AuthorTopic: Day of the Tentacle art  (Read 16016 times)

Offline Arne

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Day of the Tentacle art

on: May 09, 2009, 04:32:42 pm
So, over at vgmaps they have the Day of the Tentacle screens / environments (warning, long page, I've used an anchor so it should scroll down). I think the stuff looks gorgeous. I had this game for Mac many years ago but lost it.

Judging by the slight hue shifts in the aliasing and gradients, it seems like they have indexed the images. I'm guessing they painted them then cleaned them up. There's a lot of very clean areas without any noise, and many edges are nice and crisp. I think this reduces the clash between the interactive characters/items and the background. In some other games the backgrounds have been kind of blurry.

I'd love to see the character / animation sheets, and 'the making of' material. Is there any?
« Last Edit: May 09, 2009, 04:34:22 pm by Arne »

Offline ptoing

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #1 on: May 09, 2009, 04:52:46 pm
Chances that this stuff has been done with Deluxe Paint are rather good. There seems to be autoaa and stuff like smudging going on in several places. I reckon the images have not been indexed but were painted indexed.

It's possible that they were done as pencil drawings and then scanned and coloured in/cleaned up, but I don't think that they were scanned from coloured sources and then cleaned.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Arne

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #2 on: May 09, 2009, 06:32:33 pm
I didn't mean paint traditionally and clean up, I meant, perhaps using a pencil sketch as base/ref, they painted it digitally in 24bit (possibly scaled), indexed. But I was stuck in a modern Photoshop mindset there. I don't know why, because I played the game back in the day.

I don't remember ever using the smudge/blur tool in DP, but now when you mention it, there might have been one. I'm not familiar with an 'auto antialiasing' tool though. I suppose these aa tools would throw hues into the gradients (closest match).

The game is older than I thought. In 1992-1993 when the game was probably produced, DP was still king (the 256 colors capable Amiga 4000 (aga) came in 1992). Yeah, I'm inclined to agree, these may have been made at 1:1 in index mode, although possibly based on a scanned sketch, because I suspect that game was at least storyboarded on paper.

I've seen some older games which have attempted a similar style, but it hasn't quite worked because of haphazard composition, low color count and excessive widepixel jaggies due to all the angles (making details hard to read).
http://www.abandonia.com/en/games/430/Black+Cauldron,+The.html

I tried turning the DotT stuff into 16 color widepixels and it's actually not that bad for the less detailed screens.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2009, 06:39:02 pm by Arne »

Offline crab2selout.png

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #3 on: May 10, 2009, 08:08:54 am
I like how even when they could've easily done some simple palette swaps to save  time, like with the roof screens for past and present, they still went ahead and made every screen unique for each time period. DOTT was a real notch up in quality from the artists for their adventure games. I'm pretty sure the first two monkey islands were also done in dpaint, but DOTT was when they first really captured the pixel asthetic. Full Throttle came out really nice, too, and I believe The Dig was  made in a 3d program, but in game the screens were actually snapshots like many of the early playstation games like the resident evils and final fantasy 7. Anywas, DOTT is one of those many examples of game art that can't possibly be done in 3d. The artists take many liberties, for example with the perspective, and while not necessarily "correct," it fits so perfectly with the game's atmosphere that you wouldn't want it any other way. Hoagie shimmying up the chimney to the roof makes sense in a world where everything looks like a funhouse mirror.

Yeah, so, DOTT is definitely my favourite adventure game. I'm not sure what could possibly top a game where you cryogenically freeze a hamster in a hotel ice machine, because flushing it down a time toilet would be too cruel :P


« Last Edit: May 10, 2009, 08:15:04 am by crab2selout.png »

Offline Scribblette

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #4 on: May 11, 2009, 02:23:07 am
Hrm, I seem to not be using the search function right... is there anywhere around here where I can learn all about indexing - what it is, what the advantages are, how to make the most of it and how it can save time, or some such?
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Offline Arne

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #5 on: May 11, 2009, 10:07:28 am
Well, they probably used it back then because 24bit stuff was difficult to do on the existing hardware.

