Digital Graphics for a Retro Game Reboot

Penguin Character Design:


As you can see from this image I have used my thumbnail sketches to help me design my final image of the penguin. I drew him holding the egg in the design as the egg is an important asset to the game.


Click the image to make it larger.

Here is my final design for the penguin game character. I added colour and simple line shading to the edges. I like the final outcome for this character as it has a simple cartoon like style to it so I think the target audience will be happy with it.

Penguin Digital Sculpt:


Using the digital sculpting software Z-Brush I sculpted the penguin character. Having already designed the look to the penguin, It was easy to take it’s features and apply them to the sculpt.


Click the image to make it larger.

Here is my final design character sheet for the penguin sculpt. I painted the sculpt with colour after designing it to bring life to it. I then presented it through a character sheet showing multiple angles of the character. It was easy to paint the colour on to the character because I had already chosen the colours and where to put them in mt 2D concept piece. Because the penguin is long and thin I could fit multiple renders of it with a side and front view as well as a close 3D render.

Polar Bear Character Design:


Here you can see my progression through the polar bear character design. Going from a thumbnail sketch into a final line drawing.


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For the final design of the polar bear I coloured it and shaded the background.

Penguin Digital Sculpt:


Here is the progression for the polar bear sculpt in Z-Brush.


Click the image to make it larger.

Here is the character sheet for the polar bear sculpt rendered in Z-Brush. I made it into a character sheet to present it to the best ability. The presentation of the work is key, bad presentation does not show off your work int he best way making it look not as good. I think it is very important to present your work well. Like the penguin I presented the polar bear with a 3D rendered view but because of it’s shape I did not do a side and front render. Instead I used the space as well as I could with another render of a face closeup.

User Interface Design:



Here you can see the progression on how the user interface was designed. Like the rest of my designs I wanted to keep the consistent cartoon like style to it and I think I have done this well through the user interface. Originally the middle design sketches were going to be the score system, however I then realised that I needed a timer system that counts down rather than a score system. This was fine though because they both can look the exact same. I have labeled the user interface designs accordingly next to the sketches.


Click the image to make it larger.

Here is my final user interface design. I used the sketches to get an idea for how I wanted the ui design to look like. I then took them in to photoshop to create the final outcome. Once the graphics were made I made a simple animation to replicate how it would look like in game. Because this is a reboot of a retro game I wanted this to look modern and advanced in terms of technology and art work. I think the animation on the user interface works well here because of that. I am very pleased on how the user interface design turned out. One thing I was very happy about was the health hearts in the bottom left corner. I like how the smaller hearts only rotate from left to right, but the bigger heart grows larger as it rotates. I think if I was to improve this design I would animate the timer in the top right corner a little better. I am not to pleased on how it only scales in larger. I think it would look better if it also rotated slightly.

In Game Art Work:


Here is an example of how the game will look with the user interface.

Critical Evaluation:

My overall outcomes for my project mostly came out the way I wanted them to look. I think I managed to replicate how the game would look in a modern cartoon like style while keeping the original elements of the game. However not everything was going to work the way I wanted it to or turn out the way I want it to. Mostly though the outcomes are the way I want them to be and I can clearly identify any changes I would make so I can improve on future projects.

With my penguin design I was going for a cartoon like style, so I began sketching out shape designs. After reviewing these designs I chose an egg like shape so I could then detail in and colour it in image editing software such as photoshop. Once the final image had been completed I wanted to take it further by digitally sculpting it in Z-Brush. Going into the sculpt I wanted to keep the shape and features as close to the original artwork as much as possible. I knew I could do this if I was working straight from the artwork looking closely on the features. Once I began colouring the character it began to look a lot more like the original design so I was very happy there. I am very happy with how the colour turned out on the 3D model. I think it looks very similar to the artwork and keeps the cartoon style to it. I think if I was to do the sculpt again however I would have improved on the design to it. There were a lot of techniques that I learned along the way that I can put into affect into future sculpts.

For the polar bear character designs I wanted to keep the style identical to the penguins to keep it consistent. So again I began with sketching out shapes for the polar bear. Then I carried on the designs looking more into the facial features. Then again I took it into photoshop and finalized my design based on my best sketches. This time taking the character and sculpting it I was a lot more confident with the sculpting software. I think because of this my final design was more stronger than the penguin design.

My user interface designs were pretty simple but I think they give off the right style and feel to the game. I am please on how they animate and I feel that they will make the player feel more immersed into the game.

