Archive for the ‘Scribbles’ Category

Sketches and Website 2007

Saturday, January 6th, 2007

I’m actively preparing for … some event. ;)

On my to-do list for this miraculous day, is cleaning up the web sites. Well, I’ve finished 1 so far, the Sykhronics web site.

www.sykhronics.com

It’s not functional, but I think it looks cooler/more professional than before. I’ll make it usable at some later date.

Since it’s a new month, here’s a couple notable images from last month. The first is are a little sketch I did for each of my grandmother’s in their Christmas cards.

And one for my aunt.

Oh, and happy new year.

Sketch Dump, November 2006

Friday, December 1st, 2006

Had a harder time this month scrounging up content unrelated to PuffBOMB I liked.

To be an ass, and to make everybody (else) behind the scenes happy, I’m sitting on this stuff until we’ve pitch it (Mid January is our target). Lots of tweaking and tuning, especially in the art style area. Getting a background look I’m happy with has turned out to be more troublesome than I’d hoped. None the less, the battle rages on.

So until I’m ready to share more game visuals, some “other” stuff from the digital sketchbook.

Bleah!
Many
If I was pitching a pre-school toon, it might look something like this

Sketch Dump, October 2006

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

Just a few noteworthly doodles from my digital sketchbook. The scanner is too much work. ;)

The doctor is in... to ... do what doctors do.  Swirl!
Some Squid, a carrot, and some other crap that made it on the page
Strawberry and a tree.  Wow... now that's descriptive!

Too much to say, so I drew a picture

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

When you haven’t updated in a long time, and you have a lot to say, where do you start?

Apparently you don’t say anything, and you put it off. Or you invent some random topic and post, but that’s only when you’re in a weird mood. OK, some friends inspired me to draw a picture, so lets talk art. Art, and what I’ve been investigating for a 2D art pipeline.

What's up?

And there we have it. It’s been called a radish, it’s been called a Potato Warrior. Cool. It’s my usual routine of vectoring a sketch in Paint Shop Pro X. Tracing around edges with a pen/polygon tool, and picking a nice line thickness. Simple and quick.

The rough sketch was done in Sketchbook Pro. Not that Sketchbook Pro does anything special for you that other software doesn’t. It’s a sort of “nicety” program that does a lot of things conveniently. So when I save a file for the first time, it automatically by default has the name of the last file I saved, +1. “Sketch096.tif” for example. It does sub-pixel tablet pen positioning, for nice smooth non pixel rigid lines (which is however, a useful feature of Paint Shop Pro for pixel art). Photoshop probably does that too, but I grew up with PSP. All it’s menu’s are radial stroke menus, so you click an option, and your options appear around the pen. Then you just stroke the pen in the direction you want for the respected option. Neato. Really, as I’ve said, it’s just a very convenient program.

Pipeline! Up until recently, what I’ve been doing with my textures is making 512×512 image files in Paint Shop Pro X. Using as many layers as I need, raster or vector, and saving my originals in the “.pspimage” format. Then, for bringing them in to the game, using the built in PNG exporter, which conveniently remembers the last directory I exported this image to (so long as I save my file). And that process actually works great for static images (textures).

Part of what I’ve been exploring with the game and engine is something capable of utilizing 3D hardware to create a 2D game, with groovy 2D physics (yes, groovy). We’ve had a custom Blender exporter for quite some time, and we’ve used Blender for building static elements, and backgrounds. We build our static elements in 3D, often boxy shapes so we can extrapolate our collision (everything that crosses the z axis if flagged becomes a 2D collision polygon). Blender also lets us arrange several “layers” for parallaxing effects, without the need for specific tools. Unfortunately, for dynamic objects (i.e. the groovy), Blender and the way my physics work don’t mesh. So we have our custom object editor for building our 2D collision, and building an aligned 2D mesh. To make these 2D meshes dynamic, we use a sort of dirty bone like system where vertices are weighed to a pair of points in the collision, to calculate an orientation. And for the early Spider stuff, this was adequate, and we’re finding many neat looking uses for this. But even for as dynamic and cool looking as physics is, there’s something to be said for the added detail and predictability of an animation.

Animations then. 2d animations to be exact. I’m sure this part would better if I had a cool animation to show off, but I’m trying to find the right software for me. Since I’m the Paint Shop Pro nut, I started with Animation Shop, the cheesy “gif animator” that came with pre-Corel versions of PSP. It’s alright software, if you liked the Paint Shop Pro 5 interface. It does onion skinning, but no layers (yeah yeah Photoshoppers with your Image Ready, quit yer laughing). Not to mention, like Paint Shop Pro, it’s brushes are pixely in the low resolutions. It’s usable, but so is MS Paint without any means of testing your animation.

So next up in my quest to find the right 2D animation software, we hit Plastic Animation Paper. PAP is a little piece of software I’ve been fascinated with for years. It’s interface is very much like Sketchbook Pro. Simple, flexible, and nice smooth lines. Good for sketching roughs. Unfortunately, it’s pretty noticeable that it uses a software renderer for display that lacks alpha. You can see this in the layers and blue/red pencil modes, colors that are nearly white aren’t transparent, but colors that are fully white are. Much like single color transparency paletted graphics in games and on the web. It also has a relatively new rotation tool (in the expensive version of the software), which unfortunately is really slow (2fps?). However I still think it’s great for roughs, as the interface is very configurable and a simple matter of strokes like Sketchbook Pro. The full version exports to a large number of image formats, and seemed flexible enough to set up export directories. But you’d still have to bring the assets in to another application to color them.

