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 Post subject: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:01 am 
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Warning: I am no artist at all. I used to do some blender long time ago, but I'm unable to draw anything relatable with pen and paper.

I was trying to make an ice, but without diagonal shading, that is used everywhere. And I think it still looks like water. Is there any other less popular but recognizable way?

Not sure if it is appropriate topic for this forum, move to general if needed.


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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:42 am 
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I can see it as ice to some degree but there is always way to improve it. I'm no artist myself but this is the right place to ask questions about it and I'm sure some members will be more than happy to give some pointers about it ;)


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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:57 am 
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I think what makes it looks like water is the horizontal lines, and the single pixels look like foam rather than the shine you'd expect from "cartoon ice". Maybe try some wider, diagonal lines?
Will make tiling a little harder though.

EDIT: Missed the part where you specifically said you wanted to avoid diagonal shading :P Will that's definitely an issue.


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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 2:46 am 
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I immediately thought of Pieter Bruegel the elder's winter painting "hunters in the snow".


It has a similar outlook to naturally portray ice with horizontal strokes as diffuse reflections of light.

Some things he did:
-let a little snow drift over the edge here and there
-let you know it is ice by things clearly standing on it*.
-let it be a lot less busy than a surface of a body water would be**.
-a subtle reflection of the bridge in the ice, and so on.
-The ice has a colour of grayish green. Maybe get a slightly more teal tone than a clear blue in there somewhere?

Maybe you could go for a more wobbly mirror feel? This is hard with the master palette at hand, but probably doable.

*You could alternately/also differentiate it from open water by representing open water in the same screen and let the player know the differency through that. Maybe a wake in the ice (even if that'd have implications for the game rules).

**Maybe try to remove a few of the strokes and concentrate them somehow so they're look a little less busy/scattered.

Perhaps experiment with thickening line to a slightly dithered two pixels at the appriximate mid of a longer stroke somewhere. It's hard to tell if it will look right at a scope as wide as where a tree is as small as a block, but maybe worth a try.

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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:45 am 
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Let's look at Oracle of Seasons.

https://zelda.gamepedia.com/Woods_of_Winter

Very blue. Snow on top of the trees. Diagonal lines for icy water. It's not realism, but lots of games use diagonal lines and blue colors to indicate ice. Because it's used everywhere, people understand it.

And Minish Cap is good. Temple of Droplets.

https://www.zeldaspalace.com/theminishc ... e.php?p=12

The ice is blue with some wispy white diagonals and edges.

So, with that in mind I would use a light blue for all the ground, highlighted with white textures. Put snow on top of trees. Color the water a medium purple blue, edge it in white, and scatter some snow drifts as white lines crossing it.

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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 7:43 am 
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After 5 minutes of Photoshopping...


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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:32 am 
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Thank you to all for great responses.

Banshaku wrote:
I can see it as ice to some degree but there is always way to improve it.


My partner also saw the frozen lake right away, but she is Canadian :).

Sumez wrote:
I think what makes it looks like water is the horizontal lines, and the single pixels look like foam rather than the shine you'd expect from "cartoon ice".


That's a good note, I will try to play around with this idea.

FrankenGraphics wrote:
Maybe you could go for a more wobbly mirror feel? This is hard with the master palette at hand, but probably doable.

*You could alternately/also differentiate it from open water by representing open water in the same screen and let the player know the differency through that. Maybe a wake in the ice (even if that'd have implications for the game rules).

**Maybe try to remove a few of the strokes and concentrate them somehow so they're look a little less busy/scattered.

Perhaps experiment with thickening line to a slightly dithered two pixels at the appriximate mid of a longer stroke somewhere. It's hard to tell if it will look right at a scope as wide as where a tree is as small as a block, but maybe worth a try.


Thank you for the ideas. Palette is the problem. I was reusing palette that was used on snow, to create more versatile but limiting environment than just the trees. If I need green-ish color, I will mess the snow (or not) or create just another palette for non important background tile.

But worse is, I forgot you can walk on ice (I am not Canadian) so that would be annoying to not let player walk on it, as player clearly can (it's a deep winter). I may shrink down the lake, and add something else instead.

dougeff wrote:
So, with that in mind I would use a light blue for all the ground, highlighted with white textures. Put snow on top of trees. Color the water a medium purple blue, edge it in white, and scatter some snow drifts as white lines crossing it.


I compositely forgot about Age of Seasons as the reference yesterday, will check after work. Appreciate it. Seems like I will have to go with diagonals, but I will try few more times.

dougeff wrote:
After 5 minutes of Photoshopping...


It looks nice, but it ran out of palette... I wasn't putting snow on trees, so save a color for the shade/highlight. Although I could dust on the end of tree branches a little.

P.S. On my screen snow has uncomfortable amount of purple tint. I'll experiment a little with that.


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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 11:39 am 
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yaros wrote:
I think it still looks like water. Is there any other less popular but recognizable way?

Water and ice share a lot of visual properties, sometimes these things are hard to tell apart in photographs too.


The surface of ice is reflective, though tends to be slightly more diffuse (glossy) than still water, so instead of being a direct mirror it tends to be more of a fuzzy reflection. On the other hand, water is not usually still, and in a lot of cases the mirror property of ice is worth emphasizing in contrast... so even a mirror reflection might be appropriate depending on the situation (and/or easier to do with video game technology).