If I was to do this project again I would do more original promotional content such as posters. I think they need their original environment artwork to help promote the style of the game. For my user interface design I would spend longer animating the different objects to it. I think the animations are very simple but If more time was spent a better look could be created.

Ideas Generation for a Retro Game

Project Proposal:

For this project I will need to produce 2D digital graphics for a revamp of a retro computer game. I have chosen to do a revamp of the game Penguin Land. Penguin Land is a retro game that came out in 1985 for various old school consoles then came out for old school hand held consoles like the game boy in 1990 [Sam, 2013]. The game is a 2D platformer where you play as a penguin. The aim of the game is to get an egg to the bottom of the maze like level. You do this by rolling the egg by moving into it and breaking the ice you move on to let it drop down. However there are enemies like polar bears that kill you on impact with them. I will generate ideas through mood boards, mind maps, and thumbnail sketches. Once I have my ideas I can begin to develop designs for the game. I will use 2D image editing software such as photoshop to create concept art. I will also use digital sculpting software such as z-brush to create digital sculpts of characters. Once I have all my designs completed I will present my work professionally.

I am aiming to create my designs in a cartoon like style. This is because I will be designing the looks for a penguin and a polar bear. I don’t think a photo realistic style would go well with these characters. I will be aiming the designs for this game at a target audience of children mostly but will be open to teenagers and older. This is due to its cartoon like style, colourful characters, and child friendly designs.

Sam Derboo. (2013). Penguin Land. Available: Last accessed 18th Mar 2015.

Work Plan:

work plan

I threw together a work plan so I can clearly see what I need to do and when it should be done. This will help me get everything done on time and stay motivated to doing it. For the first few weeks I can get together some ideas through mood boards and mind maps. Then begin sketching out some ideas. Then moving on some weeks I can start on my designs with digital sculpts, character sheets, and concept art. Finally in the last week I can collate everything and present it.

Graphics Specification:

I plan to design the graphics for a reboot of the retro game Penguin Land. The target audience for the rebooted game will be children and of course fans of the original penguin land game. The game will be made for game consoles such as the Xbox One and Playstation 4. The game is mainly aimed at children so the art style for this game will be a cartoon style to appeal to the audience.

All my final pieces of artwork will be saved out as a png file. This file type is lossless so I am getting the maximum quality out of my art possible. I plan to do a sculpt render and a concept art piece for the polar bear and the penguin. I shall make sure to name them appropriately. A folder will be created separately to hold all the sculpting scene and object files for each character to keep everything clean and easy to manage. I can organize my assets with a proper naming convention. I can name everything with a prefix of what the asset type is, like an image, sculpt, or document. Then a suffix with the name of the asset, such as penguin.

The final renders will feature multiple images of the same character at different angles. This will show off the final character render to it’s full potential. I will also make it look the best it possibaly can by using a 3 point lighting setup. I will render 3 times moving the light around the scene and blend them together in Photoshop. The final character sheets will be saved as a png image file. This is a lossless file type.

I must take into consideration the legal and ethical issues during this project. Because this is a game aimed for children I need to keep violence to a minimal level and to not include strong language. I also do not have the rights to any other cartoon penguin characters so I need to be careful during the creative process of my designs not to make them look like other existing designs.

Any art work created within software without a commercial licence cannot be sold or made profit from. If I was to make money from content I created, i would need to obtain a licence for the software that the content was created within. If no licence was obtained, legal action would occur and I could be sued by the company that produce the software. Some software grant student licences in where you are free to use the software at it’s full potential and create as much as you want. You cannot however make or produce anything commercially. You cannot make money from anything you create. This is why the student licence it free and the ordinary licence costs money.

I must make sure that I do not breach copyright within the creation of the characters. There are a lot of cartoon animal characters that have been used in films and TV. Research will need to be done before the creation process. Research into major Walt Disney company and animation studios alike. If content was generated that has similarities that exceed on average I could be faced with legal action and be sued for a lot of money.


Mind Map:


I made a mind map to generate ideas for computer game graphics. I came up with 5 different ideas for creating digital graphics. I then generated ideas further on them ideas on what specific items I could create.

Mood Board:


Here is the mood board for the original penguin land game. I have chosen a few images from the internet and put them all into one document. This helps me visualize how I want my version of thew game to look like. I can now apply innovative techniques to change up the look of the game to how I want it too look.

