Category Archives: Furni
The weather is changing, the winter coats are out, and the Builder’s Club Warehouse is full of Christmas furni, which can only mean one thing…it’s almost Christmas! In the festive spirit, we thought we would share some of the super cool stuff our awesome designers have been making for you!
So, without further delay, please give a round of applause for Kukuyit, MrCroissant, Elementary_Kage, Sparkaro, Cromsnosehair and notMiceElf!
Q: How much are you all looking forward to Christmas?
Kukuyit: “SO MUCH. It’s the most wooonderful time of the yeeear!”
Sparkaro: “I can’t wait! I’ve already been getting in the spirit putting up the Christmas tree and eating a tonne of mince pies.”
Elementary_Kage: “A lot – I’m looking forward to returning to my hermit state for a couple of weeks to play games, watch anime and draw. I will emerge only to scavenge for food…”
MrCroissant: “I’m really looking forward to it! I’m looking forward to eating my body weight in turkey, mince pies and pigs in blankets with my friends and family.”
Cromsnosehair: “I’m really looking forward to spending some time with my family this Christmas, eating too much and falling asleep in front of the TV.”
Q: From the Christmas furni you made, which one(s) did you most enjoy working on and why?
Kukuyit: “I enjoyed making the giant Christmas tree the most. It was the most challenging because of all the individual leaves I had to pixel, but when I saw it all come together in the end with all the decorations, it’s really satisfying. Also I think the furni evolution feature* is super cool and I hope Habbos enjoy decorating the tree as much as they like.
Sparkaro: “I really like drawing animal furni, so I enjoyed working on the reindeer and all the animations for it. I also had fun making the Alpaca, because they’re the cutest fluffy creatures.”
MrCroissant: “Out of the stuff I’ve made for new Christmas line, the furni I enjoyed working on the most was the Wishing Well, mainly because the animation was fun to do! The Squirrel and Hedgehog advent gifts were also fun to animate.”
Cromsnosehair: “I enjoyed working on the mountain background the most. It’s a pretty large furni and it presented a technical challenge with making sure it tiled seamlessly. I also had fun animating Mrs Claus bouncy top.”
* A little insider info. This is the second time we’ve ever used this feature. It’s called the ‘burning’ runtime, in memory of the first furni that ever had it, the Viking Cotie, circa 2014.”
Q: And the same question to the Head Honcho, notMiceElf!
notMiceElf: “My role is more of an overseer for the team which boils down to tweaking items or make suggestions overall to keep the furni line visually coherent. So in that regard I didn’t necessarily make full items and don’t have a specific item that was the bees-knees for me, personally.
BUT the most enjoyable part for me is always seeing the team go from ideation / sketch to product ready and how each member adds to that process in their own way. Each member in our team has made items that I really like looking at and I think everyone else will too.”
Q: In comparison to the Christmas lines you have designed previously, what have you guys done differently?
Kukuyit: “For this Christmas line we went back to the roots, to the (often debatable) birthplace of St. Nicolas or Santa Claus as we know him today. We kept things traditional and we wanted users to be able to build a really atmospheric room with our furni, so we went big this time. We have vast mountains, glistening snowy landscapes and tall buildings all tied together with the warm glow of the festive lights.”
Sparkaro: “We went for a more traditional winter theme this year, mainly inspired by German villages at Christmas, quite different from the Caribbean Christmas theme we did last year. We also have some exciting new features planned, including an improved advent calendar with lots of awesome prizes!”
Elementary_Kage: “In the concept stage we started with a much firmer idea of the type of Christmas we wanted to create this time around. Last year we knew we wanted to try something different and a hot Christmas was something quite fun we’ve never tried before.
We did a lot of research and went into much finer details like the time of day and what states should and shouldn’t have snow on. This method is something we’ve been trying more and more with each campaign and it really came together in this one.”
MrCroissant: “Last year was quite a departure from the previous Christmas lines we’ve done, so it was nice to go very traditional again. And even though it is traditional, the fact that it’s set in the evening sets it apart from previous years. The contrasts between the warmer and cooler colours works really well and I think the line has come together strongly.”
Cromsnosehair: “This is the second Christmas campaign that I have worked on and compared to last year this is a much more traditional Christmas line. It’s been a lot easier to make things look festive!”
Q: Are you pleased with the results?
Kukuyit: “Yeah! I think this line looks great! As a designer I love the contrasting colours of the blues and oranges in this line, it really brings out the cold of the surroundings and the warmth of the habitable areas.”
Elementary_Kage: “I really love what we’ve come up with this year. It feels so warm and Christmassy! It makes me want to go to a Christmas market again.”
Cromsnosehair: “Yep, I’m pretty pleased with the results – feels like Christmas to me!”
Q: Who would win in a fight to the death, Raptor-Madonna or Robot-Lincoln? WHY?
