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Complete Game Project [part2] Character Design

Inkscape Tutorial

Let’s continue the complete game project with the more design of the main character. I like to flesh out the main elements early in the development process. They define the whole look and feel of the game.

The initial test in the small png size looked alright. Next up, it needs tweaking a little bit. The shape itself can work and is recognizable though.
Consequently, it made the need for rather large eyes clearer. Exaggerated featuers are essential for a relatively small character to show facial expressions. They make the poses more interesting.  It’s helpful to work on the key elements and leave less important parts off (e.g. in this case the elbows, knees and feet).

A simpler design will be lot more readable. Refrain from trying to add all the little details into a small canvas size.

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Continuing on the Game Character

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The body is a bit rigid with the pill shape and might cause stiffness in the animation.

Delete the bottom node and turn the base into a line to create the head shape. Add another circle to make the body.

In order to get the ‘steam-punk’ feel, the main shapes will have a brass colour.

For the shadows and highlight define one lighter and one darker colour.

If you are unsure about the right colours, try adding a lighter and a darker shape with transparency to get your shaded colours (1).

2dgameartguru - complete game art
2dgameartguru - complete game art

Add another rectangle, convert it to a path (SHIFT + CTRL + C).
Select all four nodes and add additional nodes with the insert new nodes button.

Move the top centre node upwards to match the angle of the roof. There is no need to be 100% accurate as the roof will cover it.

Duplicate the main shapes (head, horns, shoulders, body and hips) and fill them with the brass colour.
The legs, arms and hands might just be too small in our bitmap output to show shading properly.

Scale them down a bit and move them off centre to the top right a bit in order to match the light source.

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Shading the Robot continued

2dgameartguru - complete game art

To give the head a highlight and a secondary light coming from the left side for a metallic look, duplicate the head shape twice and scale down just the width of those two objects.

Moving the inner shape over to the left leaves more highlight on the right hand side (where the main light source is).

It is helpful to define back and front as the character will be moving left and right most of the time. It makes the animations later one clearer.
Let’s put the left arm, shoulder, leg and horn in front and the right side elements behind the body/ head.
Change the fill colours to show the difference.

2dgameartguru - complete game art
2dgameartguru - complete game art

In order to give the character facial expressions add some details to the eyes and some eyebrows.
They are very effective to show different emotions once we start posing the character.
The eyebrows for the robot are just deformed squares and the eye gets a few more circles.

The body needs some shading to show it’s rounded and underneath the head. Duplicate the outer body shape, delete the bottom node and curve the base line inwards for the shadow cast by the head. The highlight is a curved triangle placed on the lower right.
Let’s do another bitmap test.

2dgameartguru - complete game art

Exporting the Game Character 

As a 48×48 pixels bitmap the character looks like this:

The shapes are now more readable compared with the last version. The joints might need some scaling. Especially the hip and the leg could be a bit larger. 
Lastly, the ‘face’ is still a bit bland. It could use a bit more work and some variation. Maybe an unevenness of the left and right eye could work. 

Note:
I decided to post smaller steps (as I get them done) rather than wait for the whole section to be finished before posting. It should make it easier for me to keep posting more frequently and not facing the daunting task of a 5 to 6 hour job to create the next step.  


1) I wrote a quick tutorial about finding your colours for shadows and highlights.

More posts in this series:

2dgameartguru - complete game art project
2dgameartguru - complete game art project
2dgameartguru - complete game art project
2dgameartguru - complete game art project
2dgameartguru - complete game art project