Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Need Your Disease

Started thinking about the daunting task of animating the ascending and descending animations for the game. It's pretty intimidating. I can't decide if I should animate the turning or just animate the the body bending and then just rotate it when I export the images. I'm leaning towards the latter because I've had problems with keeping proportions straight in the past. That should help eliminate that problem. My next step is getting a 3D poser type program that will let me position a mannequin to use as reference. Actually, I'll probably export the mannequin and put him in game to see if it works. Probably won't have time until after the new year, but I'm eager to check it out. More to come. #gamedev via Need Your Disease

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Need Your Disease

Disclaimer: This may sound extremely boring. Feel free to not read this. Now that we have that out of the way, I can now explain how I plan to fix my flying animations for when he's going fast. At the moment the animations are...well, they're just fine. His body will point in the right direction, but he moves like the hands on a clock. It's just lifeless. What I really need to happen is for him to bend his body while he's turning. Seems kind of tricky considering I'm not rotating the player or his "box" so it hard to determine when he is turning. The way I'm leaning now is to compare the current angle he is moving to the angle that the game pad is being held. If it doesn't match, then I'm not playing the straight ahead animation. Then I determine if he is moving clockwise or counterclockwise by comparing the current angle against the angle he was at a second ago. Using that I can pick whether to use an ascending or descending animation. Once the current movement angle gets close to the angle that the stick is being held, it will switch to the straight ahead animation. Wow. That seems like complicated. Well, maybe not complicated. More like a ton of art to draw...and in perspective. I'm looking into a way to quickly render 3D models so I can test this and use it as a guide for when I draw my character. I'm hoping to have more soon. If you sat through all of that, I commend you. #gamedev #construct2 via Need Your Disease

Monday, December 28, 2015

Need Your Disease

I need to start working on my fast flying animations and I've been playing with the idea of doing a different set depending on if he's rotating. Right now he seems to stiff when turning. I'm thinking that if I curl him up a bit until he settles on his final direction, it might look better. At the moment, I think I need to determine if he's moving clockwise or counterclockwise and then find out how fast he's rotating. Hoping to have a test soon. via Need Your Disease

Monday, December 21, 2015

Need Your Disease

Took some time at lunch to play around with some normal map creation. It still looks a little fake to me in the attached version. I need to get some blue into the shadows. I'm pretty sure that would help. I also need to find a good work flow for "painting" normals instead of just using a program to make a bevel. Just something to break it up. More to come soon. via Need Your Disease

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Need Your Disease

Looks like I'm falling down the rabbit hole of normal maps. Its probably not a thing, but it sure feels like it. I was watching a random tutorial online and saw that someone laid it over his tiled background and it added a realistic light to the whole thing. I've often worried about my buildings looking too bland once they were built in tiles with all of the repeating textures. I feel a lot better now. So I'm in the process of redesigning my buildings for what feels like the 5th time. But I'm hopeful that they will make my game look far more interesting. via Need Your Disease

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Need Your Disease

Took a little time at lunch to animation the robot getting knocked back. I'm shooting for the effect in Street Fighter when the other guy gets knocked in the air and then bounces a couple times. I think I can get that going. I think I'll be moving him into Construct 2 soon so I should be able to interact with him a bit soon. More to come. via Need Your Disease

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Need Your Disease

Stayed up late and finished a few more variations. Also, went ahead and updated the color scheme so it wasn't an exact match of the players. Might do one more torso and then bring it into Spriter. Looking forward to seeing this guy in-game. via Need Your Disease

Friday, December 4, 2015

Need Your Disease

Thought I would shrink my new robot down and drop him in the game. Still really bugs me that I pretty much repeated the color pallet of my main character. Going to try a few color swaps and see how it looks. Hopefully I can find something that I like just as much. #gamedev #indiedev #construct2 via Need Your Disease

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nuclear Man!!!

