Tuesday, December 17, 2013

First Ludum Dare 28: Unfinished

Watched the Incredibles this weekend and may have been too inspired by Bomb Voyage.  Villain design likely to change.
I had a little bit of spare time this weekend and thought I would try my hand at Ludum Dare.  I'd never participated in one before and even though I didn't finish, I greatly enjoyed the experience and plan to explore my prototype further.

If I can take you a little bit through my process, I was eyeing the voting results through the week and had a couple of ideas forming for a few of the finalists.  When the voting ended and it was determined that the theme was "You Only Get One", I was pretty excited.  My idea was to do a spoof on 80's action movies and have the player throw his trusty knife at an escaping villain.  You would then guide the knife around a ridiculous number of obstacles, all the while ignoring the basic laws of physics.  The obstacles would get more obscure as the knife traveled.

While I could only work on it sporadically through the weekend, I really enjoyed my time with it and spending and extended amount of time in Construct 2.  I also figured out a more efficient way of doing a few things.  I hope to finish it soon.  You can check out the prototype Here: Ludum Dare 28 Prototype (Press Space Bar to start, Left and Right Arrow keys to steer.)

Saturday, December 14, 2013

New Sprite Test

Definitely not the final colors.  I repeat: Not the final colors.  But I think we are looking at the final proportions.  I've got the whole thing inked and painted in Toonboom Studio, so it should be easy to quickly swap colors and see what I like.  I'll be sure to post the variations up on the blog when I have them.  Probably going to sit on them for a bit though as I don't want to make any brash moves.  

Also, I might have some free time this weekend so I'm going to try and participate in my first Ludum Dare.  Pretty exciting stuff.  Hopefully the weekend doesn't get away from me.

Ink and Paint in Toon Boom

Friday, December 13, 2013

Closing In On Final Design and Spider-Man Similarities

Did some more sketching today and I think I've got the new design and proportions pretty much locked.  I know I've said that a few times before, but I really mean it this time.  At least I really hope its the last time.  Next move will be to work on the colors and to create a style guide to keep my art consistent.

Speaking of superhero games, I was researching some games to give out for Christmas when I came across Ultimate Spider-Man on the DS.  I was surprised to see that a few of the concepts I've been wanting to incorporate in my own game were already in this.  Mainly the civilian rescues.  I'm probably going to try and pick this one up "used" to better examine there system.   Hopefully I can learn some dos and don'ts on the implementation.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Broken Age and Character Animation

Broken Age was the first project I had ever backed on Kickstarter.  Tim Schaffer's track record left me with a swell of confidence that left no hesitation for handing him my money.  I'm sure the game will be fun.  I'm sure it will have the character and charm that Double Fine is used to.

What I wasn't prepared for was how much my focus and sense of value would come from the documentary series they provided their backers.  I only payed $15 to back them and feel like they've far exceeded that with the hours of documentary footage showing Broken Age's creation.  Not to mention their Amnesia Fortnight documentary that came with their humble bundle.  They've opened this window to development that makes me extremely jealous that I'm not right in the middle of it.

But getting back to the game, I assumed I had a good handle on what Broken Age was.  I saw the test footage and the dialogue recordings.  I watched as their animators tweaked their poses and artists refined the game's assets.  And I was just sitting at room temperature for the actual game.

That was until I saw the recently released trailer.  Its simply beautiful.  So full of character and wonder.  I'm even finding myself compelled by the story, which doesn't happen too often when I'm playing games anymore.  For the first time I'm really itching to get my hands on the game.  Also, their character animation and work really makes me want to break down what they are doing and start to learn.  Hopefully it doesn't make me pull out my wallet for Toon Boom Animate.  The wallet is sore.  It needs some rest.

Anyways, if you read all of this, maybe you relate.  We will all sit patiently and wait for its delivery.  I'm sure we won't be dissappointed.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Painting in the Baby's Room

Originally posted in the Rust Belt Monster Blog:

The times are changing, and the monsters are multiplying.  And with new monsters comes new opportunities.  Its with that in mind that I decided to create a painting for my daughter's bedroom.  With the help of fellow monster, Craig Worrell, we set out to create something special for my unborn child.  Follow along as you see a day worth of painting compressed into less than a minute.  Enjoy.

The Finished Product and my Happy Wife, Courtney.

