Hacking and Slaying – crafting an ax

Inkscape tutorial

Here we go again with a tutorial on creating an ax. It’s an essential as far as hacking and slaying game art goes. I know it’s been way too long since the last post. I am still around.  The eagerness to write some hopefully helpful tips is still there. I hope to get some more tutorials out on how to create some assets for your game/ illustrations.  Ultimately, it’s about having fun vectors.
One requested tutorial I received was on weapons. How do you create something decent looking in inkscape. Due to the multitude of weapons out there, I decided to split the request into two or three tutorials and start off with an axe. With even more creative variations used in phantasy games and RPGs, it seemed like the sensible thing to do.
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Getting Started Crafting an Ax…

2dgameartguru - crafting an ax

Let’s start with a rectangle to make the shaft of the axe.

Add another rectangle centred to the shaft and two more either side.

Convert the shape to a path and move the nodes to form the shape.

2Dgameartguru - crafting an ax

Add a line to create a curved shaft. Smoothen the lines to curves and widen the stroke. Convert the line into a path and adjust the nodes at the base to form a more interesting end. Use the double duplicate and the Path/ Difference for the edge of the blade.

2dgameartguru - crafting an ax

Use a gradient fill on the blade and it’s sharp edge (e.g. use a white fill with a gradient alpha fill for the shine).

Add some more rectangles to shade the shaft and the centre bit of the blade.

When you need curved elements for shading it’s helpful to use triangle shapes and deform them.

Add more shading to the axe to give it added volume. Use a clip for the shades on the blade.

You might want to add an outline for a more cartoony look or to make it work better in small ingame sizes.

As with most vector objects the key is the ease to create variations (e.g. turning the axe into a double blade).

2dgameartguru - crafting an ax

Game Size

Here’s a sample of those two axes scaled down to 64×64 pixels and 32×32 pixels for use e.g. in inventories or equipped to the character.
 
In the smaller version you can see the limitations of the dimensions. Adding more detail to the axe when the final ingame size is just 32×32 or smaller wouldn’t make much sense as you lose most of it when scaling. It also gets harder to read the object as an icon.
Tip:
Keep your output size in mind when creating your vector images. The image might look awesome on your 24″ monitor. Yet a lot of the time consuming details added to them might not be visible in the image used in the game. 
It helps to zoom out every now and then and look at the art in a size close to what you will use in your game. 

Let’s take the simple hand axe and turn it into something a little fancier. We have the basic blade – a little dull and boring but a good starting point.


Get the source files [SVG, PDF, AFFINITY and CDR] for this tutorial for free.

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Adding Detail

2dgameartguru - crafting an ax

Using the base shape it’s fairly easy to create variations.

Adding more nodes allows you to bend the blade in more dynamic ways.

From more elegant shapes by narrowing the shape and adding some holes.

Turn the shapes into curves and curve the blade of the axe outwards and the other lines inwards.

Add another rectangle to the shaft for the grip.

Duplicate the blade 2x and move one copy a little over to the right. Using the Path/ Difference [CTRL + -] cut out the blade.

2Dgameartguru - crafting an ax
2dgameartguru - crafting an ax

With more complexe shapes (e.g. with the holes cut into this blade there will be parts left after the cut). It’s often easiest to delete them using the node too and create smaller, more manageable shapes as individual objects.

Adding decoration to the blade, the shaft and the grip makes for unique designs.

Add more shading to the axe to give it added volume. Use a clip for the shades on the blade.

You might want to add an outline for a more cartoony look or to make it work better in small ingame sizes.

As with most vector objects the key is the ease to create variations (e.g. turning the axe into a double blade).

2dgameartguru - crafting an ax

Tip:
For some additional colouring of the blade (e.g. the reddish tint I used on the two blades above) it’s easiest to create a duplicate of the blades base shape and give it a coloured tint and then turn it into an alpha gradient. The transparency allows you to shade only certain areas of the blade. 
For the smaller blade I used two of those shapes running from bottom up and another one from top left to lower right. 

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Evolution

Crafting an ax is simple. When creating a whole set of weapons it gets tricky. You want to allow a character to evolve and update his equipment. It’s helpful to line up your designs and ‘sort’ them from the simpler shapes to the more complex. Enhance the decor and design to give the player a sense of visual feedback when upgrading.
That’s all for this tutorial on crafting an ax. I will continue this set of tutorials with some rambling about designing swords next. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did writing it. Good luck with your designs.

Get the source file [svg, pdf, affinity and cdr] for this tutorial for free!

2Dgameartguru making an ax
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