Spaceships - adding more contrast and balancing the level of detail

This is a quick reply to a comment on the spaceship tutorials. I thought it might be helpful for others as well as it shows a lot of design issues encountered frequently when I am asked to give feedback.

TheBootsie123 send me his design (on the left) and asked for feedback and advice as it looked empty.

Spaceship original concept

The main issue besides the white background making it hard to see the shape and distinguish the elements it the lack of contrast. The whole ship is white with a little bit of a shading on the very edge. White is only ever really white when there is a bright light on it (or it is the light source itself). As soon as there is less light it will appear as various shades of grey.

Rather than go for a base colour that is pure white I decided to go with a 10% black (a very light grey) and shade it 50% towards the edges of the ship. The wings got a linear gradient towards the outside.  
I also tried to avoid too many straight vertical lines - it makes the design look less dynamic. I rather tried to set up and angle for the wings that would repeat in the patterns (the red markings as well as the flaps). 

Moving the rockets from the front towards the wing balances the design out better to make neither the front nor the back to heavy.

scapeship inkscape comparison with added details

When scaling design parts try and keep the stroke thickness and the details in line with the rest of the design. The earlier version of the back wing has the flap design scaled down. I looks more consistent when the elements of both main and back wing are identical. 

Adding markings or even wear and tear like scratches and burn marks will help add more realism. 

In the final design I did erase the 'kill marks' from the top - in order to avoid a complete (and more boring) mirror image. 

spaceship details complete ship large

Also tilted the design at the front inward to keep it inline with the angle used in the wing design.

Adding more contrast will make the design more readable even more so in a smaller scaled down version that might be used in the game. 

spaceship inkscape added detail ingame size mockup

I hope this rundown of small changes to improve the design was helpful not only to the user sending the request. Keep the contrast strong and your level of detail consistent to make a more readable design that has more impact.

Chris Hildenbrand

2D game artist, pixelpusher, vector bender, face turner for over thirty years. I worked on more games than I can remember... The most recent release is "Super Crossbar Challenge" for iOS (Android coming soon) with Shattered Box, Fredbear Games and PlayPlayFun.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the feedback on my spaceship! I'll use it all and try to make it better. As they always say, "Practice makes perfect"!