Welcome back wizards and sorceresses!
Time ago I talked about game design vs concept art, and the consequence of their confrontation. Today I’m proud to say I find a way to fruitfully use that conflict. Indeed art is about limits. As an artist I feel a natural need to overcome boundaries, but, art is more than a rebel act of creation against rules: like every language and grammar, art need to face limits and find a way to magnify the border itself. Why we would keep using pixel art otherwise? The deprivation of hi definition is a limit we self-impose working on low-fi-media as pixel art, but artists all around the world enjoy these limits so much, because limits and needs give birth to skills and creative solutions.
Facer de necessitate, virtute. (Make a virtue out of necessity).
Concept art needs to convey beauty and functional illustration together. My first attempt of concepting Wizards of Unica were a bit frustrating, because the sense of wonder of my imagination had to face the needs of the game play. In example, high, majestic mountains would make impossible to detect enemies to the player, and without shader I had to forget all the overlay lights we use so much in digital illustration nowadays. But working hard, side to side with my pal Luca, we find practical solutions to aesthetic problems, and the results aren’t far from the starting concept.
I cannot have a single big cliff, but we built layers of rocks, so that when they are stocked you can see a big mountain surrounding with its power. Yeah, is the old idea of a tile-set, but with a very different approach as you can see by the results.
After one year working on pixel art and basic animation, I’m way more confident. I start to remake some of the older monsters and they look way much better now, and still keeping animation into my beloved hardcore 3 cycle, key-framing and fluidity are grown.
There are no special secret, just practice. And never start with a project that looks too big. If you are a creative person, even a project that looks right as workload will reveal HUGE, bringing to you a lot of frustration. Wizards of Unica was looking quiet small to me, and it is revealing huge! Luca and I, we are the only developers and it is easy to get frustrated by long term project as a small team. Luckily positive responses and skills improvement give to us the right prospective, as you can easily imagine by the Yuki Onna evolution through a single year of pixel art practice.
I’m not an art newbie, I’m a professional artist since 2006, mastering oil on canvas techniques and Italian Baroque’ masters secrets, but when I started with pixel art I had to learn from the beginning. When I paint with traditional media I use BIG strokes of brush, refining only in the end with smaller, but in 32×32 px the error become macroscopic, and every minimum shift of a pixel can change completely the reading of the image. Despite my eye catching skills I had to train a lot before start to see quickly the best solutions for hands, and faces ad still I have lotta to learn. Oh, and you have never to stop to look at others’ work and study it and analyze it. I’m a passionate person, so its easy to me to stop watch main artists work, once I started my work, and that’s good for concentrate and to not hesitate, and find your own way, but every time you feel stuck, go and find inspiration and learn new tricks.
I hope this post amazed and inspired you. Next week I will show you the Yuki Onna animation, and I will add a new page to the bestiary with Mount Ibuki monsters!
Let me remind you that Wizards of Unica alpha 0.2 is in free download, and even in this early test phases we’re glad to receive your feedback!
Thanks for you support!
Daniele Lynx Lasalandra