Its been a while since I just sat down and draw.  Sunday night I started to play in Manga Studio and, 2 days later, this is what I had.  Not sure why I drew Nuclear Man.  He's definitely not a good character.  He is certainly in the worst Superman movie.  I'm not even sure that I like the design.  Either way, I might end up working backwards and doing all of the villains (and maybe heroes) from those movies.  Wouldn't mind doing Batman and Spider-Man's too.  We'll have to see if time allows.

Time Lapse coming to the Youtube channel soon.


Friday, September 4, 2015

New Flight Animations!

Finally starting to implement some new flight animations.  Namely, the ones when the player is flying fast.  It may look like I just tipped the sprite (because I did) but I've also started making transition animations so that they smoothly tip and kick into high speed.  I'm pretty happy with it even though it brought out a problem I wasn't aware of.  My idea was to have the arms outright when flying down.  But you can't really do that for half the angles because the arm just pops out.  Haven't quite figured that one out yet.  More to come!


Monday, August 17, 2015

Learning 'Bout Tilemaps

The Construct 2 "Underground" Game Jam is less than a month away and I'm still putzing away on the game.  I have most of the mechanics in, but for some reason I went back to the art.  Probably because I'm an artist.  Who knows?  This will be my final pass at the tile art.  It has been a real learning experience and something I will never take for granted again. Hopefully I'll have some more animation in there soon.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Pyxel Edit and Construct 2

I'm really loving Pyxel Edit for the tile work.  Its really streamlined everything and gotten me excited about the building tiles for my superhero game.  The work area is on the left side of the picture and a quick test in Construct 2 is on the right.  The pathfinding seems to be working well.  I'll probably have to shrink the tiles down by half, but that should be easy enough.  Can't wait to get some other functionality in there.  More coming soon.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

Scirra Construct 2 Underground Game Jam

I realized I hadn't posted anything in a while.  As always, its not from being lazy.  Its because I'm busy.  I guess I had it in my head that I would be all secretive, but I doubt it will hurt to show my work as I go along.  
Scirra recently announced a 6 week game jam with the theme "Underground".  After bouncing around a few ideas, I came up with the above sketch. You basically work on a farm and try to hit a ground hog with a cannon as it travels underground snatching up vegetables.  

This one is a little bit of a stretch for me as I've never really played with the pathfinding behavior.  It seems to be working though.  I have a prototype working where the ground hog will randomly pick a carrot and move towards it.  I need to adjust that to have the ground hog eat the carrot and then "on carrot destroyed" pick a new carrot and move there.

I'm still playing around with some variables: Possible limited shots, items to help direct the ground hog or cut it off, different types of ground hogs, and quite possibly randomizing the levels.  Thought that will probably be a feature I add after the competition if I decide to put it on a store.

Last night was some tile work (which I really struggle with).  I think I finally got the hang of it, but it just doesn't come as easy as I like.  More to come soon.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Thinking Combat and Skeletal Animation

Watched some wrestling on break and let it pollute my mind.  I've been thinking about combat and how I'd like some interesting grapples.  Spriter will let me animate the same grapple animation for all enemies so anything I do to one will transfer to all.  There's the opportunity to get creative with it if I'm willing to put the work in.  Well, that and if I can choreograph my player sprite animation with the Skeletal NPC's walking around.  I downloaded some footage of Fire Pro Wrestling Returns and have been going through that to kind of break down what they're doing.  Its really impressive to see what they get away with.

I think I'll check our Mark of the Ninja next.  I'm interested to see how they work and if I should make many more character assets.  More to come.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Updates in Spriter


So I've started working on my first alternate Civilian outfit to figure out the best way to implement in Construct 2.  I might just do a few different versions to see if the randomization works.  Couple of things that I'm noticing:

1) I need to put the collar on the neck sprite and not the shirt.
2) I can only have one object per sprite because I'm applying a tint to the whole thing.  I can't have a short sleeve and an arm poking out because it will tint both the same color.

