CAGD 493 – WEEK 12

Between this week and last I barely had time for my project. Luckily I was able to squeeze out a redesign of my base sprite for punch. As I mentioned before I thought a lot of his original design was muddy when translated into pixel art, So I was able to finally rework it and hope to start working out a simple pose and possibly some quick animation for him in a sprite sheet.

CAGD 493 – WEEK 11

Unfortunately I was unable to get anything done specifically for the class this week. Right now at work I am under a crunch. Currently I do not have approval to share any specifics on the work I am doing, I will see if I can post something later this week.

The basics for the system is to use Sculpted Character busts for a portrait system of a game. The sculpted busts, along with low poly meshes will be fed into a substance designer node network to randomize texture patterns, what high poly bakes to use, and colors. This system is then fed into a unity script that uses seeds to randomize the textures as well as low poly meshes to create different clothing, armor and accessories for the characters.

All of this will be fed into multiple characters in game, using secondary cameras rendering to portrait areas on a player card.

CAGD 493 – WEEK 9

Finally! This week felt great, I actually created something, or the first draft of something. I went back through my thought process last week and realized I need to start more basic. I attempted to draw and pose Punch all in one go, when really I should have just tried to draw him and get a feel for how his forms are created. Now my goal is to rework this sprite so that the actual size, shown in the preview window, doesn’t appear so muddy.

As for other artistic endeavors I did a lot of miniature painting this week. Really liking the progression I have been making with it. I ordered and already received the 2nd, and last kit, after these I am on my own. The first kit focused on setting up a base color, using washes, then dry-brushing to get a look, and the 3 finalized minis are what use that concept. The new kit is all about layering and glazing to build up great shading on minis.


And for the sculpting update, I spent the week waiting on shipments to setup a hotbox to soften my clay. Using the oven or microwave was a bit tedious and I wanted a more reliable method, so I googled around and found this:

I have all the parts as of yesterday, I just need to build it as the CGCookie tutorial subscription expires in 3 week.s

CAGD 493 – WEEK 8

Had a realization this week. I am not good enough to make a character yet. I tried for a few hours to sketch out Punch, but ended up getting frustrated near the end and just making a sloppy mess in a desperate attempt to make anything work and build off of it.

I think the concept is just a bit beyond me at the moment and I need to focus on smaller shapes. So after hours wasted on that end I decided to focus on basic geometric shapes as I realized I had never even tried this yet. I setup a canvas of 32×32 and started with flat 2D shapes. Then went back and recreated their 3D counterparts.

I’ll be using these as base shapes in my material study project, but I also plan on expanding these alone for shape studies now as well since I have identified that as a weakpoint in my pixel art knowledge.


In terms of other art skill progression I learned this week, I started learning two hobbies I have been meaning to get into for a very long time. Mainly because I had some shipments and preorders all come in at once.

The first new skill I started working on was Miniature Painting. I haven’t done any painting in a long time and I have always meant to learn how to paint miniatures. So I bought a kit that comes with 3 figures and a bunch of paints to sort of get into miniature painting. Most of this was to prep for when I get my GKR: Heavy Hitters box from Weta. I backed their project on kickstarter at the level that I should get a ton of unpainted mech miniatures to have fun with.

The next thing to work on are these figures, but first I have to reform one of their swords.

The second hobby I started, then had to put down for a bit, was sculpting. I bought a bunch of stuff for this a long time ago but was never able to get into it. Then a couple months ago I saw this book on preorder so I nabbed it. 

THEN CGCookie started their Sculpt Box Offer and I bought that. 

I am currently working on CG Cookie’s first little tutorial monster, but I have to wait for a heatlamp to come in as I have no real reliable way to heat up and soften my clay. 

CAGD 493 – Week 7

Over Spring Break I tried to tackle Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 of Pixel Logic, and it is a good thing because Chapter 3 didn’t really have many exercises, the problem is that neither did Chapter 4.

