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Concept and design for armies
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Krutzelpuntz Offline
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Post: #1
Warham Concept and design for armies

Introduction, why I choose to write this tutorial

Over the past year I have been at PW, I've been spriting quite a bit, often without any goals or a suiting army.
Often I have been experiencing the frustration of not being able to come up with anything myself, and being stuck with directly copying from my references.
While not entirely free of my unimaginative bonds, I have gathered a few tools I think is worth sharing. I use three different methods that I just named for the heck of it, the first being "reference image", second "silhouette", and the third "sketch".
I hope to get the new pixel artist off to a better start, while also giving a few tips to the more experienced.
Hope you find it useful!

Reference Image

This is the first method I used, and while I find it a good way to get started and get a basic idea of how pixels works, it comes with some down sides.
- You have to find (or better, make) a reference image of what you want.
- It is easy to become stuck with what you can get, and forget to use your imagination.
- You may get some pretty advanced results, but have a hard time making new poses. (keep it simple in the beginning(!))

Still, I am going to show it, due to the good it has done to me after all.

First find (or make!!) a suiting image.

I choose this.. soldier dude.

[Image: il3yMI.png]

This soldier dude is 220 pixels tall, and I want him to be 24.
Now, a bit math.
24/220=0,109
Or, 10,9%
So I downscale the image to 11%
(Don't ask me how it works, it just does...)

[Image: k6Dt1J.png]

Now fill in the body parts with color, making them easy to recognize from each other. Keep the original size reference close, as things can get pretty messy.
You will have to play around with the shapes, adding and removing pixels until you get the shape, and if you do not have a 100% size window available, be sure to zoom out regularly.
It can be difficult in the beginning to see what looks good, and what does not.
This will only get better with practice, and don't be afraid to ask in the WIP thread.

[Image: KA0N4n.png]

Silhouette

This method is useful for getting a lot of ideas out very quickly.
I have had much success using it for PPW (spaceships), and I have found it useful as a stepping stone to set my creativity free.
This method gives you a flat silhouette that you will have to shape into a "3D object" in your head.
It has been a very good exercise for me.
But, as the method above, it requires some kind of reference.
I have found these by searching "mech silhouette" or something on google.

I re-scale the image like the way I did it above, and clean it up with a 2 color palette in Aseprite. You can also use gimp for this (Image/mode/indexed, and selecting a 2 color palette.)

Now that I have the silhuettes, I take bits and pieces and put them together in new ways. You can go as crazy as you like, and it's very easy to come up with lots of different variations.

[Image: ZO3EnP.png]

Sometimes though it can be a challenge to get references in 3/4 view, making it better suited for spaceships.
Remember, you can use all sorts of images for this, from insects to construction vehicles, you name it!

Here's an older example of one of my PPW ships made with this method:

[Image: MJxWOz.png]


Sketch

This is the newest method I have come across.
It may be hard to use for the beginner, but can get really rewarding once you get an idea of the anatomy of humanoids. (or what ever you want to make)
I can only suggest you give it a try, even if the results are far from what you want, it is good practice.
I was reading about how concept artists works, and thought I could do the same.
It build on your intuition, imagination and creativity to come up with ideas from complete scratch. Just make a new empty image, and start drawing, without giving it too much thought. You might have a few ideas about what you want, but keep it simple.
Like "alien" "mechanoid" "tank" and so on.
Or you might not have any ideas beforehand, and just spit random shapes out until you have something you like.

Don't use more than 5-10 min. per sprite, and avoid erasing and correcting as much as possible. This is clearly a challenge, but it will only get easier the more you practice.

Before I start I decide what colors I will use, just to make the process easier for myself, and a line in the approximately height I want my sprite to be.
I then start with the head, and work my way down.

[Image: J4DRcg.gif]

Now you have your first sprite, keep going. Don't stop just yet.
Your aim is to achieve a flow, so don't think too much about it.

[Image: xwgvV7.png]

At some point you will hopefully have something that you can use, go ahead and polish it.
I chose the upper right sprite.
I then made a "skeleton" over it, to be sure to get the right proportions for the poses.

[Image: n7mCuO.png][Image: yI2Fj3.png]

[Image: 1HbXPl.gif]
(This post was last modified: 07-30-2016 11:58 AM by Krutzelpuntz.)
07-29-2016 09:13 PM
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Krutzelpuntz Offline
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Post: #2
RE: Concept and design for armies

There, it's done for now.
Comments and suggestions are welcome, and if you want to share your progress with these techniqes, feel free to do it here Smile
I'd also like to know if others out there have anything to share about how they work

[Image: 1HbXPl.gif]
07-30-2016 12:00 PM
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Trifon Offline
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Post: #3
RE: Concept and design for armies

Can I point out that you seem to maintain this ambition of 'Flowing' in sprites, but I think it relies entirely on the art style and indeed the army. For example, the UNSC from Halo uses a very boxy design in their ships because, well a few reasons. For one, they're not very far into space. The first slipspace drive was made in 2291, the start of the Human Covenant war and the events of Halo: Reach took place in 2525. About 130 years passed yes, but considering the Covenant that had slipspace drives for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Second it's cheaper to just stick plates on a frame rather than go through the effort to bend those plates. And third, it's just not needed. Spaceships go in space, there's no air resistance. The only thing I can think of that can be useful for having a sleak design is that it could possibly deflect ammunition at an angle, but when you're against plasma that's kinda useless.

On the other hand, the Covenant had sleaker designs and more rounded edges because they were religious. They were proud. They had the technology and they wan't to show off what they could do.

'You've done it Rem... You've become one with the doves'.
07-30-2016 02:29 PM
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Krutzelpuntz Offline
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Post: #4
RE: Concept and design for armies

(07-30-2016 02:29 PM)Trifon Wrote:  Can I point out that you seem to maintain this ambition of 'Flowing' in sprites, but I think it relies entirely on the art style and indeed the army.

Agreed, I personally find it pretty.
Well, I was hoping for comments on the tutorial, or the techniques, rather than the sprites I used in my examples.

But you are pointing out an important thing here.
When you make an army, sit down for a minute, think about where they live, how they live. How is the living conditions there? How would all these factors (and many more) influence the way that they would look, behave and build.
It makes the army come much more together, in my view. :)

[Image: 1HbXPl.gif]
07-30-2016 03:17 PM
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Trifon Offline
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Post: #5
RE: Concept and design for armies

That was a comment on the tutorial
'Your aim is to achieve a flow, so don't think too much about it.'
'Shape needs break up [sic]'

The key word here being NEED. What's wrong with not having flow? What's wrong with having chunky as fuck aliens. As I've always thought, we have no idea how aliens work. We could be the largest race in the galaxy, or we could be the tiniest. We could be considered extremely slender by other aliens or extremely fat. We really have no clue if an alien could be huge or tiny, chunky or slender, tall and thin or short and fat.

'You've done it Rem... You've become one with the doves'.
07-30-2016 03:21 PM
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Krutzelpuntz Offline
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Posts: 190
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Post: #6
RE: Concept and design for armies

Oh, I see. It needed break up to match the style I was going for.

[Image: 1HbXPl.gif]
07-30-2016 03:29 PM
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