These are smaller things that I'll have to remember going on.  Shouldn't be too much of a problem.  More to come soon.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Tri-C Jazz Fest 2015 Mural Work

Another Rust Belt Monster mural is in the books.  This time we were down at the Playhouse Square in Cleveland for the Tri-C Jazz Fest.  Great music, pretty good food, and beautiful weather made the day memorable.  Not sure why I decided to draw a koala bear on a keyboard, but it probably has something to do with visiting the Cleveland Zoo 4 days before.  The guitar player?  He was a mix of watching Fantasia's Symphony in Blue right before driving to the event.  This was the most work I've done on a mural in a long time and I'm pretty happy with how they turned out.

Keyboards by Tim Switalski and Flowers by Erin Caruso

More to come soon.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Character Sketch

Feels like forever since I've done any quick character sketches.  Especially with pen and ink.  I've just been so comfortable with the tablet that I haven't gotten back to my roots...if you can call it that.

Right now I'm bouncing between the game and personal website/branding stuff.  Hopefully I can start animating the character again soon.  I definitely miss it. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Back to Spriter and Construct 2

I'm kind of dusting off my skills a bit as it has been a while since I've used either program.  Its been far too long since I've worked on my game and the itch is finally there.  Looking back at what I have so far, its clear that I'm working on assets more than "game" and need to get some working systems in there.  So I thought I would tinker with the civilians' "states".  That's basically conditions that will make them act scared, injured, hurt, heroic, etc.  Since I'm building them in Spriter (skeletal animation), I thought I could quickly pose them so I can see it working in the game.  This should also help me see what body parts I need to have in the character base too.

My next step is figuring out how to randomly assign different cloths and cloths colors for each civilian.  More to come.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Live Long and Prosper

Last February I drew a quick sketch on the day that Leonard Nimoy passed.  I came across it again and decided to do a quick paint over.  Still playing around with the brushes in Manga Studio.  Liking what I'm finding so far.

Music by

You can follow me at:

Ben Hale


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Video Dev Blog Preview

So I've decided to start a video blog to chronicle my work on the Superhero game.  I watch and enjoy so many other dev videos that I thought I might as well give it a shot myself.  I haven't landed on a schedule yet, but I think keeping it consistent will help me work consistently as well.  At least that's the idea.  It should be pretty simple.  Just a screen capture of my work with me talking over it.  I'm liking the time lapse program I have, so i might be using that to better illustrate my ideas.  I've always been a more visual person as it is.  More to come soon.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Christopher Lee RIP

Sadly, the only real era of his work that I'm familiar with is the most recent Lord of the Rings and Star Wars movies.  I've seen one, maybe two, of his Hammer films, but not as many as I should have.  Either way, the guy was pretty cool and had a voice I won't easily forget.

The whole thing was done in Manga Studio.  Tried using some of the watercolor brushes for the rendering.  pretty happy with how they worked.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Progress on #Deceptionjam

Scirra is running a game jam with Newgrounds this June.  I've never officially competed in one before, and I've been meaning to get something finished while working on the Superhero Game, so I thought I would enter.  I've been basically working on it during lunch breaks so its not going very fast.  With the time constraint, I've decided to keep the major decisions to a minimum.  I'm not pouring over design choices or the general look of it.  I've designed a basic character and I'm moving forward.  Its kind of nice to finally be decisive on a project.  

The above art is some rough sketches of death animations.  I've built my character in Animate Pro 3 to make animation quick, so hopefully these won't be too hard to knock out.  The below art is the character.  I'm going to tweak the design a bit, but I'm liking the version on the right without the lines.  It will save me the time it takes to patch the left version and gives it a look similar to Flashback on the SNES that I like.

More to come soon.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Quick Game Update

I saw a video once that said when making your first indie game to make sure to look at your game at least once a week.  Boy, were they right.  Having been side tracked by other projects for the last month, I'm really at a loss for what I was doing last month.  I was so confused, that I actually added the new jump animation into an old version of the game.  

I found the newest version, scrubbed through it, and think I know what the next step is.  I'm going to take the piece of art that is used as the chest and arms when the player is holding an object, and added different animations for holding the civilians.  This will help me have a consistent look and not have to re-plot an image point for different versions of that art.  Might sound confusing, but I swear it will make sense in a future post.

