The Circle Can’t Be Trusted: Drawing Battlestations

Or: Round stations & the pitfalls of trilateral symmetry, a followup to Zen and the Art of Battlestation Construction


Herein we shall examine in detail the process of creating the Battlestation sprites. There’s gonna be a lot of Photoshop talk, so be warned. Here’s a taste of what a mess my station file is, perhaps revealing a little too much about how I actually work:

drawing_station1

Very poor layer naming discipline and related sins on display, for sure. But that aside, let’s start much simpler with a little talk about something we call composition. I’m going to take a classic ship and break down how composition is operating on various scales. Then, using the methodology explored in that process, we can examine how I built the composition of an orbital station sprite. Then I’ll talk about a bunch of random non-pixel art techniques which may be found useful for drawing large station sprites.

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Zen and the Art of Battlestation Construction

Tactical combat involving battlestations is a logical extension of the REDACTED BY HEGEMONY COMSEC most players are already well aware of despite dire warnings to avoid them from our benevolent protectors. Stations are also part of the colony-building features Alex has discussed recently, though I can’t make comment on how precisely they will play into the higher-level simulation.

However it’s going to work, we’re definitely going to need some enormous space-fortresses bristling with guns and danger. Someone is going to have to draw these things and figure out how all the pieces go together!

trikea

So let’s talk about how we developed a design for these things!

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Drawing [REDACTED] Battlestations, part 2

The following briefing is cleared for officers at Hegemony COMSEC level ALABASTER. If this document has come into your possession outside of protocol 20 then you must destroy this document and report immediately to your unit intelligence officer for enhanced debriefing.

comsec_redacted

# # #

Here be spoilers to Hidden Fun Content in Starsector. Many of you have clearly not been following important Hegemony COMSEC directives, leading directly to speculative rumour-mongering among the civilian population about the art and design of certain deep space objects which are the subject of today’s blog post.

If you have not yet encountered a [REDACTED] battlestation, you may wish to avoid this post! Because I’m really actually going to talk about it this time.

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Drawing [REDACTED] Battlestations, part 1

The following briefing is cleared for officers at Hegemony COMSEC level ALABASTER. If this document has come into your possession outside of protocol 20 then you must destroy this document and report immediately to your unit intelligence officer for enhanced debriefing.

comsec_redacted

# # #

Here be spoilers to Hidden Fun Content in Starsector. Many of you have clearly not been following important Hegemony COMSEC directives, leading directly to speculative rumour-mongering among the civilian population about the art and design of certain deep space objects which are the subject of today’s blog post.

Proceed at your peril!

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The Grim Visage Of Space Pirate Ivaylo

Ivaylo has been kind enough to grant permission to be used as a subject to show how I draw Starsector portraits – so now I shall show you how I draw Starsector portraits. Before we put pen to tablet, it is worth revisiting the stylistic standards and artistic goals in play.

Let’s pull up an image of some portraits to demonstrate principles.

screenshot050

Design Principles

First, the basics: These are painted in Photoshop on a black background at 512×512, resized down to 128×128 for the in-game art. This was not the case in early releases of Starsector – then, I drew portraits at-res. Going higher res allowed me to use a more painterly technique and otherwise focus more on just making the image rather than worrying about where individual pixels end up. I’ve historically been enthusiastic about small-scale painting, but if it holds back technique, it’s gotta go.

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