My reference:,d.ZGU&psig=AFQjCNHLp7s0aCgvjZsTQB5Jv5zzS14oxA&ust=1426974923606696&cad=rja


Thumbnail Sketches:



Here are the initial thumbnail sketches for the penguin. I was trying to come up with ideas just for the shape of the character before detailing it. Click the image to make it larger.


Here is my initial thumbnail sketch page for the polar bear design. I was focusing on the characters face through these designs. Click the image to make it larger.


I created some designs using pencil. I can now compare them and come up with a final design I like the most. I will ask around for some feedback from people so I can get opinions from others on what their favorite designs are. The original design is in pixel art however for my design I want to make it more vector like graphics with clean edges and block colours with simple shading.


I created design pencil sketches for the polar bear. I looked more into the pose of the character this time. With these six designs I can choose one to base a concept art piece from.


With the user interface designs, I wanted to keep it to the minimum. I really like these designs because they have a cartoon style. This fits with the whole art style of the game.

Digital Graphics for Computer Games






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I have gathered all my research and fully referenced it within my bibliography. I have made sure I have given credit when necessary and provided viewers with the right reference needed.

Justin Towell. (2015). Who needs photorealism? Gaming’s most amazing art styles exposed. Available: Last accessed 18th Mar 2015.

WebWise Team. (2012). What are file extensions?. Available: Last accessed 18th Mar 2015.

howtogeek. (Unknown). What Lossless File Formats Are & Why You Shouldn’t Convert Lossy to Lossless. Available: Last accessed 18th Mar 2015.

Serdar Yegulalp. (Unknown). What Is Anime?. Available: Last accessed 18th Mar 2015.

David Silverman. (2013). 3D Primer for Game Developers: An Overview of 3D Modeling in Games. Available:–gamedev-5704. Last accessed 18th Mar 2015.

Vangie Beal. (Unknown). vector graphics. Available: Last accessed 18th Mar 2015.

Suzanne Williams. (Unknown). What Is Photography?. Available: Last accessed 18th Mar 2015.

Quality Assurance

As part of my project I got feedback from people who played my game. I got people to tell me one thing they would improve to the game to make it better.

One person said that they thought I could have put more effort into my background design. I agree with this feedback. I think if I had spent more time researching into medieval architecture, I would have had a better understanding on how the game should look like.


In order to track the bugs effectively I made a quality assurance form. It got hold of all the bugs in my game and when they occurred. QA forms help users keep track of their bugs and maintain them for fixing at a later stage. [David, Unknown]

I made my QA form into a grid displaying what the bug was, how it was found and how it was fixed. I also kept track of the date it was found on.


A full link to the QA form can be found here: QA form


David Wilson. (Unknown). Quality Quality Assurance: A Methodology for Wide-Spectrum Game Testing. Available: Last accessed 14/01/15.

Game Design Document Version History

When developing my game I noticed that certain elements the game needed to be changed through my game design document. This is a common procedure when it comes to game development. The further along the development process you go, the more detailed the information will be. You can begin to expand the document without losing it’s readability [Ella, 2014].

One of the changes I needed to make was the rocks. at first I was going to make rocks as simple sprites and import them in game maker. It seemed simple enough as all I thought it would be is a simple sprite job. Later down the line of development however I realised how much work I would have had to have put into coding the enemies to crawl over the rocks. Not only would I have to code them I would also have had to animate them stretching over the rocks in a realistic enough method.


In the end I ended up removing the rocks from the game. This is due down to not prioritizing them in the first place. When working on projects you cannot always know fore sure how hard every element will be unless you have had practice before. For future projects I can now see how much effort needs to go into game play elements as small as rocks and will think twice before sending them to the back of the prioritized list.


Another change I made was to the enemy. Through play testing the game I felt that only having 1 enemy was really boring. I received feedback from people who play tested my game and they thought the same way. I decided to add a bigger enemy to give it more of a challenge.


For the bigger enemy I made him a red colour instead of green. I also made him inflict 2 points of damage to the barriers so the game would be more challenging.


A link to my previous GDD can be found here: GDDversion1

A link to my updated GDD can be found here: GDD


Ella Romanos. (2014). How to write a useful game design document.Available: Last accessed 14/01/2015.

Game Design Document

I used a Game Design Document to help me in the designing process of my game.

