Master deadly traps and savage hazards to slaughter your foes in turn-based tactical combat. Firstborn is the story of a world on the brink of ruin. A legion of nightmarish immortals sweeps across the land, slaughtering all who would oppose them. Blades shatter and arrows snap against the demonic flesh of the horde, and death follows in their wake. But as swords fail and kingdoms crumble, three heroes rise to challenge the darkness.

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Hello again and welcome to another Firstborn development blog! The last couple of posts have been focused on the lore for the project, so I thought this time I'd mix it up with something a little bit more technical.

For this week's blog, we're going to take a look at how a character in Firstborn goes from an early concept sketch to a finished sprite ready for the game. In this case, we'll take a look at the upcoming Rakshasa boss scheduled for release with pre-alpha update 3.0.

Step 1: The Concept

Each of the Firstborn races are based loosely on creatures from real world legends. The Rakshasas, for example, are based on the demons of the same name from Hindu mythology - fearsome creatures with sharp fangs, magical powers and a craving for human blood.

After a little experimentation, we had a concept. A large, powerful Firstborn with innate levitation and access to powerful elemental invocation (click here for a refresher on how magic works in the world of Firstborn)..

Step 2: Shape and Colour

The first stage of bringing a new character to life in Firstborn is to create a rough silhouette and decide on a colour palette for the character.

At this stage, it is important to test the colours and silhouette against a sample of one of the in-game tilesets to make sure that the silhouette and colours are clear and contrast well with the background.

Step 3: Sprite First Pass

I've been using a program called GraphicsGale to create the pixel art for Firstborn. It's definitely not as powerful a tool as something like PhotoShop, but it's free and offers a reasonable range of features suited to pixel art.

A couple of hours later, we had a first pass. As you can see, there was definitely room to improve.

Step 4: Sprite Refinements

After a little more work, the sprite had definitely moved in a better direction, and the portrait wasn't looking quite as silly, but the new boss still wasn't really selling the sense of magical menace.

I decided to take a run at some animation for the sprite and see if that would make it a bit more threatening.

Step 5: Animation First Pass

While I prefer GraphicsGale for creating the sprites, I use Pyxel Edit for most of the animations in Firstborn. It's a very affordable tool, and offers a great range of features for animation.

The addition of an idle animation and some hair helped a little, but the Rakshasa just wasn't feeling like a powerful spellcaster. I decided to add a little lightning to idle animation to liven it up and warn the player that this is no ordinary Firstborn.

Definitely another step in the right direction, but the sprite and animation still both felt lacking.

Step 6: Sprite Final Pass and Animation Refinements

The next revision marked the turning point for the Rakshasa. A rework of the head added a horned helment, while the idle pose became much livelier. Firstborn's new villain was starting to take shape!

Step 7: Lighting

Some lighting effects for the eyes and lightning came next, along with a basic animation for the portrait. The Rakshasa was definitely starting to look more sinister, and was almost ready for the game.

Step 8: Final Polish

The final version brought further refinements to the lighting, and the addition of the lighting effects to the portrait animation. Whether this will be the final iteration or not remains to be seen, but for now I'm happy to start getting this fearsome beast into the game!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this week's Firstborn development blog! Join us next time for more behind-the-scenes development adventures!

Edit: A big thank-you to artist Danika Clark for helping me revise and expand this post. She always has great advice to give on anything art related, and comes up with some amazing Firstborn fan art. You can check out some of her beautiful art on Twitter and Instagram.

Magic in Firstborn: Essence, Invocation and Sorcery

Magic in Firstborn: Essence, Invocation and Sorcery

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For this week's development blog, we take a closer look at how magic works in the savage world of Firstborn.

Firstborn Lore Breakdown: Human, Firstborn, Unborn - Oh My!

Firstborn Lore Breakdown: Human, Firstborn, Unborn - Oh My!

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It's been a little while, but the Firstborn development blog is back! This week, we go in-depth with the three mighty factions at play in the world of...

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Firstborn - Guardian Hero Breakdown

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For this week's blog, we learn all about the upcoming Guardian hero and some of the abilities she can bring to bear against the Firstborn!

Firstborn Pre-Alpha 3 Teaser

Firstborn Pre-Alpha 3 Teaser

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For this week's blog, we take a sneak peek at some of the new stuff coming in version 3 or the public pre-alpha for Firstborn.

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Firstborn PreAlpha 3.01

Firstborn PreAlpha 3.01

Patch

The first patch for the new pre-alpha! Contains a handful of bugfixes and some small visual updates.

Firstborn Pre-Alpha 3

Firstborn Pre-Alpha 3

Demo

This is it! Firstborn Pre-Alpha 3 is finally available. This version should be stable, and includes a lot more content than previous versions Expects...

FirstbornPreAlpha03 SecretTest

FirstbornPreAlpha03 SecretTest

Demo

This is an in-house test of the new Firstborn Pre-Alpha. It's missing some (fairly necessary) dialogue and flavour text. It's also REALLY hard. You have...

Firstborn Pre-Alpha Release 2.9

Firstborn Pre-Alpha Release 2.9

Demo

The last significant update before the launch of Pre-Alpha 3. This version brings visual improvements to the menu and environments, as well as an increase...

Firstborn Pre-Alpha Release 2.1

Firstborn Pre-Alpha Release 2.1

Demo 1 comment

This build fixes a couple of bugs that came through with the new push system in the last pre-alpha build.

Firstborn Pre-Alpha Release 2.0

Firstborn Pre-Alpha Release 2.0

Demo

A very early pre-alpha version of the game that lets you play a few levels and a boss fight. Be warned, there's no explicit tutorial in this version...

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Firstborn
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Hey all! If you're coming to #PAXAUS2017, please feel free to DM me if you want to book a time to talk all things… T.co

Oct 17 2017

Hey all! In case you missed it, here's a little announcement from the heroes in #Firstborn. #indiedev #indiegameT.co

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Hey all! @ellalowgren and I are going to be at #GCAP and #PAXAus this year. Stop by and say hello! Here's a pic so… T.co

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#Firstborn is coming to #PAXAus! Huge thanks to @SpaceDerp of @TeePee_Studios for some neat booth art! #indiedevT.co

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Hey all! A few words from the heroes in #Firstborn for #screenshotsaturday! #indiedev #indiegame #pixelart #gamedevT.co

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This is some wicked cool #pixelart! Really impressive! 😀 T.co

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That feeling when you're hoping you're Chaotic Good, but suspect you might actually be Neutral Evil. Also, this tab… T.co

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Awww, thank you! Been working hard on this one 😊 T.co

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