Finally, where I’m at right now is a piece of software called ToonBoom. I considered checking this one out in the past, but it was a bit pricey. Thinking a lot about my process lately, I decided to check it out again. Well well, it’s apparently on sale for $250. And not to mention, it comes highly recommended by Mr. Theoretical Games, who posted some interesting demonstrations in weeks past. What really inspired me to go back and look at it were tweens. I toyed with TweenMaker some time back. TweenMaker is neat software that generates the in-betweens. But the problem is you need to draw you parts the same way, as it uses the strokes to calculate the in-betweens. Technically cool, but I don’t think it’s process I’m looking for. There was also Moho, which was cheaper ($99), but … well… I’m really not sure. OK, you know what? ToonBoom has a printed manual. I have a thing for technical books, that’s what sold me, OK!? Erm… Alright.

So back to ToonBoom. Alright, so it’s more than the book that sold me. It seems to be completely vector based, so exporting native flash vector, quicktime video, and image files (what I care most about) is at my disposal. Speaking of the image exporter, a huge nicety, it exports transparent PNG files (Millions of Colors+ it’s called). That and the rendering configuration are the technical pipeline related reasons I adore the program. The camera options are simply the resolution in pixels (512×512 pixels in my case). Easy. I type that in, and I’m ready to render usable PNG files with the outsides all nicely transparent. It also does in-betweens via linear interpolation and a bone structure. So unlike TweenMaker it wont calculate the in-between art, but in-between positions seem fine to me. After all, I’m also here because I want an easy way to make a 4 frame animation look better.

And then there’s those little interface things that make me go “… oh, wow, holy shonk!?!”. The biggest “shonk” would have to be, work area rotation! Yes, unlike Sketchbook Pro and Paint Shop Pro, because everything is vectors, I can non destructively rotate my view. It’s been a long time since ALT and CTRL together have made me smile. Also, there’s the grid. It’s not just any grid. It’s a 2D grid with an origin, and numbers along each edge. Sure, nothing fancy yet, but it also has diagonal lines going through the origin, and like the edges, they’re also labeled. A very slick design that doesn’t get in the way, and saves you from having to look at the nearest edge and trace your eyes across to find out what numbered line your on. The vector tools more or less work as I’m used to as well. But one nicety over PSP is the paintbrush vector tool. The paintbrush is your means of doing variable thickness painting, and it works like a pressure sensitive digital paintbrush. What it produces is a vector outsides of the shape you drew, with the insides filled with your brush color. So in other words, unlike your normal fuzzy brushes in the paint packages (PS, PSP), you get a nice clean antialiased edge from normal painting. I suppose it would be nice to have the flexibility of the normal vector tools, where you can move the control points of the spline, but also control the line thickness, but I’m sure there’s some design issue why a combination spline/line thickness tool isn’t in there. Coloring is very cool as well. As expected, you use a flood fill paint bucket to color a region. But that’s exactly the point, it colors regions. Regions being any area broken up by lines, or strokes (invisible lines). Adding shading/shadows becomes really clean then. You simply add a stroke or series of strokes that cross edges creating closed regions. Then you paint bucket each region, and you’re colored. Very cool.

So from all that, I was sold. The thing is, it’s also a fully capable application for compositing and layering scenes elements in 3D, with camera controls too. Not that it’s anything I’ll be needing any time soon, it’s quite encouraging. I’ve barely scratched the surface, as it has a solid librarian content management/organization tool built in. It’s no replacement for SVN or Perforce for backups, but when it’s as easy as dragging files in or out of a window to get assets, the process really flows.

OK, so obviously this analysis of tools for a 2D game art pipeline has gone off on a bit of a tangent. I’m still getting a feel for ToonBoom and all it can do. While at first I was strongly considering the old favorite of mine Plastic Animation Paper for roughs, a tutorial I was doing with ToonBoom actually suggested using the paint tool on a pseudo separate layer for roughs. It actually seems to work well, and not to mention, keeps you in the same app for all your animation needs. Now if it could only export each part you build as a texture, and the positions/scales/orientations of each part per frame in a readable format… Haha, that’d be too useful.

Alright, I’ve had my fun.

PuffBOMB Concept Art 2003-2004

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Due to the request of a compilation Classic PuffBOMB will be a part of, I’ve collected various bits of concept art and sketches from 2003 and 2004. Given that the game was a solo effort, and completely dependent on my art skill, it’s no “Art of Warcraft 3″ style giant happy book of fantastic reference doodles. No sir. Instead, it’s just 4 collections of “learner artist” scribbles depicting some sort of character evolution.

And here they are.

2003 Concept Art
(i.e. that old PuffBOMB)

2004 Concept Art
(i.e. how that newer character evolved)

And there goes the 1st

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

Action Heart! Go Heart! Go Heart!So, that’s what happens on the 91’st day of the year shows up, your name is Mike, and you want to poke fun at casual gaming. You end up with a human body themed match 3, and an outrageous story that I don’t even want to rationalize. And yes, all Mike’s were thinking the exact same thing.

Yeah, this post is a rather plain one. Just a confirmation that yes, that was a joke, and an excuse to do an image dump. I especially like how the action pose heart turned out. So much, I’ve been thrusting my arms in to the air all day. The funny looks from people are obviously looks of jealousy.

And here comes the team.

Body Team Go! Fight for good and something.

And together they form.

Cap-tain Jean Luc Pic-card of the star ship en-ter-prise

I couldn’t find a Captain Planet picture I liked, and besides, Jean Luc Picard is a way better Captain, and he totally destroys Captain Planet.

Over the course of the day, these “body parts” have also turned in to test objects for the game, as we’re short on interesting things… at least one’s we’re not embarrassed to show.

Oh, and I did receive a request for the art assets, which I shared, so there might actually be a playable game on the way. Pretty crazy for an April fools joke. ;)

Have a good one.