A game design document is a document to express the vision of the game [ Tim, 2199] . It is where the designer can plan ideas, write them down and are then able to prioritize certain elements of the game [Tzvi, 1997]. In industry Game Design Documents are used for the whole design team so everyone can get an idea of how they are supposed to be designing things [Tim, 2199]. For more smaller groups or single developers they will help themselves mostly figure out how the game will be and played. As I began developing my game I noticed I was adding to my GDD along side it. This is because you can never really tell if some parts will work well with others unless you jump in and test them. This is why prioritizing the right things first is a key task. Game design documents are an important procedure when it comes to developing games. It has helped me get a clear vison and feel for my game. I can now prioritize the right things to develop my game in the most effective way possible.

The link to the game design document can be found here: GDD


Tzvi Freeman. (1997). Creating A Great Design Document. Available: Last accessed 14/01/15.

Tim Ryan. (1999). The Anatomy of a Design Document. Available: Last accessed 14/01/15.

Digital Prototype


I further developed my paper prototype in game maker. I made a menu screen containing the play button, which takes you to the game level. A controls button, which takes you to the controls level. The exit button that exits you out of the game. For now all the sprites and titles are placeholder sprites. These will all be replaced once I have gotten the main focus of the game mechanics sorted first. It is important to prioritize certain part of the game such as the mechanics over other things such as sprites. You don’t want to be spending ages creating a good looking sprite then realise you don’t have enough time to add core game mechanics to the game.


The prototype as of now consists of a player, two barriers with their corresponding health set up and two bows that the player can pull back and fire. The enemies are also setup as red cubes that move towards the player inflicting damage on contact of the barriers.

prototype2 prototype3


Now I have setup my digital prototype I can further develop it with good looking sprites and fancy game mechanics that I don’t need in my game.

Paper Protoype

My Project prototype consists of:

barrier                 bow

The barrier                           The bow


char                    enemy

The player                                                The enemy


2 dice, one 20 sided and another 6 sided.


– Every turn an enemy spawns 30 cms from the player.

– You can shoot once per turn and move left or right once per turn

– every turn the enemies move 15 cms closer to you.

– You can shoot once per turn.

– When you shoot. depending how far away the enemy is you roll the dice to see if you hit.

If the enemy is less than 15 cms away from you you roll a 6 sided dice, if he is more than 15 cms away from you, roll the 20 sided dice. for the 6 sided dice, 3 or more and you hit, killing the enemy. With the 20 sided dice, roll 10 ore more to kill the enemy.

– If the enemy hit the barrier, a health is taken from the barrier. The barrier starts with 10 health and every turn the enemy is in contact with the barrier a health is taken from it.

– If the barrier gets destroyed it’s game over.


I played the paper prototype for a good amount of time with other people to test my game. After playing the paper prototype I realised only having one enemy was a bit boring and I needed a bit of a challenge. Playing the prototype was really beneficial to me for play testing my game before I make it.

I got some feedback from players who were play testing the prototype. One bit of critical feedback that I received was to make the enemy continue to move towards the player after the barrier gets destroyed. It felt batter knowing you die once the enemy hits you rather than the barrier.

IMG_0438 IMG_0437 IMG_0436


Images of the paper prototype in action.



Learning new skills is never an easy task. Games require a lot of work for them to work properly. The slightest mechanic error can brake the game entirely and throughout the development of my 2D game I had to do a lot of bug fixing and polishing to make sure my game was in good shape. I feel throughout the process of making my 2D game I have learned a wide range of new skills that will benefit me a lot. Managing the project was one of the biggest skills I have learned. The ability to effectively plan out dates in which certain elements of the game need to be complete is a vital skill when it comes to developing games. I have learned just how much work needs to be put into development and how I can effectively manage the project to make it as good and polished as I can.

At first going into this project I wanted to make the biggest and best 2D game I could think of. So I began developing a 2D platformer that would have many level the player can play through. I later realised during the project that I had over scoped. The amount of levels and assets that would need to be made along side my game mechanics just wasn’t doable to a high standard. I was faced to either change the project slightly or make everything at minimal effort. I decided to change my project slightly due to the fact I wanted to keep my assets at a suitable standard. Instead of having multiple levels the player would play through, I just had one where enemies would endlessly come towards the player. I had essentially replicated a tower defence game. So I decided to build my game around that idea further developing bow and arrow mechanics to defend the player and barricades that the enemies had to destroy in order to kill the player.

