Friday, October 31, 2008

Companion Cube


Companion Cube, originally uploaded by dash16.

This occurred to me the other day and almost slipped my mind. I'm happy with how it turned out though!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

EVE


EVE, originally uploaded by dash16.

Finally finished EVE, had to take apart my big Metroid to do it tho... :(

Baby Metroid


IMG_0275.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

***WARNING: GEEKY HISTORY BELOW***

At the end of Metroid 2, after successfully exterminating every Metroid (including their queen) on SR-388, Samus found a hatchling Metroid. The hatchling thought Samus its mother, and Samus couldn't bring herself to destroy it so she brought the hatchling to Ceres space station for Federation research.

This sets the events for Super Metroid, in which Ridley attacks Ceres station and steals the hatchling for Mother Brain, who sets the baby loose in Tourian to feast on the most powerful enemies in the game. Samus encounters Metroids again on her way to defeat Mother Brain. The Metroids must have been cloned from the baby Metroid, and are weak to the normal method of freeze and blast with a missile. The baby Metroid however, has grown 3-4 times the size of normal Metroids and is apparently invulnerable to Samus' weapons. The baby attacks Samus and drains her within 1 energy unit of death when it stops, presumably recognizing Samus.

A quick recharge later, Samus finally confronts Mother Brain in 2 forms, and it struck down by a devastating beam of energy from Mother Brain's eye. As Samus lies on the ground struggling to get back up, the baby Metroid swoops in to save Samus from Mother Brain, draining Mother Brain of almost all her energy. The baby then attaches itself to Samus, recharging her with the stolen energy. Mother Brain must have had a reserve, because she recovers and begins to assault Samus and the baby Metroid. The baby, weakened by recharging Samus and the attacks from Mother Brain, falls victim to Mother Brains attacks and dies. It is unclear what happens next. Either the stolen energy from Mother Brain or the baby Metroid's dying act causes Samus' acquired beam weapons to merge into the Hyper Beam, which Samus then uses to defeat Mother Brain.

The Hyper Beam makes short work of Mother Brain, impassable barricade doors, even Elite Space Pirates. It makes a reappearance in Metroid Prime, in the final boss fight. In addition, Metroid Prime 3 introduces a suit that can inject an energy tank into the weapon's system causing Samus to go into Hyper Mode.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

How it's done

Been really busy at work lately so haven't had much time to work on my PixelBlocks art.  I figured I'd give an update on the process I go through to make these creations.  Its sort of something I figured out on my own, and have been refining the process to make it easier and quicker for me to do.

1) I find a digital copy of the character I want to do online somewhere. There are quite a few websites that post "ripped sprites" from video games, so there's a lot to choose from.  Couple of the sites I find them from are Game Sprite Archive and NES SNES Sprites.
2) Once I have the sprite, I convert it to a custom color palette in Photoshop.  There are only 20 different PixelBlocks colors (and I own 18 of them), so this can be quite a challege. Some colors don't have an equivalent PixelBlock color, so I have to either fake it or skip doing that character entirely. Magus from Chronotrigger unfortunately was skipped for this reason; I didn't have a good purple.  I've created both a palette file I can load into Photoshop and an action that I can run to quickly convert the file.  Sometimes the conversion misses colors, and I have to undo and go back and manually change some colors first.  
3) Once the image is converted to the PixelBlocks colors, I zoom in on the image in Photoshop and turn the grid on. The makes it easier to build the larger ones, because I can then count the number of blocks I'll need when putting it together. I take a screenshot of the zoomed image, although I suppose I could also simply increase the image size in Photoshop. The zoom is quick and easy to do.  I save both a copy of the screenshot and the converted sprite for future use if I want to make one again.
4) I open the screenshot and then start building. I have a bunch of plastic containers on my desk with the different colors sorted out. I start from the top of the image and work my way down, adding blocks one pixel at a time. I don't really have a system for keeping track of where I am, and usually will leave off working on it after completing a section like and arm or head or something so I can pick up where I left off.
5) Once the 2D sprite is built, I make a base so it can stand up at my desk and snap a picture of it. Its better to take a pic of it standing up, because some of the blocks are darker and its better with light shining through them to better define the colors. Otherwise they look like black.

Thats it.  There's a couple of other things I'd like to mention.  On the PixelBlocks website there is a web application called Digital Stained Glass.  Its a great program for taking your images and converting them into blueprints to make your own items.  I like to have a lot more control over the items I create, so its not as simple as just running an image through the program for me.  I use Digital Stained Glass to count the number of blocks I'll need for an image, as it will count pixels for me and spit out how many of each color you'll need to build it.  Also a note on size and price.  The blocks themselves are about 3/8 of an inch wide.  Even very small images will translate to pretty large items.   For your consideration:

sprite, actual size: 
zoomed image (blueprint): 
actual dimentions of finished product: 11 inches high, 8 1/2 inches wide
total number of blocks needed: 503 (not counting the base)
breakdown of blocks: 269 yellow, 138 black, 83 grey, 7 light grey, 6 clear/white

Pixelblocks sell for $8.00 per 200 blocks, or about $0.04 per block.  I actually considered building these out of Legos at one point, but they are actually more expensive at $0.07-$0.08 a block, and there are only 17 colors instead of 20.  Wall-e would cost $20.12 to build in PixelBlocks, and $35.21 in Legos.