Kukuyit: “Neither! I choose Robo-Raptor!”
Sparkaro: “Raptor-Madonna sounds scarier, so probably her. But soon after victory, T-Rex-Taylor-Swift would swoop in and kill her.”
Elementary_Kage: “John Cena-tron would slam-dunk them both earning the world monster weight championship title belt (crowd goes wild in the burning buildings).”
MrCroissant: “Robot-Lincoln. Nothing beats Robot-Lincoln.”
Cromsnosehair: “Robot-Lincoln crushes all who stands before him! Bow to your robot overlord!”
Q: Hey, would you draw us a picture of Frank wearing an ornate hat?
There are hundreds, if not thousands of different Auction Room and Coin Shops inside Habbo Hotel. It pays to be as proactive as possible when tracking down the best ones – although there are a couple of places we’d advise you to start.
In this room (you need to be logged into Habbo for the link to take you to the right room) there is a forum access terminal where you can find out who owns LTDs and Rares at that particular point in time, and you can post messages on the forum requesting particular rares or tell other Habbos what you are selling too. You can see a picture of this particular room to the left.
Some of our fansites are really good at maintaining relatively accurate prices of Rares and LTDs. Habbox.com is a good example, but don’t stick to one site! You’ll get a much better, more balanced view of average prices if you ask a variety of different Habbos in lots of different places.
The price of teleports can be hard to keep track of because Habbo doesn’t allow them to be sold on the Marketplace. HabboQuests.com has a very reliable set of prices for teleports, and it’s pretty new at the time of writing. Go check it out!
Another famous trade-focused room is the Habbo Collector’s Forum. This forum is one of Habbo’s largest rare furni-oriented groups in the hotel. This particular group is good as it has a broad range of collectors active inside the group’s forum, and they all contribute to the collective knowledge of average prices inside the Hotel.
More importantly than anything, in the popular Auction Rooms and Coin Shops, you will end up finding out how much certain furni are selling for by just listening. The REALLY good traders will ask around to find out a number of different prices, as they’re then able to decide what kind of a profit they could seek to make.
Also, being part of several different Habbo Groups that focus on trade is going to be very beneficial for you, as you will be in contact with traders that are up to date and informed about current prices. Sometimes in Habbo, it’s about what you know AND who you know! See our Habbo Groups blogs for more information on how to get the best usage out of them.
NOTE: Habbo does NOT run fansites, and we are NOT responsible in any way for content hosted on them. The regularity of updates is sometimes not as reliable as it could be, so as a first port of call, we always advise aspiring Habbo traders to use the Marketplace.
Thanks to Habbos: UnderCover. / Badge / RadMatta / Audemars / B / DJ_Shadow / Celerys
As with any economy, some traders will try to manipulate and inflate the market by putting furni up for sale for very high prices, and then buying that furni from themselves. This pushes the average price up on the Marketplace, and as a result makes it more likely people will pay higher prices for that particular furni.
We want to share a simple, but effective little tip with you all. Clicking on the Item Information button next to an item for sale in the Marketplace brings up a line graph, which shows the average price of that particular furni for the past 30 days.
In the picture to the immediate left, you can see a furni which has had a steady average price range for the past 30 days. However, you can also see that some Habbos have bought the Castle Wall for 10 credits very recently; perhaps on the day this particular screenshot was taken. This is an example of a normal, non-manipulated price range.
In the image to the far left, there is a large spike right in the middle of the line graph. This could be due to a number of reasons (it could have been someone trying to manipulate the average price) but this picture perfectly illustrates how the average price of furni can change quickly, so always make sure to do your due diligence!
Now we’ve told you how price fixing works, we trust that a) you’ll be more vigilant about it, but b) that you won’t try and fix prices on the Habbo Marketplace yourself!
Thanks to Habbos: UnderCover. / Badge / RadMatter / Audemars / B / DJ_Shadow / Celerys
We received such a great response to our last blog that we decided to do another one! Without further ado here are Elementary_Kage, Cromsnosehair and MrCroissant!
Q: HELLO! How are you all today?
MrCroissant: “Never better!”
Elementary_Kage: “YEP. Just fine thanks.”
Q: Can you tell us a bit about some of the ideas that the design team had for Habboween 2015, before apocalypse was chosen?
Cromsnosehair: “We had fun throwing around post-apocalyptic ideas, trying to come up with an original spin on the theme whilst avoiding the obvious clichés (sorry, no zombies this time!)”
Elementary_Kage: “I’ve always really liked the concept of things like the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ and the ‘Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse’, so all the designs geared towards those themes were really interesting for me. I did a couple of horse sketches (see image, right) trying to make them look as creepy and gross as possible, which was really fun. I love the final designs for the four horsemen though.
