Friday, February 28, 2014

The Next Penelope: Race to Odysseus

No real updates today, but I wanted to share a whole bunch of Construct 2 inspiration for those looking for something to aspire to.  The Next Penelope looks pretty amazing.  At first glance, I thought I was looking at a full 3D game.  At second look, its just a good use of perspective and probably some prerendered objects.  Definitely worth a look.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Testing Out the New Spriting Process

I'm almost got all of the kinks out, but its not as perfect as I'd like.  The good news is that I have it working.  And that's what's important, right?

Currently, I'm drawing my character in a 600x600 pixel box that I shrink down to 180 by 180.  I do a separate pass for just my fills and one pass for my lines.  I lay the lines on top of the fills and drop the transparency to 60%.  That would be all well and fine, but the black lines don't completely transfer once shrunk so I have to expand the ink lines by a pixel on each side in photoshop before the shrink.  That also causes some of the black to bleed past the edge of the fills which is no good at all.  So I've figured out that I can select the transparency on the Fills layer and use it to subtract all of the excess black lines.

Digital Trickery!

For fun, I included the old character art so that you can see the new size difference.  Its quite a bit bigger and I haven't even drawn the head!  At the this point, each frame is only 2 kb and I don't expect it to get much bigger when I finish.

I'll post more as I finish.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dr. Sketchy Cleveland 2-25-14

It has been at least 6 months since I've done any live, live drawing.  Oh sure, I've done the occassional rough sketch of a reference photo, but as far being in the room, it had been too long.  I'm sure I said it before on this blog, but life drawing is important.  And I can't think of anywhere I'd rather practice life drawing than at Dr. Sketchy. Look online.  I'm sure there's one in your town.

Half and Half project with fellow Monster, Craig Worrell

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Storyboard Pitch

I had the exciting opportunity to create storyboards for a product pitch by an upstart athletic representative and truly enjoyed the experience.  While I can't display any names, I've taken a few panels from the project to post here on the blog.  I'm really hoping to do more of this kind of work in the future.

Monday, February 24, 2014

New Color Scheme WIP

Still pluging away on the character revision.  I think I've landed on the final colors for the armor and "tights".  My plan is to build off of those as I finish up on the boots, shorts, cape, and orb.  Photoshop made the process pretty easy.  I'll post the rest of the revisions as I have them.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Trading Normal Maps for Overlays in Construct 2

Overlays might be the better option in Construct 2

I don't know how or why it dawned on me, but last night the I realized that there was a problem with using Normal Maps over my 2D Animation: You have to flip the normal maps too.  Well, if I flip the normal maps when I flip the player art, the shadow stays in the same place.  That's no good at all.

So then I started playing around with palette swapping.  Basically, my normal maps are just 2 colors.  I just want to tell it where to put the shadow.  Well, why not just tell Construct 2 to change blue to purple and purple to blue whenever the player is going the opposite direction.  My first problem is that I can't do those simultaneously.  I tell the program to turn blue to purple and then I have all purple.  Next I tell it to turn purple to blue and it takes that ALL purple art and turns it ALL blue.  Ugh.

So I came up with making my maps black and white.  Then, I can tell Construct 2 to turn each color whatever I want when I want.  Problem solved.

It was then that I realized that maybe I didn't need a Normal Map after all.  I mean, Its really only letting me control what part to make darker or lighter.  Its not letting me put any kind of tint to the art.  I can put any blues in my shadows or cast a yellow light in the highlights.  So why not just do the same thing I was going to with the normal maps, but pick a highlight color and a shadow color?  Now I can do some day and night version of levels, silhouette my characters, use high contrast lighting during explosions, etc.

I'm excited about this change up and think that I can dynamically change the look of my game.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Amnesia Fortnight

If you haven't been following along with Double Fine games, they started up another round of Amnesia Fortnight.  For those that don't know, its an internal game jam that the company had been doing that they recently began letting the public in on.  Since my fascination with how games are made is constantly growing, these are an unmatched look into the day to day operations at a studio.  I highly recommend watching.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Boy did I fall off the planet.  Sadly, last week was a rough one.  My wife was brutally attacked by her own gallbladder and its evil army of stones.  Not pretty.  She really can't catch a break.