I hope you've enjoyed the insight into my process.  Once I figure out a good cheap way to mount these items, I'd like to do commission based work.  One of the challenges I have is lighting, as they look best with backlight.  I've looked into framing them, which would work for some items, but anything that uses olive, dark red, dark blue, brown, light grey or dark grey will need backlight to better see the colors.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Wall-e


Wall-e, originally uploaded by dash16.

If you go to the theaters and see Wall-e and sit through the credits, you'll be treated with an awesome montage at the end of 8-bit characters from the movie acting out key scenes. I haven't been able to find a screen grab of them ANYWHERE, and even tried pulling some strings over at Pixar. This is the result of a free-hand attempt at Wall-e. I'm happy with how he turned out, and is the first model I've made with no pre-existing sprite to go off. I drew my own sprite in Photoshop then made the physical model.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Samus, redux


IMG_0212.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I never tire of building Samus pixelblocks art.

Metroid


IMG_0194.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I recently retired the Chronotrigger cast from the top of my desk, and am replacing it with a Super Metroid themed one. This is a normal metroid from Super Metroid, found in Tourian on the approach to Mother Brain.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Kefka


IMG_0113.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Kefka is the super villain from Final Fantasy 6. At one point in the game he uses powerful magic to rearrange the world to his liking, rending continents, moving cities, destroying a lot.

Robo


IMG_0117.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Robo is a robot from Chrono Trigger's dystopian future. He and Lucca are bestest friends.

Lucca


IMG_0115.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Lucca as well is from Chrono Trigger. She's the "Velma" of the group.

Marle


IMG_0114.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I've been on something of a Chrono Trigger kick lately, even started playing the game again on BSNES on my MacBook. Marle is princess Nadia in disguise, who gets sent through a time gate and unwittingly removed herself from the timeline by accidentally impersonating her great-great-great grandma.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Frog


IMG_0112.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Frog is also from Chrono Trigger. He wields the Masamune, a powerful magic sword. Originally he was a man, but cursed and changed into a frog by Magus.

Chrono


IMG_0111.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Chronotrigger was one of the best RPGs on the SNES. Maybe one of the best RPGs of all time. It had everything, awesome story, great gameplay, memorable characters (including the bad guy turned good), and something like 16 different endings depending on what you did, who you saved, etc. The main character, Chrono, actually DIES in the game! You have the option of saving him (which you should), but it is an OPTION. Not needed to beat the game.

Chronotrigger and Final Fantasy 6. If you like RPGs and haven't played these 2, turn in your gamer card, you fail.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Koopa Troopa (again)


IMG_0106.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

This is a green Koopa Troopa from Super Mario World. Green shells swallowed by Yoshi when spit back out stay as shells. Red shells turn into fireballs. Yellow shells allow Yoshi to stomp really hard and defeat some enemies without even touching them. Blue shells allow Yoshi to fly.

Super Mario and Yoshi


IMG_0107.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

This is Mario and Yoshi from Super Mario World. It's hard to belive this game came out 17 years ago...

Friday, March 28, 2008

Cursor


100_4802.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

The mouse cursor from Mac OS X. I may keep this one as well, although it does take some of my precious black blocks.

Mega Man X


100_4803.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I decided that if I did the upgraded Mega Man X (armor, boots, helmet, and gun) I wouldn't need dark blue blocks. I like how it turned out. I am however out of black blocks again, and will need to take apart Zero or Mega Man X to make anything new.

An eternal problem, this short supply of black. Must acquire more.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Mooninites


IMG_0081.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Ignignokt and Err are 2 dimensional beings from the moon. Err especially is a bad influence on Meatwad.

Zero


IMG_0080.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Zero was my favorite character from the Mega Man X series. I was really stoked to see they'd be making Mega Man Zero games, and have all three of them. They are super hard. I plan on making Mega Man X as well, just need dark blue blocks.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Moof


IMG_0072.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

This is Clarus the dogcow. Moof is the sound a dogcow makes.

Apple


IMG_0071.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I made this with the intention of keeping it. Most of the things I create I take apart when I need the colors from it for something else (most of the time I need black).

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Yorp!


IMG_0063.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Green one eye'd aliens that are almost too cute to shoot.

Almost.

Commander Keen


IMG_0064.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Game god John Carmack and crew made a couple kids games in addition to the bloody Doom and Quake games. Commander Keen was a great platformer, and had a number of games in the series. From what I hear they are all available on Steam... I need to get me some of that!

Come get some


104_4801.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Ah, the Duke of everything Nuking. The first two Duke Nukem games were excellent side scrolling platformer/shooters. The 3rd game was a revolution in multiplayer with its outlandish weapons. The 4th game has been a joke in the gaming industry and community for the past decade.

Will we see Duke Nukem Forever any time soon? My money is on MAYBE.

Samus take 2


104_4799.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I redid Samus in a different pose with some of the new colors I got. Again, harder to see some of the darker colors now without backlight... I need to come up with a good way to display these.