The brainstorming sessions were very interesting and a lot of fun. We went more in-depth with the research than we have before, to figure out exactly how we can try to implement new features and merge them effectively with our designs. Habbos were very helpful in answering questions we had about their favourite things and stuff they would like to see which helped us a lot with this process.”
Q: Could you tell us a bit about the floor pieces you made for the Habbocalypse?
MrCroissant: “I wanted the users to be able to make a really urban scene, so the addition of the double yellow lines and centre markings will help make the floor pieces reusable for builders. The Cyberpunk line had a similar look however they looked more futuristic than present day.”
Q: What was your favourite furni to make and why?
Cromsnosehair: “I think I’m most pleased with the building pieces that I made for this campaign. They had to connect and tile with each other, they presented a technical challenge. I always enjoy seeing what builders create with these type of furni and how they combine them with other furni from older campaigns.”
Elementary_Kage: “Although I didn’t work on the Habboween furni, there’s still a lot of pieces I’m very fond of. I particularly like the masks for both the light and dark sides; I would definitely wear them myself!”
Q:What furni do you think Habbos are going to be most excited for?
Elementary_Kage: “I think the Habbos will really like the clothes for this campaign. Not just the masks, but also the robes and armour suits. I can imagine a lot of fun events and roleplaying happening with those, which is always fun to see.“
Below, you can see the original (and slightly censored) mockup all the designers worked together to create!
Remember to give us a shout on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with #Habbocalypse and tell us what you think about this blog post!
Thanks for tuning in.
– Habbo Staff
As many of you probably know all too well, Habboween is very nearly here. This year, something big, bad and positively apocalyptic is coming to Habbo… That’s right; its the HABBOCALYPSE!
We stole some time from a few of our lovely designers to talk about the furni they’ve been working on, what they’re proud of, the design process and what they’re most excited about for this Habboween. So, without further ado, please welcome Kukuyit, MrCroissant and Sparkaro!
Q: So, firstly, How are you guys:
Sparkaro: “Really good.”
Kukuyit: “Meow! Just kidding – good, thanks.”
MrCroissant: “Fine, thanks!”
Q: Can one of you tell us a bit about some of the ideas that the design team had for the Habboween 2015, before Apocalypse was chosen?
Sparkaro: “I initially liked the idea of a nuclear apocalypse, like where cities have been abandoned or destroyed as a result of nuclear war with the ever-present threat of radiation and mutant creatures (like three eyed ducks).
Then there were a few ideas that focused on the theme of darkness, such as shadows, ghosts and demons. For me that sounded really interesting and seemed like an opportunity to get uber creative with our designs. I enjoyed thinking about how we’d characterise the evil presence, whilst incorporating traditional apocalyptic themes. For example, I loved the idea of including the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and putting a twist on that somehow.”
Q: What was your favourite furni to make and why?
Sparkaro: “I loved working on the Evil Raider (a friend of Demonic Frank) with his fiery green afro hairdo. I had fun working on the animations for it, like his pet duck that occasionally pops out from the afro and who has styled himself in a similar fashion to his owner, hehe.”
Kukuyit: “I really enjoyed working on the Corrupted Kitty the most – no Halloween is complete without a classic black cat. It’s one of the more time-consuming furni to make since it has so many layers of animation. But it was totally worth it in the end!”
MrCroissant: “Without a doubt, I’m most proud of the Four Horsemen LTDs I made. It was so much fun creating the animations and giving each of them a different personality, whilst maintaining a cohesive look. Also, working on the character-based stuff is my favourite part of the job, and is what I tend to focus on in my personal art projects too.”
Q: What furni do you think Habbos are going to be most excited for?
MrCroissant: “Well, really, I hope the Habbos enjoy the entire furni line! It has come together really nicely. However, there is a certain ‘secret’ furni that I think Habbos who love “something completely different” will enjoy the most!
Kukuyit: “I think Habbos are going to love the furni that can only be acquired in a special way. You definitely need to use a different kind of perspective…That’s all I’m saying about it!”
Q: Can you give us any hints about the ‘game-changing’ feature everyone’s been talking about?
Sparkaro: “Well, I’m super hyped because it will add a whole new element to Habbo that’s different from anything we’ve ever had before. So, I hope that Habbos have a tonne of fun with it! I can’t reveal anything specific yet…but I’ve been designing stuff for the new feature and it’s been really, really exciting to be part of the whole production process!”
MrCroissant: “I totally am; it’s exciting because it adds a lot to the game. Habbos will also be able to get a great feeling of progression and discovery at the same time with this new ‘game-changer’. I can really see this changing things (for the better) in the future!”
Kukuyit: “I’m really excited about the new feature too! It required a mega amount of work from everyone in the company; design, marketing, development, engagement and other support to get it finished for Habboween. We’re anxious to see what Habbos make of it, particularly the creative ones!
