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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!

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AtoZ-INDUSTRIALM-01_3Back to the industrial zone, and with another fortunate letter for such a theme. AtoZ-INDUSTRIALM00_0044a

Above was my first idea; two cranes sporting a very weak handshake, by the looks of it. After that, I shifted to the gantry crane. Made in a couple of hours or so, the model is on the basic side – almost toylike with its simple textures. But it’ll do for this exercise.

There was an attempt to be rather more literal in presenting the M, incorporating diagonal beams, but in the end I thought that was pushing things a bit too far. Something similar might work another time, though:

Fun fun. Less than a week to go, now – how exciting!

AtoZ-Z-INDUSTRIAL-4There certainly are lots of good Scrabble letters coming up, but thankfully Z is rather a lucky one for Industrial. I straight away began thinking about old machinery, cogs and pulleys. There was with some diversion into nuts, bolts and a more conceptual conveyor belt/caterpillar track:

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There could be some potential in the track idea; it’s simple and seems pretty adaptable. But not just yet – too much going on with the cogs.

Throw in some belts and roughen up the background – that’s about it, really!

I’m sorry if this post is a little overloaded. I might have overdone it a tad with GIFs, here. Just going with the flow – as indeed I was when I started drawing some letters thinking about the strong industrial take of my last post.

In this first attempt, it was a case of taking the piping down its simplest form – helped, as always, by staying well away from colour – and then having the glyph flow through. There are sequences for every letter, but they’re all the same deal and so I thought better of uploading twenty-six GIFs to one post.

Nothing much else to it, really, but the sweeping nature is quite effective and I’m pretty chuffed with it for an evening’s work.

It’s nice to be getting addicted to lettering again – it was always the discipline I enjoyed the most. All the more exciting is that my drawings and other areas are now informing and feeding into it. Possibilities abound – yay!

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It shouldn’t and can’t be all pretty windmills, magic crystals and crazy fairground attractions. Hence the momentary (possibly very momentarily) change of tack with regards my 3D, and looking at vehicles. I considered a car, but the prospect scared me more than a crane, which is what we ended up with.

The view from my childhood bedroom was cranes, cranes, cranes – to the east you could, through a narrow gap between two buildings, see dock cranes loading and unloading cargo from boats on the Yare, and just to the west was an industrial park, often boasting several massive ones. In seeing these beasts rise, do their business and then creep back down, I somewhere decided that I wanted to be a crane driver – so much so, that I even wrote to the dry dock at the end of our road to ask if I could have a ride in one and possibly have a job. I was probably four at the time.

I didn’t even get a reply from the scoundrels. Astonishing, I know. That was really where my dream ended; I’d say it could still happen, but really I’d probably trust four-year old me at the controls of a crane more than twenty-four-year old me – maybe it’s for the best to write that one off…

j-cranes-1_00381…apart from in Cinema 4D, of course, where I can drive one to my heart’s content (well, sort of!). I am quite drained, as this has taken the best part of two days to complete – far, far longer than any of the fairground rides. I’m not even sure why it took so long; nothing was particularly difficult, it was just awkward and time-consuming. Don’t get me wrong, though: it was still a lot of fun to see the structure come together, and I suppose it was never intended to be a race.

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Now this looks a lot more fun!

It’s a little basic in areas, particularly the crane’s cabin and base as I was going on memory of some of the cranes that I used to see around the area, with help from some quite small references of similar models. And I still struggle with creating realistic windows. The slightly more simplistic feel can leave it looking relatively toylike at times – this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but wasn’t really what I was going for. Perhaps I should have ditched the nostalgic touch and opted for a clearer reference – never mind! I never have been one for making things easy for myself. With the time it’s taken, I’ll certainly explore other vehicles, but I can see us returning to the theme park before too long.

I should finally say that I didn’t model the wheels. They were sourced from here.

Oh, it turns out I’m not quite done yet. WordPress has just told me on publishing that this is my hundredth post. Goodness! A massive thank you to all of the people who have stopped by over the past seven and a bit months, even more to those who continue to do so, you mad fools. I appreciate it enormously and am so thrilled to be a part of the little art club thing we’ve got going on. You (yes you!) are the greatest!