The Original Sketch

Color Treatment

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Body Language and Stronger Poses

Riding the way of redesign, I've started thinking about how I can push my poses farther.  Everything in the previous build was way too stiff for my liking and I need to fix that up.  So while I'm still nailing down the final look of the character, I'm looking for more interesting poses to put the character in.  

Also, I've been thinking about idle animations as I feel like that could be a good "first thing" to animate.  I was going back and forth between a fighting pose and a stronger, stoic pose when I decided to do both.  I need to do some research, but I'm thinking of having the player's posture change based on his distance from an enemy.  Its probably been done before, but I think it could be cool.  

Ric Flair sketch during lunch.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

New Tile Set and Tile Work Flow

While I'm still working on the player's alterations, I thought I would jump back into the environments.  Construct 2 added a new tile object that should make constructing levels much easier.  Not loving my old building tiles, I thought I would go and alter them up.  I'm pretty happy with the results.  Using the original tiles as a base, I painted some new blocks/bricks, masked off areas to adjust color, and added a variety of window tiles for repeat.  I also went in and randomly flipped some tiles to further break up the patterns.  I need to do a lot more of these, but I think using this system for creating buildings will work the best.

Now to figure out the bottom floor store fronts.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Reposted from RBMC Blog:

I couldn't let Craig have all of the fun.  Happy Birthday to our own Jim Giar.  Your work constantly fascinates me.  You have a way of translating your style and technique to a large scale that I never quite figured out.  There are no tricks, no compromises, just a steady hand and confidence that I one day hope to have.  I'm honored to call you my friend, monster, and a few other things behind your back.  Have a great birthday!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Journey For A New Design Continues

Here's is the direction I'm going with now.  I've up changed up the body proportions and added the gauntlets and boot rims.  I'm going to be changing the color scheme in the coming days and testing a sprited version.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Normal Maps and Dynamic Lighting in Construct 2

Normal Maps applied to sprite are in Construct 2. Light on the Left, Light on the Right respectably.
Oh what have I gotten myself into.  While I was thinking about the redesign of my character, I started mulling over some old ideas that I had for rendering.  When I was first thinking about the game, I played with the idea of using normal maps to simulate a light source on my character.  I think I have it figured out and am about to start making it a part of my regular work flow.

Go here to download the plugin for Construct 2: 2D Dynamic Lighting by Pode

If you don't know what "normal maps" are, its basically an image with color information that can help the computer render the shape based on the colors.  So you can take what was a high polygon model, drop the number of polygons, lay a normal map on it, and the computer can render fine detail and simulate the shape based on the color information.  You can find more information HERE

My idea was to simulate that with very flat coloring.  I know that blue is the left side of a model and magenta is the right side of a model, so why can't I just use that for the coloring.  I'll have my normal drawing without shading and then a separate drawing that will just have the shape information (the normal map).  The light areas will be magenta and the shadow area will be blue.  That alone will let the shadow flip when the character turns.

The best part is Toon Boom (and Flash) have pallet swapping features.  So I can paint my character normally, render the animation, then go in and change all of the shadows to blue and other areas to magenta with relative ease.

I'm pretty excited about the implementation with only a few questions.  1) I know how to adjust the light, but I'm not totally sure what the parameters mean by themselves.  I think the positions are based on the layout, but I'm not sure.  2) I'd love to be able to give the shadow a little color instead of just darkening the area.  I've been using a cool blue shadow in the backgrounds and would love to carry that over.
3) Last, I'd like to use this for enemies and civilians.  Can I spawn an enemy with its corresponding normal map and have it line up and animate correctly?  There are containers in Construct 2 now so that might be the best way to go.

I'll will post any further developments on the blog.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Some Variation

I've gone into one of the pre-existing frames of animation and added gauntlets to the character.  My original thought was to just play into an original motif I had for the game.  Now, I'm seeing potential gameplay reasons for it.  While I originally thought to have the player shoot energy from his fists would be cool, I quickly did away with that idea.  I've had a slight change of heart in that I'm beginning to think that being able to deflect energy would be a neat twist.  Its something I'll have to explore further at a later date.

The above are some variations on the gauntlets and below are those same variations on the level.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Slight Redesign

New redesign sketch.

So I think I've finally decided to bite the bullet and slightly redesign my character.  Its something I've been fighting for a long time, but I've never been able to escape the Superman comments and I need it to not be the first thing that pops in people's heads.  Not wanting to completely redraw all of my art work, I'm probably going to add a few elements and change the hair color.  The only animation that I don't still have the original files for is the run animation.  And that's probably going to have to be redone anyways.  If not, I can just do a paint over on that one and call it a day. I've been mulling it over for a while and am reaching a point where if I'm going to do it, I need to do it now.  I've been creating new player sprites the last few nights.  I was "de-rezing" them and thinking about some ways to speed up asset production.  At this point, I can just draw over some of the elements and it will work fine.  Ultimately its just a hair color change and adding some gauntlets, rims to the top of the boots, and possibly a bit of trim to the cape.  I'm not totally sold on the trim yet.  I'll need to see how it looks when its shrunk down.

Design for the new gauntlets

Monday, November 18, 2013

Flying Up and Finally Upgrading Toon Boom

Flying Up!
Some big changes over here (not including the BIG change coming in 6 weeks). First up, I've finally started animating the new flying animations for the main character.  Its been a long time coming, but I parked myself in a chair and got down most of the positions.  I'm currently animating the cape for each pose.  I thing I can do a base cape/flutter/section and just warp that and draw new curved edges.  Could be a way of knocking out the animations much more quickly than before.

Speaking of time saving measures, I've finally broken down and upgraded to the current version of Toon Boom (version 8).  I've been using version 4.5 for years now without ever seeing a reason to update.  I already owned Flash, so that took the bone tools off of the list of must have features, right?  Well, no.  While flash did the walking animations for my civilian character just fine, it wasn't the most intuitive thing I've ever worked with.  Toon Boom is designed specifically for animation, and you can tell with the tools.  

I'm just now starting to experiment further with the software's more advanced tools.  I think I can add in the occasional in-between drawing without have to rough, ink, and paint an entire new drawing.  Also, if you've been drawing with Toon Boom and are unhappy with your line quality, please adjust the smoothing on your pen tool.  Holy crap!  I have never touched that and always hated the jagged and grotesque nature of my line work.  Not anymore.  This thing pretties it up nice.  I have to remember that if I want a straight line by itself that I have to draw it first before going into a connected curve.  If not, it will smooth out the straight line too.  

Well, that's enough rambling, I'm hoping to have the rest of the angles done by the end of the week.  With any luck, I'll be revamping the controls next week.  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Randy Crider Birthday

Quick RBMC Birthday portrait thrown together for my fellow Monster, Randy Crider.  Quick sketch at lunch that I inked up in Manga Studio.  I'm really liking that program.  Happy Birthday, Randy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Porco Rosso

Round 40 over at the Rust Belt Monster Blog is a tribute to Miyazaki.  I've always been partial to Howl's Moving Castle, but this image popped into my head.  It can't all stay great forever.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Flight Angles

This has been on my "to-do" list for a long time and I've never gotten around to it.  Well that all changes now!...hopefully.  The game still has a lot of placeholder art in there.  It isn't too surprising because everything is still early on, but those sketches I have in there for flying really bug me.  Its about time I fixed those up.

Also, I'm still calling on the animations by what buttons are being held down by the player.  That's really not the best way to do it, especially as I begin to add in controller support in Construct 2.  So I'm implementing a new system for animation based on the movement angles.  After that, I'd like to put a few frames of transition in for the animation.  I haven't quite figured out exactly how to do that., but hopefully it will be worked out soon.

Working on the character art has really brought to light the differences in the way I draw him now.  I might have to go in and do some correcting to the original assets depending on how noticeable they are.  I'm also curious as to how many frames of animation is really necessary for the animations.  The player is so small on screen during the flight that 1 or 2 frames might be all I need.  Once again, having a cape on my character adds extra work with my insistence on having "follow through" animation.  Ugh.  Hopefully I will have this colored with additional frames by the end of the week.  But who knows.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Cleveland Drink And Draw Social Club 11-6-13

Had a great night at the Cleveland DnD with the rest of the Rust Belt Monsters.  Here are a few sketches, including my submission for the Thor contest.  I really recommending you find your local Drink and Draw and start attending.  Its a lot of fun.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Porco Rosso WIP

Just beginning to color.
We've decided to pick back up our monthly "rounds" over at the Rust Belt Monster Blog.  This round is dedicated to the great Miyazaki.  In all honesty, my favorite film of his is Howl's Moving Castle.  Before I could spend any time pondering an art piece in that direction, the idea for Porco Rosso popped in my head.  I just wanted to draw him years after the movie.  A little older, a little fatter, but most importantly, working as a commercial pilot.  It seemed natural to have him sitting at an airport bar.

I'm trying to make a real effort to push my expressions and body language further.  Its been a real weakness of mine.  I've started referencing a couple of collections on facial expressions to help and have adopted a slightly different way of coloring my pieces.  I'm still using Manga Studio for inking (loving it) and laying down my flats, but Photoshop still seems the best for rendering.  We'll have to see how it turns out when I'm done.  Stay tuned.

The original sketch.  Quickly jotted down at lunch.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Street Fighter Knockback/Bounce in Construct 2 WIP

I've long been fascinated with that flying backwards and bouncing off of the ground feature in the Street Fighter games.  I thought about it for a while and never quite figured it out.  Well, I saw an interview with SF2's lead designer, Akira Nishitani, and he mentioned it in a tweet.

"The knockback a character undergoes when hit by an attack in SF2. As much as we tried, we couldn't get it to go the way we wanted with acceleration and deceleration formulas, so we ended up just plotting it out pixel-by-pixel on graph paper. We plotted out lots of other things pixel-by-pixel, too. Although it was just being fussy about details."

I never understood arrays.  I remembered them in my XNA books and saw when Scirra added them to Construct 2.  I just don't get them.

So I posed the problem on the boards and was told I could just trigger an X and Y vector and that will give me the arc I needed.  Couple that with a counter that will trigger a second, smaller bounce and I'm set.  

I gave it a shot, was unsuccessful and asked for some more help.  Turns out that you need to set the character's "deceleration" to 0 during the knockback and then turn it back up to normal when he lands or else they will slide indefinitely.  

I haven't got the counter in yet, but that will be my next step.  I figure I could use the movement angle to trigger the animation and get something pretty cool.  I'm hoping to have it figured and up on the blog soon.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

"They all float down here."

Repost from the Rust Belt Monster Blog:

Stephen King's "It" was on TV last night.  I had originally seen the first half of the movie when I was about 12 years old at family friends house.  Leaving at the half way point, I was stuck not knowing how the story ended.  At that point in the movie, most of the characters were roughly the same age as me which really helped with my fascination with it.  Sadly, this was way before you could just go out and rent the DVD.  So I went to the local book store and bought a paperback copy of the book.  Holy crap was that a lot of words.  Not to mention way scarier.  

I'm not the fastest reader and didn't get even as far as I had seen in the movie.  A couple years later I would strike up conversation with a friend who had the whole thing recorded on VHS.  I cannot express the extreme amount of closure that I received from watching it.

I had a few extra minutes at lunch and thought I would sketch out the above picture.  I tried not to mimic Tim Curry's version of the character, but still keep some of the touchstones.  Happy Halloween everyone.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice
Just a quick Halloween sketch at lunch yesterday.   Halloween is on the horizon and I'm really surprised I've haven't done more sketches.  I also can't believe its been so long since I've seen Beetlejuice.  Might do a quick ink job on this tonight if I get time.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Shining" Pencil and Inks

Shining pencils
Its been a while since I've cracked open Manga Studio and even longer since I've participated in an art show.  Following up my post featuring my "Shining" piece for the Creep Show, I thought I'd show some work in Progress.  Once I started coloring the piece, I mirrored it to discover that the one eye was sinking down his face.  Probably the biggest perk to working digitally is being able to easily correct these problems.

I've really come around to using Manga Studio for both sketching and inking.  That's a big step for me because I was pretty confident that I would be using Sketchbook pro exclusively for drawing.  I'm pretty happy with the results so far.  I just need to find some tutorials on the program.  Maybe then I can unleash its full potential.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Catching Up

Jack Nicholson from The Shining
Where the hell have I been?  Oddly enough, the fewer the posts, the busier I am.  Maybe that does make sense, actually.  Either way, sorry I'm been away so long.

Me and the Rust Belt Monster Collective had our first Gallery Showing at Bay Arts.  It was a real eye opener to the possibility of future shows.  This was right after our mural drawing at Ingenuity Fest and the cram to get pieces done for the show.