SO. LOTS to look forward to!
Give us a shout on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with #Habbocalypse and tell us what you think about this blog post!
Habbo’s economy functions much like any other real-world economy – the trick is to buy low, and sell high. So, for example, if you bought a furni (or ten of the same furni) for ten credits each, and then a year later the price of that particular furni had increased to fifteen credits, for each one that you sold, you’d make five credits. Sounds REALLY simple, right?
It definitely sounds simple, but the real trick is to know WHEN to buy and WHEN to sell – and to know this you need to know how much furni is at any point in time. As well as knowing the right prices, you also need to know how to make the absolute most out of the Marketplace.
See the graph below and to the right – it shows the fluctuation of the price of (an unspecified) furni. You can see that the furni starts off high, but starts to fall in value. Once it’s fallen to a specific point, we’ve indicated WHEN you should buy a particular item by highlighting the area in red. The perfect time to buy is when the item is at its lowest value. To know when exactly an item is at its lowest value is something you will have to practice.
In every situation, you’ll have to work hard to KNOW when an item is about to go up in price. It will nearly always be due to an item becoming harder to find (suddenly or gradually) – perhaps one rich Habbo has bought a large chunk of the total number of that particular furni and is hoarding them, or perhaps someone is using them in a building project. You have to keep your ear to the ground to know!
Then, once the item has risen enough, you want to sell it while it’s high! So, simple enough when you know WHEN to sell, right?
Using the Marketplace efficiently
For the bare fundamental basics of how to use the Habbo Hotel Marketplace, see here.
It’s really important that you familiarise yourself with these basics, as it’s definitely the most useful tool for Habbo traders. Selling your goods on the Marketplace (often known simply as ‘MP’ by Habbos) is a quick and easy way to get rid of furni for standard prices.
Because of this, it’s a really brilliant way to take advantage of what are considered ‘lazy’ traders. A lot of Habbos sell large amounts of furni, often in bulk, for prices much lower than normal. It’s considered wise to check the Marketplace regularly for deals like these, as there’s often a LOT of money to be made! But, like any good deal on Habbo, you’ll need to have a good idea of what the real average price for furni is.
In some situations, if you have a medium to high value item, and you want to sell it quickly and easily without the bother of Auction Rooms, it’s better to use the Marketplace. Habbos who really, REALLY want certain furni are sometimes more likely to pay over the average price if it means they can get it right there and then. This is particularly true of the richer Habbos.
Thanks to Habbos: UnderCover. / Badge / RadMatta / Audemars / B / DJ_Shadow / Celerys
It’s that time again! No, it’s not time to change your Habbo babies diapers. Sheesh. It’s time for another Summer School Q+A Session with notMiceElf. We’re still glowing (aha, glow… get it… yeah, you do) from the last Q+A so this one had better draw a smile on our face… and as always, you can submit a question of your own when the question submitting articles appear. So get those questions ready!
How do you make a good GIF? (question posted by shiony)
This question looked so simple at first glance and then I started thinking about how to answer it and spiraled into animation and my brain pretty much flew out of control. So thanks for giving me a minor headache before my morning coffee could kick in, shiony! The idea of animation is a bit too meaty for this blog post so I’ll focus more on setting up an animation and then go over a decent way of saving gif files.
First off. Animation as a process is going to be dependent on the program that you’re using. Some programs don’t support creating animation so if you’re aim is to animate make sure the program you’re using has support for it! If you’re just looking to save out a static (non animated) GIF you can skip all the way to the end. I’ll be using Photoshop but the process is going to be mostly the same from program to program. I would suggest finding a tutorial that breaks down the specifics for the program you’re actually using though. General info only gets you so far :p Ok, on we go…
Animation is all fake. Yep. It’s an Illusion whoooo *waves hands around*. I’m sure you’ve been told this a thousand and one times already, but, animation is a sequence of static images with slightly different content. Each one of those static images is called a frame. When viewed in quick succession we interpret the changes from frame to frame as motion. The amount of frames we see in a second is called the frames per second (technical, I know) or fps (you gamer types are saying, “hey, that’s the acronym for first person shooter!”, but animators had it first, so there) but you can sort of forget this concept because with gifs the fps is more about setting a delay per frame vs a standard x frames per second.
First thing we need to do is make a new file. The size doesn’t really matter (stop laughing) as long as it fits what you’re animating, but smaller is generally better for pixel animations. The resolution of your image, on the other hand, is something you’ll have to pay attention to. Pixel art should be made using a resolution 72 pixels per inch. Don’t even question it or seek an explanation for why it has to be that number. It’s law. Obey.
The next thing we need is an animation timeline. In Photoshop the timeline can be found under the “Window” menu and then “Timeline”. In older versions of Photoshop it’s listed as “Animation” instead of “Timeline”.