Anyways, I was able to sit down with my sketchbook and play around with some of my favorite poses with the new design.  I'm still really struggling with a color scheme.  Its going to take a long night of tests with different combinations before I land on one that I like.  Its hard because everything you do, you swear you've seen some place before.  I'm confident I'll get there, but its taking longer than I thought.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Happy Birthday, Craig!

I wanted to make sure that I came out of my cave of art and merriment to wish a very special Happy Birthday to Mr. Craig Worrell.  In the short time I've known you, you've been a dear friend, an ear-worm adversary, a monster, and mentor.  I hope you have a great day.

I drew Craig as a Ghostbuster because busting makes him feel good.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Yeti Walk Cycle - First Pass

I'm still moving along on my Brite Winter Yeti walk cycle for the RBMC.  There is still a lot more to be done but I'm liking it so far.  I'm a little dissapointed that I was so snooty towards cut out animation for so long.  Maybe the art form hadn't reached a point where you could see the real artistry...or maybe I'm just an asshole.  Either way, I'm having a lot of fun with it and happy with the results.

The plan is to add a few more elements for overlapping animation and then take it into After Effects for some post production work.  Just want to see how far I can push it.  Stay tuned for more.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Using Toon Boom To Test Color Palettes

Color sections are all separated and ready for iteration.

I know what you're thinking and NO, I do not have the worst taste in color.  But sadly, my use of color is not great.  Everything I try to come up with feels like a copy of something else I've seen before.  Its pretty maddening.

Knowing all that, I've decided the key to figuring out proper color scheme is iteration.  I want to have it blocked out and then slowly tweak the design until I have it just the way I want it.  That's where Toon Boom comes in.

The software has a great color management system where I can adjust the colors after I've placed them and get them to the point that I want.  On top of that, I can easily switch the entire palette to another saved palette for a different effect.  Its the key to separating out my line work from my fills.  Not to mention creating my normal maps.

I'm hoping to have some color variations up soon.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Brite Winter Yeti WIP

Me and the Rust Belt Monsters have Yeti's on the brain with Brite Winter Fest 2014 right around the corner.  I had a little extra time and wanted to practice using Toon Boom Animate Pro.  I'm really enjoying the software and finding myself growing more and more comfortable.  The individual pieces are almost finished and I'm looking forward to making him move.  With any luck, I'll have that ready to show tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Toon Boom to Photoshop

Left is the look of the player art "in-game".  The right is how it will look with the normal map applied.

Starting to work out a new work flow for creating my art.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I was running into a lot of problems with strobing line art from the compression.  Simply shrinking the finished art was proving to be sloppy.  The new way I'm playing with is to render separate passes for the characters lines, fills, and normal map.  After shrinking down all of the passes, the lines are layed on top of the fills for the art.  Then the normal map is placed over the player art in-game for the shadows.

Compositing the lines over the fills greatly limits the color fluctuations and gets me much closer to that Marvel vs. Capcom look that I wanted.  It also lets me swap colors much more easily in-engine which will add a lot of variety to the civilian characters and possibly open up options for the player changing up their color schemes.  I'll post more as I finish.  Fingers crossed.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Finished Broken Age Act 1

Free time is pretty sparse now that I have a 1 month old baby at home, but I was able to finish up the first act of Broken Age this weekend.  All and all, I'm extremely impressed with the end product and can't wait for the second act in the coming months.

All of this Broken Age love lead me down a rabbit hole of Tim Schafer and Double Fine goodness.  I came across a GDC talk given this year that highlighted a lot of their improvements to the adventure game genre.  One aspect that I found especially interesting and that I've already begun thinking about: using dynamic lighting for the characters.  They used the term "hand authored normal maps" which I really liked and will probably use from now on.  You can see the portion where they talk about it around 23 minutes into the above video.