Tag Archive: Assets


Black or white?

In a previous post we wrote about creating challenges, or a place to pile our feature creep!

This skill testing place now gets a makeover. At the time – some 5 months ago – we used the available assets to create prototypes. Currently, we are deciding on the final style.

We like this challenge area to look clean, simple, and fun. With this in mind we converged to a clownfish palette containing black, white and orange. With orange only being used for accents, so you’re not actually playing in ‘Clownfish Land’.

The important question is: what will be the dominant color? Black or white? Does it matter? A wise man once sang: ♪ It don’t matter if you’re black or white. Whoo! ♪

The screenshots below are our current mockups for the challenge areas. In a future post we will reveal the final style.

Black

Mockup for a challenge level using black as the dominant ‘color’.

White

Mockup for a challenge level using white as the dominant color.

Brushing up the Commercial Chapter

Here are some newly finished objects for our so-named commercial chapter. A train, and some more houses.
There are still a handful items left for this one, but it nears completion. After that I will concentrate on the challenge levels, that will get a completely different set. We’re getting good progress on several fronts, and it’s soon time to add more ooomph the effects and backgrounds. There is still much room to improve. Exciting!

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.

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.

Orderly Rubble

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

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).





More Steps in 3D

On request to add desktop sizes of the last images, I’ve made the caromble wallpaper page. Hope this works for everyone.

And the following images are some more asset-shots to test the final 3D look.

As pointed out in the last post, this is not in-game, but close to it. If we get features like the black outline to work, it will help us also with the gameplay. We could change the color to highlight important objects.

While working on the cow screenshot, there was a little accident. I put the wrong texture on all objects. But I think it actually has something to it – it looks more gritty, evil and in despair. Wile the overall technique for the other assets is ok, I will try to incorporate some of the effects from this mistake. Maybe the cow will get a gasmask one day.

Next Step in 3D

After the 3D tests I showed earlier I had a pretty clear path to go. Inked lineart did a neat job: it is clearly visible, gives a unique look and is well workable. The next step was coloring to create some final assets so I know it works for all the remaining pieces. From the concepts I had a good idea of how the coloring should look like – and I wanted to take the loose approach very directly into 3D.

Here are some 3D tests that are further along. Note though, that while these are real-time shots, they are not from the actual game. Certain features, like the black outline are still missing. But I think we’re close – the depth of field (blurring in the distance) is working already albeit not as perfect yet.

Here the texture of an oil barrel. Each object will have also a damaged version – thats what the cracks are for. For who is not into 3D usually: The light blue part is a normal map, which helps the game with the lighting. It adds little details like the rims, without having to change the mesh.
It was a guideline from the team to create these, because the Ardor3D engine is able to handle modern shaders quite nicely and we want to show that off (and it looked nicer anyways). While in the game the lights is not set up well yet, these normal maps will look better than in those test shots.