Once the Timeline is opened choose to make your animation frame based. The frame method is pretty common for other pixel animation programs and is easier to understand for beginners than the newer tween type timelines. Plus, frame based animation is classic.
In order to make an animation you’ll first need to draw (or have previously created) some animation frames so that you can string them together. Every frame of your animation should be a new layer in your layer palette. Whether it’s pixel art or hand drawn the concepts are the same. You’re aiming to draw images so that when linked together their motion has a good flow and reads clearly. This explanation is so rudimentary that it’s actually making me cry a little so if you’re at all interested in real animation you should find a good book (or, yah know, youtube it) on the subject. There’s a set of 12 principles that Disney Animators have based their work on for ages. Well worth a look.
As a little tip, there’s a simple way to test the movement between frames using a technique called “onion skinning” which lets you see several frames at once. Photoshop doesn’t support this outright either. Joy. In order to get something similar to the onion skin on Photoshop you’ll have to turn down the opacity of the layers under your current drawing so you can see them as you drawn new frames. In traditional animation animators used a light box to see through their drawings… and this is just an emulation of that technique.
Alright, when you have your drawings ready take a look at your animation timeline. Clicking the “new frame” icon at the bottom of the animation timeline will make frames for your animation and you’ll need one frame for each of your art layers. With one of the animation frames selected go to the layers palette and hide all the layers but the ones you want visible for that frame. In my example you can see that I’ve got a grey background layer and an art layer visible in the first frame. Hiding layers can be done by clicking small eye icon on the left of the thumbnail. Do that same process for every frame in your animation. Nothing like good old repetition to get the blood flowing…right?
Modifying the “delay” for an animation frame will change how long, in milliseconds, the frame is shown for before going to the next frame. You’ll need to find a delay per frame that looks smooth with your animation. Animations that are too slow will appear less seamless and show individual frames more while those that are too fast don’t have enough emphasis and could suffer from frame skipping. Browsers will often forgo frame delays under a certain speed too… so it’s a good idea to check your animation on a few different browsers to see that it’s working the way you want it to.
The loop feature will let your animation loop infinitely or by a set amount. Most gifs you’ll see around the internet are infinitely looping. And that covers the animation portion. Phew. Are you still breathing? *poke poke*
Saving Your File:
Something to remember about the GIF format is that it’s only an 8bit format so it has a max of 256 colors. Pixels either have color or are fully transparent (this counts as a color :p). GIF’s don’t have the capacity for semi transparent pixels like a 24bit image does. If you’ve ever tried to save GIF with more colors than the maximum allowed (like a photo) you’ll see a color reduction as the colors get compressed to fit into the 8bit palette. You’ll need to be considerate of that max color count when you’re making images (this is where dithering and restricted palette pixel art excels!). Don’t fret though because 256 colors is still pretty high.
In Photoshop you’re going to use the “Save for Web” option from the “File” menu and then select the GIF format. The type of palette mode (Selective, Perceptual, Adaptive, Restrictive)… really doesn’t matter. Very simply, the palette mode gives preference to certain types of colors over others when reducing the colors to fit into the restricted 8bit palette. You can test them out and see which you like (we tend to use Selective for any gifs we make). Any kind of automatic dither options should be avoided for pixel art and aren’t all that good anyway. If you’ve payed attention to your color count while you were drawing you’ll never need this option anyway. Same can be said for the transparency dither. Ew. There should be bumper stickers with the phrase “Just say no to transparency dither” inscribed on them.
If you’re using a program that forces a gif to save using the windows palette or something other than the four listed above… drop kick that program into the trash bin and get another one. Programs that do this often auto-dither to try to approximate the look of the original palette. You’ll get images that have really oddly color pixels in them when saving this way. It looks horrible. Really horrible. As in, my eyes are bleeding horrible.
For the color amount, if you didn’t use all 256 colors you’ll only see the amount that you did use up, so don’t freak if you see a lower amount. The matte option is a color that is added to semi-transparent pixels so that they become fully opaque and is mostly used to match those semi transparent colors to the color of a web page. For example, if I have a shadow that is a transparent black, a white matte color will make that color a light grey in my final image. If you choose no matte color the pixels below certain transparency will be removed while those above will be fully opaque. Realistically though, if you’re making straight pixel art you should never have semi-transparent pixels.
Any option for web snapping means the colors in your palette will be shifted to match the standard web colors from like 1985 (which are pretty ugly). You can avoid this option like the plague. Please.
And, that’s it! Not too bad right? If you’re on another program other than Photoshop you’ll probably have a “Save As” option and a gif file format. A lot of the features like palette type, colors amount, and dithering are pretty common across many programs so it should still be relevant. Certainly any pixel specific program will have these options for your GIF needs! Best of luck GIF-ing around the internet!
