As you may or may not know, I’m working on an independent video game built in RPG Maker VX Ace with the intended (hopeful) goal of a commercial release as the first game under the Drunk Dorks moniker. I thought today it might be interesting to show the process I go through in drawing the monsters for it.

The graphic style I am going for is kind of a bridge of 8-bit and 16-bit aesthetics: detailed drawings with simplistic color schemes. For example, I use shading sparingly and generally only highlight when an object is supposed to be shiny. The map graphics have more varied detail levels than the monsters, but I’ll save that for another post.

For drawing I’m using the wonderful (and free) Paint.net. For free-hand drawing, I use a Microsoft Surface Pro, and for the rest of the editing and drawing I use my desktop PC.

Often, I’ll start with a Google image search if the monster is based on a real-world thing, followed by a free-hand drawing. Then, I put that drawing on my PC, clean up the outline and add coloration and a shadow. For one monster, I decided ferocious badgers would be terrorizing a schoolyard. Here’s some pretty pictures of them.

Here’s my first drawing:

Badger 01

I generally draw them at twice the resolution I intend them to finish as, using a 2 pixel brush. Here’s the same image at half-size (ironically, doubled in size to make it easier to see) with the edited outline:

Badger 02

You’ll notice the original head wasn’t very symmetrical. I preferred the outline of the right half and the bands weren’t satisfactory, so I fixed that here and did a mirror copy of one half to produce a symmetrical result.

Badger 03

Here’s the finished outline over my grid. I use this grid behind most of the graphics I make. It in addition to a pixel grid makes it easy to see sprite borders, properly size graphics, and center and line things up nicely.

For the coloring, the roan-looking hairs are neat, but outside the scope of my graphic concept, so I went with gray instead. Here’s the finished badger:

Badger 04

When imported into RPGMaker VX Ace, I set the pink to invisible and the dark blue shadow to transparent.

I mentioned symmetry earlier, and here’s another way I use it from time to time to create a decent-looking graphic. This little guy:

Cave Bat 02

looked like this about halfway through:

Cave Bat 01

The red frame was drawn over a wing that I liked, then flipped and rotated to provide a matching wing on the other side. You can probably see that I didn’t finish them perfectly symmetrical, but that’s okay and intended.

Sometimes real-world objects provide weird inspiration:

Pine Ghost

Cat toy becomes Pineapple Ghost! Incidentally, I lost a lot of time over trying to draw the crosshatching with a three-dimensional appearance, using various bulge and sphere tools, before deciding it looked fine the way it is (and it’s a ghost, so who says it isn’t paper thin?)

Sometimes I don’t need to free-hand at all. This robot is mostly shape tools and line-curving, finished off with some fairly easy pixel-by-pixel work.

Clumsy Old Robot

Paint.net has a nifty feature that gives you the length of the line you’re using as you edit it, so I was able to keep both arms the same length even though they’re totally different shapes.

I’ll be writing more development blogs in the future, though not on any specific timescale (as my game is not on any specific timescale.) Feel free to comment, including any suggestions on future blog topics you’d like to see regarding Project Shadow.

You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter. I don’t post a lot, and there’s a lot of other crap there, but I do post about my game from time to time (if such a thing interests you!)

–Chim

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