Inspired by the original X-Com game and their alloy armor, I decided to spent a bit of time imaging my team of badass alien brawlers. I didn’t reference directly the game, but purely went about illustrating the headshots from a sense of inspiration and how I saw a team of mine existing in a world where elite soldiers were trained to go head to head with an unknown and ever-present threat of extraterrestrial terror.
What I miss most about the pixilated action that I grew up playing was the fill-in-the-blanks style of graphics, where you were always imaging what was being shown to you. These days gaming graphics are mostly overt instead of suggestive, leaving the player with less creative control. That being said, there are a slew of successful titles that have re-embraced the pixel paradigm. Minecraft, Shovel Knight, and Tower Fall are all extremely fun and successful games.
There is not much left to the imagination when it comes to the new X-Com compared with the old. The in play graphics for the OG X-Com soldier are very smaller, leaving you plenty of room to perceive the battles as you wished. This is the power and fun of many table top gaming sessions, they exercise your imagination.
In my Mecromage Indie game I’m constantly exploring ways to bridge the gap between an artistic style that doesn’t remove the player’s imagination from the equation, but also allowing for HD graphic assets. It is a continued journey. I have come up with some techniques, but feel I have not mastered this presentation goal yet.
The goal for these was to express some fun headshots in a very quick manner that would be highly visible at pixel sizes of as low as 50×50. I basically blotted out a rough shape with each face, in colors, then drew in the lines and additional colors as I saw fit, always sticking with an ink style brush. Finally I touched up with some white highlights. I made sure to keep an eye on my ‘navigator’ window to see how the images would look when sized down.
Special thanks to Kayfix for the background fades and some color pallets options. Till next time, keep drawing! This was a fun way to spend a few hours, I recommend everyone take an hour or two rendering their favorite game moments from their memory. You might find you designed a better hero than the originators of your inspiration.