Character design help

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Hello everyone. I’m working on my first game and as of yesterday, I’m a really shitty artist. Would anyone be willing to help me out on this?

 
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To clarify, the player, enemies and NPCs are all based on chess pieces, so I’m trying to make them like human versions of those pieces. So far Pawns and Rooks have designs already, so I’d need designs for Bishops, Knights, Kings, and Queens.

 
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would you like to show us the already made designs?
I’m too busy to take up any projects, but here are some questions to help you when talking about character and sprites

Just saying humans based of chess pieces still misses how it fits into your game. What kind of world are they in?
Character Design, like in any other design, still follows the belief “Form follows function”. So without function, the form is not going to fit the job.

TLDR: if you don’t make it clear what the question is, you’ll end up with irrelevant solutions.

You need to ask yourself 2 big questions.
WHAT does each character need to do?
HOW will they do it?

Whats the purpose?
This character is an enemy designed to piss off the player

How does it achieve it?
it’s going to do that by blocking half the screen in it’s level, creepy smile and annoying buzz noise complimentary.

What roles does each character have? is there a background story or do they just appear and attack you? What kind of world are they in?
Does the game have a theme? providing a mood board would help (Collection of images that are in the theme. Are the chess pieces hauntingly shiny or rusty and creepy?)
How do they interact with the player, what sort of animations do you need?

limitations of game
What perspective are we taking about? top down? 2.5D isometric? Sidescroller?
Are you working in vector, pixel art, raster drawings, or 3D?
Sprite size (px) – this is going to limit the amount of detail you have

Providing an exact check-list of what has to be done by the artist is great :)

End of rant

good luck!

 
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Okay, it’s going to be a platformer where each level has you playing as one of five classes that the enemies also consist of. Each class has a different play style based on what piece they represent. Specifically:
Pawn: Basic platformer class. Run, jump, close-range melee attack.
Rook: Very fast, but can’t stop until it hits a wall or ceiling.
Knight: Mid-range dash attack, can’t hit unless the target is above or below him.
Bishop: Shoots bullets along diagonal lines.
King: Very slow, but can teleport if he’s in attack range.

Story
Basically, you’ll be playing out a game of chess, with each level representing a move. Like in chess, the goal is to capture he opponent’s king.

Designs
The designs don’t need to be too complex, since they’re going to be turned to pixel art for their sprites anyway. Animations will be taken care of once the sprites are made. As for the style, I’d say that it depends on the piece. For example, the pawn is designed to resemble a soldier, since he’s the one on the front lines. The rook, on the other hand, is drawn like a bird, because flying and puns.

Limitations
It’ll be a sidescroller using pixel art sprites.
I’m not sure what the sizes are, but their sizes will vary based on their power. Pawns will be the smallest, then the King, followed by the Knights, Rooks, and Bishops, then the Queen is the largest.

 
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You didn’t include a queen description. Also, I’m puzzled about this sentence in your first post: “I’m working on my first game and as of yesterday, I’m a really shitty artist.” What happened that day that made you a bad artist? Were you a better artist the day before, but got your drawing hand crushed under a press by the mob because you wouldn’t pay your gambling debts, or something?

 
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The OP did not mention what the setting of the game was. Since he said that the game involves soldiers as pawns and bullet-shooting bishops, I’m assuming that the setting is the modern world. Also, he did not say what the mood of the game is supposed to be. The game could be a gritty neo-noir, but since silly cartoons are easy to draw, here are a couple of quick designs I made.

Pawn:

Bishop:

I don’t expect that the drawings will be accepted, but I do expect the OP to clarify what kind of art he wants. ;)

 
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Originally posted by Ace_Blue:

You didn’t include a queen description. Also, I’m puzzled about this sentence in your first post: “I’m working on my first game and as of yesterday, I’m a really shitty artist.” What happened that day that made you a bad artist? Were you a better artist the day before, but got your drawing hand crushed under a press by the mob because you wouldn’t pay your gambling debts, or something?

I should probably clarify that I meant to say I realized that I’m a shitty artist. Also, I decided not to make the Queen playable, since the game would be too easy then.

Originally posted by Elyzius:

The OP did not mention what the setting of the game was. Since he said that the game involves soldiers as pawns and bullet-shooting bishops, I’m assuming that the setting is the modern world. Also, he did not say what the mood of the game is supposed to be. The game could be a gritty neo-noir, but since silly cartoons are easy to draw, here are a couple of quick designs I made.

Pawn:

Bishop:

I don’t expect that the drawings will be accepted, but I do expect the OP to clarify what kind of art he wants. ;)

I didn’t mention an art style because I don’t know what it is yet. For reference, here’s the white pawn sprite.
http://www.kongregate.com/collabs/art/SpiritfChaos/pawn-sprite

 
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I hope you don’t mind if I offer some constructive criticism on the white pawn sprite. The main problem with it is that I can’t tell what it really is. I see legs and some arm-like appendages, but the rest of it is unrecognizable to me.

When designing characters, the first principle is that “form follows function.” You say that the rook is very fast but can’t stop until it hits a wall or ceiling. Its name notwithstanding, the rook’s movement is not bird-like at all. To me, it sounds more like a wheeled vehicle with no brakes or maybe some kind of re-usable missile.

The second principle is that characters should be recognizable by their silhouettes. Take a look at the following illustration, which shows silhouettes of several cartoon characters. From their silhouettes alone, can you recognize these characters? Most if not all people who have seen these characters before would recognize their silhouettes. (Credits to Bob Flynn for the picture.)

Next principle: The silhouette should suggest the kind of person the character is. A pear-shaped character or one who is basically circle-shaped suggests a person who loves comfort and relaxation. A character with a lot of sharp angles looks dangerous. A female with curves in all the right places is sexy, and a male with a squarish jaw, broad shoulders, tapered body, and large limbs is strong or brutish. Notice that Popeye does not look strong at all, except in his forearms and hands, which are capable of bursting open a can of spinach. On the other hand, his nemesis, Bluto, has a small head and macho body and is every bit the uncouth brute. (I’m referring to the 1930s Bluto, not the more modern renditions of him.)

Regarding shapes, you can sometimes go the opposite of what a shape suggests, but it takes practice and skill to know when to break the rules to achieve a desired effect. Take Elmer Fudd. He has a large, chubby head and a small pear-shaped body. Nothing about his silhouette suggests that he is the confrontational type. Nevertheless, he is a hunter who seeks out “wabbits” in the woods. Elmer is shaped like a baby, which is pretty much what he is — loud, irascible, and immature. Brilliant character design happens when you don’t take the obvious path but wind up achieving a desired effect anyway.

There’s much more to character design than these few tips I’ve given you. In fact, you can fill entire books on this topic alone. The information I’ve posted here should be enough to give you a good start, nevertheless.

 
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Ooh, we should talk more about character designs sometime :)

 
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That would be great, Epsellis. It’s always a pleasure to talk about the finer points of making memorable and distinctive characters. :)