Tuesday, July 31, 2012


With a couple days to reflect on my background asset creation, I've come to the conclusion that I may have been putting the cart before the horse.  I was so excited to get started that the proper amount of thought wasn't given to how I wanted it to look.  The sidewalk sprites were far too "pillowy" and I'm looking for something a little flatter/squared off.  I've also decided to work on the perspective a bit with all tall buildings (2 stories tall and up) being drawn level with the horizon line.  Meanwhile, smaller buildings will show a slight depth with the sidewalk and ground showing the most perspective.  

Also, I've noticed that my need to "desaturate" my work to avoid being to bright and cartoony is exactly the opposite of what I want to do.  Ultimately, I'd like the work to be bright and colorful.  Tonight will probably include some perusing of my favorite artists work to get a better handle on the palette.  I'll hopefully have some samples soon.

Monday, July 30, 2012

First Screenshot and Sidewalk Tiles

I thought I would dive in with some background assets and decided to rework my sidewalk tiles.  To be honest, the original sidewalk art wasn't "tiles" at all.  At least they weren't in the power of 2 (32 x 32, 64 x 64, etc).  So in order to avoid any nasty seams popping up on various graphic cards, I went ahead and remade them.  This time around, I went more towards a normal grey instead of the orange tinge I had before.  I also changed the perspective a bit and made the sidewalks less deep.  A little bit of sky haze in the background and I think it looks alright.  I'm hoping to have some more assets up this week and maybe add in the run animation from before.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Volgarr The Viking

I don't fund a lot of things on Kickstarter, but I'm taking a serious look at Volgarr the Viking.  Looking like a loving homage to Rastan the Barbarian, Volgarr is a side scrolling beat-em-up bathed in 16-bit glory.  The character animates beautifully and the team has been able to attach gear and other items that get removed when hit.  As someone that is trying to limit the amount of animation they have to do, I admire their willingness to go that extra mile.  Also, it's really nice to see a working prototype in a Kickstarter video.  It really helps to build your confidence in a team and gauge their ability to accomplish their goals.

Originally seen on Giantbomb: Worth Reading 7/27/12

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Superhero Villain Concept: The Line

Just some random sketching and thoughts on bulky football athletes that culminated in the above sketch.  While I don't think that's the final design, I'm happy with the direction that I'm headed.  There's just too many details in there to animate easily.  I'll probably streamline him a bit and push the whole "bionics" angle.

Also, this morning I started the second beginner's tutorial (8-Way Movement) over at Scirra.com and its going really well.  Everything is really easy to understand.  I'm sure I'll run into problems eventually, but as of now its been great.  I'm hoping to get started on the prototype soon.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I Can't Draw Punches?

Sometimes you get so full of yourself that you forget that you haven't drawn everything.  Today I realized that, even with all of the superhero pictures I've drawn, I've never really drawn anyone throwing a punch.  I gave it a couple of tries today and failed pretty miserably.  Part of the problem is that I'm too used to trying to find a dynamic angle for the drawing and am not terribly used to drawing in complete profile.  I'm getting better, but its definitely been a work in progress.

While scouring the internet for punching reference, I stumbled upon a cool little resource for animators.  Above is just one of the playlists from "Endless Reference" on Youtube.  They have quite a few clips that I'm sure I'll be refering to once I begin the heavy lifting with animation.  My next step is to get ahold of some "teach yourself martial arts" type books to practice my combat drawing.  I might even look at some fighting game sprite sheets.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Starting This One Over

Sometimes you have to have the outside perspective to say, "this drawing sucks.  I should start again."  So that's what I did.  After a second look, the bottom picture isn't as bad as I thought.  I think with a nice rendering and neighborhood for the background, it could be nice.  The top picture is me restarting the RBMC theme of "Aliens as House Pets".  I'm much happier with this take on it.  It seems like I'm getting better results with a ball point pen on a piece of copy paper than I am during my regular drawing sessions.  Hopefully, I can incorporate the original sketch into the finished piece.  Might have this one finished tonight.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Demon Sketch

Just a quick sketch today.  Its nice to start scratching away and eventually fall into something you like.  Not totally sure how it would fit into the game, but I'd like to include him.  I spent a little time working on a magician character.  I think I have some fun ideas for henchman, but I haven't landed on a "look" for him yet.  I'll probably take another shot at him tomorrow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

New Base Superhero Sprite

I'm having one of those weird nights where I was dead tired, hopped in bed, and then got this surge of energy.  Amazing how frustrating that could be.  All complaining aside, I got out of bed, screwed around on the internet, and then decided to be productive.  So I thought I should tweak the main player sprite.  For one, the pose I had before (the muscle flex) was a little weird to use as your base.  Second, I needed something to compare scale with.  It took a little tooling with the colors because I couldn't remember my exact settings in Photoshop's "save for web" feature.  Think I got it where I wanted it.  I might try and create some assets this week. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Injustice and Superhero Sketches

Its been a couple days of crazy inspiration as ideas have started pouring out of my again.  First off, I saw the Dark Knight Rises last night and while is wasn't better than The Dark Knight, it was a great movie and satisfying conclusion to the trilogy.

