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Art Directives Feature Discussion  (Read 2361 times)
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Sonic Dreams
lirmont [Posts: 473]
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  • [March 21, 2012, 08:05:42 PM]
Art Directives Feature Discussion
« on: March 21, 2012, 08:05:42 PM »
This idea of organizing an art direction came up between me and Lijj on #ffh. Basically, I want to add something to Tethical's tools that will help organize or codify the art effort of a game. I've never seen anything like this written down in a formal report, so I'm asking for opinions before I put this into the control panel.

My current plan is to store lots of individual art directives per game to explain common ideas.

  • Art directives address a concept. Concepts may include things like the following: scale (in comparison to characters), desired colors, desired map dimensions, and themes or motifs.
  • Art directives apply to certain sections of the game. Those sections categorize the directive. Examples of categories are: towns, main characters, minor characters, and transportation.
  • Art directives include picture examples.
  • Art directives may define the right way to do something, or they may provide the wrong way (ex. common mistakes) to do things.

If you've kept up with the development on Tethical's control panel, these things would show up in a section called "Art Directives" and be listed with a title, a description, and an optional image. This would be displayed like everything else on the right-hand side of the application.


Now, what I really want to do is an example using FFT's "art directives", but I do not want to use FFT's material. So, I'd like to request people who have created wholly custom sprites (re: not frankesprites, considering that's someone else's material) to offer them up (only if they want to) as examples of key FFT art directives. For instance, I need several sprite frames to demonstrate poses (re: northeast, southeast, southwest, northwest). I also need some different height sprites to demonstrate scale (scale between character sprites) and monsters (scale between characters and monsters) and buildings (scale between characters and buildings). Names of contributers will be on the art directive image associating their name with their work.

Other examples of things I need:

  • Text. One-line summaries of FFT art directives (ex. "Avoid 'Pillow-Shading' in Portraits", "Avoid Drawing Noses in Portraits").
  • Text. One-line (or longer) FFT art directive descriptions (optional if there's a picture).
  • Images. Say, a custom example of pillow-shading.
  • Colors. Several lists of definitive colors, and maybe these include names with them if they can be named properly or categorized (re: "purples", "face colors").

I want to have a solid foundation for a place to put an art style in for a Tethical demo game (of the same name as the engine, victorian/steampunk style), and this will help accomplish that. It may also help the FFT community by providing solid rules for the FFT style (obviously, generated by people who know what they're doing, which does not include me); I will put an export feature into the control panel so people will be able to dowload a copy of the finished work when this completed (maybe in .PDF form).

Thank you for your time.


Current Contributions:

  • Flan, monster. Contributed by Chotokukyan.
  • Palettes. Contributed by Lijj.



1. Art is Set to One One-Hundreth Scale (Category: "World")

Art is drawn at 1/100th of the size of actual objects, further adjusted to be only ~86% of the height to account for perspective.

2. Type-1 (TYPE1) Sprite Sheets Are 256 Pixels by 488 Pixels (Category: "Characters"; need a custom type-1 sprite for this)

Type-1 sprite sheets can have a maximum of 16 colors per palette. They are used for character states, including: walk cycles, attacking, jumping, low-health, death, and singing. This type is designed to allow for a character to have a ponytail, driven by the main character's design.

3. Monster (MON) Sprite Sheets Are 256 Pixels by 744 Pixels (Category: "Monsters")

Monster sprite sheets can have a maximum of 16 colors per palette. They are used for monster states, including: walk cycles, normal attack, special attack, low-health, and death.

4. Portaits Are Contained in Sprite Sheets (Category: "Portraits", "Technical Requirements")

Portraits are stored in sprite sheets. They require their own palettes. They're stored rotated 90 degrees (clockwise).

5. Avoid 'Pillow-Shading' in Portraits (Category: "Portraits")

Avoid shading objects as though the only light source available is one directly between the viewer and the object you're shading. Consider using a light source located to the left and up from the object or scene.

