AuthorTopic: Ship Sprites  (Read 13274 times)

Offline figurestone

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Re: Ship Sprites

Reply #20 on: October 22, 2009, 01:08:50 pm
And another ship I'm trying to make sexy!

Nick's mock up to show relief etc.


My full scale version and mini


And the sprite with a little pixel work.

Offline rikfuzz

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Re: Ship Sprites

Reply #21 on: October 22, 2009, 01:38:56 pm
Interesting process. I think the main problem is the vectoring step (4).  

The outer shape's nice (though I find it a little bit odd you chose the shape with very small 'holes' in, as these completely disapear when shrunk down to size, tho could be fixed after) but the shading, is really very bland and predictable and there's only one accent colour. If there were thrusters or something you could use it as secondary lightsource for some nice edge lighting etc. Also it's quite dark, without edge lighting, the outer edge is quite hard to discern on a black background.  

Another problem I have, is I don't really understand if the yellow parts are lights, windows, or markings.  Lights should glow, windows could have detail and/or glow a little and markings should share the shade (dark/lightness) with whatever it's marking.

Hope this helps!
Many thanks
Rik

Offline NickZA

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Re: Ship Sprites

Reply #22 on: October 22, 2009, 02:09:15 pm
If I may expound on your advice Rik, the one thing that grabs me is your mention of the yellow parts. What say we have them shed some light on the adjacent hull? A good example is here: http://www.strekschematics.utvinternet.com/shipgallery/shipgallery1/akira.jpg

...Because we can't have the glow going off into space; not only would that not happen in open space (as there is little or no gas to refract light) but for speed reasons we want to avoid non-opaque pixels for faster blitting, and a glow that goes off into space would have to be alpha pixels.

I asked Will (figurestone) to tone down the tips of the nacelles, because they were pulling focus away from the  main hull and I wanted them to look as though they are lower than the main body of the ship. Unfrotunately it didn't quite work, because now they look like yellow hull paint rather than glowing energy ports. So this is kind of my fault in a way. Can anyone suggest how to tackle this effectively?  ???

I also very much agree on the predictability of the hull shape,  hoping we can address this but it is more a matter of underlying design / surface relief than pixel work, even.

EDIT: I also want to point out that I see that rear opening in the hull as being a very nice opportunity for all kinds of deep, dark exposed machinery (perhaps a shield generator or the like?) in the rear of the hull. Shadowy, chunky components deep beneath the outer shell. I hope this didn't come across sounding too weird.  :blind:
« Last Edit: October 22, 2009, 02:17:04 pm by NickZA »

Offline Gil

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Re: Ship Sprites

Reply #23 on: October 22, 2009, 02:45:05 pm
A nice quoted post from Helm on highlights in pixel art. It's these specular highlights that you need to focus on in the last detailing step. I hope that makes sense. I might post more later, this just occurred to me.

Excellent points, supergoat.

Another useful point to be made about bitmap INGAME graphics is that they hardly ever miss an apportunity to pronounce dents and general volumetric shifts on objects, with contrasting highlights. For the longest time when I was starting out with pixel art, since I came from a comic art background where we usually shade from pure white light ( white paper ) to pure dark ( full ink ) I was having trouble convincingly suggesting volumes in pixel art. I did everything right, in theory. The stuff I drew were lightsourced, the colours were ok, the shapes registered well in general. After going back to studying Speedball II and Cadaver and the like, I realized what I was doing wrong, or rather, not doing much of: I was working from a middle shade, towards darkness, and that was it. If there were brighter spots, they were on large areas, where a lot of direct light would hit. I practically had no idea of the power of highlight, especially of the sharp type. A sharp highlight is that which might go two or even more steps up from the body of colour it's highlighting, on colour ramp, and which usually is extra accented by darker pixels than the body of colour around it too.

Let's say I was trying to draw some cracks on a dented metal wall, right? (zoom in on these)



This would be the old helm. Technically, this is not wrong. There's variations of lightness, there's the information that cracks are there, but it looks dull and lifeless. Studying bitmap brothers I understood that anywhere where's an edge, there's highlight! Obivously this has a lot to do with what type of material you're trying to shade, but in pixel art, especially game art, clarity is important, so this effect should be overstressed a bit.