We hope you enjoyed last weeks Habbo pixel art Q+A with notMiceElf because we’re continuing this week with another round! We’ve fueled the guy up on coffee and swedish fish (only the red ones) so we’re hoping to get another gloriously ramble-filled response. If you’ve got a question you’d like to pose keep an eye out for the poll in game and ask away! Ok, Q+A time, GO! GO! GO!
How do you begin to transform your vision into pixel art… where do you start first? (question posted by Unposted)
Another great question, thanks Unposted! You’ll be receiving a years supply of marshmallow peeps for your question… huh? Oh. We aren’t giving away peeps. Probably for the better because those things are pretty gross. Great question regardless. The process of taking the initial idea to final pixel art can vary a little between artists but we do give gold stars to those that stick to the “certified two step method of furni making”™. Ok that’s not really the name but the process does consist of two steps. And it is certified… ok fine it’s not certified! Sheesh. Lets just move on shall we?
Habbo artists royally freak out. No, just kidding. Step one starts with sketching out the idea for an item. We always start with sketches first because they’re typically faster to produce than a full set of pixel art furni but still give us the ability to look at what the full set might look like and make design decisions early on. This step can either be done on paper (and later scanned), or digitally. It’s really up to the artist and what they’re most comfortable with. The sketches are made so that they are around 2x-4x scale and can be easily utilized later in the process. This example from the mystics line is 2x.
After the sketches are completed all the artists get together and chat about the items and what they’ll do. At this point one or two of the artist’s color choices and/or design embellishments are selected to carry through the set (this could take us right back into the previous question about consistency! Or a discussion about obsessive compulsive artists…). The whole sketch step is really exploratory foundation laying and prep work for step two. The pixel part.
The aforementioned “pixel part” can be completed a few different ways but I’ll first go through the way I prefer our artists use and then briefly talk about the other methods. There’s not a wrong way here, just one that I believe works better for our finished products and timelines. Plus, I like to see our artists use the same method I use. Because ego.
Alright, with sketch in hand (on… the computer) the artist can start on the outlines which are like the bone structure of a furni. Yep. Furni has an exoskeleton. Really though, the outlines help give a kind of rigid structural support to furni so the meaty insides sit nicely and… I can hear Hannibal Lecter licking his lips… moving on. The sketch is often scaled to the correct furni size which is either to 50% or 25% if the sketch was at 2x or 4x scale. Once it’s been scaled the sketch can be set to a low opacity and outlines drawn over it on a new layer (we all use Photoshop).
Or the sketch is set off to the side and used only as reference as the outlines are drawn from scratch. You might be shouting at your screen, “Well, notMiceElf, that way sounds retarded! The sketching phase would be pointless if you’re just going to redraw it anyway!”, but I say to you very loud doubters, “nah”. The sketch is mostly a loose guide and redrawing gives us a very clean base to work from later. It also gives the artist a chance to fix oddities present the sketch, so that the design falls more in line with the “Habbo look”, and works better in game. The end result has a similarity to the sketch but can also be drastically different because of the correction process. Furni that has a lot of bits and trinkets (like a skull, book, and potion thing for example) benefits from being redrawn this way because each part can be drawn separately and then combined later for better control over the shape and readability of a design. Imagine if you drew a table top with loads of stuff on it all in one layer and then you realize you needed to make it longer. “Oh, SHhhhhaving cream!”, you’d say. But if you have everything as separate parts you just fix the underlying table part and move on. Easy as pie. No, cake. Eh, we’ll stick with pie.
The inner rendering for the furni is where the volume and color is added to flesh it out and give it more substance. Artists select a small set of colors ranging from dark to light which are used to render each element within a furni. This set of colors is called a color ramp and all those ramps together give us the overall palette. Pixel artists often employ a technique called “dithering” to bridge multiple colors in their ramp together when they’re dealing with a restricted palette (limited amount of color). Essentially dithering is a kind of pattern that makes the artwork appear to have more colors than it actually does. Lots of Habbo furni uses dithering to help render volumes but with newer items we tend to use dithering more for texture rather than bridging colors together. That’s not to say we use millions of colors per furni though. Furni is still rendered with a relatively small palette because it’s easier to keep track of what colors are used across a line if it’s a small number. But you might notice that we’ll opt for adding an extra color or two these days instead of jumping right into dithering.
Items get a final look-over and small edits are made before they’re sliced up (a topic for another time!) for use in the game, but essentially this is the full drawing process! We’ve reached the end of the amazingly wordy two step process. Phew. As I mentioned earlier though, the second step can be done a few different ways, so I’ll briefly lay out the alternatives for you to ponder. By the way (yes, I fully wrote that out instead of using an acronym), there are furni in the game that were made using both of these alternate methods. Can you guess which ones?
