New Style Portraits: Step by Step

As you can see from the above picture, GearHead Caramel uses much bigger portraits than previous GearHead games, and the color switcher can handle subtler shading. Plus, there are now five recoloring channels to work with instead of just three. Here’s a quick tutorial on how I’ve been making portraits for the new system.

I start by doing a number of rough sketches for the character, before settling on the one I like the best. GearHead Caramel portraits should show the character from head to mid-thigh. They should be looking to the right, since that’s where the dialogue box is. I use a blue color for my pencils so it’ll be easier to draw black over them.

The second stage is what we cartoonists would call “inks”, though since I’m working digitally no actual ink was involved.

Next, I do the flat colors. For this method I complete the drawing in black and white, then add colors as the final step. You want to get a pretty wide value range- the shades should go from dark grey #404040 to pure white #ffffff. My professor Allen Passalaqua suggested using the darkest color of each area as the flat color, so that’s what I did here.

Shading is added using the lasso-and-gradient method. Using the lasso and other selection tools, I apply white-to-transparent gradients to a layer above the flats. You can find lots of tutorials on this method if you search. I probably should have pushed the darks a bit darker on this portrait, but it’s all a learning experience.

Finally, it’s time to color the portrait. I add another layer on top of the picture and set its mode to Multiply.  Red areas get colored with pure red (#ff0000), yellow areas with pure yellow (#ffff00), green with green (#00ff00), magenta with magenta (#ff00ff), and cyan with cyan (#00ffff). Because the layer mode is set to Multiply, the shading from the lower layers will show. Any areas left grey will be grey in the final portrait.

For characters: red = clothing 1, yellow = skin color, green = hair color, cyan = detail color, magenta = clothing 2

For mecha: red = main color, yellow = secondary color, green = sensor/detail color, cyan = metal color, magenta = tertiary color

The final portrait size is 400×600. Most characters should be around 500px tall; that way, there’s room to go bigger or smaller to show that a character is particularly large or tiny.

Enjoy some Winter Mocha!

Happy Tip’s Eve, everyone! I just uploaded the first release of GearHead Caramel, a short scenario called Winter Mocha. Try it out and let me know what you think.

GearHead Caramel Exploration and Combat Working

Both exploration and combat are now working in GearHead Caramel… if you can forgive the fact that the enemy pilots fight like they’re drunk. Right now they just pick a random weapon, try to attack a random target, and if that doesn’t work out they walk randomly.

I am hoping to release a playable demo by next week. There won’t be much content (my goal right now is a short introductory scene in town followed by one or two mecha fights), but it should show some of the new stuff that Caramel has. Keeping with the coffee-that-doesn’t-taste-like-coffee theme, my code name for the demo scenario is Winter Mocha.

All The Missiles

It’s a bit hard to see the shot animations on the video (especially since I only fired one missile), so here’s a gif of a BuruBuru launching (and hitting with!) all 20 of its missiles at once. In GearHead Caramel the missiles anim shows how many missiles were fired, letting you know at once just how toasted you are.

Another Caramel Update: Attack UI working

The attack interface is now working for GearHead Caramel. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles yet- it’d be nice to have hotkeys, and if the interface would remember your preferred attack modes- but it seems to be fully functional. Also, notice that the different attacks use different shot animations.
With attacks and movement both working, I have just about everything I need for a playable demo. The next stop will be the NPCs fighting back.

GearHead Caramel Tactics Movement

Today I got the tactics movement system running for GearHead Caramel. I think it works pretty well. Next steps: get vision working properly, and after that attacks. With any luck there’ll be a playable demo before December 25th.

GearHead2 at

Frostgrave wizard and apprentice sorted.

I just wanted to let you know that GearHead2 has been uploaded to, as has GearHead 1. I’m hoping to get a few tips so that I can pick up AssetForge, which looks like it would make a lot of the stuff I’m currently doing much easier. I promise that any donations to GearHead will be funneled back into the project and not blown frivolously on a big order from Hasslefree Miniatures. I also have print comics and ebooks for sale if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

In other news, today I got the widget system working for GearHead: Caramel. So far there are buttons and radio buttons, and that’s about it. Fortunately that’s about all I expect to need. I want to make sure the entire game can be played with a mouse so it’ll be easier if I want to port it to Android.

Emergency Bugfix: GearHead2 v0.701

Turns out there were some problems with GearHead2 version 0.700, uploaded yesterday. It crashes on Windows, contains a spelling error, and I even forgot to update the version number on the title screen again. A new release that fixes all of these problems has been uploaded to GitHub. Sorry for the inconvenience.

GearHead2 v0.700: All Caught Up

I’ve just uploaded a new version of GearHead2 that catches development up to the current state of GearHead1 and fixes a number of bugs that have been hanging around since the switch back to SDL. You can download the source code and binaries for Windows or Linux from this link.

Going to Kaigai Manga Festa Again

Cover of “Sci-Fi San Francisco” by Chuck Whelon

Tomorrow I’m heading to Tokyo for the Kaigai Manga Festa, where you’ll be able to find me at table F-2. After I get back to Korea next week I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to finish off the much-delayed next release of GearHead2, and after that I’m going to try to get a minimally playable mecha combat scenario done for GearHead Caramel in time for Christmas.

In other comics news, I have a story in the upcoming Sci-Fi San Francisco anthology which is now on Kickstarter. There are a lot of very talented people involved so check it out if that’s the kind of thing you’re into.