Archive entry by Ste Pickford on Thu, 30 Jul 2009
Subject: Cosmic Pirate
This is another screen mockup I did at the start of the Cosmic Pirate project - our Amiga / Atari ST game from the late 1980s.
Handily, I'd kept some of my working images in my backup, so you can see some of the stages of drawing the background image (which I think might have made it into the finished game).
We had no access to 3D modelling packages back then, or any way of simulating lighting. We just had a 2D bitmap editor called DPaint, which we used for pretty much everything. We didn't even have the internet for easy photo reference!
If I was going draw something like a planet now, even if I was drawing it as a static 2D image like this, the first thing I'd probably do is knock up a quick model of a sphere in a 3D program, and set up the lighting accurately, maybe even model a few rough craters on the surface to get them casting shadows accurately, and render that as reference.
Back then it was all just a mighty effort of the imagination, then individually plotting every single pixel in the exact position you wanted it. I think DPaint had a gradient tool, but it was useless, so even gradients had to be plotted by hand if you wanted acceptable results.
I shudder to think how many hours went into drawing this backdrop.
Click on it to see a bigger version, and marvel at every individually plotted pixel!