The Resource WIP Thread 3

hiddenone

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@Benny Jackdaw It's not a bad start! Though that looks more like a sea lion than a seal (since seals are lil' sausages of cute). ;) One thing to keep in mind is that both those beasties are pretty tube-like in shape, so there would be shadows on the body where it touches the floor and maybe highlights on the upper parts of the body depending on where your light source is coming from.
 

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With plugins, yes. Default battlers, no.

There's a white background, have you been drawing with that there? A pure white background distorts your perception of color and contrast. If you draw with a medium grey, even better a grey with a bit of color, it will be much more accurate to how you'll want it to be when you use it in a game. I still like to try it out against the battle backgrounds, see how well it actually works, of course.

The character design is engaging, the basic style good. I don't think you need to tweak there (though if you want to, go for it! The best ideas are usually not the first ones and it's better to experiment early rather than later). That over exaggerated arch in the spine is bothering me though, it looks like there's not enough room for a rib cage anymore without detaching from the spine.

Making a full battler sprite is ambitious! I haven't been brave enough to try it myself yet. Good luck!
 

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I'd have to echo in and say it does look a bit more sealionish then seal - at least from a distance.

Though I think that's fine, since a lot of cartoons seem to splice their traits together. But if you do want to get something more sealish, it needs to be a bit rounder.

Though I guess if we're talking about seals - I might as well share this over world sprite I was messing with a few weeks ago:



Personally, I feel really out of water trying to draw super tiny.
 

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Seems to be for overworld sprites, not SV battlers.

@Benny Jackdaw It's not a bad start! Though that looks more like a sea lion than a seal (since seals are lil' sausages of cute). ;) One thing to keep in mind is that both those beasties are pretty tube-like in shape, so there would be shadows on the body where it touches the floor and maybe highlights on the upper parts of the body depending on where your light source is coming from.
Seal. Sea Lion. Both work for me.



Anyway, I tweaked it a bit by Shifting the shading around to what you recommended. Is that better?

With plugins, yes. Default battlers, no.

There's a white background, have you been drawing with that there? A pure white background distorts your perception of color and contrast. If you draw with a medium grey, even better a grey with a bit of color, it will be much more accurate to how you'll want it to be when you use it in a game. I still like to try it out against the battle backgrounds, see how well it actually works, of course.

The character design is engaging, the basic style good. I don't think you need to tweak there (though if you want to, go for it! The best ideas are usually not the first ones and it's better to experiment early rather than later). That over exaggerated arch in the spine is bothering me though, it looks like there's not enough room for a rib cage anymore without detaching from the spine.

Making a full battler sprite is ambitious! I haven't been brave enough to try it myself yet. Good luck!
It's an off-white background. I could make it a little darker and work on the spine if you wish. As for ambition oh, that's why I'm working with a style that might be easy to draw to make it easier to make a full sheet.
 
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Sharm

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I'm using the dark theme, so it looks white to me. It's definitely still too bright, 50% grey is what you want, halfway between black and white.

I think using more real world references and being a lot more careful about correct anatomy will be much more important in creating a battler than an easy art style. You'll also end up with an animal that doesn't struggle to look like what you're representing. Animation is about a billion times harder if you don't know why something isn't working, and usually the problem is anatomy. Getting it right the first time is loads faster. Know where the lungs are, how exactly the flippers attach, where the major muscles would be to make it move, and so on, and you'll draw everything faster and better.

Hiddenone wasn't talking about the outline when she was talking about highlights and shadows. She was talking about the internal shading. You can get away with having none, but only if the style of everything is simple enough (backgrounds, effects, ect.), and if the basic shape is right. If you are going to fudge having a correct shape then you have to get a lot of other things completely right, like good shading. Personally I think it's better to have both, but you can't be meh on all the points of art or your artwork will be meh.

Let me put this another way. There are shortcuts to being fast in art, but there are no shortcuts to being good.
 

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Take 3.

All right, I looked up some pictures of sea lions and based my third Sprite off what I noticed. I also tried to work on my shading a little bit. Something still feels off, though. Any more tips?
 