The first variation starts out the same way as before with scaling the sketched art to size. From there the artist takes the scaled sketch and uses it as is. The volumes get cleaned up until it’s all readable and the edges are fixed with black outlines. This method has a tendency to have random semi transparent pixels and often takes just as long to complete as fully redrawing so it’s not used all that frequently. In addition the sketch needs to be pretty much perfect for this method to work well so when it is used it’s often used on very simple non-animated items. You can see from my example that it will take a lot of cleaning up to reach the same level of cleanliness as the examples that used the preferred method. Interestingly though, this method is how we make the small size furni. Basically scale the big size, clean up, done!
The second variation is a little more extreme and it’s barely ever used in Habbo (but you’ll see it used in some NDS games as well as a few other console titles). It involves making the item in 3D and then exporting a render at size and cleaning it up *shudders*. The example image is pretty crude, but you get the idea. Definitely more work than is needed for most items we make but it’s a pretty neat process!
There’s a pretty interesting (and short) article from SNK about the 3D to 2D process used for the sprites in KOF XII which I fully recommend if you’re interested in that sort of thing. http://kofaniv.snkplaymore.co.jp/english/info/15th_anniv/2d_dot/creation/index.php
Well, that covers it! My swedish fish have stopped swimming around my blood stream as has the coffee so I’m calling this one done and done! I hope you all enjoyed the answer and the small glimpse into the furni production process! Catch you next week with another mind numbing and most likely overly longwinded Q+A!
Last week for the start of our Summer School Q+A we invited you all to ask one of our resident pixel pushers (that’s a pixel artist for those who didn’t know) anything you’ve ever wanted to know regarding the graphic side of Habbo and we’d force out an answer. Yes, even with red hot iron barbs if necessary and let us tell you, we were itching to use those barbs regardless (moody artsy people pffft, you know you have it coming). Before we delve into this first Q+A though we wanted to quickly give thanks to all of you for your great questions. So. Thanks!
Now. Lets get into that delving! Ah, we should warn you though… this answer is coming directly from the mind of one of those artsy people so we make no claim that it actually makes sense. Even less so considering it’s coming from notMiceElf. Good luck dear reader. Should you make it out consciously intact remember to submit a question of your own for the next round of the Q+A!
How do you go about designing furni so that it is consistent with other Habbo furni? (question posted by closetspace)
Hi closetspace and thanks for the question. Actually a pretty cool question if you delve into the historical side of things… which… could be “zzzzz” for some so for those who hate that sort of thing in essence what you’re asking about is the Habbo style and that’s really the tl;dr answer. So. Yep. Oh, you actually do want more? Well, grab some popcorn… this could get long winded.
The Habbo style is pretty rooted in isometric game art so the foundation for everything from furni to pets and avatars is going to be based around the rules for that kind of artwork. For example, check out this screenshot of an old isometric Batman game from the 80s. Sort of has a hint of Habbo in it doesn’t it?
Those basic isometric rules dictate the point of view for everything within the Habbo rooms. They’re really a kind of blue print which gives us a running start for keeping things consistent. From that starting point we delve into the specifics of the Habbo style which is actually the interesting bit.
I think you can look at the Habbo style as if it were divided into three stages. The first stage is made up of the original Habbo releases where the style was, in a lot of ways, in its infancy. It’s this stage that gave us the foundational rules for what everything going forward would look like. Items in this stage were much simpler. Inner edges (like those on legs of chairs or beds) were often black, most items generally lacked texture, and the colors were also fairly simple. It’s the kind of stuff, now, that I’d associate with someone who’s just learning the basics. Ok, don’t misunderstand and start yelling, “You’re dissing oldskool Habbo! FOR SHAME!”, at me. I’m just digging into the visual history to give a little context! PUT THE TORCHES AWAY.
As Habbo made more items the pixel prowess of its designers got better (as did our internal tools for making items… thank you dev) and we left stage one and entered stage two. There’s much better attention being payed to shape, volume and animation in this stage. You’ll notice that vertical banding on table tops becomes pretty common place in this stage and those inner edges are starting to get color instead of being black. Additionally the colors being selected are much more interesting from an artistic point of view which just adds to items looking like completed thoughts. This second stage, for me, is really in full swing by the time we released Alhambra and goes on for about two years or so.
Eventually Habbo switched platforms from shockwave to flash where stage three and the real “modern” style takes over (though admittedly there was some overlap between the second and third stages as we transitioned our tools). Stage three is characterized, in my mind, by items having more visual impact from better pixel artistry and attention to mood by way of color. The color ramps (that’s basically a kind of controlled gradient from one color to the next) for drawing are often a bit smoother and don’t seem as abrupt as those in stage one and the first half stage two which adds to items looking a little more 3D and complex. Items also get a lot more texture and transparency effects (stuff that wasn’t possible before. For example: water patches would never have been able to be made in stage one or two).
