Archive entry by Ste Pickford on Mon, 05 Jun 2006
Subject: Outcast / Renegade
This was a strange job. We were sent this game at Binray Design, along with another ST game called Ninja Mission, by Mastertronic, who also sent us the originals of the cover artwork to copy, and asked us to do loading screens for them both. I got this game, and Jez, one of the other artists there got the Ninja game.
We'd only just got an ST in the studio, and had no experience working in 16 bits, but I was confident that I could draw a nice loading screen in 16 colours. However, we'd also got a cheapo monochrome video camera which someone had hooked up to a computer so that they could 'digitalise' video images. These were of terrible quality, full of interference (see the 128K extra features on Amaurote for an example of captured images), but super high tech and exciting to us at the time.
Someone (our boss, Andy Hieke I think) had the bright idea to point the camera at the original cover artwork, 'digitalise' it, get the image file onto the ST and use it as the template to base the loading screen on. I wasn't so sure. I was confident that I could draw it just fine freehand, on a plain white screen, but the boss's high-tech 'time saving' plan was put into action.
I received a grainy, blurred, murky, slightly skewed 16 shade greyscale image of the cover artwork, which had to make the loading screen out of.
The ST could only display 16 colours at one time, so with the whole palette of colours taken up with shades of grey there were no colours left for me to use to colour in the image. Managing the palette was incredibly difficult. I picked my first colour - a red, and changed one of the shades of grey into this red colour. Now every pixel on the screen which happened to be in this shade of grey turned red. I had to ignore or edit these as best I could, and just colour in the area of the screen I wanted in red. Then I did the same process with the next colour - a slightly orangy red - and again random dots of orangy red appeared in place of a shade of grey around the screen.
It was an absolute nightmare. I had severe brainache by the end, and the whole process took 4 or 5 days, instead of the 2 days or so it would have taken my to draw the screen from scratch. But Andy was happy that he'd delivered one of the first 'digitalised' loading screens, and I think the final image looks quite nice.
(Thanks to Richard Davey for finding the loading screen on atarilegend.com.)