Some kind of reflection goes a long way to establishing the look of the surface, a tree north of the frozen pond casting a weak reflective "shadow" on it might give this impression. Probably fine for this to be some dull darker blue colour rather than reflecting the actual colour of the tree, since palettes are so limited here. This is distinct from a shadow; shadows will fall away from the light source, but reflections fall toward the viewer.

The ubiquitous "diagonal streaks" shorthand is a well established symbol for shiny surfaces. I don't think they're exactly realistic, but part of what makes a surface appear reflective is that as you move, the reflection moves too with your angle of view. In the absence of camera motion, maybe this is a stand-in for the transient patterns of bright light reflecting from it? Reflections from the sun or other bright light do kind of produce patterns, but not really in diagonal streaks.

Also, in the case of ice, there tend to be cracks, scratches and faults that show up as white or light lines, especially on the surface where snow may stick to them. White streaks may serve a dual purpose for that.


The other big property of ice's look is its translucency. It tends to be fairly clear, so you can see what's underneath, especially where it is not too thick. This makes drastic colour changes at the edges where it's shallow, but at the north edge from a perspective like this you might have an opportunity to express "depth" there. (Dougeff's Minish Cap link has a good example at the top right of the article.) An embedded object visible below the surface, like a rock, etc. might give some feeling of depth beneath the ice too.


All of these things are rather difficult to express with 3 or 4 colours like on the NES, though, so good luck!

(Though on the subject of luck... maybe take a look at Lucky Penguin for inspiration? It uses a novel technique to increase the palette range... but its art looks pretty nice even in a static screenshot that doesn't pick up the technique.)


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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:21 pm 
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yaros wrote:
It looks nice, but it ran out of palette... I wasn't putting snow on trees, so save a color for the shade/highlight. Although I could dust on the end of tree branches a little.

To be honest, if there's snow on the ground there most certainly have to be snow on the trees. Of course there's probably some meteorologic condition where it's possible to have snow on the ground, and no snow on the trees (for example a lot of snow falls, and then the sun hits hard and metls the snow on the trees), but you get my point... this just looks weird / non-standard.

Of course you could have frozen water and no snow, but that'd also look weird even though this is common in real life, I don't think I ever saw that in a video game... So for a winter scene I'd definitely go with snow everywhere.

As for how to render ice without diagonal lines I've no idea, most of the time it's done with diagonal lines which even though it's unrealistic, it's the expected way for retro games to display ice.


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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 12:54 pm 
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rainwarrior wrote:
Some kind of reflection goes a long way to establishing the look of the surface, a tree north of the frozen pond casting a weak reflective "shadow" on it might give this impression. Probably fine for this to be some dull darker blue colour rather than reflecting the actual colour of the tree, since palettes are so limited here. This is distinct from a shadow; shadows will fall away from the light source, but reflections fall toward the viewer.


It is nice suggestion, will try to see what I can make of it.

rainwarrior wrote:
The ubiquitous "diagonal streaks" shorthand is a well established symbol for shiny surfaces. I don't think they're exactly realistic, but part of what makes a surface appear reflective is that as you move, the reflection moves too with your angle of view. In the absence of camera motion, maybe this is a stand-in for the transient patterns of bright light reflecting from it? Reflections from the sun or other bright light do kind of produce patterns, but not really in diagonal streaks.


When I was a kid, I never liked this type of ice. It is not trying to be unique. I'm no artist and my trees are ugly, but considering I want the game to set in winter, I need to learn to draw ice as well, heh.

rainwarrior wrote:
(Though on the subject of luck... maybe take a look at Lucky Penguin for inspiration? It uses a novel technique to increase the palette range... but its art looks pretty nice even in a static screenshot that doesn't pick up the technique.)


This is indeed a beautiful game.

Bregalad wrote:
To be honest, if there's snow on the ground there most certainly have to be snow on the trees. Of course there's probably some meteorologic condition where it's possible to have snow on the ground, and no snow on the trees (for example a lot of snow falls, and then the sun hits hard and metls the snow on the trees), but you get my point... this just looks weird / non-standard.


This is the view I see quite often in Jasper, unless it snowed few days ago. Snow falls or sublimates even in -30C. I wasn't even thinking about it before people pointed out. During the winter in Edmonton I see more clear trees than covered in snow.


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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Wed Dec 05, 2018 6:49 pm 
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yaros wrote:
My partner also saw the frozen lake right away, but she is Canadian :).


That must be why I saw it too! (I'm Canadian, haha)


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 Post subject: Re: How to draw ice?
PostPosted: Fri Dec 07, 2018 1:55 am 
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FrankenGraphics wrote:
I immediately thought of Pieter Bruegel the elder's winter painting "hunters in the snow".


It has a similar outlook to naturally portray ice with horizontal strokes as diffuse reflections of light.

A few thoughts on that picture.
It depicts a "realistic" image of ice, almost like it looks in the real world, where it can actually be difficult to distinguish as ice. Probably not idea for a video game.
I would not have recognised that as ice if it weren't for the way people were playing around on it.

Anyway, I think Dougeff's suggestion does the job perfectly. My mind perceived that as ice immediately, and the only unique tiles are around the edges.


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