It’s a little more apparent if you look at how the rendering of one type of furni has changed throughout each stage. Like. A bed. Don’t look at theme so much but how the items are drawn. The types of textures and complexities given to them. It’s a pretty cool transition.
Alright. I can tell your eyes are getting droopy and your popcorn has run out which means it’s either time for me to stop with the history or plant some kind of subliminal message. What we get from all this history though is that the Habbo style is something that’s been in a constant state of change because of individual artists and the platform Habbo was developed for changing. There’s a core set of “rules” that were formed as we traveled those style stages to this point that we now follow. A few of those rules for example are: black outlines, light goes top left to lower right (this is an odd one… maybe someone will ask about Habbo light sometime), vertical bands for top sheen, small items being slightly larger than real life, ducks are funny.
To a certain degree that long slow change in style and the sheer volume of items (seriously, we have a ton of items) gives us a lot of leeway in keeping things appearing consistent without needing to redraw everything every few years (yeah, I’m looking at you original Area, Iced and Plastic). In a way it’s like having a bunch of red crayons of slightly varying shades. Chances are that any new red crayon will fit somewhere in the bunch and look like it belongs. That is, as long as we follow our style rules of course- ie: make a red crayon not a blue one.
So that’s the long way around the Habbo style reason. But there’s actually a little more to it than “just follow the rules” (see they let me out of my cage, I’ll ramble for as long as I possibly can before I’m pulled back in). That long history of items I mentioned before also means that, more than likely, we’ve already made something similar and we can go look to it for reference. The trick there is to copy only what’s needed so items still look fresh. Sometimes you’ll see that we take outlines or bits of previous furni and tie it into new furni. It’s an elegant way to ensure a kind of shared visual communication goes on between furni from past and present (helps keep our crayons red as it were).
So there ya have it. Our overall Habbo Style and incorporating shared elements between new and old items help keep things looking cohesive. There’s a whole separate topic concerning keeping items within a line cohesive too but I think I’ve probably bored you enough already :p Plus I can hear the chains rattling which means it’s time for me to be put back in my art cage. I hope you’ve found the answer as interesting as I do!
A New Year, brings a new blog! We decided to kick off 2014 by bringing this blog back to life to give you a look ‘Behind the Pixels’. We’re not going to be talking about local Habbo events or updates, instead we’ll be trying to focus on updates that are global and relevant to all of our users! Excitied? You should be. You can expect a bi-weekly update related to game development, frequent campaign updates from our designers, as well as a monthly update discussing the Habbo Economy.
A look at least year…
As many of you know, 2013 was a pretty busy year for us. We had an overhaul of our entire client interface, based on user feedback. We also introduced Builders Club, Free Flow Chat,
Walking 2.0, and lots of new features to Pocket Habbo. In addition we created a whopping 549 pieces of furniture and 922 new badges – which now means there are over 8000 badges in Habbo.
We know there have been a few hiccups with these updates and changes, but it is because of your continued feedback that we’re able to react and make positive changes to your Habbo experience – Keep it coming!
Over the next few weeks, we have some pretty awesome stuff coming to you guys. On top of the exciting quests and events that your local managers are coordinating, we’ve got a brand new range of furni coming. This new furni is something that will finally give room builders the tools they need to make the most of their rooms.
We ran a poll at the beginning of the New Year asking you various questions, focusing around the different categories you all would like added to Builders Club. We received huge number of responses, and here are the global results of that poll. Interesting, hey?
This will be talked about in more detail in the monthly economy update, but we have to be very careful with what we put into the Builders Club Warehouse. We know trading is an important part of Habbo for many of you and we don’t want to ruin that. We currently have over 650 furni in there, but we certainly can see where everyone agree on what they would like to see more of, and will be looking into which of those furni could be added to the warehouse. In addition to the furni updates for Builders Club, we are working hard on adding alternative payment options and are happy to announce that we will soon be releasing an SMS option for Builders Club!
The UI has some more exiting changes coming its way too. Those of you with eagle eyes will have noticed the little changes that were made between different hotel builds, but we’re not done just yet! We’re hoping to have the final changes done soon, things like the navigation and friends toolbar is coming close to the final stages. Here’s what we think the final product is going to look like…what do you think?
Next Issue: In the next issue, we’ll also be discussing the upcoming number verification feature, how and why your data is safe and the upcoming Valentines Campaign!
About the Author
Hi, My names Dom and I am developer here at Sulake! You’ll often find me wandering the hotels on the avatar ‘Macklebee’. Every few weeks I will be posting a new ‘Behind the Pixels’ post, talking to you about what’s up and all the exciting stuff coming in the hotel…We will be sharing more than ever before, so make sure to tune in. This is really important to me – I hope you enjoy! I feel strongly that Habbo is a place where creativity can bloom and I really want you to feel as though you’re a part of it.