Moon Hunters Art Process

Xin’s been painting for a live audience every Friday afternoon from 3-5 EST, and for those of you who can’t make it, we thought we’d share the steps in his process!

First, he gets some kind of direction. For the example below, we knew we needed more art direction for our landscape development. The previous landscape he concepted was quite bright, and themed along bone and blood, in a relatively clear hilly area.

In the dark Moon Hunters universe, bone and blood are aligned with the Moon-worshipping player characters. So, the other end of the scale would be a densely wooded area where the villainous Sun cultists might have set up a lair.

With the overall idea in mind (dark, dense, Sun), he looks through our mood board, surfs some Google references, and thumbnails in monochrome to get the overall composition, doing this 4 to 6 times before picking the one he’ll go forward with. This takes about fifteen minutes to half an hour in total. He doesn’t need to explain to anyone else what the vision is — this is just for his own reference.

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This is where the live-stream started. He dropped the opacity down and draws on top. He took roughly an hour to “ink” it (since the Moon Hunters styling is heavy inked lines), and another hour to splash in some basic colors.

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After the livestream ended, he took another four hours or so to clean it up, polish it, and layer in more details and color. As you can see, in this one he took a bit of extra time to re-work the central architecture, keeping the ‘sunburst’ motif but making the construction more elegant.

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The next step? Translating this into a scene in the game… join us Friday for another glimpse into the Moon Hunters universe!

From The Vault: First Mockups

Ahoy! I’m Xin, the Kitfox art officer. Today we’ll be digging up some artifacts from the archives, the first mockups created for Shattered Planet in 2013.

May 2: Space travel is cool. Video games need more fish spaceships.

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May 6: Maybe a separate screen for combat?

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May 16: But we wanted to focus on planet exploration!

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These guys are adorbs, but we thought it made our Roguelike look too casual.

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June 7: So we tried out three different aesthetics.

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The last one dates from mid-June 2013. You can see the beginning of the tile-based island formations. We felt a disconnect between the characters and the environment, so we opted for painterly look for everything. Mockups were great for brainstorming the art direction, UI/UX and even game mechanics! Possibly my favorite part of pre-production.

Shattered Planet Sprites Galore

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Hi there! I’m Xin, lead artist at Kitfox Games.

After 6 months of hard work, we (Chloe and I) have done quite a bit of art for Shattered Planet. Just for fun, I did a collage of our sprites, and noticed their interesting rhythms and patterns.

Excluding duplicates, there are well over 1100 sprites for our tiles, items, characters, enemies, effects and UI elements.

Now, time to get back to work and continue to expand our little world!

Environment Design: The Shattered Desert

Hi guys! Tanya here!

Today I’ll go into some detail on our environment design, using the Desert as an example, since we haven’t shown it off much yet and it’s the first area-type the player encounters. I’m actually from the Mojave Desert of southern California originally. I spent most of my childhood chasing lizards, catching kangaroo mice, and climbing the Rocky Mountains… when I wasn’t allowed to play NES, anyway.

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An environment’s atmosphere comes from every element — the landscape, the colors, the wildlife and lighting. Xin, our artist, starts by painting the terrain we need. For the Desert, we knew we wanted basic tiles of Dirt, Sandstone, and Brush. We want the Desert to feel desolate and dry, but not lifeless.

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Now, before you think, “those aren’t very interesting! Where’s the life, the juice, the oomph?” … we started out going super-detailed, with intense painterly details on each tile…

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And yes, they were beautiful! BUT when they’re tiled all together, 10×10, it looks terrible. Dirt starts to look like meat!

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We might still sprinkle details like these throughout as a rare treat, but for now, we’ve had to forcibly tone down the contrast and details of any one basic tile, for the betterment of the whole.

Next, he paints combinations of each tile-type with another, so that the world generator can smoothly transition between regions. For example, a half-Brush, half-Sandstone tile should always buffer between Brush and Stone areas.

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The final terrain layer is composed of “crumbly bits”, as we call them, which help reinforce the idea that you’re on a shattered planet. They match at least half of the tile-type they’re generated next to. For interior levels, these take the form of metal struts and frames. For exteriors, they’re more like chunks of earth and rock.

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And then, at long last, the fun part — we can add gameplay! Bushes and rocks are obstacles that get in your way and help with the ambiance. As for enemies, you might have seen our Hatchling and Nest Guardian back when we first concepted them in July, and now they can finally romp and hunt in their natural desert habitat. Combining all of the elements together gives us a flavorful, unique Desert environment that feels significantly different from the others.

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So, with no photoshopping or other trickery, here’s a screenshot taken directly from the game while it’s running:

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The next step will be adding in a flavorful background for each environment. We want to keep the lonely, dark feeling of the desert at night, but something a little bit more interesting than plain black.

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Unique story encounters can also happen in the desert — finding unearthed skulls, old campfires, lost hatchlings, or even strange stones can lead you on mini-adventures into the unknown. Just like home?


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By Popular Demand

We were asked, “Why do you show only the female behind? Why not the male?”

The answer would be long and boring*, so let’s just say, “Fair point!”

Here’s the Renegade, for your viewing pleasure:

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Enticed?


(*) The long version: It was an accident. We didn’t remember to share that part of our concept art (since we didn’t share lots of our in-progress shots of the Renegade/male character), and we didn’t notice the asymmetry in our postings. We don’t actually expect any of our characters to be sexualised. Please do keep letting us know if something we post seems strange to you!