6. Portraits Require a Certain Color to be First in it's Palette (Category: "Portraits", "Technical Requirements")

Put beige (#A8A088) as the first color of portrait palettes in sprite sheets.

7. Portraits Are Done in a Three-Fourth's View (Category: "Portraits")

Draw portraits in 3/4 view with the character's view point never directly facing the viewer.

8. Character Sprites and Portraits Should Use a Spectrum of Desaturated Colors (Category: "Characters", "Portraits")



9. Maps Should Use as Few Colors as Possible per Square (Category: "World")

Use 2 to 4 colors to accomplish a map square's detail. Do not include lighting; lighting is added in an automated post-process.

10. Avoid Drawing Noses on Sprites and Portraits (Category: "Characters", "Portraits")

Do not include noses in portraits. They do not receive enough space to be a consistently viable target for shading.

11. Sprite Sheets Have Five Palettes for Characters and Five Palettes for Portraits (Category: "Characters", "Portraits")

Sprite sheets have 2 sets of 5 palettes (of 16 colors). They correspond to the following (in order): a player's party members and/or guests; NPCs in "Hokuten Knights" (PSP: "Order of the Northern Sky"); NPC's in "Nanten Knights" (PSP: "Order of the Southern Sky"); NPC's in "Death Corps", "Bart Company" (PSP: "Corpse Brigade", "Baert Company") and rogue NPC's; and, "Temple Knight" NPC's (PSP: "Knights Templar").

« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 03:30:53 AM by lirmont »
The Kindly Shopkeeper
Lijj [Posts: 2039]
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  • [March 22, 2012, 09:27:07 AM]
Re: Art Directives Feature Discussion
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2012, 09:27:07 AM »
Are we going to have another mode for the higher resolution sprites?

Sonic Dreams
lirmont [Posts: 473]
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  • [March 22, 2012, 03:53:43 PM]
Re: Art Directives Feature Discussion
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2012, 03:53:43 PM »
I'm just working on documenting FFT's art approach at the moment. By comparison, the art approach for Tethical (the game) requires input from you and Kivutar specifically. I can take care of writing the technical requirements, and I'll make a few observations based on the existing maps (the two towns). However, I want to get FFT's style documented so you'll have a list of solid concepts to compare your different approach with as you decide on it. For instance, one of Tethical's art directives will talk about the conversion script that takes an FFT-style sprite in one of FFT's formats and turns it into a format Tethical can read (which also happens to be larger). The image for that might show a comparsion of before and after with instructions for running the script. But, again, a large part of Tethical's art direction depends on input from you and Kivutar; you're making the rules. However, I don't think there's enough FFT art directives to go on yet (unless you already know everything you want to do) to wind up with a plan for a finished project. Since FFT is obviously already done, it's just working backwards from what they did (e.g. documentation). Since Tethical (the game) is in development, you and Kivutar will be responsible for planning in place of that.

Feel free to post Tethical's art/requirements here as you decide on them, though. I think a lot of it will be brainstorming/ideas for consideration. We can make a definitive topic later on with a finished set of rules (i.e. the art directives).


« Last Edit: March 23, 2012, 05:29:13 AM by lirmont »
SaGa Frontier Hacker
Pickle Girl Fanboy [Posts: 1482]
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  • [March 25, 2012, 07:18:21 PM]
Re: Art Directives Feature Discussion
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2012, 07:18:21 PM »
Not sure if this belongs here, but, when developing a tethical sprite sheet layout, maybe add multiple portraits for different expressions?  And non-mirrored sprites - so we can have Duel Wield animate correctly, among other things.
Kivutar [Posts: 226]
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  • [March 26, 2012, 07:21:54 AM]
Re: Art Directives Feature Discussion
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2012, 07:21:54 AM »
@PGF we already have non-mirrored sprites. The multiple portraits are a very good idea, I keep it in my mind.

Tethical, an online FFT clone
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