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How do I draw characters from a top-down view?

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I’m planning on making a Top-Down view fighting game in Flash. The only problem is, every time I try to draw a character, it ends up looking horrible, I can draw in Flash, it’s just the top down view that is confusing me. Does anyone have any tips that will help me?

 
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Use photo reference and cast shadows.

 
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All depends on the style, of course.
Pete just gave good references you could use for a realistic style, but if it’s pixel art you’re looking for, just ask Ramos_emanuel for help, he draws pretty awesome top-down pixel art.

 
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Thanks for the replies. I’m gonna try drawing a top down character again and I’ll let you know if it works out :)

 
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If you have a camera at your disposal, it’s a pretty fantastic tool for figuring out how to draw ~anything based on anatomy or whatnot. Just get on a ladder or something and have a friend stand under you and take pictures of them from different angles, facing different directions, in different poses, etc. I’ve ended up doing this for a ton of different projects when I wasn’t quite sure how things were supposed to look like.

 
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I would definitely recommend starting with “realistic” characters. Pixel art is just an abstraction of realism, just as all the other styles. Consider that there are at least these styles you could render your characters in… I supposed pixel art could be added:

Classicism
Expressionism (and Abstract Expressionism)
Arts & Crafts
Nouveau
Realism
Impressionism
Modernism
Futurism
Deco
Die Brucke / Dada
Constructivism (Russian Populist)
Cubism (probably the closest to “pixel art”)
Surrealism
Pop
Minimalism (and Color Field)

Only some of these styles lend themselves to game productions and some don’t… but innovation and creativity come from doing the unexpected.