Sunday, January 03, 2016

Castle Crashers

Happy New year! 

2015 was a crazy year. To keep things rollin, I want to start 2016 with a crazy drawing! I owe my buddy Jon Jelinek an image of one of his favorite games, Castle Crashers!

I tried this a few months ago and failed miserably because I didn't have a good plan. I just started with the 4 main guys and kept adding more characters. It started feeling really random because it had a few bosses and some of the enemies I liked the best. My kids are huge fans of the game as well so they wanted me to put other characters in. After trying a few different things, I gave up and decided to reboot and come up with a better plan...

New plan: Draw every character in Castle Crashers in a single image. How many can there really be?

STEP 1: Play through the whole game and document every character

Since we have played a ton of CC in my house, this was really easy. My kids all have high level characters so they just mowed through while I wrote it all down. After tallying it all up, including playable champs and pets there are about... 90 unique characters in the game... DOH! Too late to change my mind. I'm going to try posting my WIP regularly. I find this helps me stay focused on finishing something. :P

I like to start with a super rough idea of the full composition. I have the dragon on the upper left, the painter boss on the upper right, the catfish boss on the bottom... super clear, right? Then I will create my main grounding element that is the anchor for everything else in the image. In this image, I want to have the 4 main characters with their elemental spells in the center. 

Next I decided on weapons and abilities for the different characters and refined the sketch and composition a bit. Poison fish weilder FTW!

Here is the more refined guys for the center of the image. The VFX will change based on whats around them. Now the crazy part begins...

Here is my first stab at getting in all the bosses and most of the unique enemies. I always start ultra rough so its easy to iterate. I already moved stuff around for a while and I am overall happy with the basic layout. Things will inevitably move around as I start refining the character sketches. 

First major change to the first sketch is adding the Barbarian army. They are the main instigators at the start of the game and the enemy you fight the most. So I decided to add them to the front/center.

So I got some better sketches in. Medusa, the Corn Boss, Catfish, Cyclops and his best friend on the cannon piano. My favorite boss the painter and a couple of other things. I had to make a few layout changes for the Necro and Sandwitch bro. Still keeping things rough enough to make big edits. I think I will be able to get most of the other characters blocked in tomorrow. 

Here is the 90% finished comp. After putting the big and small versions of the barb and the theif, I decided it would be pretty annoying to have big and small versions of every guy. I'm still missing a few characters like the bee keeper and the fish man, I will get them in the mix after I get some of the linework tighter. The little circles are possible locations for the 28 pets. 

Now for my favorite part. The line art! This is a huge image so its going to take a while. :)

Ya gotta do what? I gotta believe!

Here are a couple of my favorite characters: Corn & King! I love that the king looks like an old prospector with missing teeth and a crown. A boss that is a cob of corn... completely absurd or pure brilliance? I think this proves that you can have both. :)

Time to start sprinkling in some of the 28 pets.

Ink job about 70% complete. If the business gets too crazy, I will start dropping in some quick values to make sure the composition is all still working well. 

Shut up Dragon! You are probably my least favorite boss in the game. Don't make me erase your punk ass! I'm almost done with the lineart. I'm working on a few other projects so it's taking a while, but I should be finished with the drawing and moving into values and color by the end of the week. 

Added some of the last characters: Open visor knight riding poop deer, Treasure Imp, Pet Nurse, Bee Keeper, Industry Prince with his epic hand machine, Brute, Forest Knight and a few others... this game has so many characters. Only 4 to get in to be finished with that. Still need a bunch more pets to be done. 

I took a break from that crazy drawing to try a quick color test on the main guys. This is a technique I pulled from Jouste, the lone artist from the indy crew at Slick Entertainment. They are working on a sweet Castle Crashers style game called Viking Squad. Check out their Dev Blog here:

He paints everything with a solid flat color then dupes the layer, darkens it and erases out selections to show lighting. Super quick technique that gets him some pretty amazing results. He runs a stream on Wednesdays at 4pm where he works on art for the game. GG! 

More pets! 18 down, 10 to go.

Here it is so far. Line work is 95% done. Still missing 10 pets and 1 character. Easy mode hint: Its a playable character. I will update when someone figures it out.  :)

Quick update. Got all the characters and pets done. Finding a bit of time to add some color. 

So Iv'e been painting up a few character ever couple of days. I have reference from the game on the sides for easy color picking. It's getting super busy and chaotic. What a mess! hahaha! I'm looking forward to getting all the color blocked in so I can start figuring out how to tie it all together. :P 

Base colors complete! Now I just need to find ways to get the clarity to a reasonable place. 

I'm doing a teal underlighting layer to unify the characters so they look like they are all in the same place. I have a few other tricks I want to try afterwards. :)

Finished the under light layer. Now I'm creating 2 mask layers for adding some gradient ramps to separate some of the characters that are feeling too flat. 

The gradients are working fairly well to add a little atmosphere between the characters. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel... 

@$%#&! So I accidentally colored two of the bird pets red when one of them was supposed to be brown... I don't want to make this one brown because he's surrounded by brown characters. I'm going to have to find a new home for this little guy... it was a nice color pop. :(

Finally done! Click the image to see the less blury version. :)