Second, attached is a 15 minute demo of the new DC Superhero fighting game, Injustice: Gods Among Us, by NetherRealm Studios.  The level of creativity and understanding of the characters is really inspiring.  Every use of super powers, gadgets, and the environment holds an amazing level of creativity.  If you have some time, I highly recommend watching the video.  The game just looks like a lot of fun.

And what is the result of all this inspiration?  Well, I've been sketching like a fool.  While not all of the attached sketches are good, they are each the germ of an idea.  Drawing daily has really helped to eliminate the need for "warming up" and I can get to my ideas far more quickly.  The bad news is that I had to wipe my computer a couple months ago and lost a lot of the work I already did.  The only real pain is redoing the run cycle, but I still have all of the original art on paper.  I really need to make a model sheet for the character so I can get more consistent with drawing him.  It would also help in figuring out the scale of everything.  I can't even make a simple parking meter without knowing how tall it should be in relation to the character.

One final thing.  I've recently taken the plunge and bought the Constuct 2 class on Udemy.  Its normally over $350, but I used a coupon code (1333) and it dropped to $150.  I'm hoping it helps me get a firm handle on the software.  I'll update with my thoughts on it.  Construct 2 Course

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flying Up

I think I finally found a good starting point for the "flying up" animation.  I've started to think about the posing for each angle of his flying and maybe switching between one and two arms out.  It would be a little extra work (probably 4 more frames of animation), but I feel like it would add a lot.  Especially to an animation cycle that you'll be seeing a lot.

Also, I've been researching the switching of controls for player states and think I may have found a good way of doing it in Construct 2.  According to the forums, it looks like containing all of the parameters of each player state within its own group works best for turning them on and off.  I need to finish a couple more tutorials and get some rough, placeholder art ready to test some of this out.

Construct 2 Forum Post: Issues With Switching States

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Carrying Criminals

I did a little doodling yesterday and came up with a pose I liked for the player carrying criminals.  The current plan is to have a static body and arms for the player (cape animated of course) and then just swap out the criminal and player hands depending on who he's lifting.  I need to learn more about image points in Construct 2, but I think the "8 way movement" tutorial will answer a lot of those problems.

I also saw that you can use the 8 way movement but switch the animation based on which way you are going on a radius.  This will definitely be more in keeping with the look I want versus a normal rotation of the image.  The tutorial is here: How to setup a simple animation system for 8Directions behaviour

Monday, July 16, 2012

Superhero and Turtle Sketches

Boy, I am really struggling with drawing him flying straight up.  I think the part of my brain that is constantly telling me to draw at a more interesting angle is upset with how uninteresting the pose is.  It can definitely use another pass. Maybe focusing on breaking up the symmetric nature of the pose will help.  Who knows.

I also got some inking done on the Ninja Turtle picture I was doing for the RBMC, but had to walk away from it because my "lets get it done" attitude was taking me in a sloppy direction.  I'm going to try and knock out a marker sketch for last weeks theme and continue with the Turtle one.  Its also my week on the Rust Belt site.  Oh how time is slipping away.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

First Construct 2 Tutorial Done

This week, I ran through my first Construct 2 tutorial: How To Make A Platformer.  I have to say, it was extremely easy and refreshing to do a game tutorial that lets me produce something on the screen.  I remember being frustrated with learning programming because I never felt like I got any closer to creating something that I would play.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm not saying that there is not benefit to doing those tutorials, and would even consider it "paying your dues", but programming isn't my passion and I was looking forward to getting to the good stuff.  Perhaps I was being selfish.  Maybe I just don't have the amount of free time that I'd like.  Who knows.

