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Monthly Archives: January 2019

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In looking at turning people into a bunch of pixels, I found my way to Batman rather quickly. More interesting than most people, right? Especially the Joker.

There are certainly plenty of old games from which to take inspiration. To that end, I should give sizable credit to the Batman Doom mod for the above, as my Joker sprites here are inspired by the model in that game – my attempt was to bring him into 1989, and the more chequered Jack Nicholson incarnation. That will always be the quintessential Joker look for me.

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And, to follow up, a modification in the style of the ZX Spectrum and the bloody frustrating Batman The Movie; somewhat surprisingly, the Joker himself is only ever seen in the final seconds of the game, where the player must thwart his attempt to get away in true Batman style: murder. Maybe this is how he might have looked with a prominent role? Or, maybe, he’d have looked a lot better than that. Ah well!

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“I’m Batman.”

“No, I’m Batman.”

You can’t have one without the other! Here’s Batman, in both classic and 1989 attire, achieved almost exclusively via pallette swap. This one is essentially another character for WrestleFest as it uses the same base, only I’ve had a go at beefing the thighs up somewhat. Perhaps the torso could do with similar treatment, especially on the Keaton side, but this was really experimenting with swapping colours.

Again, this was lots of fun. I may have a go at some of the other Bat nemeses in the future, and perhaps even Robin, though I’ll have to think of a different title for that one now.

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More practise with pixels! This time I went a tad more ambitious, with the previous industrial vein moving toward the coast.

The landscape with Happisburgh Lighthouse above was a blast! I started out studying the trees, and, when they turned out okay, the buzz started to kick in. I ended up completing the scene in a couple of hours. There’s still some more experimentation required I think, especially with the sky and clouds, whose gradients are perhaps a little too steep, but I think on the whole it looks alright.

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And here we have some imaginary gas platform, not an unfamiliar sight here on the coast, though indeed more imaginary than they used to be. This was mostly looking at light, reflection… reflected light. I think this exercise reinforced that, when working with a brush the size of a single pixel, patience is most definitely the key. I’ve been tempted by some examples of pallette cycling in old computer games. It should be a fun technique to explore – using it to suggest flowing water looks particularly beautiful. More to come, hopefully soon.

With all the stuff I’ve done on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire previously, you’re probably not surprised in the least to see this, an attempt at modelling the revival set.

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Like most game shows these days, it’s predominantly spotlights and LED screens. The video floor replacing the old ‘bowl’ was something I was initially unsure of, but they proved me wrong – it’s used to great effect throughout the show.

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There might not be all the glass and shine of the predecessor, but there are those video panels. I’d done some basic video integration with my Million Pound Drop screens, but this required rather a lot more. The results are somewhat basic, mostly cobbled together from previous or abandoned projects; it’s not nearly so impressive as the real deal, but it’s nice to know it works.

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I’m pleasantly surprised to be enjoying the new Millionaire as much as I am. I thought it was finished a decade or so ago, so the fact that it feels even remotely special again is testament to not Jeremy Clarkson but the overall production. The show is back in March, I understand; let’s hope ITV keep it as an occasional event, stripped over a few days, and aren’t tempted to water it down (no celebrities!!) or overexpose it. As it is, it should be an attraction for some time.

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Pixel art is going to be big for me in 2019. Just before Christmas, I was snapped up to work on a game firmly rooted in this retro aesthetic. My role there is mostly to create individual likenesses for the cast, but I thought it would be beneficial to take a step back and, in my free time, look at some broader arenas. Hopefully, I’ll pick up a few tricks along the way.

With the pylons going up on Sunday, I thought a general industrial theme was a good place to begin. The quick pipe lettering above was not only an excuse for more letters but a warm-up tiling exercise. Tiling allows for quick and clean creation of environments. Most platform games of old used this technique for their scenery.

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These crates and barrels were mostly studying texture and dithering.

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You can’t spell industrial without corrugated iron:

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If I’ve learnt one thing from my work so far, it’s that size really doesn’t matter. Working on a small grid of pixels can be just as time-consuming as the most detailed sketch – sometimes more so, as I start to panic about the sharpness of certain edges, the pallette, and whether I should introduce more colours or even reduce them. Hopefully these are the sort of hurdles that will be overcome with just making as much stuff as possible. Saying this about time, perhaps the two industrial stations below could have done with a little more TLC, but it’s a start:

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pixelpractise-industrial04Once the pixels start to look happy (and like things) it’s quite a lot of fun, and the time whizzes by. Like the web address says, onward I go!

There isn’t really much of a rationale behind this – I just fancied constructing an electricity pylon for some reason. Who am I to argue?

I know pylons are considered by many to be a monstrous blot on the landscape. The view would be cleaner without them, of course, but, like many industrial structures, I can appreciate their presence. They’ve always possessed a strange personality to me. I’m wondering if this is rooted in an old advertisement from when I was very little, which showed pylons coming to life and striding across the landscape toward the sea, heralding the bright future of cleaner, more efficient energy generation. When I’d seen enough times to no longer be slightly creeped out, I enjoyed it.

pylon-081One of the nice things about creating a rather simple model like this is it means I can happy snap without ever leaving the house, and manipulate the weather as required. This was an excuse to focus on the latter:

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As the sun sets, let’s hope these pylons don’t go walkabout any time soon.

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CRYSTALDOME-2019-45-2Somewhere in that between-Christmas-and-New-Year smudge, I found myself watching not Going for Gold with Henry Kelly, but The Crystal Maze with Ed Tudor-Pole. This won’t surprise anybody who’s been here for any length of time; indeed, the surprise will probably come from the fact that it’s been a while – at least a year! Coming straight after Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, it was difficult to tell where one ended and the other began. But the hit of nostalgia was perfect for the time of year.

It was the final Christmas special I happened across, where the Maze was opened up to not the celebrities who seem to plague the revival, but children. Loud, obnoxious, ridiculously fortunate children. Though they might have me dropping the volume at times, or otherwise just downright jealous, it was a very sweet thing for the show to do. Indeed, it became all the sweeter when these kids made short work of puzzles which stumped the so-called ‘grown-ups’.

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Anyway, after taking another look at the set I thought I’d have another go at recreating the Crystal Dome stage, the heart of the Crystal Maze. I would hope to be better equipped than three years ago, when I last attempted this. Certainly, it’s much more realistic in terms of scale; the sixteen-foot dome now rather more snug but still commanding the space. The endearingly naff scaffold decoration is also more carefully done. The tokens are, as previously, a balancing act, trying to get a neat texture whilst going easy on CPU. Fun revisit overall, though, and certainly simpler than last time.

Still waiting for The Crystal Maze VR, by the way.

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Happy New Year to all who visit, especially to those who continue to do so. Let’s hope 2019 is a year of grabbing those golden tokens with minimal deduction of silver. Let’s win that murder mystery weekend!

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