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.