Following with last week’s post on designing the interface for Casey’s Contraptions, and since I get lots of questions about it lately, I am going to continue with how I create the game assets themselves. Yes, this means there is going to be a part 3 with the rest of my UI misadventures next week. Sorry about that.
All the drawings you have seen, from the first sketch I sent Noel to the later interface designs, were created in Adobe Illustrator. Vector graphics allow me to scale assets without losing quality, adjust shapes, and change colors easily. I know plenty of iOS artists use Flash, but I am way more used to the Illustrator tools.
From time to time people ask on Twitter if there are cheaper alternatives to Illustrator. The truth is there is nothing out there that comes even close to the power and flexibility of Adobe’s tools. Since I have to be cheap (life of the indie :P) what I do is not buy every release (I am still using CS3 right now). If you have an old version of their products the upgrade price is usually more affordable. Educational discounts are also really nice if you are a student.
I also use a Wacom tablet, a 6×11″ Intuos 3 I got a while ago and had not seen much use until recently. The usual question I get about buying one of these is how big it needs to be. I feel more comfortable with something around letter size, that allows for some arm movement. There is a world of difference between even the smaller tablets and using the mouse though.
That’s not my arm. My arm is way hairier.
But my Wacom is like that one.
Some people like to sketch first on paper, scan, and then clean up and color with Illustrator or Photoshop. I did that at the beginning, but the more used I get to the Wacom, the easier it is to just start from scratch directly on a blank document on the screen. I still draw doodles on paper any time I can; even if you don’t think you have any artistic abilities, all you really need to get better is lots of practice, and drawing a variety of subjects so you expand your visual vocabulary (by the way, Aaron Diaz’s blog is worth its word count in gold for any aspiring illustrator, bookmark it!).
In Illustrator I use both the Brush and the Pen tools extensively. I have a variety of brushes I created for Casey’s look, but they are all basic calligraphic brushes of different sizes, with size dependent upon how much pressure I exert with the Wacom’s pen.
Normally I use the Brush to draw the outlines, then the Pen to both simplify lines that got too many points and create color areas. I will get to coloring in a bit.
Continue reading Designing Casey’s Contraptions, Part 2