Hopefully the schedule will be slowing down here in a bit and I can get to work on some personal projects.  I did, however get to work on the above piece for the Creep Show gallery showing in Cleveland on October 19th.  I've had Jack Nicholson in The Shining on the brain and wanted to do something in that area.  I'm pretty happy with the results, even though it ended up printing darker than I would like.  I guess that's the breaks.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Offscreen Icons in Construct 2

A quick work in progress for a Pixel Art offscreen indicator.
I was sitting at the barber shop last week and decided to do some doodling on the iPad.  Having a couple of pixel art programs on the device, I decided to take a shot at some icons to appear onscreen to alert the player when a civilian is in danger.  I'm happy with this first pass, even though it could use some work.  Right now I'm thinking about icons for, injured, falling, and in danger.  I'll probably switch up the colors too.  

There is a pretty good tutorial on setting up the off screen indicators over on Scirra's website.  The ending math gets a bit confusing, but I'm sure I can follow it.  Once I have it implemented, I really need to post another video.  Its been a few months since I've put any new content on Youtube and that's something I really wanted to do more of.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Halloween Is In The Air

The train keeps coming as rooms are being painted and new art is being created.  Yes, I know that rhymed.  The official announcement for the Rust Belt Monsters' invasion of Bay Arts is officially up on the site and we could not be more excited. With that excitement comes a good deal of nervousness and general stress, but "excitement" is still way ahead in the race.  My evenings consist mostly of house work followed by varying amounts of work on pieces for the Bay Arts show.  I've had Halloween on the brain, which is probably evident by the above paintings.  They are still in progress, but I thought I would share what I have so far here.  

You can see all of the information on the October 11th reception for our show here: BayArts News Letter.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lift Animation

Rough Animation of the Lift.  Need to add the cape and then Ink & Paint
Its been a while since I've animated anything.  Sure its only in rough form, and there's a good chance I'll hate it by morning, but I'm currently liking it.  I didn't want something that ran so long that the player felt like they were stuck in an animation.  I also wanted to give it a little bounce towards the end to show weight.  If there is one problem I'm finding, its that my new model sheet/proportions don't match up with what I've animated all ready.  I'm going to need to make one more edit and then lock it down.  The problems are mostly in the legs so, hopefully, it won't be too noticeable.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Throwing Objects In Construct 2 (WIP)

I was trying to work out my whole "throw a heavy object" thing and hit a wall.. I'm wanting my player to be able to throw heavy objects and them land on the environment.  I thought I could add a Bullet behavior and set the gravity.  When the Object collides with the ground, I would change the movement angle to its original direction and then start subtracting from the speed to make it look like its slowing to a stop. Well, it doesn't change the movement angle when it collides.  I was wondering if anyone here had any ideas.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Concept for First Spriter Villain

I'm becoming more and more curious about Brashmonkey's Spriter and using it for character animations in the game.  I've started designing a henchman or main villain that that I can rig for the program.  The idea is that a smaller thug is inside of it and looking through the glass dome on top.  It look more like a neck whole so should probably take a couple more passes at that first.  Either way, I think I can break this up into pieces and animate.  With any luck, it could be a good starting template that I can build other baddies with.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Inspiration: Shantae and Earthworm Jim

It sure has been a long time since I've posted anything.  Nothing too big to show, just this fast and loose (and off model) picture below.  We are knee deep in home renovations and  RBMC shows so I haven't had much time to do anything.  

A few inspirational things have come up though.  The first one (top youtube link) is part of Wayforward's kickstarter campaign for Shantae: Half Genie Hero.  I've been a huge fan of their games and particularly love their attention to animation.  The video gives a quick glimpse into their animation pipeline. Nothing too in depth, but enough to make me want to further learn Spriter.  

Also, I was reading the current issue of Retro Gamer (Issue 120 Shadowrun Cover) when I came across an interview with the developer of Earthworm Jim, Doug Tenpal.  He mentioned that he would keep Warner Bros model sheets with Looney Tunes characters around and copy their poses.  I guess I always thought that was cheating somehow, but reference is reference.  Steal Like An Artist really helped me get over that hump.  

I'd like to dive into Spriter soon, but not sure that I'll have a chance until next week.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Further Refined

Enlarged the head and added some more details to the design.  Much happier with it now.  The next step is to lock down the girl's pose.  Hoping to have that up soon.

2nd Pass at Creature From the Black Lagoon

Well, I definitely need to take a 3rd pass.  Not a total redraw, just rethink some of the features.  Mostly because I'm looking at him and feel myself getting too close to Abe Sapien from Hellboy.  I already wanted to do a revamp of the face and head, but I might push even further.  Adding reference was a big help for the body.  I'll probably grab some fish and lizard picks to help with the head.  Stay tuned.