One of the biggest tasks I had in hand was learning the game maker language (GML). At first it seemed an impossible task as I had not much programming skills or experience. however after a while of practicing and reading research sites such as the game maker docs website which is built into the program, I discovered it wasn’t such a difficult task. Making game mechanics became a lot easier o me when I learned simple actions like collision. It is done by checking if there was space in front of the character first using the action ‘place_meeting’ [yoyo,Unknown]. Once I learned actions like this I could manipulate them and reproduce them throughout my project.

During my project there were things that I thought went well as there were things that I thought didn’t do as well as I’d hoped. the bow and arrow mechanics within my game was a mechanic that really stood out for me and I am very pleased with the result. I feel it went well when I was playing the game and having a feel for the mechanics. It kept me playing the game as it was a fun and entertaining game mechanic.

I feel that parts of my level layout were not such a great success. The player is barricaded between two walls however there isn’t an awful lot of assets within the barricade to dress up the level. It seems slightly dull and boring. I would have made some sort of platform where player walks on instead of just the ground. This would really give the player a sense of safety and not like they are just in a ditch somewhere within the level.

During the creative process of my project I was able to let people come and play my game and give quality assurance to me to effectively critique the game and improve it. Some key critical advice I received is to give the barriers an onscreen health number. Before you just had to guess how much health the barriers had from 1 to 10. now the barriers have a number on top of them indicating how much health they currently have. This gives the player full indication on the health and what barricade they should give priority and manage over the other. I think it is important to receive critical feedback and to implement that feedback to the project in order to strengthen and improve it.

During my project I was to design the character and animate it. I began by drawing thumbnail sketches and then scanning them into the computer to further develop them. I then began to work on the in Photoshop where I gave it colour and shading to bring it to life. I am very happy with the result of my character and I am surprised that I didn’t have any issues or problems during the development of it.

Another sprite that I was successful with and pleased with was the enemy. Although very simple it brought a smile to my face seeing the slimy green blob slither across my level. It was very easy to animate. All I did was change the layer in Photoshop with tools like the warp transform tool and the liquify tool.

Like many things, my project had things I though didn’t go so well. Once of the biggest things that went wrong was the bow pullback mechanic. Playing the game for the first time was alright as you wouldn’t normally do things you would playing the game for a long period of time. I realized after a long time playing the player could click the bow and drag the arrow anywhere on screen. This included dragging the arrow over enemies anywhere on the screen killing them. I solved this bug by making the arrow fall out of the bow at a certain range using if statements [yoyo,Unknown].

After fixing that I then realised that the player could still drag the arrows over the enemies if they were really close to the bow. This meant that there was still something wrong with the bow mechanic. I fixed this by making a global variable called arrow lethal and only set it to true when the arrow was released from the bow. After that I realised the arrow was still set to lethal when It was in the ground set still. To fix this problem I set the global variable arrow lethal to false when it collides with the floor.

I thought the level design on my project did not go as well as i’d hoped it too have. The level was very simple. I think if I was to re design my level I would make it a lot more visually pleasing. I would design the background with higher detail such as treed and mountains that looked nice.

To evaluate I am happy overall with the outcome of my project. I can happily say that I have learned very good skills when it some to the development of 2D games and I can now use them during future development processes. I can understand now how important it is to receive critical feedback and implement it into your projects to improve.



YoYo Games. (Unknown). Game Maker: Studio. Available: Last accessed 14/01/2015.

Concept Art


I initially was going to hand paint a lot of levels so I began doing some rough sketches in Photoshop. I then realised how long it would take to have to draw out each individual background and paint it. I chose to scrap that idea and stick to the original cartoon idea. I don’t think hand painted backgrounds would fit well with everything else being simple shaded and cartoon like.


For the character I drew out a simple line drawing and scanned it in to the computer ready to work on in Photoshop.


I blocked him in with simple gradients to bring him to life. For a while I was using this character design until later realising he needed look a little nicer!


I further worked on the character design rendering him a bit more giving him more life. I also changed the eyes around making one bigger than the other.


Once I had the final character design in Photoshop layers it was pretty straight forward in animating him. Here is a walk cycle.

Concept Art


Concept art is always nice to look at and gives you a better sight on how a game looks. I knew I couldn’t give my characters a realistic look to them so I created some still concept images of 3 characters. The character design 2 is the concept I used for my game. However I used a simpler and more cartoon like style for the game due to it taking to much time to consistently produce every asset in the same style and animate them.