Pixel by Pixel

After making some corrections and adjustments to the primary dialog portrait I shared last week, such as nudging Arashi’s hair color to be a bit darker (less pale pink and more the color I’ve always used) and fixing the focus of her eyes, I decided to take a break to work on drawing key art of Laura. Laura Dimetrus is the pure mage character of the game whom Arashi meets after her main story begins in earnest, and her gameplay style is about as opposite as Arashi’s can be. As far as mages go, I wanted to try something a bit different, in both her gameplay and personality, and the customizable magic system of this setting allows for a lot of fun if players choose to use her as their leader. As a traveler lost in time, she has a lot of potential as far as deconstruction of the setting as well as the theme of time-travel, and I plan to make the most of her presence as a main character in the story.  It also helped me practice drawing skies, which is something I’ve always kind of glossed over as a digital artist. I’ll share that portrait in another setting, since it is a little fan-servicey, but I did at least use her portrait as the header image of this entry. I am using her drawing from this as her main menu/formation image, so it’s not totally a waste of time. She is, after all, my team’s mascot as the Stray Fox, but that’s a story for another blog!

After completing Laura’s portrait, I moved on to spriting key frames, since I was tired of having the stand-in sprites from the old engine. This last Saturday I set out to draw roughs of all eight main characters in their sprite template form, and love how they all came out even without converting them to pixel art. Some of these characters I could never imagine in-game but now I have a side-by-side comparison and everyone looks amazing together. I seriously can’t wait to see what parties Shadowdawn‘s players will set up, just to see how they all mix 🙂 Here’s what I’m working on right now, as Arashi’s down idle sprite, frame 0:

ArashiSpritework screenshot

It took awhile, but I feel like the sprites have found their style for this game. These flat colors don’t even look bad but once I add lighting effects it gives them a very well-rounded, 3d look. Let’s just say, it’s nice to have Ket in the game not looking like a still frame from a shrunken 6-year old portrait.

The biggest addition to the engine this week was finally implementing my “attachments” code which never existed in the original engine, so Actor sprites can have layers of other sprites on top of or behind them. This allows me to separate weapons into their own sprite sheet, as well as Ket’s wings, keeping the amount of work in animation down to a minimum. As a result the engine supports changing equipped weapons and how they look! This also may extend to readied tools/special items, as they can appear in the player’s free hand to add more interactivity to the world; at the very least, I want to have essential items like lanterns appear on the character for immersion. This also gives me incentive to make decorative items to let players customize the look of their characters a bit further, which is something I had always planned to add. Ethan and Laura are also scheduled (with low priority) on my to-do list to have custom wardrobe elements beyond the palette swap “outfits,” so Ethan can choose to forego his suit jacket for a sleeker, more adventurous look, and Laura may add her large cloak which she uses to hide the fox tail indicative of her curse.

Lastly, I am seriously considering adding a 9th main playable character to round out both the setting and the balance of the cast as potential party members. As an introduction to the world of Lexis, one major race has never been represented, so I figure adding a traveler from that continent might be another way to give a glimpse into the scope of the setting. As I have yet to fully introduce all the current main characters to my readers, this may be a moot point, but it still is invigorating having a new angle to approach the story from.

Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

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