Assembling The Fleet

I hear you guys like spaceships so I’ve put together some  concepts for new Starfarer ships I’ve been working on.

These are unlabeled for now – ideally their visual design expresses the intended role of each, but if nothing else, I’ll enjoy fueling the flames of speculation. Have a look:

(More under the cut, and then some thoughts on drawing ships for Starfarer.)

I’m taking a slightly different approach to ships now that I’ve had some more experience drawing them. At first (see here and here) I drew perspective views of the ships as 3d objects; this isn’t  necessary because the ships will always be seen as top-down sprites. So for the concepts above, I’ve drawn the ships much as they’ll appear in the final game in terms of silhouette and color, though of course these are painted rather than pixeled at this point.

(A word on technique: I find that I can sketch much more naturally through digital painting. Yes, there’s no paper step; I moved completely digital some time ago and it is a simple matter to sketch via tablet now that I’ve built up the hand-eye coordination necessary.)

To get back to ship sprites, from the above sketches I can size the painting down to the relative size appropriate for the ship class then pixel over the resized sketch. The shape, colours, and shading are mostly there, it’s just a matter of refining form, defining detail, getting consistent line quality, and giving it all a wash of pixel-style rendering. See here:

You can see the one ship in resized concept to pixel art, while it’s larger friend is partly pixeled-over paintingNote how the engines have grown a bit and how the turret mounts use the generic slot graphic shared between all hulls.

With all the enthusiasm for modding in custom ships, I’m going to write up a style guide and share some templates for drawing your own ships — and weapons. So keep your RSS feeds primed!

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at 3:07 pm and is filed under Art, Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. Fantastic. Actually, better than fantastic.

    Now we just need “titan” or “leviathan” or “super capital ship” sized ships 😀

    by Blips
  2. Very cool! Its nice to get a look into your design process. Considering I’m at the moment jumping around between various design methods (originally drawing pixel outlines, then painting in under, then running a huge number of various filter passes and finally touching up pixel by pixel; now trying something similar to what you are doing), I find this rather helpful in getter a better idea of how to mimick the style in my own custom ships.

    by Avan
  3. @Blips : Don’t tempt me!

    by dgbaumgart
  4. Love that blue asymmetrical one on the left in the first picture 🙂

    by Raptor
  5. @dgbaumgart – lol, I already had some on the drawing tables (literally) since day 1 of modding in ships.

    by Avan
  6. Gorgeous, nice work guys. Loving this game more and more and cant wait for future releases. Just one thing to keep in mind is that super intricate capital ships and amazing advanced designs are all great and good, but without the simple and plain ships that are more common they kind of lose their appeal. The best part of any open world space game is starting in some crappy little shuttle craft and every once in a while catching a glimpse of these gorgeous carriers and capitols and dreaming of the day you can own one. But seriously keep up the good work, just say the word and i’d be more than happy to send another 10 bucks your way 😉 Whatever makes it happen faster!

    by Sambo
  7. Lovely. Any chance of some large-sized exports of these for wallpapering purposes? 😀

    by Marcin
  8. Another +1 for the blue asymmetrical ship in the first photo! Great work, guys!!

    by Collen
  9. Love the new designs, fantastic work!

    by Lightbender