Jetboard Joust Devlog #14 – Negative Space

Despite spending five years of my life at art college I don’t really consider myself an artist, or even a designer particularly. Yes I used to draw tons as a kid (and still do a bit now) and I like to make shit up – especially weird monsters and stuff, but I have enough of an eye for it to know that there are plenty of people out there much better at it than me.

So normally I prefer to work with other artists, but as I can’t really afford to pay anyone for this job and I’m already deep into a revenue-sharing venture with @PVBroadz as Joystick Junkyard this one needs to be all me. And getting back into the art after, pretty much, fifteen years off has been (and continues to be) a pretty steep learning curve.

This is why I can spend around two hours designing a stupid ground tile.

I’m pretty pleased with the way the ‘ruined city’ has been progressing but now it’s almost done I didn’t think the original ground tile worked so I set about designing a new one thinking this would be a simple job. It took an awfully long time going down blind alleys before I arrived at design #1 on the right, which was the first thing I was vaguely happy with.

The thing that enabled me to get there was thinking about Kirby dots. Jack Kirby was the genius artist behind all the classic Marvel comics and one of his signature techniques was his depiction of cosmic energy and explosions, ‘Kirby Dots’ or the ‘Kirby Crackle’. Basically he’d draw ‘in reverse’, filling in negative space with a repeated pattern to leave the outline of the shapes that would normally be drawn first in the space left behind. On the edges you were left with an area where the line between positive and negative space, or foreground and background, became blurred.

I was attempting to do this in a simplified way with my background tiles. Not to create an explosive effect but to blur the line between which shapes were ‘in front’ and which were ‘behind’ – and I think it kind of worked.

The problem with this design was that it looked great whilst I was working on it really blown up in Photoshop but when I looked at it in a game context is seemed kind of ‘fiddly’ to me, like there was too much detail in there or something.

I tried a few of things to fix this but none of them worked so as I last resort I thought I’d try simply blowing the whole thing up 200% – design #2. Strangely, whilst all the pixel art gurus tell you you should never combine two different pixel resolutions in one scene, I thought this looked much better.

So I edited the ‘blown up’ version to give it a bit more depth and added a touch more detail to make it seem more consistent with the overall pixel resolution – design #3. At the moment I like this. I hope still do after the weekend.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that art isn’t just as hard as writing code.

Dev Time: 0.25 days (including project setup)
Total Dev Time: approx 16.75 days

previous | next

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Kirby Dots or the Kirby Crackle – Genius

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Design #1 – Too Fiddly

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Design #1 Blown Up – Negative Space

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Design #2 – The Laws Of Pixel Art Say This Shouldn’t Work

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Design #3 – Here’s Hoping I Don’t Start To Hate It Later
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