However, as a painter, I've noticed that sometimes when you get a bit too playful with hue shifts and gradients, it can be a good idea to reduce the amount of colors (use a small indexed palette). This flattens and simplifies things.

I don't think I would like to paint in indexed mode though, at least not in Photoshop. I'd rather make a palette with certain key colors, but paint in 24 bit, then index when I'm done. This way I'd only lose fidelity in the minor gradients.

---

Background related: animationbackgrounds.blogspot.com/

It's interesting to see how they block off / frame the environment. In an adventure game, you probably want to block off the bottom and top so you don't have to distance scale your character. Black silhouettes are often used at the bottom, whilst portals to the next screen can be used at the top and sides.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2009, 10:14:32 am by Arne »

Offline ptoing

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #6 on: May 11, 2009, 10:21:22 am
There is no such thing as indexed painting in Photoshop. For indexed painting you need something like DPaint, Brilliance or more recently Promotion or Grafx2.

The thing is that with index painting you still have to set your whole palette yourself, but things like autoaa exist which then take some choices away from you by placing aa colours between jagged edges which the program think fits (within the palette you choose).

Depending what you do index painting can be quite fast and useful, for example if you work for a game with a set palette which does not have that much focus on pixelart (doom or quake for example).
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Arne

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #7 on: May 11, 2009, 04:34:57 pm
Well, that depends on how you define painting. There's just no tool (that I know of) for blending colors in Photoshop when in indexed mode. You can still do brush strokes, but you'll probably have to do the blending manually, and if you have a big palette that's not very practical.

For Doom, Quake and 256 color stuff I'd paint in 24 bit but color pick from the palette. Index down when ready, the clean up that if necessary.

Offline ptoing

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #8 on: May 11, 2009, 11:23:07 pm
Yup, you can do that of course, but it is not really optimal. Both quake and doom have pretty much very straight ramps of 16 colours and some shorter ones for special stuff (like the fullbrights in quake). In the programms I mentioned you can do smudging in indexed mode (since those programs were done with just 8 bit palettes in mind).

Here are a few examples of old quake textures I did in Promotion using paintmodes like brighten/darken, soften (blur pretty much), blend (smudge kinda) and also autoaa most of the time. Doing this kinda stuff in Promotion is quite a bit faster than in Photoshop I would say, tho sometimes it is easier to get a nice base texture done in PS and then index that, but from there I would use Promotion as well.






There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Scribblette

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #9 on: May 12, 2009, 12:27:29 am
Sorry to side-track at all, but I'm still puzzled about what indexing is. So one works with a limited palette, and in Graphics Gale or Promotion, one reduces the colors in the palette down to just the limited few. Then (a) there is the option to turn on anti-alias (in Promotion, anyway) and it picks the most appropriate colour to anti-alias with as you draw. Is this automatic anti-aliasing within the palette actually what 'indexing' is, or is there something else to it? Is indexing instead (b) having a flat colour ramp to aid in the automatic anti-aliasing process or some such instead?

I'm confused then when someone mentions 'then index down' or some such. Did that just mean reduce colours used, or some such? *confused*
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Offline ptoing

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #10 on: May 12, 2009, 12:56:14 am
"Index" is the technical name for the colourtable position of a colour. In highcolour images there is not set colourtable. In indexed images you can have up to 256 colour maximum (I don't think there are formats which go to 512 or more colours) on older systems you had less. So this means that you have a set palette where each colour can be placed on the index table as you want to. You can imagine index painting to be the digital painting of the olden days before 16 and 24 bit imaging. So when you index paint you do not index down anything. To index a picture in Photoshop of similar programs means to convert it to a lowcolour format which supports indexes such as png or gif.
Here the problem is that not always the ideal colours are chosen when you sample things down.

So in conclusion, index painting = lofi digital painting with paletted images.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Jad

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #11 on: May 12, 2009, 07:34:16 am
Scriblette: When 'indexing down' you just save your image as png or gif : D Both work with indexed pallettes, see!
' _ '

Offline Arne

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #12 on: May 12, 2009, 02:00:40 pm
ptoing> I used to mod Quake 1 and made some textures in the process... I can't find them now though. I remember the muddy color ramps in the palette.