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Much better! It looks more like a real animal now, and the darker background makes it easier to see what's really going on. That's an unusual light source. Is that going to match how you're doing everything else?

I think that you need to decide if you're going lineless or not. Right now you're trying too hard to straddle the fence and it's making neither version work. If you're doing outlines all of it should be outlined and all of the outline should be darker than the part it's containing. It doesn't have to all be the same dark color for the whole sprite, you can do a lighter outline for the brighter parts if you want, but it does have to be the darkest color in what it's touching to work. Using an outline has the advantage of helping it stand out, be distinct from the background, so it won't accidentally blend in. If you're doing lineless you need to stop following the very edge quite so much, just let the edges be the main color or shade color or whatever. Lineless is quicker and looks more impressive, but it's harder to do correctly and leans a lot more heavily on your art skills.

Something's off about your color ramp. Some of it is contrast, things blending into others too well and needing more definition. I'd bump your darkest color just a bit darker. I think the other problem is that the shadows are too grey. Try adding a bit more hue to your ramp the darker it goes, see if that helps.

It's really cool that you're willing to go through these reiterations based on the critique. It's hard to do, not just because you're doing more art, but because of the ego. It's also a great way to improve quickly, so I hope you feel like you're still getting a lot out of it. The later things you do should go much faster.
 

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Take 3.

All right, I looked up some pictures of sea lions and based my third Sprite off what I noticed. I also tried to work on my shading a little bit. Something still feels off, though. Any more tips?
It's a good doggo.
 

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Much better! It looks more like a real animal now, and the darker background makes it easier to see what's really going on. That's an unusual light source. Is that going to match how you're doing everything else?

I think that you need to decide if you're going lineless or not. Right now you're trying too hard to straddle the fence and it's making neither version work. If you're doing outlines all of it should be outlined and all of the outline should be darker than the part it's containing. It doesn't have to all be the same dark color for the whole sprite, you can do a lighter outline for the brighter parts if you want, but it does have to be the darkest color in what it's touching to work. Using an outline has the advantage of helping it stand out, be distinct from the background, so it won't accidentally blend in. If you're doing lineless you need to stop following the very edge quite so much, just let the edges be the main color or shade color or whatever. Lineless is quicker and looks more impressive, but it's harder to do correctly and leans a lot more heavily on your art skills.

Something's off about your color ramp. Some of it is contrast, things blending into others too well and needing more definition. I'd bump your darkest color just a bit darker. I think the other problem is that the shadows are too grey. Try adding a bit more hue to your ramp the darker it goes, see if that helps.

It's really cool that you're willing to go through these reiterations based on the critique. It's hard to do, not just because you're doing more art, but because of the ego. It's also a great way to improve quickly, so I hope you feel like you're still getting a lot out of it. The later things you do should go much faster.
I have to be honest, it's starting to feel like you're just making things difficult for the sake of making things difficult. First off, I have no idea what you mean by some of the things you are saying. Like the Shadows are too Gray? What gray Shadow is are you talking about? The only gray I'm using is the background. Also, let the edge be the shading? Try adding a bit more Hue to my ramp the darker it goes? I think I might need some visual tips on how to do that because it because it seems like something that you'd never be able to understand if someone just told you what to do, and it seems like something that requires showing.

Edit: Like this?

I tried to focus more on shading by light source rather than outline.
 
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Sharm

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@Benny Jackdaw You said something still felt off. I was trying to point out things that look off to me and touch on ways to fix them in the hopes that your problem was one of those things. If you didn't want solve the problem you're seeing, that's fine, but saying "something looks off" in a critique thread is pretty much the same thing as saying "can you help me find the problem and improve this?" I'm willing to put in the work to illustrate what I was mentioning and explain in further detail, but only if you want to put in the work to use what I'm teaching and tone back the attitude. Because, to be honest, it would be a whole lot easier and faster to just make it for you instead of trying to teach you, and I would charge $30 an hour to do things like that. To sum up the problems I see: inconsistent in shading, an attempt to blend two opposing styles that do not actually blend, and weak color choices. Do whatever you want with that information.
 