Likeso. For every contour, an edge highlight. But this isn't all I learnt by the bitmap brothers. I also learnt the importance of pushing the contrast far more than you would in other media, to travel the complete range from pure black to pure white. Now, they don't do this as much as I do (my usage has evolved for other reasons to be even more harsh) but the theory's there, and it's more to do with the needs of game art than it's to do with realistic representation of reality. Again, this is about clarity and how fast the eye can proccess information and detail. Where there's EDGE, which in gameplay can possibly mean unreachable area and the like, you need to give the brain the tools to work out what it's looking at fast. So more sharpening and contrast is good.

Another thing that the brothers taught me was the importance of the traditional 75%, 50% and 25% ordered dithers as means to suggest texture and inter-shade buffering. Now my examples use 16 shades of gray which is insanely rich for this sort of stuff, but if I were to use say, 5 shades between black and white, by doing bodies of ordered dither, I would be able to fake and convey both rougher terrain, and more importantly, an extra 5 lightness levels between my original 6, and if I used 25% and 75% patterns, 24 different lightness levels between pure black and pure white, using only 5 colour slots. This is a great strength to have, and the brothers put it to use constantly.


Offline rikfuzz

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Re: Ship Sprites

Reply #24 on: October 22, 2009, 02:48:46 pm
If I may expound on your advice Rik, the one thing that grabs me is your mention of the yellow parts. What say we have them shed some light on the adjacent hull? A good example is here: http://www.strekschematics.utvinternet.com/shipgallery/shipgallery1/akira.jpg

...Because we can't have the glow going off into space; not only would that not happen in open space (as there is little or no gas to refract light) but for speed reasons we want to avoid non-opaque pixels for faster blitting, and a glow that goes off into space would have to be alpha pixels.

Sorry, yes that's exactly what I meant.  It'd look terrible to have the glow go over the background.  Although you might consider using alpha edges to avoid that 90s pre-rendered look since you're using Flash (IIRC).

Offline NickZA

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Re: Ship Sprites

Reply #25 on: October 22, 2009, 03:14:27 pm
@Rik

Do you mean like this ship in http://www.candystand.com/play/cronusx? It happens when they do bitmap rotation without applying bitmap smoothing. If they were smart and pre-cached all the directional frames on start up, this ship would not only look smooth but the game would run marginally faster. Let me know if I'm rambling on about something totally different to what you meant, though.

You'll be pleased to know I've already done the necessary code prototyping to ensure the above won't happen to our sprites.

@Gil ... Thank you for bringing the Bitmap Brothers into the topic... I hate to sound like I am the only person who still raves about those guys. They remain my ultimate visual heroes. Regardless of the fact that times have changed, they consistently produced mind-blowing graphics. And I know Helm's work from long browsing, so that puts it in an even better context. Also this effect was exactly what I saw last night on your changes to to ship 1+12 (the first one).
« Last Edit: October 22, 2009, 03:21:41 pm by NickZA »

Offline rikfuzz

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Re: Ship Sprites

Reply #26 on: October 22, 2009, 03:31:53 pm
@Rik
Do you mean like this ship in http://www.candystand.com/play/cronusx? It happens when they do bitmap rotation without applying bitmap smoothing. If they were smart and pre-cached all the directional frames on start up, this ship would not only look smooth but the game would run marginally faster. Let me know if I'm rambling on about something totally different to what you meant, though.

No, that's not what I meant. I meant where you have pixels blending into black, on top of a red planet you'd get a thick dark pixely outline, unless you're careful or have the edge blending into alpha, but if your ship is going to rotate, there's more important things to worry about... Rotation will bring about horrible (blurring) artifacts if you're rotating AFTER scaling down, so in that case I'd advise to doing ALL your detail in 2x before making your rotations, rather than doing the final touching up at 1x.

Offline figurestone

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Re: Ship Sprites

Reply #27 on: October 22, 2009, 03:42:40 pm
Great stuff Rik. It never crossed my mind to incorporate any reflected glow from the thrusters.

Excellent quote from Helm.  :y:

Offline NickZA

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Re: Ship Sprites

Reply #28 on: October 22, 2009, 03:58:23 pm
Rik... thanks for that tip. You might have just saved us a lot of time there!

Once I can start prototyping stuff in game it will be easier to see just what will and will not become an issue.