I’m pretty sure that the next game will be 640×400, so I’m practising that kind of painting at the moment. It may not seem like much of a difference to work with that resolution instead of 320×200, but it’s actually very different (aside from the fact that it’s four times the canvas to fill…).
320×200 is still in the realm of pixel-based drawing, even if you’re not necessarily pixelating per see, and that means that you’re less “painting” and more positioning around pixels. Just drawing a non-straight line is a bit of a challenge in such low resolutions, because if you’re not careful with your anti-aliasing, the picture will be all blurry and ugly.
As soon as you move up a notch to 640×400, the eye won’t register single pixels anymore, so you have to apply different techniques. From then on, scaling up (to, say, 1280x or whatever) means basically just more canvas to fill, meaning that there’s a magic limit somewhere just above 320×200 where you actually start to “paint” your backgrounds.
One disadvantage is that everything is pretty much manual labour here, whereas in low-res you can use photo-parts and 3D models and a bit of everything, because the pixelated look will make sure it looks pretty uniform and pretty either way. In higher res, this is not an option – you can’t just fill an area with a texture you found somewhere, at least not and get away with it. You simply have to paint it yourself.
I’m fairly satisfied with the above piece, because I think I’ve found a balance between traditional realism and some sort of cartoonish simpleness. I definitely want the game to feel hand-painted, devoid of 3D models, computer generated filters and even custom brushes (there’s basically just one brush used up there) and for most of the process I didn’t even use layers. I think this will fit the retro sci/fi look I’m going for.
In hindsight, I guess I could have planned the picture so that more of the central object, the giant mine truck, got some highlights, to make it slightly more interesting to look at (the whole picture is a tad too dark and desaturated now, maybe), but I still like the low-key atmosphere.
The picture is still a bit rough and can certainly be more refined and detailed, but I’ll leave this one here.