games, I think not at all.  most animators have the experience necessary to animate a human in far shorter a time than it would take, as you've said, to model and render.  For other games, i think it's great.  A quick scan of the list reveals primarily isometric views, which are notoriously more difficult to draw for, as well as monsters which an animator may be less experienced with and vehicles which do not need to be rigged.  In additon, they typically have 8+ rotation frames (most have 16), which is also far faster to do this way than by hand.  However, without total redrawing they all also lack the pixel precision and cleanliness that many games require, so you'll also notice that they fall generally within the RTS category (famous for unclear, "realistic" graphics).
« Last Edit: January 19, 2009, 06:54:18 pm by ndchristie »
A mistake is a mistake.
The same mistake twice is a bad habit.
The same mistake three or more times is a motif.

Offline huZba

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 409
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • MekaSkull
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/19396.htm
    • huzba
    • View Profile

Re: Using 3D models to trace pixels?

Reply #2 on: January 19, 2009, 08:18:22 pm
A lot of the sprites in "the world ends with you" have been drawn in high res first, then shrinked, color reduced and slightly retouched with pixel tools. The game also resizes the sprites on the fly while you run around and that really hurt my eyes. It's not because of unorthodox ways of making the sprites, but rather that they really look like a mess most of the time. I guess they didn't have any pixel-artists to work on the game so they had their normal illustrators to do what they do and then reduced them to be used on DS.

For some games the pre-rendered 3D stuff works great. Like CnC Tiberian sun for example. It had a huge amount of sprites for each unit so it would've been madness to make them by hand. Not just the normal directions, but all of them also going uphill/downhill.

Using 3D will not make you a better animator and there's really no use to go that way unless you need great volumes of different angles of the sprite.

Offline Dusty

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1107
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Using 3D models to trace pixels?

Reply #3 on: January 19, 2009, 08:25:34 pm
I've always wanted to render a very bare-bones, no-texture human and create animation frames in 3D so I could trace over them.

Offline ndchristie

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 2426
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Using 3D models to trace pixels?

Reply #4 on: January 19, 2009, 09:00:36 pm
the world ends with you is a terrible-looking game, which is a problem in itself regardless of methods.
A mistake is a mistake.
The same mistake twice is a bad habit.
The same mistake three or more times is a motif.

Offline Dusty

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1107
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Using 3D models to trace pixels?

Reply #5 on: January 19, 2009, 09:02:58 pm
Wow :o:(

Offline Jad

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 1048
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Using 3D models to trace pixels?

Reply #6 on: January 19, 2009, 09:15:23 pm
Those would've looked nice if im9today had made them  !yus!
' _ '

Offline ndchristie

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 2426
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Using 3D models to trace pixels?

Reply #7 on: January 20, 2009, 02:30:18 am
if all you need is a static base, there is one other major benefit that i forgot : your 3d model is allowed to SUCK.  for instance, this piece is made in about 20 minutes while watching Bones using only extrude and rotate :



now this is a building, not a tank, so it's not obvious what type of game might use this particular template (perhaps a god sim with city-building like black & white?), but it's more than enough information to a pixeller to use, in a fraction of the time it would have taken him to measure each segment.  it's just a means to an end, but it's a fine place to start if this kind of accuracy is required

You can also do humans though if you stick to a few simple ideas :



this guy is done with the same bad 3d techniques as the buildings, here using mostly separate primaries and a ridiculous polycount.  however, it will be easy to rig, because the joints will be, as you can see, round, segmented, or otherwise obscured - as in games like warcraft.  this significantly reduces the difficulty of a good rigging, and completely does away with good modelling, resulting in this bust taking a fraction of the time.

 you've gotten me curious now - i might just finish up this character to see if it's worth it.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2009, 04:38:12 am by ndchristie »
A mistake is a mistake.
The same mistake twice is a bad habit.
The same mistake three or more times is a motif.

Offline ptoing

  • 0101
  • ****
  • Posts: 3063
  • Karma: +0/-0
  • variegated quadrangle arranger
    • the_ptoing
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/2191.htm
    • View Profile
    • Perpetually inactive website

Re: Using 3D models to trace pixels?

Reply #8 on: January 20, 2009, 05:46:33 am
Like CnC Tiberian sun for example.

Most units in Tiberian Sun are in fact using voxel graphics. So they are not prerendered at all :) The stuff that is not voxels is tho, afaik.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline ndchristie

  • 0100
  • ***
  • Posts: 2426
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Using 3D models to trace pixels?

Reply #9 on: January 20, 2009, 05:54:44 am
i'd be terribly skeptical of the idea that voxels could be used effectively produce the walker units and many of the tanks - are you sure it's not the buildings that were voxel?  the infantry of course are pure sprite though so C&C isn't the *best* example.
A mistake is a mistake.
The same mistake twice is a bad habit.
The same mistake three or more times is a motif.