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3D tool for making non-textured 2D sprites


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#1 Syranide   Members   -  Reputation: 375

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 02:38 PM

I'm currently working on a game and I feel like I've come to the point where I want to have a go at the graphics and would need to have some decent sprites to work with to better get a feel for the style/atmosphere, and to of course get the renderer up and running and decide what techniques needs to be implemented for satisfactory visuals.

Anyway, to the point. Being the visual perfectionist that I am and the desire to avoid a lot of headache I have decided to stick with isometric 2D sprites... and I really enjoy the style in the animated Portal 2 trailers and feel like it's something that could work really well for my purpose, especially since it also pretty much avoids the textures entirely. I will also be requiring some simple (key-frame) animations.

What I mean:
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=LxeNN3prhbg
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=8Gi0vXbkQnM

Posted Image



However, I have only very little experience with 3D modelling tools and I'm not sure what tool would be best suited for my needs... that is, to be able to reproduce something similar to that style (again, no textures). I have played around quite a lot with Google SketchUp and could've been exactly what I was looking for... except that there's no light support and no way to export high quality images, or even transparent images... and no way to export other useful stuff either (normalmaps, etc). So it's really ends up being quite useless for my current purpose.


Do you guys have any hints on what I could use?
I'm a quick learner and would rather use a more competent tool than one that is barely capable of my "vision".



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#2 JTippetts   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8583

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 02:57 PM

What makes you think those videos don't use textures? I see textures on the filing cabinets, on the phones, the floor, the walls, the desks, etc... Sure, they're simple, but they're still textures.

That being said, you could use Blender. The characters could be done as a relatively highly subdivided planar mesh with a black texture applied and a shader that detects the edges to draw the white border, animated by a very simple skeletal rig laid out in 2 dimensions co-planar with the mesh., then animated and rendered to sprite bitmaps if that is your desire. As for the level geometry, that's pretty much basic geometry with very simple textures applied.

Don't be afraid of texturing. Simple ones like in the above videos can be produced in a matter of minutes with some practice, and even simple textures can make all the difference in a scene.

#3 Syranide   Members   -  Reputation: 375

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 03:30 PM

What makes you think those videos don't use textures? I see textures on the filing cabinets, on the phones, the floor, the walls, the desks, etc... Sure, they're simple, but they're still textures.

That being said, you could use Blender. The characters could be done as a relatively highly subdivided planar mesh with a black texture applied and a shader that detects the edges to draw the white border, animated by a very simple skeletal rig laid out in 2 dimensions co-planar with the mesh., then animated and rendered to sprite bitmaps if that is your desire. As for the level geometry, that's pretty much basic geometry with very simple textures applied.

Don't be afraid of texturing. Simple ones like in the above videos can be produced in a matter of minutes with some practice, and even simple textures can make all the difference in a scene.


Well, the phones etc could very well also be described as geometry (anyway, I see your point). And my idea wasn't to litterally copy and paste their objects. ;)
And perhaps I should've been more specific, my idea was with the overall style of the objects (not at all the characters).

Anyway, the idea with going with 2D is that it allows for round and curved objects to be perfectly round and curvy and still work well on older hardware and a lot of nice lighting could be baked into the sprite as well (as well as adding lots of little details without worry). Additionally, it would remove a lot of the burden of having to optimize polygons, textures and shaders... and simply focus on the gameplay and polish instead, I feel confident that going 2D will make everything a bit more manageable and if done well could provide really good and crisp visuals. I have no specific interest in 3D just for the sake of 3D.



#4 JTippetts   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8583

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 03:43 PM

I have no objection to 2D games. (In fact, I tend to prefer 2D myself. But I've found 3D modeling to be an invaluable tool for creating 2D artwork for my isometric games. You can model it in Blender with all the curves and all the details you like, then render it to your choice of image formats, with your choice of anti-aliasing and alpha-channel options.

#5 Syranide   Members   -  Reputation: 375

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 04:25 PM

I have no objection to 2D games. (In fact, I tend to prefer 2D myself. But I've found 3D modeling to be an invaluable tool for creating 2D artwork for my isometric games. You can model it in Blender with all the curves and all the details you like, then render it to your choice of image formats, with your choice of anti-aliasing and alpha-channel options.


Oh right, I even saw those images just a bit earlier, nice use of procedural textures.
For some reason I got the feeling as if you were trying to convince me to go 3D instead of 2D.

Anyway! I've downloaded and installed Blender, didn't understand a whole lot at first, but will go through the tutorials first thing tomorrow. ;)
Thanks!



#6 Syranide   Members   -  Reputation: 375

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Posted 07 August 2011 - 05:11 AM

Been through all the interesting tutorials I've found and they were quite frankly shit. Too basic and too little information other than how to make a sphere and manipulate it in arbitrary and aimless ways.

Do you know of any good tutorials or places where I could find such? Mostly on how to work with all the aspects of polygons... I really can't find any hints on how to work with "accurate" positions rather than just doing everything by eye. I understand the basics and basic operations, but I can't really find any practical information on how to work with polygons and the viewport itself, and how to put the "two together" so to speak. I can make things, it's just that it feels like right now, I have no idea how to make things precise and it's so easy to make mistakes that are seemingly unrecoverable (if not discovered immediately).



#7 popeax   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 02:57 AM

I'm using Truespace now (it's free too). Has support for normalmaps, lightning, alphamaps, organic modeling (but not much else I believe, haven't used Blender). But I like the default setup, has a kind of realtime rendering feature with a slightly unrealistic shiny feel that I want (workspace side). Not quite the cartoon style of that screenshot though. I'm not sure but it's sounds like real-time wysiwyg editing is what you are after (there are some others like that too, some free too).

There's a tutorial for organic modeling
http://www.caligari.com/products/trueSpace/ts5/Courses/WorkspaceOrganicModeling1.asp

And there's a forum with info where one can get the various versions in the faq. It's basically discontinued but can still be downloaded.
http://www.united3dartists.com/forum/




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