Vacation is coming, but I'm hoping to have more shortly after.


Friday, May 15, 2015

New Jump Animation WIP

I'm finally in the home stretch of the new jump animation.  I've been trying to squeeze it in when I can, so its taking much longer than I'd hoped.  Doesn't help that its been so long since I've opened Toon Boom.  Either way, I'm almost there.  It took some patching and corrections, some tweaking here and there, but I'm happy with it.  Now to get the cape to where I want it.  Normally I wouldn't have the character facing camera like that, but I want to just be able to remove the arms and place the NPC's in there.  Wouldn't look right if I had him in profile.  More to come as I finish.


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Drink and Draw

Made my way out to Cleveland's Drink and Draw last night.  Wanted to do something quick and stylized and just tinkered with this all night.  Laid a bunch of texture and effects over it once I was done.  Not sure if that's cheating, but I like how it looks.  Might play in this style some more.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

"Jumping" Back To The Grind

Seems like forever since I've worked on my game.  I've been so busy with pure art related endeavors that I haven't been able to even look at it.  To be honest, switching my brain from one mode to the other is kind of tricky.  So I'm going to ease back in with something (hopefully) simple that I should have done a long time ago:  The jump animation.  The goal is to animate the empty handed one and then tweak it to also work with the others.  Now that I think of it, I hadn't really considered jumping with a heavy object in your hands.  I might play with the idea of turning off the jump while holding objects (not NPC's).  That would force the player to fly in those situations.  Hmmmmm.  Could be interesting. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Harley Sketch

I was frantically sketching warmups on Friday to get ready for Free Comic Book Day. I kind of liked this one. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

World's Finest for Free Comic Book Day

It was my great honor to collaborate with fellow Rust Belt Monster, Craig Worrell, on this Superman and Batman team up.  Above is a little preview of the final piece that will be on sale at Carol and John's Comic Shop tonight and tomorrow.  Look for us there and more prints to come soon.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Poison Ivy WIP

Still working away on this.  If I'm going to finish it, I really need to finish it tonight.  If I can knock out a background, I'll put together a print for Free Comic Book Day.  A lot of "if's".  Time has become less manageable with a second project on its way.  More to come soon.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Justice League Locker Room - Free Comic Book Day 2015

Finally finished!  I really went back and forth on this one.  Adding things, cutting things, rearranging things, and pushing myself to exhaustion.  Luckily, I called it finished at 3 in the morning Friday night... and then I woke up at 7 in the morning and noticed something I didn't like.  Fixed it and sent it to be fixed.  Usually takes a deadline to get me to work that hard on something.  I definitely haven't worked on that many characters since last years Free Comic Book Day.  I should probably do stuff like this more often.

If you'd like to see this up close and personal (and maybe even buy a print of it), you can come to Free Comic Book Day at Carol and John's Comic Shop in Cleveland.  The last few years have been amazing.  Any fan of comics should do themselves a favor and attend.

Till next time,


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Ladies of the Justice League WIP 2

Took some time to render out Power Girl and try painting over the lines.  It seems to be working for the most part but clashes a bit with the almost-gradient look my rendering had before.  I was using a large soft brush for most of the shading.  Now I'm using a textured, more natural brush over the lines.  I've gone and done some blending with that brush and I think I'm getting closer to a look that I like.  The clock is ticking though.  I need to make some real headway tonight.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ladies of the Justice League WIP

Busy, busy, busy.  I've got a deadline at the end of the week and this project has taken a few extra turns on me.  My original plan was to just render the hell out of it and do without the lines.  I guess I'm not that good because looks like I'm going to need them.  I might have to take it back into Manga Studio and ink it after coloring which seems kind of ridiculous.  My first test will probably be doing some kind of Painted Line in Photoshop.  Either way, it has to be done by Saturday. Tick Tock.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Taught By A Pro - The Bancroft Method

Boy have I been away for a while...well, not a real long time.  But a week can seem like forever.  I'm drawing at Free Comic Book Day at Carol and John's Comic Shop and wanted to upgrade my skills.  I really struggle with drawing girls and thought it was time for some serious tutorial.  Luckily, the website is a seriously affordable option with a bunch of industry pros.  I already enjoyed Tom Bancroft's "Animation Mentor" book and thought I would give his courses a chance.  I'm not sure exactly what it was that he said, but seeing him break down the process and combining it with what I already knew seemed to help.

