Category: Art


Inking Out the Texture Style

Pens used for hand drawn texturing

These are the two pens I use for drawing the textures.


I want to write a bit about the texture-making process for Caromble, which is quite different than I learned to make textures for bigger games. Early on I decided to try a more analogue texture look, while not going too experimental.

All textures are done first on paper with a simple ink pen (the Pilot G-Tec-C4 0.4mm). Before that step I put the A4 paper on the monitor and trace the texture layout on with a light blue pen (Pilot Color eno 0.7 “soft blue”). A bit of a low tech approach, but it works quite well. On the side picture you can see the blue traces.

Over the years of working on the game, the style and process changed a bit. Earlier Assets used to be much more detailed. Here are some of the later assets (with the signs you can see in a recent post). There you can see the lineart, that I scan and then color on the computer. Without effects it looks quite bland, so there are always specular maps (that change the shininess of an object) and normal maps (which add surface details). Sometimes some other render effects like illumination maps, that for example make windows and car-lights glow.

Texture layers of stylized sign

The textures of the bus. With the linart first, the colored texture, specular – and then the effect map that shows which parts should glow.

Texture layers of stylized sign

The textures for a commercial sign. With the linart, the final diffuse, specular – and a normal map.

Texture layers of stylized sign

Another commercial sign. Showing linart, diffuse, specular and normal map.

I think going for that low tech pen workflow was a good choice, since it saved time compared to tougher lead-penciling styles – even if that might have been easier to show off with. This way I can gather more experience before trying crazier art styles. For example I learned over time that I can work really small – a 512 texture only taking up 3cm. By now I could nearly fit the whole game on two A4 papers.
On the scan below you can see some earlier textures. While more detail looks nicer on paper, in the game (surrounded by lots of items) these just disappeared. The simpler and much quicker way looks better in the end. Win-Win!

A4 ink texture sheet

This is the A4 sheet I use for inking – it has half the textures of the game.

Here I’ve made a render with just the line-art. It looks also interesting – definitely something I will experiment around with more. The next one shows how it looks with all textures applied – the colors help the gampelay a lot, making it easier to distinguish items and their function.

Noshadow Lineart-game render

This is how the game looks with just the line-art (and a small black outline around the objects).

Lineart-game render

Here it’s the same textures, but with shadows, shading and some effects like blur.

Flat color render

This is a plain render – with no shadows or effects, showing the added color layer.

Effects render

And this is after turning on some of the effects you see in the game, like the normal maps, glowing lights, blur in the depth, and of course shadowing. The game actually has some more.

Levels in the new theme

A few weeks ago, our artist Thomas S already showed some of the newly created assets for the new theme: Metropolitan/Commercial style. We have been working hard to create some levels with these and I got official permission to give a sneak peek:

A train that rides more reliably than ours in Utrecht Doesn't the Alien boss look scary!?

We hope you like it! It’s not only the graphics style that is different in this theme. There will be some new gameplay features that could lift you right up:)

Also nice: this week the gaming news website Gamingbolt published a piece we wrote in their section ”Developer journal’. You can read it here. We hope to have some more journals there soon.

Oh, and if you accidentally find yourself  in Amsterdam tomorrow evening, you should go to Pakhuis de Zwijger. There will be another Control Gamelab. This time it is on making Game Trailers. We hope to learn enough to make our upcoming trailer super awesome! Expect it on youtube soon, of course with moving footage of our new graphics theme.

A New Chapter

After showing our first levels with an industry setting at the GamesCom in Cologone we’re concentrating now on the next chapter with a commercial look. The scenes will be less dominated by pipes and machines, but by neon signs, skyscrapers with glowing windows and city traffic.
Here are some asset renders of finished assets.

As many futuristic/industrial cityscapes, this chapter is inspired by Blade Runner. But also by some visits to Tokyo.

A study in light

Friday was one of these days that I just seemed completely unable to focus on the thing I was supposed to do, which is making a new level. It’s not that making levels isn’t fun, because it is. Just didn’t seem to happen that day… The funny thing is, on those days a lot of other things do happen.

Since the level I was supposed to be working is set at night, I figured it would be nice to have some lights flicker when switching on.

But how exactly do lights flicker? Deciding that this situation called for some experiments, I started my code editor and dragged out the Caromble! toolbox. First thing that came out was a simple formula: x*x. Plugging that in the function that controls the intensity of the light, we get a light that gets brighter at an increasingly quick rate. Nice, but not quite what I was after…

Then I thought of an old friend: Perlin Noise! Perlin noise is nice, because it gives you a random number that varies over time, but in a coherent way. For the light this means that it will be on for a while, then off for another, but  not switching every frame. This already gave a nice flickering effect.

The disadvantage of this method is the rate of flickering is constant throughout the whole period. I want the rate of flickering to be high at start, and then gradually decrease. I achieved this effect by taking the square root of the time parameter, before plugging it into the Perlin noise function.

And here is how that looks:

New Paddle

paddle

Santa came early this year and look what he brought: a brand new paddle! This paddle matches our background story much better. And it looks better too. On top of that the shape has been updated too, it is a bit more flat at the top, so players will have greater control over the ball.

We also would like to share some concept art previously posted on our Greenlight page. It shows you the direction we’re headed with Caromble!, as we are nearing the final stages of development.

We are eager to hear any thoughts and feedback!


Orderly Rubble

Another new addition: Pieces break into rubble (just for the looks). So here are some amazing rubble models!

Concept: The Alien!

So in our push to get a new demo together we’re also adjusting some gameplay. For one we want to give the player a clear goal what to aim for in a level.

Our idea is to add an alien artifact, that crashed in each level. The player is basically the alien rescue team. Here are some ideas for how the design could look.

It has a clear contrast to the world, to be easily spottable. It also gives us an excuse to make the goodies easily spottable. Red looks nice – so we’ll run witht hat, but we might have to use more colors for different goodies.

New Asset: The Oil Silo

This new object is a bit simpler than the old batch, because the rushed assets usually turned out nicer in the game than the detailed ones. It’s one of the toughest parts in game art to keep the bigger picture in mind. When an artist works on something, then it is easy to optimize detail/contrast/colors for this specific item. But all those properties work completely different in a scene it has to share with many other objects.

So here it is: thicker lines on the texture. Less and softer details. And less color.

Asset: The Bus

One of the assets rushed in for Indigo. Will get some brush-up and normal maps later.

That was by the way some of the interesting feedback I got: the most rushed assets got repeatedly positive reactions. My perfectionism makes me cringe a bit – but of course I should be happy because I can work much faster than I did with some of the older assets. They turned out too detailed – it does not only not show up but also makes their impact lower.

So maybe even this one is a bit more than needed.

Final Asset: The Farmhouse

One of the first bigger assets in it’s final form: the farmhouse. Which is right next to the start on or prototype level. I made a little turnaround movie – one with the diffuse map, and one with just the normal map (Normal maps are basically just showing the shape of a form, instead of the color).

I think I’ll keep this style throughout the project – after all the testing I’ve written about earlier, I’ve got it working: It’s quick, and unique enough. With some after effects we’re planning for this should work well in the final game (again, those asset shots are not done in the real engine yet, but close to it).