Chapter 3 was mainly about color, the issue with attempting to create an exercise is that in order to create a color palette I need something to work on. It did have a lot of good information though that works in addition to common color theory.

For example when working on shadows it suggested instead of just value shifting (moving towards black) you should hue shift as well, either towards violet or towards yellow. Hue shifting towards violet is much more common due to it being the darkest hue and yellow is the lightest.

It also talked about shifting saturation when playing with shadows and light values. Playing with dull highlights/vibrant shadows, vibrant highlights/dull shadows, and other combinations like pure flat, can give you many options when creating sprites.

The last good bit of information it had was to use grey as a filler color since it blends towards the main colors complement. It helps a ton in different lighting settings. An example shown was a grey tree trunk using purple for accents in a night scene creates a brown looking color to the viewer.

Chapter 4 was all about sprite readability. Mainly talking and showing examples of how to work with detailing sprites in various sizes. Readability goes DOWN when a sprite gets smaller because you have less pixels to work with. I haven’t covered the second half of the chapter yet as it gives a lot of shape examples that I want to work though on my first pixel art.

Speaking of my first pixel art I finally have a goal to work on this week in terms of a portfolio piece.

I want to work on this character from Rocket Volley, a project I worked on 3 years ago in 3D. We had come up with some really cool character concepts and I want to see how I can flesh them out in 3D.

In addition to this I also wanted to start work on a compilation of material studies using this as an example. I will generate various material types to work on, or steal the ones shown here, and recreate them at various pixel sizes like 16×16 / 32×32 / 64×64


CAGD 493 – WEEK 6

Anti-Aliasing sprites is really interesting… and hard. The main focus of the second chapter of Pixel Logic is Anti Aliasing and how/where to use it, if at all. The main argument against using AA comes down to a couple things, Art Style, Asset Timelines, and sprite size. But I am here to learn, so I have to use it while learning!

Again this week I had to make my own little exercises, mostly by copying examples in the chapters.

The first exercise I tried with this method was a failure and I quit part way through, basically I didn’t want to keep going with it as my replication wasn’t enhancing my knowledge of the subject. I was placing the pixels where the examples showed off, but I didn’t know why, and without the images there to go off of I would have been lost.

Luckily further into the chapter the Author starts talking about the actual rules for creating AA.

The first section talked about working you way up with simple straight lines (at any angle other that 90 degree increments they are jagged). So I created a straight line, along with one using a slight curve. The Author also talked about practicing with one color first before moving onto multiple.

The next exercise is a bit more advanced, it is about using AA to create better, smoother curves with your color tints. Your Convex curves follow a pattern of the curve center using lighting colors, while the outsides use darker, Concave follows the opposite rule. The Darker colors will push into whatever you’re curving (the object with similar tones, while the lighter colors will expand it, helping create more gradual curves out of less pixels.

The bulk of the rest of the chapter was a bit more of a DON’Ts section with examples of what not to do, things like banding, where your AA has a similar thickness to your base shapes. Banding makes very blocky looking shapes and works against the goal of AA.

The next chapter is all about Color and I hope that very soon I will be able to start working on my own images, I plan to take some drawings or sketches and turn them into sprites as practice once I have enough knowledge.

CAGD 493 – Week 5

Due to an unforeseen family emergency this semester I have to travel out of Chico frequently, which means I have a whole lot less time to be around my computer, a lot of that missing time is time I dedicated for this course. As a result I needed to figure out a secondary project that I could easily accomplish on my laptop, in much more sporadic work periods.

I order to keep on track with the course and not go down the easy route of programming (and not make Frank mad at me picking a programming project) I have decided to finally learn pixel art. It is a project I have been meaning to pick up, but never found much time to focus on it, and settled on waiting until after school to do. So for the weeks in which I cannot focus on a 3D modeling task I will instead be working on learning pixel art. Starting with the awesome series Pixel-Logic by Michael Azzi. It is an indie go-go campaign I backed years ago and so far has 6 out of 12 chapters complete.

This week I worked on chapters 0-1 of Pixel-Logic.

