Hello everyone, I am going to walk you through a bit of my process today on creating Battlers(although really, it is my process for everything!).
So usually the way these things start out is with a rough idea, a name, or a design brief. For this guy, I just was trying to think of a cool big bad at first, then it kind of morphed into what it is now along the way.
So first I sat down and just started fiddling with shapes in the Alchemy program. Eventually I came upon what you see in the lower left: a big beefy armored baddie with a big sword. I pulled that into photoshop and started doing some explorations and thumbnails. Thinking about the character looking menacing in the RPGmaker battlescape led me to the majority of my poses, and likely the one I decided to flesh out in the end.
Now that I had my thumbnail I took that and enlarged it in my canvas to its final size and I started roughing out the value structure and texture on the character. This is done with a couple of brushes, but primarily just one, set to varying degrees of opacity. I knew I wanted the flesh of this beast to be properly rugged, something like rough, ancient bone mixed with armor. Initially the design of the head and chest was slightly different, but I changed it to how you see it now to increase readability. After bringing it properly up to a good range of values, I started messing with some colors.
This is where the ‘Flame’ part of the name really started to take shape. I knew I wanted a hot core in the chest to really pop the values there, but I hadn’t necessarily decided I wanted it to be fire. Once I started laying in the flames though, there was no turning back! The surface colors I was thinking a charred bone, so they ended up pretty warm in color temperature at this phase; kind of a yellow ochre and ruddy brown. Colors here are applied with a single brush, varying opacity, on a multiply layer above the value layer. Once I was happy with how the colors were working with the value structure, I merged all of my layers into a new one to start painting.
On here I started out with the dodge tool and some high value colors to define my highlights. Thinking about the specular properties of my surfaces, I wanted to keep the highlights pretty tight and hot, as that is how I imagined the bone armor would look. This phase was done with the same brush as the other phases, but with generally higher opacity. I started with the highlights and kind of worked my way out from there in terms of painting the character. After a lot of painting, I was pretty happy with how he looked.
On top of my paint layer, I added a hard light layer to add some effects onto. I really wanted that flame to be popping out and knocking back the values around it to appear as if it was glowing. This was simply done with an airbrush on the hard light layer.
For the final I merged all of my layers once again and ran a sharpen filter over the whole thing, which gives it a nice finished look. From this I will remove the white background, size it appropriately for RPGmaker, and save it out as a .png!
Download the battlers for RPG Maker use here: