April 9, 2016
Continuing presenting some of the graphics I’ve done for the Commodore 64, this article revolves around my latest picture and how to view it – in technical sense.
This picture is a bit different, since it’s made for old PAL C64 with so called “old lumas”, which I covered in my previous post. In other words I’m making use of the slightly different color palette found in early C64s. And not only the palette, I’m also exploiting the color bleeding introduced by the PAL color encoding. The result is that the picture appears to be more colorful than one might expect from the 16-color palette of a C64.
This picture requires a specific hardware setup. Namely a PAL C64 with early 6569R1 VIC-II chip. A real C64 is needed, or alternatively, an emulator or viewer that can simulate the effect of PAL color encoding/decoding while supporting the old lumas. The reason is that with this picture I’m exploiting color bleeding together with the different color palette.
Screenshot taken using an emulator with old luma settings and PAL video encoding emulation.
Working on this piece started on Excel. I wanted to have a proper palette for the old luma colors, so I ran the same calculations that Philip “Pepto” Timmermann has made, but using the old luminance values. This way I got an old luma version of the so called pepto palette. A link to palette at the end of the post. Read the rest of this entry »
March 30, 2016
Early VIC-II chips produced somewhat different colors than the later ones. In the earliest revisions the 16 colors had five luminance levels, i.e. brightness values. Black and white are the lowest and highest values, and the remaining 14 colors use three luminance levels that are evenly spaced in the brightness spectrum. Simply put, there are dark grey, medium grey and light grey, and all the colors are as bright or dark as these three shades of grey.
In later VIC-II revisions four intermediate luminance levels were introduced. Now there was nine luminance levels instead of the previous five. The palette with nine luminance levels is what most people consider as the normal C64 colors. From this article you can read all about C64 luminance levels and colors.
In this picture you can see how the different luminances affect picture that has been made for the “normal” C64 colors: Read the rest of this entry »
February 26, 2016
This time I’m writing about a C64 game and how I got involved with it, rewinding to early 2015.
For my part things got in motion when my Out Run Memories picture got some positive attention at the time of its release. Thanks to that I got in contact with Antonio Savona, who kindly asked me if I could make a loading picture for his game P0 Snake. Antonio had already created the game for the RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition 2014, and the game ended up winning the competition by a fair margin!
And it’s no surprise. It’s a clever snake game with a twist, with varied levels and gameplay, and an ingenious one-button game mechanics! On top of the solid game design there are some surprising features for a 16k game like a password system and digitized speech samples! I mean, the game fits into 16 kilobytes. And when that game greets you with a speech sample saying “Welcome to P zero Snake” and introduces more samples during the gameplay, it does raise an eyebrow! There’s an interesting article at the game’s development blog about the challenges with the audio and how it was pulled off.
Just take a look. Note the clever references to various classic games:
Thanks to the 16k game’s success and popularity, it was going to have an extended RGCD C64 cartridge release. And for this extended version I got to make the intro screen! Read the rest of this entry »
January 14, 2016
At X’2014 C64 Party I took part in graphics competition with a piece called Out Run Memories, part of which you can see above.
Some time later an extended version was released as a one-file demo called Out Run Memories Upshift!
Crafting the picture together was quite a lot of work – it all came back to me now that I started to clean up my old work files. While going through the numerous files I had laying around, I thought it might be fun to put together an animation of the work steps I went through.
So here you go, both versions considered, more than five weeks’ spare time effort put into one gif animation. Read the rest of this entry »
November 23, 2011
Like I told in my previous post I wanted to enter one of the graphics competitions in this year’s Alternative Party. I wanted to make my picture using C64 graphics formats, but I wasn’t planning to pixel the picture in native formats in the first place. Instead, I was planning to draw the picture using modern tools and then convert it! Shocking!
I already had a concept in my mind that I wanted to try out: to combine and use different screen modes for different parts of the picture. Of course it wasn’t possible to actually use different screen modes with the picture, especially with my non-existing programming skills. So the road I had to take was to draw the picture elements separately which I then converted to different graphics modes. The parts would have to be combined, and then finally, converted into final picture.
This gave me a good reason to start checking out the different graphics converting tools. Read the rest of this entry »
November 4, 2011
So, I went and joined the communist party!
I’m talking about Alternative Party 2011 – Red Machine, held at the end of October in Helsinki. This year’s theme was, well, anything soviet. This was also the last Altparty for the time being – at least in its current form. The end of an era was somehow present in the overall atmosphere in my opinion. Even though this year was not special in any way, I think it’s a great shame that this tradition of the untraditional event will end.
The theme was taken into account by the organizers rather nicely. Before getting to the event area, or before receiving the ticket, you had to queue. Several times in different lines. Asking for stamps and presenting documents which were rejected in the previous queue. A fun but slightly annoying number I say!
Queuing is important! (Video in Finnish)
When finally entering the area, you were presented with world’s largest collection as an exhibition. A collection consisting of items from former Soviet Union. Read the rest of this entry »
April 24, 2010
Some time ago a C64 pixel art gallery emerged: C64pixels.com. The gallery is constantly being updated with old and new C64 graphics and already contains pictures to amaze for a good while. And there is even more content available if you register to the site.
The gallery is executed really well with emulation for actual display picture. The pictures have filters applied to them to simulate for example CRT-monitor scanlines, the softness of old monitor or TV and the colour bleeding. Also the interlaced pictures are flickering in the gallery! The result is close to how the pieces actually look on authentic hardware.
Some of the artwork is magnificent just as they are, but to really see the beauty in the pictures one has to understand the limitations that the artist have to work within. The fixed palette of 16 colours and the relatively low resolutions are just the beginning. Here is a short and nice introduction to different C64 graphics modes, their properties and limitations. Here is another, more technical approach to C64 graphic capabilities. Have a look into these documents, and then to the best pieces in the gallery!
Here are some of my favourite artist picks: Archmage, Clone, Duce, Electric, Joe, Mirage.
November 28, 2009
After many many years, I got myself doing some pixel artwork again. The motivation was this year’s Alternative Party. As I mentioned in my previous post, I entered the Retro Graphics Competition. I came second, and here is the picture:
(picture scaled, click for 2x original image)
The rules were: 320 x 200 resolution, max. 32 colours. I had made the decision to enter the competiton months before the event. Of course I did not start drawing until the very last minute – just typical from me. This picture was made in two previous evenings before my Alt weekend. Read the rest of this entry »