Author Topic: Background Blitz :: Workshop Edition :: Concluded  (Read 51567 times)

Daniel Thomas

  • "zyndikate"
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Another update, house.

Nice sketches Jburger and Dnuma, and good you could join in. :)

To give my view on interesting a shape.
I think a unpredictable shape is most interesting, a symtric-shape is imo most uninteresting. Its predictable!

I think more riggid and "stiff" shapes has its place too, like in a more serious mood this could help to enhance the that.
For a intersting shape I think irregularity is needed - variation. The shape can have some of its edges "going/pushing/wedging" into the negative space(the space around it).
Its like theyre interlocking. And even these shapes should have some variation and not the same size so they become very repeative.
Ill try to illustrate the diffrence between a irregular and more rigid/predictable shape here(note these are just abstract shape), nothing fance but should show what I mean:

As you clearly can see here so will the more interesting shape make you hapy and your tounge will stick out and make you look like a silly(silly is good). If you have a predictable shape it will make you grow some beard and also make your face melt.

You can see the negative and filled shape, theyre playing with eachother - sharing and taking space.
You can make it have as much variation as you can imagine, both direction of every line, shape. Size, length, round, straight etc.
The more, the more interesting it becomes.
I think is why study and sketching so you have the it ready to be put down anywhere on any shape to make it looks good. This goes for composition later on too.

If anyone are questioning this, feel free to start discussing and ask me - or even challange me. :)

« Last Edit: 20 May 2008, 02:16 by zyndikate »
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  • Mittens Viscount
  • Cultured man of mystery
    • I can help with backgrounds
    • Andail worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Andail worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Nice activity :)
I might contribute with something if I get the time, I'm really inspired by your work here!


Hope you do!


Any kind of analysis regarding the aspects we're dealing with is highly welcome, from anyone. Nobody's an expert here, so don't hesitate to give your thoughts.

Would be best if they were posted by the time we're dealing with them though, so if you have some thoughts on colour schemes for instance, then please post them when we reach that stage.
« Last Edit: 20 May 2008, 16:12 by loominous »
Looking for a writer

Some ideas:

JBurger, Exsecratus:

I think your designs could benefit from smaller, less symmetrical base structures:

Starting out with a smaller base structures make it easier to get more interesting general shapes, as you don't need to add as many sub elements to compensate for the base structures' predictable shapes.

They seem to be coming along nicely though.



I think there's a repetition thing going on that might not be ideal:

The elements could still be similar, but more contrasting.

I think the design is excellent as is, but I think countering this could help it further.

Edit: Unable to fix broken links
« Last Edit: 12 Jul 2015, 08:29 by loominous »
Looking for a writer

The sketches so far have been about designing individual elements, and it's now time to compose these into environments.

Thumbnail Sketches

Most artists work from really small sketches, called 'thumbnails'. Due to their size and roughness, the artist can quickly experiment with many different ideas, before settling with a design that seems to have most promise.

Another benefit with their size is that it prevents us from to starting to fiddle around with details, a strong human tendency it seems, which, as usual, just distracts from the big picture, which is still the focus.

The big picture is about finding a composition that does what you want it to do. Usually this is about leading the viewer to particular areas of interest, while having an interesting/beautiful appearance. So it has a functional and aesthetical role.

Zyndikate is going to elaborate on composition, so I'll leave that for now.

Going from thumbnails to more elaborate sketches

After a thumbnail design has been chosen, you can either use it simply as a reference for a larger detailed sketch, or resize it and trace over it (or some other way).

Even though details are now added, the focus is still on getting the image to work as a whole.


That's it, good luck!
« Last Edit: 24 May 2008, 13:24 by loominous »
Looking for a writer

Just wanted to say, that I can't participate this time, but I really like the concept of this workshop. I'm curious of the outcome. What you all have done, looks great.


  • Mittens Viscount
Am I the only one having a hard time making out Loominous' images.  In my browser they appear to blend with the background colour of the forums.

Is this what they look like to everyone:


Hm, the .png images have been compressed with PNGNQ to get decent filesizes (it's a lossy compression that also affects the alpha).

What browser are you using?
Looking for a writer


  • Mittens Viscount
Just Internet Explorer 6.

Just Internet Explorer 6.

That's probably the culprit. It is well known (at least by anyone who's had anything to do with web design) that IE6 cannot handle png with alpha properly.

Ugh, so is there some workaround?