I did some quick sketches to try it out and am happy with the results.  I still want to work more on my faces and try some different techniques for eyes, but I think I'm getting there.  I highly recommend his videos and books.

-Ben Hale

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


I haven't drawn anything outside of my computer in a while.  It felt good to pick up the  pencil and copic markers after so long.  I threw this together on my lunch break for my cousin's little boy that is becoming quite the good artist.  Its on the inside cover of "How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way".  It was the first book I even bought and I carried it everywhere.  Looking at it now, it seems so very small.  I still think it is a really good starting out point.  Hope he likes it.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lift Animation Working

I have been gone, but still very busy.  Well, busy and sick.  I had a weird stomach bug/flu thing last week that kind of caught me off guard.  I was, however, able to get some work done.  I put the lift animation in and got it to lift some boxes.  The tricky part was that the box sprite needed to travel along an object point on the Armiger art work until the Lift animation finishes.  Then the overlay art (Head, Arms, Chest) pop on top of the Armiger art and the box sprite transfers to that.  I basically took me putting a couple of Every Tick events inside of groups and switching from Armiger art to Overlay art when the Lift animation ends.

And exhale.  Still so much to do.  I'm starting to itch to get the second set of flight animations in there, but I'm got a few things that need tweaking that are already in.  Also, I'm sure the best idea would be to work a bit on a Grey Box prototype for actually playing the game.  I need something I can show people so they know whats in my head.  Now, if I could just find the time.


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Holding Loop Animations Almost Finished

I went through and updated the "holding" animations in the looping state tonight.  I'm pretty happy with the results, but will probably have to redraw a bit of the capes and redo the flying down animation.

Just when I thought I could pat myself on the back, I realized something terrible.  My original plan was to just place the object art for what the player was carrying behind the player art.  Seemed easy enough, and then I realized that the cape is in the way when you're flying down.  Ugh.

The way I see it, I have 2 options.

1) Change the object art perspective a bit and have it possibly cover the player's face.  I could overlap the player art and not worry about the cape then.  Like I said, I'm cutting off some of the player art.

2) I can make a version of the object when the art is held with the hand area strategically cut out.  It will look the way I want, but lining it up might be a bit of a pain.  I think I can just set up a Photoshop file as a template.  I would have a designated "mask" to cut out the hand area the same every and a dot to help me plat the origin point in all of them.

This is all very fresh in my mind.  I need to do some test though.  That and fix that down flying animation.  The cape just looks too wonky.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

New "Holding" Sketches

Just some sketching.  Now that I'm tweaking the player art to remove the upper half, I'm playing with the idea of adding additional versions of holding things.  Shouldn't be too hard once the base animations are fixed.  Right now I'm thinking one handed for lighter objects, criminals will be held under the arm (like the dirty luggage that they are), and maybe old people will be over the shoulder.  I'm still playing with some ideas and am hoping to prototype some soon.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Composite Character Test

When I first started working on the game, I had the idea of having my player built in parts.  Just putting a different torso on him depending on what he was carrying.  I even tried it with the old player art.  Somewhere in the redesign, I decided against it.  I think I was having trouble with keeping the cape stuck to the player.  I kind of fixed that problem, so I decided to take another shot at the whole Composite Character thing.  It worked pretty well.  So now I'm starting to think of how many different poses I can work in with this new system.  I guess the sky's the limit.