Check the little Samus on the screen in the background, thats the digital bitmap I went off to build the physical model.

Dun-duh-duh-DUH!


IMG_0075.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I got some more colors and the first thing I built was Link from one of the best Zeldas ever, A Link to the Past. Some of the darker colors are hard to see without backlight, hence my MacBook in the background instead of the desk I've been photographing them on.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Red Koopa Troopa


IMG_0066.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I'm trying to make Inignot from Aqua Teen Hunger Force and needed green so I swapped the colors from my green koopa troopa to make a red one.

Still don't have enough bricks to make what I want. I did make Err (Urr?) tho, will have pics soon.

Kirby


IMG_0067.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I've actually never played any of the Kirby games! Shocker. I have played as Kirby in Super Smash Bros. though. He's awesome.

Look for my Super Smash Bros. Brawl set coming soon, I'll be making all of the classic versions of the characters.

Ms. Pac-Man


IMG_0068.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

A lot of people don't know that Ms. Pac-Man is not actually the same game as Pac-Man. In addition to introducing a new ghost, the ghosts movement patterns are randomized. In Pac-Man there was a set path that they followed, and people memorized that path in order to set some astronomically high scores.

Plus she has a bow on her head.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Winged Goomba


IMG_0060.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Nothing like flying fanged mushrooms to ruin your day...

Raccoon Mario


IMG_0059.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I'm not sure why a leaf transforms you into a raccoon, or why that raccoon can fly, but a cool power-up nonetheless.

Koopa Troopa


IMG_0062.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

One of the most common enemies in Super Mario Bros, the lowly green shelled turtle.

Fire Mario


IMG_0061.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Fire Mario from Super Mario Bros. 3. Quite possibly one of the greatest games of all time.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Yoshi!


IMG_0052.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

One of my favorite games for the Super Nintendo was Super Mario Kart. Yoshi wasn't my favorite racer, that would be Koopa Troopa (not to be confused with King Koopa, Bowser).

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Lakitu


IMG_0043.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

The thrower of the Spinys. Not sure how he got the cloud to support his weight, or where he stores all those spiny shelled turtles...

Spiny


IMG_0042.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Red turtle with yellow spikes on its back. Best killed by bumping the block underneath it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Black Mage


IMG_0039.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Black Mage from Final Fantasy and the afore mentioned 8-bit Theater. Loves knives and hadokens.

Fighter


IMG_0038.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Fighter from Final Fantasy. Also, 8-bit Theater. Sword-chucks rule!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sonic the Hedgehog


IMG_0046.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Everyone's favorite blue sneaker wearing blur, Sonic! Can't wait to play Smash Bros. Brawl and pit Sonic vs. Mario.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Super Mario!


IMG_0044.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

It'sa me! Mario!

World 1-1


IMG_0045.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

I tweaked the colors a bit on this Mario, it more fits with his overall image. The original sprite had brown hair, eyes, shirt and shoes. Very bland.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Jump Man


IMG_0028.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

A lot of people don't know this, but Mario didn't always have a name. In the original Donkey Kong, his name was Jump Man. Shigeru Miyamoto later named him Mario for the Mario Brothers game, and then Super Mario Bros. was released. The rest is history.

Dig Dug


IMG_0030.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Dig Dug was an awesome game! I never played it on the NES, but on my Commodore 64/128. As a kid growing up, we didn't own an NES (but I played one all the time at the local youth center). We owned a Commodore 128, and let me tell you that was a game MACHINE. We had tons of 5 1/4 floppy disks with games. Gotta love a computer that requires command line to launch a game.

Pac-Mac Ghost


IMG_0031.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

This ghost is vulnerable to Pac-Man's awesome chomping powers, at least temporarily.

Wakka-wakka-wakka


IMG_0032.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

Pac-Mac, classic video game of the 80s. Kinda sad some of the trash games he's been in since the original. Wish I could play the MarioKart arcade game with Pac-Man and the red ghost though.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Duck Hunt, pt. 2


IMG_0037.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

One of the ducks from Duck Hunt. Anyone play the Wii Play shooting game?

Duck Hunt, pt. 1


IMG_0035.JPG, originally uploaded by dash16.

That darn dog from Duck Hunt. Anyone ever shoot him?

Monday, February 11, 2008

Link


IMG_0029.JPG, originally uploaded by dustinnewell16.

8-bit Link from The Legend of Zelda. For as much as I love Zelda, I never actually beat the first game. Never even played the second. Link to the Past was my hook into the series. Perhaps one day I'll go back and play Zelda 1 and 2; I have them on the Zelda collectors disc for the Gamecube.

Samus


IMG_0026.JPG, originally uploaded by dustinnewell16.

Samus Aran from the original Metroid game. Much easier to do than the 16-bit version.

A Coworker recently asked if I could build the final fight against Mother Brain from NES Metroid for him. I've been looking into how many blocks it is going to take, and trying to figure out the best way to mount these in a semi-permanent state. I'm thinking picture frame, easy to hang on the wall. Would also be nice if I could come up with a way to backlight it, since the pixelblocks are semi-transparent it would look really nice.