But back to the reason for the post.  Construct 2 is easy.  You should try it.  If you like it, buy it soon.  They are raising the price here in a bit.  Its not like it will be at an unattainable price, but you want to save some money, right?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Kickin' Cancer Cookout Shirt

Created this shirt for a friend who is throwing the event to benefit a cancer foundation.  The shirt's going to be given out to supporters of the charity as a "thank you" for their efforts.  We specifically wanted a very "cook out" kind of shirt, and keep it fun and cartoony.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Superhero Game Art

So it looks like I'm jumping back into the game project.  Perhaps it's constant gnawing at the back of my mind was enough to garner another try.  In an effort to better solidify my efforts towards the game, I've announced my efforts over at Scirra's forums.  The results seemed pretty positive, but I know that the real work starts now.  

I started thinking of a few things in the game's design and came to the conclusion that I might be thinking about them way too hard.  I think that as an artist, I have trouble wrapping my head around things that normal gamers don't really care about.  Perhaps its not that they don't care, but I think a game player will offer certain "conceits" to videogames that they wouldn't allow in movies.  In particular, mirroring the sprite.  I've been a little tortured over the fact that if the player is carrying a civilian, and they go from right to left, that the image is just mirroring and continuity is broken.  Right now, I'm trying to get past it, because it essentially would double all of the asset creation.  Lord knows I don't need that.  

Above is a quick sketch of the player flying.  It turned out way better than I thought it would for being a quicky.  I guess it just goes to show that consistent drawing pays off.

Also, I can't help but think that the transition animations wouldn't be as bad if having a cape wasn't so important to me.  Ugh.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Someone Actually Interviewed Me

The fine folks over at Cellar Door Cleveland interviewed myself and the rest of the Rust Belt Monster Collective to coincide with the second Drink and Draw Social Club Cleveland event.  While its pretty weird to see yourself quoted, it was hugely flattering to get to tell people what we are all about.  Click the link below to read.

Meet Your Monster: The Rust Belt Monster Collective Wants to Drink and Draw with You

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

TMNT Sketches

Last week's theme over at the RBMC was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and I couldn't be more excited.  So excited, in fact, that I'm surprised it wasn't my idea (a few of the members assumed it was too).  TMNT was my first introduction to comics and still hold a huge place in my heart.  I'll even go as far as to defend the first movie.  I mean, it was legitimately awesome.  Right?  Either way, I slid behind on my projects, but am determined to make this a portfolio piece if it kills me.  So I've started really thinking about how I would design them: Giving each of them they're own silouettes and personalities.  Basically, treating it as if someone said, "Ben, go design the Ninja Turtles."  Its really an attitude that I should be applying to all of the projects.  Guess I'm getting lazy.  That's going to change.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Wonder Woman at Dr. Sketchy Cleveland

I had a delightful time at Dr. Sketchy Cleveland last night.  Not only was the model amazing, but my art didn't particularly suck.  It was pretty much victories all around.  If you are an artist looking to meet other artists, I really recommend finding a local "Drink and Draw" or "Dr. Sketchy" to attend.  Its really done wonders for my art skills.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Sketchy Cleveland and the model is Freddie Nova.

Friday, July 6, 2012

What is a Sprite Sheet by Code'n'Web

Happened across this cool video explaining what sprite sheets are and how to get your file sizes down.  Its a nice overall view of the subject matter and I'm looking forward to future videos from Code'n'web.  Check it out.

Originally saw the video posted at:  Cartoon Smart

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Superhero Game Returns?

Yes.  I know that I kind of pushed all of that aside, but there is something about the accessibility of Construct 2 that makes me think that I could actually create my dream project.  Previously, my biggest hurdle was the time I was spending trying to learn coding in C#.  I'm comfortable admitting that my brain can not handle the deep complexities entailed in programming and I bow to anyone that can achieve it.  Bravo to you.  

So I think I'm going to start going through some Construct 2 tutorials and see if I can get a handle on this program.  The only weakness that I see is that there doesn't seem to be an easy way to switch between player states.  This is pretty integral because I need to be able to switch between "platforming" and "flying" with the press of a button.  We'll have to see how that works.

And now onto the first tutorial: How To Make a Platform Game

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Construct 2: Layers

Scirra is running a fun competition for users to upload the best video showing off Construct 2's features.  While I'm sure the contest was designed to get more people to come across the program, its become a great way for people to learn how to use the program.  I saw this video on Youtube that shows the power of Construct 2's layers and parallax scrolling.  The real strength of it is how easy it is to set up.  See for yourself.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Grab Your 3D Glasses!

Last February I flipped for Robb Pratt's first Superman Fan Film, Superman Classic.  Today, Robb released his follow-up Bizarro Classic in 3D.  I'm happy to say that its just as wonderful as the first short and with any luck, he'll make more.