Blueprint Animations

I recently overhauled the blueprint sprites for my Unstable prequel, to allow for better resizing and give them more character. Here’s a direct comparison:

So long, pixel art! …Although I have kept the familiar blocky look, by aligning the design to a faux pixel grid. What can I say? I clearly love the simplistic feel.

The new art was done entirely with Inkscape, a long popular vector graphic tool. The great thing about software like that (other than the fact that it’s free) is how easily you can tweak your existing designs to create variants:

But even more useful is how easy you can do simple animations. By setting up pivot points for your different elements (arms, feet, etc.), you can add much more personality to your animations. Here’s another comparison:

With more wiggling of the body and flailing about of the arms, this allows for a lot more fun when animating. And all done with a simple (and free, did I say that yet?) tool like Inkscape. Sure there are great – and far newer – animation tools out there, but sticking with an old classic means you’re guaranteed to find the support if you need it.

This is just a sneak peek for now though! You’ll have to wait for the next demo update to see how much I can get these simple looking blueprints to flail about!

Sounds with ChipTone

One of my favourite sound generation tools (and one I used exclusively for Unstable) is ChipTone. Developed by Tom Vian, it is a tool that allows you to generate retro-ish sound effects very easily, and with a surprising amount of flexibility, that can then be exported in .wav format.

Although you can simply auto-generate simple sound effects such as coin collection sounds or explosions, the real advantage of ChipTone is the way you can alter the waveform by adding different effects (tremolo, arpeggio, wah-wah, etc.) While the tool is supposedly in development, it is more than functional enough to create a whole library of sounds that – and this is significant – have a more consistent feel to them than you would find by importing various free sound effects from different sources. Combine the results with a sound-editing tool such as Audacity if necessary, and you have all the power you need.

I won’t turn this post into a tutorial of how to use ChipTone, since the best way to learn is just by playing around with it. (In fact I’ve had great fun just clicking the Randomize button and then tweaking the results, an activity I can seemingly waste hours on). So you should check it out.

Did I mention it’s free?