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@Benny Jackdaw You said something still felt off. I was trying to point out things that look off to me and touch on ways to fix them in the hopes that your problem was one of those things. If you didn't want solve the problem you're seeing, that's fine, but saying "something looks off" in a critique thread is pretty much the same thing as saying "can you help me find the problem and improve this?" I'm willing to put in the work to illustrate what I was mentioning and explain in further detail, but only if you want to put in the work to use what I'm teaching and tone back the attitude. Because, to be honest, it would be a whole lot easier and faster to just make it for you instead of trying to teach you, and I would charge $30 an hour to do things like that. To sum up the problems I see: inconsistent in shading, an attempt to blend two opposing styles that do not actually blend, and weak color choices. Do whatever you want with that information.
Sorry, I guess I was just a little overwhelmed by the elaborateness of the criticism. No hard feelings.

I'm trying to go for a simple lineless Style. I'm not sure where you're getting that I'm trying to blend two Styles together. In addition, how is the shading inconsistent? Why is the pallet choice weak? In your opinion, what would make the shading better? Trying to make the Sprite good, it's just that it feels like you're taking me through a maze of criticism and not leading me down a straightforward path of criticism. In a way, I'm kind of criticizing how you're criticizing, but I'm not mad, I'm just still filled with questions.
 

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Okay, I can see where you're coming from. The thing is that you're trying to do something that depends a lot on art skills to be good. From the way you're responding, these are art skills you don't have. To get where you want to go without those skills is a tricky balance of teaching new things, helping you fix the things you don't have the knowledge to see, and avoiding learning anything irrelevant to the cause. There's a lot of trial and error doing things this way. The straightforward path is to take art classes, learn the basics first before trying to make something that requires a strong foundation in them. I can help you fix up this sprite and teach you the things you need to know to keep that quality level through the rest of your battler with or without that art skill foundation. But with how this is going so far you're not at the critique stage yet if your goal is to be good at art. Once you have the foundational knowledge a lot of what I'm doing would be way less confusing and would just be pointing out weak points in your knowledge base. Oh, by taking art classes, I don't necessarily mean going to a physical school or anything. There are lots of online resources for learning the things you'll need. I would say focus more on the theory than practice right now if your end goal is to be a good artist.

I'm going to briefly try to answer some of your questions and not too far into them until I have a better understanding of what you want from this.

You have four shades of brown that you're using in the seal. Highlight, midtone (base color), shadow, darker shadow/outline. The highlight and the darker shadow are hugging the edges and are very thin, the same way an outline would be. To be an outline, the entire thing would be darkest on the edge, all the way around and in the crevices. To be a highlight and shade, they wouldn't hug the edge at the same time, and wouldn't be so thin. It's neither the right place to be a lineless style, nor the right darkness to be an outline. It's two styles at once, struggling against each other.

Those four brown shades are what's known as a color ramp. From what I can see, the ramp is too straight, too boring. It only gets darker and lighter, it doesn't change hue, it doesn't change saturation, it just changes how close to black or white it is (luminosity). This in turn flattens the image, making it look dull. In other words if I were to place your colors along a line that shows luminosity (imagine a grey gradient) they would all have some space apart. But if it was a gradient showing hue (looks like a rainbow) or saturation (gradient from grey to orangey-red) they'd all be in the exactly the same spot. My suggestion was to change the saturation levels of some of your color choices, shifting it from its spot somewhere between grey and orangey-red to somewhere closer to the red and further from the grey. Since the orangey-red is the hue, doing this would be adding more hue and removing grey. If you need visuals for this, just look at menu for choosing colors in almost every art program out there. That's what those lines of gradients are representing. HSL, Hue Saturation Luminosity. You could also shift the hue around a bit too to make it even more interesting, but I don't think you should bother right now. It's easier to mess up and has more of a need of consistency through the project if you're doing hue shifting.