It's probably a matter of technique / workflow. I prefer having a 24 bit source in case I change the palette later. When indexing to 256 colors you won't lose as much fidelity as you do going down to 16 colors. The quake textures are very gritty, muddy and noisy. If a pixel doesn't look the same as on the original it's not the end of the world.

I did this in Photoshop from scratch, the only tool used was a 1px brush set on opacity (and the color picker of course). While texture doesn't make sense (it's just a mix of different materials), it shows that not a whole lot is lost when indexing. You probably won't be able to tell which one is which.



(Normally I would paint big first and then scale down and clean up, I find it difficult to design at a pixel scale. Although, occasionally I pixel line art if I need exact circles or certain precision, then scale up and paint over that, then scale down again... it works kind of like 'hinting' on fonts)
« Last Edit: May 12, 2009, 02:10:58 pm by Arne »

Offline ptoing

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #13 on: May 12, 2009, 03:32:29 pm
For sure a matter of workflow. As far as doing texturework goes, I think textures are best made at target resolution, at least stuff 512x512 and below, since you can get way sharper detail like that instead of from scaled down bigger stuff. But also again, workflow.

P.S.: pretty sure the left one is the indexed version.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2009, 03:36:58 pm by ptoing »
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Arne

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #14 on: May 12, 2009, 06:26:25 pm
I think the textures can be made at any size, but if you have scaled down you most likely also need to clean up (unless you have excellent hinting). Like I said, it depends on at which scale you work best with sculpting. When doing larger sprites/textures, I'd rather work big at the design stage, experimenting with scales and proportions things, hue sliding, etc. Usually the cleanup stage is not that much work. It's almost meaningless to start big if you're doing NES style sprites though, or just something small or something with a very limited palette.

Yeah, it's the left one which is indexed, but it takes a while to spot the differences. The missing pixels and larger value jumps are the giveaway. When I saved it I almost thought that I had mis-pasted and I had to check that I indeed had 2 different versions! However, I'm sure a that a less noisy image with more smooth gradients will give worse results. the solution can be to dither a bit with a brush on opacity.

Anyways, I was thinking of trying my hand at some DotT styled Space Quest screens, but the composition aspect is by far the trickiest bit, not the palette stuff...

Offline junkboy

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #15 on: May 12, 2009, 08:10:53 pm
This is, to my knowledge, one of the very few pieces of concept art from DOTT that's been released.



My personal theory is that Lucasart had an army of droids who simply pixeled (or index-painted) over marker drawings like these for the backgrounds. Probably the same for the characters since they're very classically animated, as if some ex-Disney guy had been sitting there cranking out stuff frame by frame. No cut and paste animation as far as the eye can see.

Offline ptoing

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #16 on: May 12, 2009, 09:24:22 pm
Seems not to have been the case (the army of droids theory)

Credits from the game intro:

Lead Artist, Stylist, Background Artist
Peter Chan

Lead Animator, Character Designer
Larry Ahern

Animators
Larry Ahern
Lela Downling
Kyle Balda
Sean Turner
Jesse Clark

Art Technicians
Jesse Clark
Ron Lussier

That is 6 or 7 People doing actual art, with only one person doing all the background art, which seems fair enough.
The game does not have too many backgrounds and a proficient artist can surely make one or more a day in a normal working environment of 8 or more hours a day after initial sketches have been done.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Helm

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #17 on: May 12, 2009, 09:26:37 pm
Truly a lot of these elaborate ways to arrive at the end result art for DotC are superfluous. The most straightforward way sometimes is the actual one used.

Offline Arne

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #18 on: May 12, 2009, 09:38:24 pm
Wow, I had been looking for art like that. I had to screencap a Youtube video, so the quality is crappy. The scaling and rotation is different, but after compensating I got a very close match.



Note the door post behind the sofa becoming straight. They probably did a lot of horizontal/vertical cleanups/changes like that to avoid too much aa.

