Just thought I’d share and explain a bit of the work on the animation side of Shadowdawn Genesis, which is the current focus on development (content generation) – and why updates have been so quiet. Oh yeah and please be patient, the next flood of updates when this part is done is going to be very exciting for the longtime followers of the game – finally get to see what really sets this game apart 🙂
So here is Arashi doing a simple walk. Luckily, walking (at least in Arashi’s case) is mirrorable; it doesn’t require specific right-handed actions to simply walk. So the result here can be flipped for the Left frames. Notice that in the rough line art, I don’t draw the heads or the coat “skirt”, this way I can keep their look consistent from frame to frame. I drew the head and skirt on the first frame – these are frames 5-8 – and made them into seperate layers.
On the middle row of frames, Arashi’s head is added, along with the flowing part of her hair which is also on its own layer. The flowing part of the hair is slightly adjusted to accomodate for the “bounce” of walking, so it rises and falls as Arashi switches her center of gravity. The coat (on two layers, foreground and background) was a bit more simple, since this isn’t a fast action and the material is fairly rigid it will not be affected by wind. However the coat’s animation is more complex in falling, running and dash-run animations, and any special moves that do anything dramatic with her outfit/hair.
After placing the layered elements on the colored lineart for the frame, I copy the frame, and reduce its size to the sprite size of the game (Obviously can’t have 1000 px wide animations on a 2D RPG… yet) I use a sharpening tool to bring out the edges a bit after the reduced resolution, than apply a nice color overlay to give it a bit more depth in-game. After that, I place it in the final sprite sheet and give it a thin, alpha-black outline so the character doesn’t bleed as easily against background elements, and then just add the coordinates and height/width of the frame to my parser, and done!
If you haven’t noticed (don’t mean to underestimate anyone here), I have darkened or saturated some of Arashi’s colors from the bubblegum pink and orange, much different from her old sprite colors. I had to redraw Arashi from the beginning due to design changes brought on from the most recent concept artwork as well, so figured I’d take this opportunity to make her colors a bit more appealing to finalize the character. It looks a lot more natural in the game itself, I hope to post some new screenshots soon once I have more environments ready to go. The animation is also a lot smoother, and the proportions are a bit easier on the eyes. It took some getting used to since I had seen the old animations for so long, but it’s definitely been worth the work.