The shading is a can of worms. It's interconnected with lots of things like where you want your light source, the texture of the object, the shape of the object, the shininess of it and more. It is easier to remove most of the shading or keep it very small and limited than to fix it without giving you a lot of art lessons. I do not currently know where your light source is intended to be, there are a lot of conflicting messages from where you are placing the highlights and shadows. As it stands right now, if I were to guess, I would say that your light source is quite bright and close, on the ground in front of the seal's flipper pointing upwards. I doubt this is what you imagined.

Art is a dense subject. If you weren't filled with questions right now, then art wouldn't be right for you. I'll do my best to make it less murky though.
 

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Okay, I can see where you're coming from. The thing is that you're trying to do something that depends a lot on art skills to be good. From the way you're responding, these are art skills you don't have. To get where you want to go without those skills is a tricky balance of teaching new things, helping you fix the things you don't have the knowledge to see, and avoiding learning anything irrelevant to the cause. There's a lot of trial and error doing things this way. The straightforward path is to take art classes, learn the basics first before trying to make something that requires a strong foundation in them. I can help you fix up this sprite and teach you the things you need to know to keep that quality level through the rest of your battler with or without that art skill foundation. But with how this is going so far you're not at the critique stage yet if your goal is to be good at art. Once you have the foundational knowledge a lot of what I'm doing would be way less confusing and would just be pointing out weak points in your knowledge base. Oh, by taking art classes, I don't necessarily mean going to a physical school or anything. There are lots of online resources for learning the things you'll need. I would say focus more on the theory than practice right now if your end goal is to be a good artist.

I'm going to briefly try to answer some of your questions and not too far into them until I have a better understanding of what you want from this.

You have four shades of brown that you're using in the seal. Highlight, midtone (base color), shadow, darker shadow/outline. The highlight and the darker shadow are hugging the edges and are very thin, the same way an outline would be. To be an outline, the entire thing would be darkest on the edge, all the way around and in the crevices. To be a highlight and shade, they wouldn't hug the edge at the same time, and wouldn't be so thin. It's neither the right place to be a lineless style, nor the right darkness to be an outline. It's two styles at once, struggling against each other.

Those four brown shades are what's known as a color ramp. From what I can see, the ramp is too straight, too boring. It only gets darker and lighter, it doesn't change hue, it doesn't change saturation, it just changes how close to black or white it is (luminosity). This in turn flattens the image, making it look dull. In other words if I were to place your colors along a line that shows luminosity (imagine a grey gradient) they would all have some space apart. But if it was a gradient showing hue (looks like a rainbow) or saturation (gradient from grey to orangey-red) they'd all be in the exactly the same spot. My suggestion was to change the saturation levels of some of your color choices, shifting it from its spot somewhere between grey and orangey-red to somewhere closer to the red and further from the grey. Since the orangey-red is the hue, doing this would be adding more hue and removing grey. If you need visuals for this, just look at menu for choosing colors in almost every art program out there. That's what those lines of gradients are representing. HSL, Hue Saturation Luminosity. You could also shift the hue around a bit too to make it even more interesting, but I don't think you should bother right now. It's easier to mess up and has more of a need of consistency through the project if you're doing hue shifting.

The shading is a can of worms. It's interconnected with lots of things like where you want your light source, the texture of the object, the shape of the object, the shininess of it and more. It is easier to remove most of the shading or keep it very small and limited than to fix it without giving you a lot of art lessons. I do not currently know where your light source is intended to be, there are a lot of conflicting messages from where you are placing the highlights and shadows. As it stands right now, if I were to guess, I would say that your light source is quite bright and close, on the ground in front of the seal's flipper pointing upwards. I doubt this is what you imagined.