Edit: If someone have a clean pixel image it would perhaps be informative to see the marker(?) sketch placed over the undisturbed pixel image.

If they scanned in color... I wonder how the scanner built a color table without knowing the full image. Perhaps it did an initial color counting pass. I noticed that most of the DotT screens have some 160-175'ish colors (the rest may be for sprites?). I haven't checked if they've made ramps or if it's just jumbled colors.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2009, 10:03:39 pm by Arne »

Offline ptoing

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #19 on: May 13, 2009, 01:17:44 am
screenshot from intro


and comparison with transformed markerpainting (I took the carpet as a guide mostly)


Judging by some things like the colours of the carpet and such I would indeed say it is colour scans which have been cleaned up and edited quite a bit.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Scribblette

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #20 on: May 13, 2009, 04:35:54 am
Ptoing & Jad, thanks for explaining! Leaves me a little emotionally confused, the thought that some great looking pixel art boils down to a Photoshop-clone with a limited palette. I really have to learn PS and all the tricks to getting work done quicker. :|
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Offline crab2selout.png

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #21 on: May 13, 2009, 05:53:01 pm
Nice, so that's how they did it. Anyone know how much cleanup these scans would have had to go through?

Offline junkboy

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #22 on: May 13, 2009, 08:12:09 pm
Quite a bit, I'd wager. Which is why I thought it'd be faster to just draw on top of the scan. That .gif is pretty telling though.

Offline Ben2theEdge

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #23 on: May 14, 2009, 01:46:38 pm
Ptoing & Jad, thanks for explaining! Leaves me a little emotionally confused, the thought that some great looking pixel art boils down to a Photoshop-clone with a limited palette. I really have to learn PS and all the tricks to getting work done quicker. :|

This is why pixel art purism baffles me. The fact that scans and photoshop tools were used has absolutely zero indication of the talent involved in creating the image. Compare these to the backgrounds from ANY Sierra adventure and you'll see what I mean. There were no rules about what consitutes "proper" pixel art when these games were made. They were given restrictions by the programmers or by their software and they had to do the best they could to make appealing art within those restrictions.

Modern pixel artists tend to be super-conservative (not politically, but philosophically), clinging to a set of rules and afraid to deviate from it much, whereas the artists who made these original works were very liberal (philosophically), daring to try new techniques, break rules and invent things as they went in order to create their art.
I mild from suffer dislexia.

Offline ptoing

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #24 on: May 14, 2009, 02:49:06 pm
It depends to what ends you work. If I do stuff for pay, I use all kinds of indexing and other things, to get the job done and to make it look nicer.
Tho when I pixel purely for fun I enjoy going purist to a certain degree.

I got no clue why many other people are super purist, I just do it because I enjoy it.

Also you have to look at what these screens are made for and that they are made under a strict timeschedule.
They are good art with good direction, but they are technically not pixelart (as I and other see it) as there is no attention to pixel level detail in most places. Same goes for the sprites. They are just nicely animated filled coloured outlines. They are done to be produced efficiently and quick while maintaining a fun and easy to read style, not more, not less.
« Last Edit: May 14, 2009, 04:17:54 pm by ptoing »
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Offline Scribblette

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #25 on: May 15, 2009, 01:06:02 am
@Ben2theEdge -

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that the folk who use indexing etc don't have as much talent as someone who doesn't - I messed up that sentence, I can see. I meant the SPEED at which such talent is accomplished. That's what I want. If I have the speed, I can churn out more art quicker. The quicker I can churn stuff out, the more I can practice actually 'finishing' different things. The more I finish things, the better I'll be, and thus hopefully some talent will grow.

I guess folk must spend a lot more time anti-aliasing pixel art in PS than if they were indexing in Promotion.

Edit: Not to say it's a complete substitute either - but it'd seem there are areas where it could save time, that's all.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2009, 01:38:00 am by Scribblette »
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Offline ptoing

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Re: Day of the Tentacle art

Reply #26 on: May 15, 2009, 01:08:08 am
The automated aa is not a substitute for manual aa.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.