My first intention was to just fake transparency by using the post's background colour, but the fairly new forum feature that turns new posts' backgrounds green (another thing that doesn't seem to work in IE ) messed that plan up.
Looking for a writer


  • Uga Buga!
Ugh, so is there some workaround?

Index the images to 256 colors. As far as I know, IE6 handles png transparency, but not over 8bits. If the alpha takes more than one level, you'll have to take those levels from the color count. Or you could just use gif :-\.

Use Firefox (or IE7 if you insist on IE.) Both are much better than IE6.

Daniel Thomas

  • "zyndikate"
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
First of all, it hit me this is really a big topic and I dont have too much time free right now. But Ill try to fill in stuff as it goes, but for now Ill try to cover the valuesketch since I dont want to keep you waiting.

The main goal, that I belive, with your composition is to communicate your intentions - the composition should help you with that(So should everything ofcourse, colors, lines, etc). But one thing that is good besides that is to keep your picture working as a whole - having a strong unity, even if you're trying to communicate something sepperated. The composition keeps the viewer in your picture, leads him around it, shows him where the interesting part of it is.

Values is a part where you can keep the unity strong and when done the colors becomes "easy", So Ill start with that for now:

.~::[ VALUES ]::~.

Lets use one of my favorites from Bill Tiller, its from Monkey Island 3.
All colors has a value, many prefer to do valuesketches/studies first since colors are very tricky when it comes to see its real value.
Then why is it important to know its value? I think its important to keep the pictures unity, and you dont want to have 10 diffrent values in it which make it very busy and it somewhat loses its unity.
Lets take a look at Bill Tillers backgrounds values


You can see(or so I belive) that it has 3 main values(light, middle,dark), this can also be seen in the sketches from loominous topic-picture above. I think many pictures can be generalized into 3-5 values which is enough. I belive the more values you introduce above that the more the picture loses the unity. With that said I dont say I dont think you actually cant have 10 values, you probably can, but what I mean is the main values. There will ofcourse be variations of the mainvalue, but they should read as the mainvalue.


Above I tried to destroy the lovely variation the values had, it was spread around the picture making it interesting and not isolating the values to corners and objects(trying to illustrade that in the above sketch)
This also make the picture very rythmical, which is good in these sort of mood. Make it less rythmical and you might get a little more serious/stiff/sad mood, like its waiting for something to happen - but its up every person himself to judge that - that was just my experience.


Here is an example when too many mainvalues comes in, and is spread badly in the picture.
The unity is broken and the rythm is broken. This I think should be avoided.


Some things you can have in mind is that if you want a object to have a specific color, like brightest purest red - the value might be darker then you think. Above you see the colorwheel and the values next to it - You can generalize and say the yellow is the brightest value and from there the values darkens.

In practice:
Choose 3 values when you start working, try to stick with them, and make a nice variation. Try to not have the values too equal in proportions, test having the darker value dominate, or the middle etc. Try to increase the overall brightness of them, lower them - they bring diffrent moods(this can wait to when you have a color layer above)

I would have made a walkthru of this if I had time, but I really hope this makes sense anyway(you can also google or youtube to get more information) - if not we are here to help eachother. I realise the examples can be better, but Im trying with the time I have to make it as clear as possible - and also the limit is my own skill ofcourse. There is like I said more to composition, and anyone is free to comment.

(loominous, you wasnt online so I hope this is ok.)
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Daniel Thomas

  • "zyndikate"
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    • Daniel Thomas worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
« Last Edit: 29 May 2008, 04:00 by zyndikate »
Check out The Journey of Iesir Demo | Freelance artist, check out my Portfolio


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Values is a part where you can keep the unity strong and when done the colors becomes "easy", So Ill start with that for now:

Very nice explanation of the importance of values.

As for the thumbnales, I too prefer the first one, but when the second is flipped it's not that bad...I don't know why, but I prefer the bridge on the right and the house on the left.

I was thinking the same thing. I suspect that I have enormous gaps when it comes to deeper analysis regarding character design, so I'd be happy to participate if you'd host one.
If anyone else is interested, I will try to do a follow-up on this workshop (based on the world created by you guys interpreting Loominous' script) on character design (not sprite design). It takes some preparation, so it really depends on whether anyone is interested in it. Please tell me what you think.

Misj: You should totally do it. You might want to win the sprite jam though (if you enter, you'll win by default - there's no other entries!).

As for myself: I tried to do one thumbnail. Link.


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