First of all, I’m a terrible artist. My mediocre drawing skill is literally hurting my capacity to churn out games rapidly. I’d very much like to hire someone or to co-work to accelerate my projects, and I’ve been searching for talents in my local ever since. No luck so far. If you have urge to work on casual game art with an individual developer, let me know.
Whatever the case might be, I need a good art assets. More likely, I want a set of assets with unified look and feel. Everything has to be completely unified in one color scheme, one drawing style, and one feeling. The gap between my reality and the obnoxiously picky attitude to artwork quality always burdens my heart. Then all of sudden, out of blue, a ray of light is shed on me. I am subscribing iDevBlogADay, and Luke Rodgers was doing 2D artwork in Blender! That sounds so right because I know how to handle dots in 3D space with Blender and coat with skin! Since Blender thereafter handles very nicely all the curves, shadow, and highlighted area, I can bring professionally handled characters into “Catstrict 7″!
There are of course pros and cons
- Once I build and skin a model, I can reuse the model over and over again until I got it right for color or shading.
- Once a rendering environment is set (lights and shader parameters, Lamp and Material in Blender) I can apply them to every single graphic asset in game; letters,characters, special objects, terrain, buildings, and the list goes on.
- Once a model gets bones, its animation will be handled by Blender and the outcome will be very consistent and proportional. This will save huge amount of time for creating animation sprites.
- It takes certain amount of time to model and skin. This is inevitable and usually takes longer than sketching a sprite in 2D space.
- Shader and lights parameter are hard to get it right at first. I have to give as many trials as I should. This puts delay in development process.
- If my skin work isn’t done properly, no matter how good my texture is, the result will look dreadful.
The downside does not discourage me because I am in a situation where the rendered results do not need gory details like usual 3D artworks do. We are talking about 320×480 (640×960) pixels screen right? Detailed wrinkles probably won’t make much difference in the end, and I should focus on big features such as big eyes, shape of face, and etc. These facts lead me to model low polygon shapes and save me huge chunk of time in the process. ( Nevertheless, it takes good five days to refresh my memory for shortcuts in Blender. Arrrrrgh!)
Here comes what I have done for last few days.
Ok, This one starts showing some promise. (I named him “Hamlet”. say hi!) Let me remind of myself. ‘I am making 2D game character for small screen. I don’t need full-fledged 3D volume for the character. Something exaggerated in its characteristics with flat, curvy, and smooth look is more likely what I’m looking for.’
With different shader parameters and light types, I rendered few shots. Like I mentioned earlier, I can generate different looks of a character just with one model and a texture. Over and over again. If a particular setting for shader and light suit to the project theme, I can apply that to every single model I have worked without a blink. This is very handy indeed.
Of those ones, I’d like to use ones with less plasticky look and softer shadow. It looks like I have to give few more tests for shadow.
I will keep reiterating and reiterating until I get it right. In doing so, I will stack huge pile of experimental leftover. But that’s good because all those leftover will contribute to the final one eventually. Cats and dogs are just barely out of brainstorm and no, these are not even going to be used in test. Just not yet. So far, not a single one satisfies me and I think I’ll keep trying until I can hit the eureka moment.
Until then, keep it safe my friend.
With few more trials, I finally come to a result with which I could move on.
The issue with previous renderings were that they all had the plasticky feel. Although I draw characters in a 3D editor, the result should resemble what is drawn by hands on good old 2D space. The new rendering looks a lot better to me.