More to come.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Overlay Art Test

First off, "Groups" in Construct 2 are way more useful than I give them credit for.  I needed to set up a condition where the overlay art of the torso holding an object over the head would just sit on top of the other art.  I just put an "every tick" event into a group and activated it when I wanted it.  I need to render out my flight angles again without the torso and see about laying over the new art.  It will take some more testing, but I think I'm on the right track.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I've Done The Math. Time To Course Correct.

Time for a "mathy" post that probably isn't the most exciting thing, but its what has got me rethinking my animation system.  First off, I'm not redesigning any art or anything like that.  The problem I'm hitting is my memory use.  Definitely not download size, just the memory being used.  Its getting a little out of control.  I blame it on my PNG's being converted to PNG-32's, but there is nothing I can do.

I did the math, and of the 178 megs of memory I'm using with the game running (no buildings or enemies in there), 116 megs of it is my player.  The biggest chunk of the player's animation is the different flight angles.  Basically, I have a set of start, looping, and stopping animation for a bunch of angles when flying (they get mirrored too).  I also have a set of them for for whether the player is holding a civilian and another set if they are holding an object with possibly more to come.  Each group of these is 37 megabytes.  That is a big chunk.

I've been going back and forth on this and I need to get smarter about reusing animation.  So the game plan is to take make a version of those flight angles and cut off everything from the chest up.  Then, I can just pin art for holding a civilian or for holding a box to the front of that art.  I'd be saving myself a lot of memory and opening up the possibility of more poses for carrying things.  Its best for the long run, but might be a pain.  More to come.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Carrying Idles Finished

I think I've got the arm and chest positions down.  Now I just have to superimpose them over the existing flight angles.  That should take me a little while.  Also, I need to finish that "Lift" animation for picking up objects that aren't people.  Things are coming along.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Slowly, but Surely.

Working of my sketch from a couple of days ago, I've begun building my new "carry" animation.  Well, at least the carry animation for the standing position.  I'll probably be reusing the torso from this for the rest of the carrying animations.  More copy and pasting.  I just have to keep reminding myself that once this is done, it can be used for any object I want to lift.  

There is one problem though.  If I want to have the player's front hand overlapping the object the player is holding, I either have to make a separate sprite that will float over the art or create an animation frame on the object that will have the frame on it.  I'd rather not draw the extra animation frame because I'm trying to be smarter about my memory management.  I could go with a single sprite for the hand, but I'm having problems with pop in when it comes to the cape sprite I use in the idle animations.  Guess I'll have to do some testing.

Monday, March 2, 2015

More Carrying Animations?

So I've bee trying to squeeze in time here and there to work on my "carrying" animations.  It basically entails taking the existing flying animations, laying the alternate arms and chest art on top of it, and photoshopping it to fit.  Its taking a while.  Definitely not fun.

While I was working on the third flight angle out of my 8 or so angles to complete, I started to think about the next batch of these I would have to do.  The player doesn't just lift people.  He lifts boxes, cars, and other various heavy objects.  So if I'm going through the trouble of getting one batch of angles finished, why wouldn't I also do the others?  Because I'm dumb, that's why.  Well, not any more.  I think I need to Pre-Vis this a little bit and just do both at the same time.  At least that's the plan.  More to come.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

RBMC Gauntlet Day 1

Forgot to post this to my own blog.  Whoops.

Day 1 of the Rust Belt Monster Collective: Gauntlet has begun and I wanted to knock this out quick. The theme was "The Evil Mentor Armed Space Marine".  I Sketched quickly in Manga Studio, continued in that program for inking, and then brought it into Photoshop for some quick color.  Going to try and keep with this scheme through the week.  We'll see how it goes.  Bring on Day 2!

Monday, February 23, 2015


Wow.  It has been a while since I have put paint to canvas.  If I'm being honest, it has been a while since I've drawn anything.  The Rust Belt Monsters and I descended upon Cleveland's Brite Winter Festival with another mural.  We hadn't done a traditional, painted one since Ingenuity Fest so it was good to be back.  I kept my contribution small as I was feeling the rust (pun intended) but I ended up happy with it.  I'm looking forward to the next event and some bigger projects this year.