Art is a dense subject. If you weren't filled with questions right now, then art wouldn't be right for you. I'll do my best to make it less murky though.
I have to be honest... My goal isn't really to be a great artist, it's just to make a game that I'm proud of, using my characters, and my story and what not. The problem is that MY favorite characters happen to be species other than the most commonly used species for a protagonist: humans. ( in fact, whenever I make a story or something, the main character can be pretty much anything but a human). Even if my main characters species exist in Sprite form, it won't truly be my character. I mean, where am I going to find a sea lion in glasses and a business suit for RPG Maker MV, or a huge sumo wrestling walrus in a diaper? I have all these ideas, and I'm not afraid to draw them out. I'm not looking to be the greatest Sprite maker of all time, hack the graphics in earthquake Warriors are basically just doodles. This is an attempt at some serious Sprite making. Not necessarily great Sprite making, but Sprites that look nice at the very l e a s t. But in the end, I want to focus on the game first and the Sprites second.

That being said, I do think I'm starting to get a grasp on the things are saying. I'll try to follow that advice the best I can for my next Sprite. As for the light source, it's supposed to be above her head at an angle in front of her.
 
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Sanyee

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Hello :)

I decided to try and make a sprite.... Did the standing pose.... tried to make the moviments and thats how its looking now...

austin (2 and half).gif

The arms are really annoying me... Thought about having some advice, if you guys don't mind.... ^^'
 

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@Benny Jackdaw It's good to know exactly what you want. Here's the hard truths. Either you make a whole game with good art by learning to be a good artist (critique, workshopping, and study), you make one single thing for your game that's good and learn to be an okay artist that's only good at that one thing (what you're doing now, workshopping one thing with minimal relevant study), you learn to be okay at art and make okay art for your whole game (a some study of basics or minimal workshopping of everything you make), or you don't learn any art at all and either hire someone or make due with bad art. How much you can do with art is entirely dependant on how much art skill you can bring to the task. From what you're saying, the level of commitment you're willing to put into getting good at art will get you one good character, with similar characters looking maybe fine and the different ones looking not great. Or, going a different way with the same level of commitment, passable art all around but nothing good. Your current seal is passable. You'll get reviews that say both how eye-stabbing awful the art is and how quirky, fun and original it is, it's going to be mixed and some people are jerks, but it will do the job. So if you're good with doing about the same amount of workshopping as you've done so far with each new art piece of your game, you'll get everything looking about as good as your seal, though my critiques should start making more sense as we go. Keep in mind, when I say you'll be doing this much work for each piece in your game, I'm talking frames, not characters. Getting something to animate properly tends to eat up all the time/effort you save by having it be a bunch of similar images. This is why it's so very hard to find an artist willing to make animated battlers, it's a lot of work. Each frame of animation is about the same amount of work as a new artwork, even if you copy/paste. Unless you're really good at it, but being good at animation is like learning art x2. I hope this is the information you need to make decisions and plans.

If the light source is from mostly above, anything that is top will be lit. This means that while the head will cast a shadow it would be short if you see it at all, mostly by the base of the neck, not enough to put the back end in shadow. The rear should be in nearly as much in light as the head. I'm guessing your reference images were taken near sunset. If you want to simplify just put the shadow on the belly and nowhere else.

@Sanyee Cute! I find front and back arm movements very hard. Try letting the arms swing around the body instead of just back and forth along side it. Let the arms cross in front of the body, maybe swing out from the sides a bit more. Keep in mind that a woman's arms are different than a male's, they're built to avoid hitting the hips, so they hang outwards slightly, not straight down. In contrast, if you do a male sprite, you might want to bend the arms inward slightly. Will you be animating the hair at all? I find that adding some bounce to the hair really adds to the illusion of movement for the entire thing.
 

