It's been a while and I have not kept up with my Gamasutra blog at all (hanging my head in shame) but there are still a lot of people still come from here to my blog over at blogger.
Here's something close to my heart. Ever since doing the art for HeliAttack 2 and 3 back in 2003 and 2005 I fell in love with helicopters. They just make great game assets.
Back then it was all pixeled and took what seemed like forever to create. In the game there were a few helicopters with limited variations.
Creating a similar object in vectors allows for easier manipulation and variations. It also makes animations a lot easier and more flexible.
This tutorial looks a little bit more complex than the previous posts - but I tried to break it down into easy steps and simple shapes. I hope it worked.
Note:As with all the tutorials prior I use squares and circles and deform them rather then 'hand-draw' the shapes. With the body of the Apache-style helicopter it might be easier to 'just draw' the shape with the straight lines tool rather than place squares and modify them later - but it takes a little more skill to get the shape right that way.
Now you have a basic and recognizable helicopter. It's a good point to save and continue with a new file to give you a base shape to go back to when creating variations.
The next step is adding details (guns, missiles, rocket launchers, etc.) and then add depth to the helicopter by adding some highlights and shadows.
I use basic shapes in light and dark colours - in this case white and black - with transparency to shade the object. This allows for easy changes to the base colour (e.g. an army green or a bright red for an enemy object) without having to redo the shading.
If you want softer shadows and lights use a more yellowish tone for the highlight and a dark brown or dark purple for the shadows.
Here's a version scaled down
to something resembling an
iphone (lo-res) ingame size:
I hope the complexity of helicopter didn't scare you off and you enjoyed the tutorial. In the end it's just another bunch of simple shapes combined to form something bigger.