Matchmaker Millie: From Pixel Art to Vector Art

Posted on September 05, 2012 by Ee-Leng Chang | 0 Comments

As I mentioned before, I've been working with indie game developer Games for Gummie and we've got a new game in the pipelines called Matchmaker Millie. We've just hit our first milestone where we have all the basic mechanics of the game done and in terms of content, we're about 1/3 of the way too. Here's a teeny sneak peek:

Matchmaker Millie Main Menu Mock-up

So my part in this is basically art-ing up the game and one of my favourite things about this particular title is that it's enabled me to learn how to do vector art and use Illustrator. The art for Shuriken Chicken was created by me physically cutting out felt characters and Cow Abduct was a tiny game that really only needed a couple of assets so I just drew those in Photoshop. Matchmaker Millie is going to be a much bigger game requiring way more assets and we decided it would be done using vector art.

Vector art has been something I've been wanting to do for ages but somehow always shied away from it just because Illustrator seemed so much more daunting than Photoshop. But now that I've learnt it and am way more comfortable using Illustrator, I'm loving it! And I think as I get more and more used to it, I'll be able to be braver about producing better artwork. 

Actually the whole look of this game has changed a fair bit from the time we started up the project. Initially it was inspired by a Monster picture that I created a while ago:


And from there we had initially thought we'd go with Monsters and the style would be a more pixel art style, here's one of the monsters that I had created for the game:


But as I created more and more assets, I realised that pixel art was too advanced a challenge for me at this point in time. One major factor that really held me back was my OCD! I wanted each pixel perfectly placed and starting counting pixels way too obsessively. So everything started looking very rigid and straight because I didn't like how curved or more organic shapes couldn't have exact symmetrical placement of pixels. Also since everything is so hi-res these days, my hyper OCD pixel placings wasn't resulting in a nice 8-bit old school type style, it was ending up just like really badly done art. 

When it came to things like the square monsters or even simple pickups like that teddy bear, it wasn't too bad (I'm actually quite fond of that teddy bear) but then when I tried to tackle backgrounds with flowers, grass or other organic shapes, I realised I just did not have the skills required yet to produce good pixel art. 

It was a very fun experiment though so I definitely want to go back to pixel art one day and learn how to do it properly. 

Pencil concept of Mayor Moresby


Pencil and ink concept of Millie

So somehow along the way, square monsters gave way to more organic shaped, cuter characters. Another factor in changing their shapes was because I got stuck trying to design various types of characters around a square shape and somehow my sketches started taking on a more potato like shape which I actually liked better. And with my inability to draw anything that wasn't 0, 45 or 90 degrees in pixel art, it made a whole lot of sense to switch over to using vector art!

Another big thing for me in this project is that I've got a former Bluetongue colleague and mega talented artist helping me out by mentoring me. Basically he's been providing me with feedback and advice on how to do stuff and make things better. Which has been really useful and I'm really learning a whole lot of new things. 

It's been literally non-stop work for me between my usual Hooby Groovy work and working on Matchmaker Millie but it's been really satisfying! I'm learning so many new things and tackling new challenges almost daily while having fun which is completely in line with my Hooby Groovy philosophy! :)  

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