Yesterday I made a diner for my sprites to hang out in, and tried a small cartoon with it. I then printed it out grayscale to get an idea what the monthlies will look like.
The process taught me several things.
- On a colorful background, giving the word balloons drop shadows instead of outlines looked better and more elegant. On a grayscale background, or to a lesser extant a gameboyscale background, the balloons need the extra highlighting of the outline, though.
- While Inkscape’s new text tools are nice, it behooves a craftsman to still choose line breaks by hand from time to time. I did not do so in the above comic, and it looks sloppy.
- Pixel art looks okay at 160×90, as in the first panel, when printed. But the closer you get from that, the less readable it becomes. Even the medium shot is hard to read.
Charles Schulz wrote, in a little book on cartooning I once got for Christmas, “Cartooning is the art of drawing the same thing every day, but convincing everyone you’ve done something different.”
Well, I can’t stand drawing the same thing every day. One of the reasons I’m pushing back production of Hat Trick is because when I inevitably get around to it, I’m going to have to redraw similar panels, and worse, do the same background in multiple panels.
I can get lost in drawing a good backdrop. I greatly enjoy it.
But once it’s drawn, I don’t want to touch it again, not even from another angle. That makes me an okay game artist, and a terrible comic or storybook artist.
Unless I use game art tricks. Which a sprite comic is meant to do. Use game tricks to produce a comic strip.
So… what if I made HD graphics for the sprite comic. Still made the long shot panels pixel art, to maintain the conceit of a digital world, but moved around HD sprites on HD backgrounds for the mid and close ups? Kept the color scheme though.
I toyed with the notion when the sprite comic was to be full-color, and decided then it was too much effort.
But what if I just cyanified the pixel art, printed it out at a consistent scale, inked over it, and then colored it to match the pixel art?
Well, I’ve tested the sprites. It was a bit time-consuming, but each additional character and background I make means the comic can be produced to that quality level with less work next time. And…
I need to produce the diner before I can make a final determination, but I like this process, and I like the products it produces.
So, to test the diner?
Heck naw. I said I’d work on Vargenstone today. IF I put my hours in on Vargenstone and IF I have time later today, I will start drawing the diner. But probably not until Friday.
There’s zero doubt that the hand drawn art is better in every way, and significantly elevates the apparent quality of the piece. Enough, perhaps, to justify all the extra work it’s going to put on my shoulders.
Heck wit’ it. My goal is not to be as cheap as possible. Nor is it to be as expensive as possible. My goal is to produce entertainment. The two genres for which I am most qualified are the pixel art retro game, and the newspaper comic strip. Both of these genres are dead or dying.
My mission is to smush them together in such a way as to create an art form that will pay my bills and put food on my table. And I think this is a good start.