Super Sellout’s Art Asset Sweatshop

Hey there, fellow whippersnappers. It’s a Whales and Games tradition to share our game development perspective. And, as I’ve done a few times in the past, I’ll be giving y’all some good old insight about the artwork done for our Ludum Dare 43 game. This time, for our not-really-endless and very-slightly-on-theme superhero runner Super Sellout!

Almost every single pixel you see on the screen that’s not text was made with Krita, which is a free open-source digital painting program. If you want to get into asset making, even if it’s pixel art, I recommend it. Just download it, get a $40-$80 tablet, read a few tutorials, and you’re ready to go.

So, with Krita and a tablet, I was able to make spritesheets for pretty much everything. The main character, the people in need, the background, UI, and even the logo. Almost everything starts with a sketch, then lining up, coloring, adding details, arranging, and saving as a backgroundless PNG, to be imported in Unity.

Did I do anything special this time around? Other than trying a different style, not really. Our previous projects, like Petty Puny PlanetJazzy Beats and Wizsnooks, had a very similar workflow. It all starts with some sketches, then making their respective lineart, coloring, shading, and adding final touches.

Granted, actually making in-depth animations could have taken too long, so we took a lot of shortcuts. I’d like to talk some other day about the design and looks, but long story short, we opted for some paper-cut-out style so that we could justify having so few frames, and thus, allow me to make more content in other places. That’s why we’ve got so many people to rescue, different buildings, menus and what not. In a way, you could say I sacrificed some things in one area to add to others.

Krita, the digital painting program, excels at that, painting, but doesn’t mean that it can’t be used for gamedev assets. Heck, I used it for pixel art for Ludum Dare 36 and 37, and I’m pretty sure that people more talented than me could even make vectors or some impressive stuff. At least on my level, it works to create PNG files that can be easily used in Unity by the rest of the team. That includes the characters, UI elements and even the logo.

Gamejams are a very hectic experience, and it’s extremely hard to juggle between designing, programming, making art, music, playtesting, polishing and delivering. If I was able to make artwork that’s easily recognizable, it’s only because the Whales and Games team were hard at work with the rest of the elements. They do what I cannot do, and I do what they can’t do. They’re the best. If you’d like to come hang out with the team at some point, you’re more than welcome into our Discord server. Come in and we’ll talk about Warframe, Smash bros, the dankest of memes, and cute anime girls high end videogame development.

Here’s hoping you’re having a fantastic rating season. We’re still playing games around, and some have been among the best ones I’ve seen in gamejams to date. Y’all are faaaantastic! Anyhow, I believe I’ve overstayed my welcome. If you’d like to have some more insights from my previous art works, do take a look at the following links. And if you’d rather read about scripting instead of art, my little buddy Jorge got you covered. with an in-depth take about the innards of the game. Keep your chins up and have a fantastic weekend, friendorinos! ?

About Making Assets and Bad Guys in Wizsnooks

On my previous post, I talked a bit about why the art of our game, Wizsnooks, looks like that, mostly showcasing some assets. Today, however, I want to bring up something a bit more meaty instead. Say, how about a step-by-step deployment of an asset?

And what better than doing that by showcasing bad guys? I mean, Kroltan already showed you the guts of the game, while also proving once more than old-timey cartoon villains are the best. So, let’s go from there.

Remember, the tool I’m using is Krita, which is completely free and downloadable from here. To make the best use of it, you need a digital painting tablet. This can still be done with a mouse, but it may take way more time. Getting a 50~100USD tablet is a wise investment.

Wizsnooks is snooker or pool, mixed with roguelike fantasy elements. So, clearly, our enemies will also need to be pool balls. So, the assets begin with a simple circle over a backgroundless layer.

Below it, I filled the layer with color, which can easily be later shaded and recolored for different enemies. The less layers you use, the quicker you can do the process, but with a color and a shade on different layers, you can have more customization in the future.

When I had the ball done (which was layer copied, pasted and edited multiple times to make a sheet), I proceeded to sketch enemies. Each sheet consisted of an Idle pose and a Rolling set of poses. The plan was to make the idle look menacing, like an enemy should, while the rolling was meant to look funny.

So, I turned down the opacity of the ball, and sketched on a new layer above them. Then, when I was done sketching, I would make yet another layer with the lineart, and delete the sketch.

I later colored on a layer below it. There’s techniques such as coloring over alpha and the like, but I’m mostly just going with the basic instructions. This is how the colored layer looks under the lineart.

And here’s how it looks with the opacity of the ball at 100%.

Needless to say, the process is repeated for every pose. Because these are circles, it would have been simple to just draw over the circle, like the protagonist, and be done with it.

However, that was by design to allow the player to look good with helmets and swords. The enemies, to outstand, would need a bit of volume, so there were parts that needed to stick out.

And there it is. Now, Jorge made an animated version of the Dragon Orb (which we affectionately call Dragorb). Here’s the cute little fellah.

That’s pretty much all there is on the subject. Feel free to ask any questions or the like about the development of these assets or the use of Krita. I’ll try to answer to the best of my ability.

Here’s hoping you get a chance to see the whole thing come alive by playing Wizsnooks, available on your browser and downloadable for Windows, Mac and Linux. If you want to chat, this Discord server is where it’s at. And last but not least, here’s the Whales and Games Twitter, so you can keep in contact with us.

In behalf of our team, we hope that you have a fantastic judging phase. We’ll continue to check more games, so be sure to put your best face. Cheers! ? 

My Role as the Artist of Wizsnooks

On Ludum Dare 40, I wrote about how I spent 2 days drawing characters for our game. It was a follow up to the post I made on LD 38 about Krita, the free open-source program. Today, I’ll be retreading the whole thing, but applied to the art of our latest game, Wizsnooks!

The games developed here at Whales and Games usually consists of a programmer, a sound effects person and, in the lack of any other art-people, me. So, during the brainstorm of ideas for our game, someone suggested mixing snookers with roguelike elements in a medieval setting. Seeing the appeal, I quickly sketched a concept of sorts for it:

When we finally decided to use that theme as our game, we had to start thinking about the whole “looks” of the thing. I even tried at one point going with non-lined art to parody Dark Souls or something, but in the end, we chose to stick to my classic style. I even sketched many possible faces for our protagonist white ball.

And Just Monika.

I could go into detail about the story behind every enemy of the game, the tiles and the weapons, but the core of what I want to comment is this. Because of how our team is managed, the programmer(s) can focus on making a great game and the sound person usually does a few tracks and then offers main support to the programmers. I, the lead artist, have no real knowledge of programming and can barely use the tools to upload my own assets. However, having one sole task, I get to draw a lot, and then some, and then some more. Here’s a few screenshots of the development of art assets of the game.

I really want to thank my team, since, otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to participate in game development in this fashion. Dedicating pretty much the whole game jam time to art lets us make more with our time. If you’re interested in seeing how this all went from still assets to something live, do give Wizsnooks a try.

And for those that would like to do their own assets for future game jams, go download Krita. It’s 100% free and constantly updated. It can also be used for sprite work. Like all good tools, it takes a while to understand it, but even with a very cheap digital painting tablet, you could really make your future projects sparkle.

That’s all for now. Whales and Games thank you for reading and for participating in this jam. If you feel like chatting, our Discord channel is live. Cheers! ?

2 Days of Drawing Characters for Jazzy Beats

Hello there. I’ve come to talk a bit about the art direction of Jazzy Beats. As usual with our games, we’ve got a dedicated programmer who can barely doodle and a dedicated artist whose programming knowledge dates to 2002’s HTML classes. We’ve also got a cool audio guy around. But my point is, a game like this one was only possible because of division of labor.

So I want to talk about the art. First thing first, the program I used is the free open source Krita, which I use for all of my drawings, spriting and what not. All of our other games’ art have been made with it too. The banner as well. And while any digital painting tablet works just fine, I do happen to have a Cintiq display. That’s a year and a half worth of commissions though!

Now, what was my workflow to make as many of these sprites as possible? Well, since I did dabble a bit on Unity this time around, the idea was to make “basic poses” only, and manage the transitions through simple Unity movements, like bouncing. So, I didn’t have to sprite all the frames. That would have been unreasonable for a project like this. Heck, thiswas unreasonable. My wrist ended up aching so much by the time of the deadline. But it was well worth it!

So, by making quick sketches first, then lining them up, coloring and adding extra details, I was able to make a pose. Then another, and another, and so on. Because of time, I had to cut on corners wherever it was possible, so most characters have the same poses. And for purposes of gameplay, some characters are only recolors:

However, I didn’t just want to make the recolors be recolors for gameplay purposes. There’s a lot of colorblind people out there, so, trying to make it as accessible as possible, I tried to reverse the values of clothes. Note how the yellow guy has bright pants, while the blue character has a light shirt instead. I admit my ignorance when it comes to how colorblindness works, but I want to say that at least I tried to accommodate.

Finally, since the game was about a very crowded street, I wanted to make as many enemies as possible. Time was a constrain, so there’s only 4 different looks (8 if you count the recolored versions). Cutting corners, the second version of characters were just a new layer of stuff above the old one, with some minor tweaking here and there. For example, the second male fan was the same with a goatee, different hair, a scarf and boots. Here’s how the final sheet for the yellow alternate fan looks like:

’m extremely satisfied with the results. If you happened to be the artist of your game, I’d like to know about your own experiences when working on it, so do let me know!

Here’s the link to the game again, in case you’d like to see these in motion. And do leave us some comments if you’d like me to check out your games as well, since I’m really pushing on Feedback Friends this time around. In behalf of my team, we hope you’re having as much playing games as we are. Cheers! ?

Krita • The Free Art Program I used for 3 Gamejams

My buddy Jorge already posted a timelapse video about our game, Petty Puny Planet 38, highlighting the evolution of the project from the coding and developing point of view. However, there’s nothing there about how the art assets actually got done, because I did that on the side. Hooray for teamwork!

Let me talk a bit about why I used Krita, a free open-source digital painting program, to make the game assets for our 3 game jams so far, plus some other projects with varying degrees of success.

Some sprites from Hyper Holomayhem 37, made for Ludum Dare 37. It’s a quasi-randomly generated shooting arcade platformer.

The most important part comes first: Krita is free and open source. Completely free. No hidden charges, no recurring payments, no shades-of-gray morality involved, no account making. I’ve been using it for years now, and it’s a solid alternative to others like Paint Tool Sai, Fire Alpaca and even Photoshop (as long as you don’t need to use vectors or text, which are Krita’s weak points. In which case, yes, I use Photoshop).

If you check the website, you’re probably thinking that it’s mostly a program for digital painting art, and yes, it is. Regardless, like pretty much any other art program, it can be used and adapted to suit your needs. For example, I’ve been using it to make 2D assets for a few projects that Jorge and I have worked on. Our most recent one, made for this past Ludum Dare 38, is Petty Puny Planet 38, which uses full layered drawings.

A sample of Petty Puny Planet 38’s assets. Check it out and leave us a comment!

During Ludum Dare 36 and 37, however, we instead made games that used sprites. With brushes, guides and tools that can help with it, I also used Krita to make everything that you can see in our games, minus the text. All the UI, buttons and such were made with it as well. Krita is just that flexible.

Colossorama 36 made for Ludum Dare 36, was our first game jam project. The original title screen was too gory, so we later updated the game as just “Colossorama”, with this more refined and appealing title screen

Thus far, I’ve shown that we’ve used Krita for a platformer, an arena and even a simulator of sorts. While it’s not public, we also made a tower defense game at some point. The assets, again, were made with Krita, even though the animations and what not were done inside of Unity itself. (Krita actually supports animation, but that’s something I haven’t dwelled on yet)

Some enemies made for out tower defense game, which we might release in the future. It was a school assignment. Here, you can see some enemies, with their limbs separated, ready to be animated.

Since we’re a team, it’s been a breeze to separate our work and allow for the coders to code and the artists to art, which have resulted in appealing and polished experiences, or so we’ve been told. But if you’re a one person game jammer, well, with enough practice, you can have some of your most needed assets done within minutes. I’m still learning a lot about this, but so far, I’ve had a lot of fun.

Platformer shooter concept art and assets that never were put to use. Oh well. Not all projects can be winners.

Aside from games, though, I’ve mostly used Krita to draw fanart, comics, original characters and even channel art for youtubers, streamers and what not. Feel free to click on this shameless plug if you’d like to check my deviantArt.

Krita doesn’t reinvent the wheel nor try to do some arcane magic, so whatever you know about art theory, layers, filters and what not still applies. Here’s the link again if you’d like to check it out! Take it out for a spin and see if you can put it to use in your own projects. As for me, I can see myself using it in Ludum Dare 39 as well.

Before I leave, if you liked this post, please give Pretty Puny Planet 38 a try. I hope that you like what you see there. In behalf of the team Whales and Games, thanks for reading. Cheers! ?