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@Benny Jackdaw It's good to know exactly what you want. Here's the hard truths. Either you make a whole game with good art by learning to be a good artist (critique, workshopping, and study), you make one single thing for your game that's good and learn to be an okay artist that's only good at that one thing (what you're doing now, workshopping one thing with minimal relevant study), you learn to be okay at art and make okay art for your whole game (a some study of basics or minimal workshopping of everything you make), or you don't learn any art at all and either hire someone or make due with bad art. How much you can do with art is entirely dependant on how much art skill you can bring to the task. From what you're saying, the level of commitment you're willing to put into getting good at art will get you one good character, with similar characters looking maybe fine and the different ones looking not great. Or, going a different way with the same level of commitment, passable art all around but nothing good. Your current seal is passable. You'll get reviews that say both how eye-stabbing awful the art is and how quirky, fun and original it is, it's going to be mixed and some people are jerks, but it will do the job. So if you're good with doing about the same amount of workshopping as you've done so far with each new art piece of your game, you'll get everything looking about as good as your seal, though my critiques should start making more sense as we go. Keep in mind, when I say you'll be doing this much work for each piece in your game, I'm talking frames, not characters. Getting something to animate properly tends to eat up all the time/effort you save by having it be a bunch of similar images. This is why it's so very hard to find an artist willing to make animated battlers, it's a lot of work. Each frame of animation is about the same amount of work as a new artwork, even if you copy/paste. Unless you're really good at it, but being good at animation is like learning art x2. I hope this is the information you need to make decisions and plans.

If the light source is from mostly above, anything that is top will be lit. This means that while the head will cast a shadow it would be short if you see it at all, mostly by the base of the neck, not enough to put the back end in shadow. The rear should be in nearly as much in light as the head. I'm guessing your reference images were taken near sunset. If you want to simplify just put the shadow on the belly and nowhere else.

@Sanyee Cute! I find front and back arm movements very hard. Try letting the arms swing around the body instead of just back and forth along side it. Let the arms cross in front of the body, maybe swing out from the sides a bit more. Keep in mind that a woman's arms are different than a male's, they're built to avoid hitting the hips, so they hang outwards slightly, not straight down. In contrast, if you do a male sprite, you might want to bend the arms inward slightly. Will you be animating the hair at all? I find that adding some bounce to the hair really adds to the illusion of movement for the entire thing.
I'm trying, I really am. However, I have to say that you're turning what was a fun little project into a chore. And I have to be honest, some of your info for seems a little bogus when I try it in practice. That whole color ramping idea, for starters... I've tried light pink to dark gray, light pink to dark brown, and several different other color ramping configurations, and it just makes the Sprite look uglier and not better. Also I have tried your light sourcing advice, any whole idea that there should not be shadowing on the back doesn't make sense. I've even tried it on the head, the dividing area between the neck and the back, and a few other places. What I've noticed is that it just leads to loss of detail, and not a better Sprite.

I'm really trying to take your advice, but it doesn't seem to be helping me in any way. It's just adding more stress to what was supposed to be a fun project.
 

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@Benny Jackdaw With coloring, things look a lot less "muddy" when you have a light color in mind, like instead of using grey but darker, use a bluish darker grey kind of thing. So My current AV isn't a good example.

But honestly, I think it looks fine - you can visually tell what it is. If your not looking for super detailed stuff and just want to work on your game, I think it's fine as it is. And you can always go back and change the sprite details afterward.

With shading the only thing you have to worry about is "pillow shading" - where every part of the body is shaded equally, but your sprite doesn't have that. It's clear the light is coming in from the front. And the darkest shades are at the back.

If your really happy with how the sprite is - I'd say it's fine and just move on. There's no point in getting super worked up and hating your project.
 

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@Benny Jackdaw With coloring, things look a lot less "muddy" when you have a light color in mind, like instead of using grey but darker, use a bluish darker grey kind of thing. So My current AV isn't a good example.

But honestly, I think it looks fine - you can visually tell what it is. If your not looking for super detailed stuff and just want to work on your game, I think it's fine as it is. And you can always go back and change the sprite details afterward.

With shading the only thing you have to worry about is "pillow shading" - where every part of the body is shaded equally, but your sprite doesn't have that. It's clear the light is coming in from the front. And the darkest shades are at the back.

If your really happy with how the sprite is - I'd say it's fine and just move on. There's no point in getting super worked up and hating your project.
That's what both Mystic Enigma and my dad told me, and personally I think I might just come to a point where my Sprites good enough and I'll proceed. After all, Graphics are in my opinion one of the least important aspects of a game. Graphics don't need to be super detailed for me, they just need to be readable and clean.
 

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