Chapter 0 is basically just an introduction talking about the differences of pixel art and other digital arts.

Chapter 1 focuses on the importance of line art. Unfortunately Pixel-Logic doesn’t provide any premade exercises to follow along with, so I tried to make up my own during the readings.

The first exercise I decided to do was cleaning up brush strokes to have better line art flow. The top row is my initial stroke while the bottom row is my cleanup.

The main idea behind cleaning line art is to follow a stair stepping pattern, moving from big to small and never mixing up pixel sizes unless you are trying to change the direction of a stroke.


The second exercise was based on a section where the author discuses different types of line art, one of the types is selective and they mention that the reader should study pokemon sprites for this style by breaking them down, so I took some of them and did that. You can see from the way the line art was done on the sprites that they really incorporated the lighting of the characters well.


Sorry they don’t scale, will have to find a better way to do that.


Next week my goal is to either do some 3D art on my character project, or if I cannot, work on 2-3 more chapters of pixel logic.

CAGD 493 – Week 02

This week I start the first planned character of the semester. I spent the last couple of weeks trying to decide exactly what type of character I wanted to do, and have narrowed it down to three ideas.

The first two ideas center around Heroes of the Storm (HotS). With the small amount of free time I have it is the game I play the most and I think it would be cool to do either of these.

Idea 1: Take a character from a Blizzard IP not already in Heroes of the Storm and make a model for them that would fit the environment and perspective of HotS. The characters I would consider for this are:

Malthael from Diablo

A Fire Bat from Star Craft
Fire Bat

or Tirion Fordring from Warcraft

Idea 2: Is to take a character from Heroes of the Storm, and give them a AAA Next Gen type model, since HotS is a top down, stylized game, I thought it would be cool to see how some of the blizzard characters looked more realistic.

My main choice for this would be Johanna. I think the armor, cloth, and hair would be really fun to work with.


Idea 3: Participate and follow along with this months Polycount Character Art Challenge. I think this could be fun as well since I would be submitting my progress online in addition to the class to get advice and critiques.


CAGD 493 – Week 01

It has been a while since my last post and the last time I was able to take a modeling course. Two Jobs + Graduate Studies apparently takes up a lot of my time, who knew?

Last time I took CAGD 493 I started out with a big ambitious project and ended up switching to multiple others, I learned a lot but I never got much out of it in terms of portfolio work. This time I want to take the approach of more bit sized projects, with a goal of 2-4 projects this semester. The main thing I have been wanting to work on for a while now is my character modeling and sculpting. I haven’t gotten a chance to do a character project in two years and have been dying to do so since then.

To start I want to spend a couple weeks going over new tutorials, I am most likely a little rusty when it comes to character work as I mainly focus on Environment Art. After that I will break into working on a character from concept art I find online, and once that is complete my goal will be to work on a unique character, something from my head concepted from the ground up. Taking things from my imagination has been a weak point of mine for a long time, I want to directly tackle it this semester. This final project will overlap the entire semester in certain ways as I will be trying to come up with ideas and concepts in-between other work.

CAGD 398 – What to do Now?

This post was made for the students of CAGD 398, but others may find use in it.

Every summer I make it a goal to do at least 40 hours a week of learning or project work related to game development, and every summer I come back leaps and bounds ahead of where I was. Odds are you have never spent 40 hours in a single week working on a project. It may feel like it during the school semester, but you will probably also have multiple classes, GE courses, and possibly a part time job, or multiples. 40 hours can seem like a huge commitment at first, but the reason for this number is the idea that if you want to work in Game Development you might want to try working on your stuff in a full time capacity. Summer is the perfect time for all of this.

To keep track of everything I usually go to spreadsheets. I have made a quick draft of the spreadsheet I will be using to track this summer. You can view it and make a copy if you want here.

Following this method alone wont make you magically better. You will have to work hard and push yourself. The only person stopping you from getting better is yourself. Never wait for a class assignment to start working or learning.

To get your started I suggest checking out these resources: