Pixelblog - 4 - Graphical Projection Part 2 by Raymond Schlitter


Welcome back for another round of graphical projection. In last month's Pixelblog I created a farm house from top-down and side-view perspectives. Now I'm going to take it to the next level and reveal more dimension to our humble little abode. Get ready to produce graphics in one of the most iconic pixel art styles!  




Isometric projection uses a tilted top-down view similar to 3/4 top-down, but it also rotates the building 45 degrees. This unique 3D perspective allows you to display a great deal of information by revealing the roof and multiple walls at the same time. 


In true isometric projection the angles between the projection of the axes are equal, or 120 degrees if a cube. In pixel art this is most closely achieved by using angled lines with a 2:1 pixel ratio. I sometimes refer to these as two-step lines. It's possible to use a different projection angle, but two-step lines create the most realistic perspective. Essentially, isometric pixel art can be made by conforming to a grid of such lines. 

Key Points

Isometric pixel art has been heavily used in video games since the early 80's as a means to produce convincing 3D graphics. Now, It's become iconic of the retro aesthetic and is still a crowd-pleaser. It sure does look nice but there are a few things to consider.

Advantages - Creates convincing 3D assets. Can be tiled. Opens more dimensional possibilities in terms of gameplay when used in video games.

Disadvantages - Economical but still more demanding to produce than straight side-view or top-view. The rotated perspective makes it difficult to create video games with precise direct input controls. Twitchy games like shooters can be very hard to control when presented in isometric perspective. 


Now let's make an isometric version of our farm house from the previous lesson.


That wasn't so bad, was it? Check out some tips to sharpen your isometric skills.

workflow tips

Define rules - You will save yourself a headache by establishing some guidelines as early as possible. For example, color palette, light source, scale, proportions and other style properties should always be consistent. This goes for any style of pixel art.


The art of copy and paste - You will often see the same clusters repeated in isometric forms, so why not reuse them? Work efficiently by copying and pasting this and that here and there.   

Work on a grid - Using a grid can be a good way to quickly lay down lines with the correct angle. Patreon members can download a custom isometric grid.

Use a ruler - If you find grids to be distracting simply designate a layer to use as a ruler when things need to be lined up. Make a long line with the 2:1 pixel ratio in a bright color and you're set!

Final Word

So now we've covered top-down, side-view, and isometric perspectives. There are many different graphical projections I haven't covered yet, but these are the most common and those I'm most familiar with. I will revisit the subject another time when I acquaint myself with some other projections. 


If you find value in my content please consider becoming a Patreon member. Among many other rewards, Pixel Insider members get extra resources to compliment my tutorials. But most importantly, you allow me to continue making new content. 

This month I'm sharing the isometric farm assets of all the buildings featured in the opening image. This includes all the buildings as individual sprites, and the animations as separate frames. Play with these as you like. I'm also sharing an isometric grid that you can work on top of. 

All assets for this feature use colors from my Mondo palette, which I designed in Pixelblog - 1.

Get caught up on all my downloads

If you're not ready to commit to the subscription model of Patreon, you can also make a one-time donation and receive exclusive art and downloads.

-By Raymond Schlitter

Pixelblog - 3 - Graphical Projection Part 1 by Raymond Schlitter



The ability to convey convincing perspective with simple abstractions is one of the greatest charms of pixel art. If you really analyze 2D pixel art games you will notice they don't necessarily follow real world perspective rules, yet they still capture a believable sense of depth. This can be attributed to the use of graphical projection. A graphical projection supplies a set of numerical rules to depict 3D objects onto a flat plane. Personally, I don't get caught up in the math. I rely more on my eyeballs than numerical precision. This liberal use of imagination gives me a unique style, which is largely distinguished by a few different graphical projections. For this tutorial I will explain my two most often used graphical projections by illustrating houses. 


There are many different types of graphical projections but in most cases they should not be mixed in the same scene. So long as all elements in a scene follow the same set of rules the resulting uniformity will please the eyes. If you are interested in learning more about the technical side of graphical projections and the various types, I highly reccomend this comprehensive article by Matej 'Retro' Jan.



In this projection it's as if you are viewing the house from 45 degrees above. From such a vantage point you see about 3/4 of both the roof and facade. In my style the front of the house is shortened but the angles of the roof are not affected by the implied tilt and remain the same as they would appear from front on. Realistically, these angles would flatten as you ascend above the house and the walls would slightly angle outward, but I prefer the look of the clean angles. When it comes to pixel art, uniformity takes priority over realism.


This is my common approach for lighting top down objects. The light could come from any corner but it's most natural to come from one of the top corners.


3/4 Side-view

In this projection it's as if you are 45 degrees from the the center of the house, looking directly at a side corner. From this view you see about 3/4 of each wall. As the walls narrow the angles of the roof would actually become steeper. However, I also prefer to preserve the 45 degrees angles in this case. Of course, this limits how narrow the facade can be, as the roof must shorten to maintain 45s. But there's usually enough pixels to work with, and I show more of the facade than would be seen if truly squished in half. Most of the depth comes from lighting details. 


This is my common approach for lighting side-view objects. Sometimes I omit the strip in the center for a sharper corner, as is exhibited in the house below.


As you can see I don't use a precise science to achieve these projections. Using color to create strong lighting makes the simple geometry appear 3D. The satisfying sense of depth comes from contrast in light where sharp angles meet. If you analyze my art you will find this mechanic used over and over again. Seeing the forms pop out of the monitor with just a few slabs of color never grows old. Certainly, it has become a core feature of my style. 


Uniformity - Make sure all elements in a scene follow the same rules and any wonky projection can look good. In other words, don't mix viewpoints. 

Lighting - Most of the depth comes from lighting. Small ledges and outcroppings that catch different light angles can improve depth. Use strong lighting directed from a corner for dramatic results. 

Work Solid - Drafting everything in outlines before coloring can be a good way to establish a complex structure, but you can often skip this step and immediately start making solid shapes with colors based on light source. Best to have a palette in mind for this to work well. 

Palette - Use a simple palette with strong contrast from lightest to darkest colors. 

Final Word

After you get the hang of these projections you can go on to create much more complex structures and apply them to all kinds of subjects. You can even use these techniques to create unique geometric expressions of organic subjects, like people, animals, vegetation, anything really.   


If you find value in my content please consider becoming a Patreon member. Among many other rewards, Pixel Insider members get extra resources to compliment my tutorials. But most importantly, you allow me to continue making new content. 

This month I'm sharing a farm asset pack of all the buildings featured in the opening images. This includes all the buildings as individual sprites, and the animations as separate frames. Play with these as you like. 

All assets for this feature use colors from my Mondo palette, which I designed in Pixelblog - 1.

Get caught up on all my downloads

If you're not ready to commit to the subscription model of Patreon, you can also make a one-time donation and receive exclusive art and downloads.

-By Raymond Schlitter

Pixelblog - 2 - Texture by Raymond Schlitter


Texture can add a whole new level of richness, movement, and overall immersion to your work. However, creating texture with pixel art can be tricky, and If not treated with care, texture details will only add unnecessary noise. As a beginner, I was uncomfortable with texture and tried to stick to flat color fields as much as possible. Over time, I discovered simple principles that make it easy to approach all kinds of textures. So come along and let me ease your fears of texture.  


Texturing Principles

Simplify - Break down the details into simple abstract shapes. Don't try to depict the fine details of every leaf and blade of grass. If you have the resolution to do so, you're probably not making pixel art.

Repetition - A good texture may only need a few simple clusters. Repeat these same clusters over and over but vary the pattern in which they are distributed. 

Balance - The texture should feel balanced. A little detail here usually means you need a little detail there. It's all a balancing act. 

Contrast - It looks more interesting to vary a texture, rather than have the same consistency across a large area. This can be achieved by placing texture details in select areas and leaving empty areas where the texture is implied. Or, you can achieve textural contrast with color variation. A perfectly homogenous texture can appear unnatural and too busy. 

Avoid orphan pixels - Orphan pixels are single pixel units not connected to a cluster of the same color. They can distract the eye and are usually avoided. However, I permit them when they're not obviously floating alone and relate to a greater texture, in which case I don't consider them true orphans. 

Here is a simple tutorial on making a grass texture, which illustrates all of these principles.

Wanna make tutorials like this? You'll need a tiny pixel font. Download this one  here

Wanna make tutorials like this? You'll need a tiny pixel font. Download this one here


These same principles can be applied to all kinds of textures. Let's look at some examples of textures I often use in my work.


Free-Form Foliage - First, create a basic shape of the tree canopy by slapping down circles of various diameters with the pencil tool. Then go around the edges of the shape adding a few pixels her and there to give it a natural rough outline. Next, block out general areas of shadow and highlight. Finally, texture over the tree with repetitive leaf shape clusters like those illustrated in the lower-left corner of the above example. I call this the free-form technique.


The free-form technique is illustrated in this time-lapse video, albeit very quickly. For a more detailed view of the process, watch Pixelcast - 23. 


Modular Foilage - You can quickly create large areas of dense foliage using what I call the modular technique. This method only requires a few textural sprites, which you can then duplicate and layer into larger textured shapes. For example, the above image uses only one sprite repeated several times to create the foreground foliage. Now, let's look at the technique in more detail by making a simple tree.  


This layered approach creates a consistent look often desirable for game assets. Better still, the sprite layers can be individually moved around to animate a wind effect. I haven't tried this technique for other textures besides foliage, but I imagine it's best suited for highly organic textures. 


Wheat - This texture is made with lots of repetition and overlapping. It looks complex but it's really easy to make. 


This same technique could be used for all kinds of tall grasses and crops. The main point I want to make here is that sometimes it's okay to have dense busy textures so long as you create interest using different colors or patterns. 


Stars - First, create a palette of stars in various shapes and colors. Then repeat and spread them out in a tasteful manner keeping the afore mentioned principles in mind. Mix in complimentary star colors for an even deeper cosmic look. Watch me make a star pattern in Pixelcast - 21. The stars come in at 2:39.


Clouds - These are the dramatic fluffy variety I'm partial to. Start with making the basic cloud shape using a variety of diameters with the pencil tool. Then apply a highlighted texture to the clouds based on a series of overlapping arched shapes. Slipping in a subtle spiral shape here and there can really help communicate the light airy feel of the clouds. Watch me making clouds in Pixelcast - 22. The clouds start at 0:55.


Brick - Create groupings of solid blocks in recognizable brick patterns. It's important to keep the contrast rule in mind and leave some areas empty. Depicting every single brick would appear noisy and detract form the overall forms of the structure. Avoid emphasizing the outlines of the bricks, as this can look very busy. However, If you're going for a bit rougher look you can add an occasional shadow or highlight on select bricks. As you can see in the right-hand example, just a few bricks appear to be jutting out or sunken into the structure and it changes the whole nature of the texture. 

Final Word

My repertoire of handy textures is always growing thanks to the foundation provided by these basic principles. I'm excited to see how other artists transfer the knowledge into creating their own textures.


If you find value in my content please consider becoming a Patreon member. Among many other rewards, Pixel Insider members get extra resources to compliment my tutorials. But most importantly, you allow me to continue making new content.  

This month I'm sharing a comprehensive texture cluster reference. This includes a .psd document with all the clusters broken into layers, individual .png files of all clusters, and the overall reference image as a .png. I'm also sharing the pixel font used in the tutorial gifs. 

Get caught up on all my downloads

If you're not ready to commit to the subscription model of Patreon, you can also make a one-time donation and receive exclusive art and downloads.

-By Raymond Schlitter

Pixelblog - 1 - Color Palettes by Raymond Schlitter


Due to my belief in learning through self-discovery and my ongoing creative evolution, I've long put off doing any tutorials. However, after making pixel art for over 3 years I've established many solid techniques worth laying out in a concrete fashion. While I'm excited by the prospect of helping others with my experience, I still urge artists to explore things their own way. The wonderful thing about art is the unlimited number of solutions to a problem. I offer you solutions that have worked for me and I hope they work for you, but I will be even more thrilled if you discover a better solution along the way.


When it comes to pixel art, it all starts with a good color palette. Creating a custom color palette can be a very satisfying and powerful way to establish your own unique look. I'll guide you through my method as I create a new palette. But first let's go over some basic principals. 

IT's all about HSB

I find it easiest to understand and control color through HSB.

Hue - The actual color (0 - 360º)
Saturation - The intensity or purity of a color (0 - 100%)
Brightness - The amount of black or white mixed with a color (0 - 100%)

By understanding and adjusting these 3 fundamental properties you can create custom colors with precise control. I recommend this article by Steven Bradley for more detailed definitions of HSB.

Color ramps

A color ramp is a specific range of colors that work well together, arranged according to brightness. Here is an example of what I consider a good color ramp. 


Brightness steadily increases from left to right in this example. As the colors reach high brightness levels it's important to decrease saturation, or you'll end up with intense eye burning colors. Also, colors with very low brightness can become overly rich and weighty with high saturation. Saturation peaks in the middle swatch in this example, but this is not a hard rule. Generally, darker colors have more saturation.   

A good color ramp should also apply hue-shifting, which is a transition in hue across the color ramp. In the previous example the hue is shifting by positive degrees as the brightness increases. 

Many beginners overlook hue-shifting and end up with 'straight ramps' that only transition brightness and saturation. There is no law that says you can't do this but the resulting colors will lack interest and be difficult to harmonize with ramps of a different hue. This only makes sense to me if you want a monochromatic look and stick to one straight ramp.

the palette

A color ramp is essentially a palette, but most palettes contain multiple ramps. I like to create large palettes with lots of ramps, which I can then pull smaller palettes from per assignment. 

Mondo  - 128 colors

Become a Pixel Insider member and  download Mondo

Become a Pixel Insider member and download Mondo

I took the opportunity to make a brand new palette for this tutorial. My intention was to create a general purpose palette that strikes a balance between vibrant colors and desaturated natural colors. So, how to make such a large palette?

First I decide how many swatches I want per ramp and how many degrees of hue shift. For this palette I want 9 swatches per ramp with 20 degrees of positive hue shift between each swatch. I like a lot of hue shift because it creates harmony between ramps and just looks neat, but 20 is about as high as I go.

The color picker panel in Photoshop. We only need to be concerned with adjusting HSB.

The color picker panel in Photoshop. We only need to be concerned with adjusting HSB.

I use Photoshop, but a similar color picker panel should be accessible in just about any graphics software. To start I pick a color that will fit right in the the middle of a ramp. The hue is somewhat arbitrary, but the saturation and brightness is critical. I want the middle color to be be the most vibrant so I set the saturation and hue to the max combined number I'm willing to go.


After I've chosen my first color I can set the hue for the remaining swatches based on the positive 20 degree shift I wanted. I could reverse the direction of hue shift if I want but positive hue shift usually results in more natural colors, warming as they become brighter. 

I still need to sort out the increments for S&B. Unlike hue, shifting the S&B in uniform increments doesn't necessarily produce satisfactory results. However, there are a few tendencies I follow. Brightness consistently increases from left to right and usually never starts at 0, unless I want black. Saturation peaks around the middle and never fully goes to 100, or 0. The goal in mind is to create even contrast between each color.


After some tuning and eyeballing these are my final values and resulting color ramp. The hue shift looks pretty strong but it will make sense when I add more ramps.


This version shows the difference in the increments. Pay attention to what the S&B are doing. You can see there is some consistency in the pattern. The saturation takes larger steps on the ends and smaller steps in the middle where it's the highest percentage. The brightness takes smaller steps as it gets closer to the end at full 100%.


Here's another visualization that clearly shows the flow of S&B as line graphs. You don't have to follow this general flow of S&B. It just depends what look you're going for. I've made ramps where the saturation continues to climb as the brightness decreases, creating an X pattern. This results in vivid dark colors. The biggest mistake is combining high saturation and brightness, unless you want to burn some eyeballs. I recommend a lot of experimentation with the HSB values of your ramp. I've tried to come up with mathematically precise formulas but it always seems to come down to trusting the eyeballs to some extent.  

Now let's finish the palette.


Up to this point all I have been doing is picking colors and drawing them as single pixel dots on a tiny canvas. I haven't actually added any swatches into the swatch panel. With the first ramp established all I have to do to create more ramps for my palette is shift the entire set of hues.


I want 8 ramps total so I will shift the hues of each ramp by 45 degrees to complete the 360 degree cycle around the color wheel. I could do this in the color picker by adjusting the H value one color at a time, but In Photoshop I can save a lot of time by duplicating the ramp and changing the hue of the entire selection (Image-Adjustments-hue/saturation, or ⌘+U).


After adjusting the hue of all my color ramps my palette appears like this. It looks pretty nice but It's lacking more neutral desaturated colors.


To add desaturated colors I duplicate the whole middle section of the palette, omitting only the darkest and lightest colors on the ends, flip it over and desaturate them with the Hue/Saturation panel. I omit the light and dark columns because they appear nearly the same as the originals. I flip the colors because it makes for easy navigation, and it looks cool. The desaturated colors can provide a more natural look, and work well as grays in combination with the vibrant colors.


The final task is actually adding the colors into the swatch panel. With the color picker panel open I sample each color with the eyedropper and click the 'Add to Swatches' button. I add them from left to right, top to bottom so they will appear in the swatch panel in the correct order. This is quite tedious but the only way I know of to add the colors in the particular order I want. 


Once I've added all the colors into the swatch panel I click on the panel options and make sure to save my palette. I can then easily load the palette as a .aco file into the swatch panel anytime. Also, by selecting 'Save Swatches for Exchange' you can create a .ase file, which can be loaded into several other Adobe programs. Save the image of your palette as a .png file and you can load it into Aseprite.   

Well, that completes my 128 color palette - Mondo. Now let's look at how I use the palette with some examples. 

Picking colors


This example keeps it pretty simple, mostly relying on horizontal ramps of adjacent colors. You can also see how the warm desaturated colors work nicely with the vivid hues. I've added white into palette for extra contrast. 


This example shows how ramps can move horizontally and diagonally. Because of the hue shift every color is surrounded by colors that can work together.  


Harmony is everywhere, just pick and play!


This example uses complimentary color in combination with neutrals. The result captures an ominous yet hopeful feeling that perfectly fits the mood I wanted. 

Picking colors for your art always requires some good sense, but a versatile palette with criss-crossing ramps like this makes it much easier. A little color goes a long way with pixel art, as you can see I never use a lot of colors for any one image.

Creating a palette with this method also works great for game art, and will ensure everything in your game has consistent colors. I used this method to create a 160 color palette for Thyrian Defenders. We've been able to depict an incredible range of environments and characters while maintaining a consistent look overall. Other aesthetic choices come into play, but color is the fundamental ingredient that ties everything together.  

Final Word

Overall I'm quite happy with how this palette turned out. I think you'll be seeing more of my work in the Mondo palette from now on!

I hope this helps you come up with some palettes of your own. I know It can take a bit of time to get a feel for HSB, but even if you're a beginner I think making palettes like this is a great way to understand color. Go crazy with HSB and don't be afraid to experiment with formulas that look different than my example. Also, you don't have to make such a large palette. Start with trying to make a small ramp. 


If you find value in my content please consider becoming a Patreon member. Among many other rewards, Pixel Insider members get extra resources to compliment my tutorials. But most importantly, you allow me to continue making new content. 

This month I'm sharing the Mondo palette as .aco, .ase, and .png files. Get Mondo!

Get caught up on all my downloads

If you're not ready to commit to the subscription model of Patreon, you can also make a one-time donation and receive exclusive art and downloads.

-By Raymond Schlitter

Thyria Devlog 06: One Year and Going Strong by Raymond Schlitter

Where did the time go? 

The bird beckons...

The bird beckons...

Whew, time flies. It's already been a whole year since we started developing Thyrian Defenders. I don't think either of us anticipated it would take so long to make a shoot em' up, but we have no complaints. What started as 'hey, let's make a scaled-down side project with a short dev cycle,' quickly became 'hey, let's make the best shoot 'em up ever.' Now, after a year of solid development the potential for greatness makes the commitment totally worthwhile. Considering the quality and quantity of content, I say we're still making good time. 

Good Progress

It's been quite a long time since I've given a progress report, so for this devlog I'm going to hit you with all the noteworthy updates from the last five months or so. 

2nd Player - In addition to the main character, Taz, we've created another fully playable character. Let me introduce you to Suri, a confident young woman who tries to keep a cool demeanor, but shows a spunky side in the excitement of battle. This duality gives her an awkward cuteness that everyone seems to be aware of except for her.

In the mobile version the player can choose if they want to play as Taz or Suri before each mission. In the Steam and console versions Suri will be the second player in 2P co-op mode. While there are no gameplay differences between the two character's, the cosmetic differences and unique voiced over one liners keep things fresh. 

Sound Effects and VO - We have been working on SFX and VO in collaboration with sound design students in England for a few months now. Things are nearing completion and sounding quite nice. Voice over wasn't even in the original plan, but when the opportunity came we couldn't pass. Currently, we are in the process of balancing and applying effects to the final cuts. I can't wait to share some examples in context once we actually start implementing the VO into the game.

Player Profiles - In order to emphasize the characters and bring more personality to the game, we've included constant character profiles into the HUD for the main characters and the wingmen. To make it worth the space they occupy we've given them animated feedback when taking damage, receiving power ups, and so on. We've even included mouth movements for when they speak. In addition to VO, there will also be text bubbles that sometimes pop out of the profiles.

Roll animation - It seems like a small thing, but it gives the sprite so much more life when it actually tilts into lateral movements. This is pretty much standard animation in all shmups but it was somewhat difficult to get right. First, the sprite itself is quite detailed with persistent directional lighting. Then, all the power up feedback animations needed to adapt to the animated sprite. Finally, implementing the nuanced movement to look natural with the touch control took several iterations to get right. But now she rolls baby! Now I just need to make roll animations for some of the wingmen characters.  

She rolls!

She rolls!

Projectile design and rate of fire - Back in May we changed the appearance of the player projectiles to make them a bit more unique from the enemy bullets, and significantly increased the rate of fire for the second time. This required a little bit of rebalancing to the level design, but now we have a satisfying flow of bullets and heightended sense of action. 

Magma Tetradon - We completed another boss design earlier this summer, which we are particularly proud of. This squid-like beast required our programmer to spend many hours making handmade animation patterns in order to create smooth and varied motion of the tentacles. The result is another impressive encounter with multiple challenging phases and lots of parts to destroy before blasting its brain to smithereens. 

The mighty Magma Tetradon

The mighty Magma Tetradon

Story - Detailed artwork for the intro and use in cutscenes is beginning to take shape. This is one of the last items on the list but I'm anxious to get the style and format established. The goal is to make full screen scenes on the vertical mobile format that can easily be adapted to full screen landscape format for the console versions. Turns out it's not so easy and is going to take a lot of pixels. But, I'm confident I can pull it off with cleverly designed compositions. 

Thyria is in peril! A calamitous alien force threatens the entire galaxy.

Thyria is in peril! A calamitous alien force threatens the entire galaxy.

New levels - Level 6, Hyperspace Beta was recently completed. The art assets for level 7, Krillis are about 90% complete and we should begin building the level within the week. In total 10 levels are planned, so that means we only have a few left. Moreover, an early 2018 release is still looking doable. 

Krillis is one of our most radical environments.

Krillis is one of our most radical environments.


My artistic vision extends far beyond the work on Thyrian Defenders. For the sake of my happiness and well-being I must pursue this vision. At the beginning of August I launched a Patreon page to provide a platform for more pixels and some financial support. The content mostly focuses on my original pixel art, but the funds directly support the development of Thyrian Defenders by allowing me to continue working.

Just one example of the kind of artwork you can unlock and have early access to every week for only $1. 

Just one example of the kind of artwork you can unlock and have early access to every week for only $1. 

100% quality, consistently produced content on a weekly schedule. However, It cannot be sustained without financial support. How much do you value my work? 

Please have a visit and evaluate the quality of the contents for yourself. https://www.patreon.com/slynyrd 

Bye Bye

You read the whole article. I'm impressed. You should be caught up on all the major updates now. Stay tuned for more and keep up on facebook and twitter. 

-Words by Raymond Schlitter 

Slynyrd on Patreon by Raymond Schlitter

The road to pixel town

Never have I been so smitten with an art medium, and I've tried a lot of them over the years. Pixel art offers the control I demand, while its restrictions help funnel my rampant creativity into visions I can capture with efficiency. All the while, its deep-rooted connection with video games serves to enliven the art form with an energy of unlimited potential. I could pontificate all day about the aesthetic purity of carefully placed tiny dots. It's obvious, I love making pixel art. And like everybody else, I just want to earn a living doing what I love. 

Patreon is something I had in the back of my mind for quite some time. My inspiration has been too off the charts lately to hold back any longer. The floodgates are open and I want you to ride this wave with me. 

After a couple months in the making I've come up with a regime of content I feel comfortable I can sustain alongside my work on Thyrian Defenders. But most importantly, it's a nice balance of content that offers aesthetic and educational value to everyone, while satisfying my creative needs. I welcome all to practice my weekly routine with me, so we can grow together. Ultimately, I aim to inspire creativity in others, as I continuously grow.


Week 1 - Native Grasslands: 1

Week 1 - Native Grasslands: 1

To kick off the week I post an original mini pixel artwork every Monday #pixelminis. These small but detailed compositions pack a lot of charm into 64x64px. I will explore a theme for a few months to make up a series, then I will move on to a new theme. The first theme is naturalistic landscape and architecture based off my local surroundings. Following that I have a variety of themes patrons we be able to vote on. Here are some ideas to anticipate. 



Sci-Fi Portraits

Plant Life 


Pixelcast is a series of process videos I post every Wednesday #pixelcast. In these fascinating time-lapse screen recordings you can watch me create an original pixel artwork from start to finish. This provides great insight into my methods and approach to solving creative problems.

I first thought of creating more traditional tutorials, and even toyed with audio commentary. But in the end, I decided to offer a more organic form of observational education that serves to inspire self-discovery, which I believe is the best way to learn art, or just about anything. Furthermore, my straight-forward style clearly illustrates the importance of pixel placement, color choice, and layout. It's even revealing new ways for me to improve.

I also want these videos to be entertaining. Therefore, I carefully edit out idle actions, jerky zoom movements and try to make it as smooth and well paced as I can without compromising the natural sequence of creation. For the audio I'm using original music tracks from myself and any composers who wish to share their music. Please submit your tracks so I care spare you from having to listen to my tunes :) 

ATTENTION COMPOSERS: If you would like some free exposure, I will feature your music track in an Episode of Slynyrd Pixelcast. Your track will be highlighted with titles in the video, and I will include a link to your portfolio in the description. It's best if the track is at least 3 minutes long or loops seamlessly. A variety of music is possible but up-tempo and game related music seems to fit best.

Submit your tracks by emailing an audio file to raymondschlitter@gmail.com, Thank you!


Every Friday I post an original pixel artwork created at 264x264px #pixelweeklies. These are highly detailed illustrations I put a lot of thought into. Not only do I want each artwork to be a deep work of beauty, but they also make up a series and tell a broader story over time. Forming a cohesive series brings in a narrative game-like quality that fills me with plentiful ideas, and further engages the fans. In some cases I'll even post polls where patrons can vote on the direction the story takes.  

Each series may last a few months, and can be extended or shortened at the request of patrons. The first series is a deep psychological dark fantasy. After that I have a wide variety of ideas on the table. Here's a handful of concepts to anticipate and prepare your vote for, as patrons will be able to vote on upcoming series.

Hero – a hero’s journey across a fantastical landscape to rescue his love

Juncajar – whimsical space tale of cosmic and erotic discovery

Rainbow Fiction Wonderland – cute but complex cartoon world full of unique creatures

Mondo – Japanese monster movie meets young adult struggles in romance.

Beast Planet: gory sci-fi thriller drags a man through hell in a story of redemption


Week 1 - Orga and Mekai: 1

Week 1 - Orga and Mekai: 1

be a producer

Another perk of becoming a patron is being credited as a producer in Slynyrd Pixelcast, and Thyrian Defenders. This privilege is only for Pixel Insider patrons, the top membership tier, which unlocks all content for only $5 a month. Your name will appear in the credits of Slynyrd Pixelcast within a couple weeks of becoming a Pixel Insider member, and will continue to be included each episode for as long as you remain a Pixel Insider

In order to have your name committed to the credits of Thyrian Defenders, you must remain a Pixel Insider for 3 consecutive months, or pay a reward amount of $15 or more. This beautiful pixel art shoot em' up is currently expected to release early 2018 on mobile, followed shortly by a Steam version.

Final Thoughts

Well, that covers the core regime of content. You may notice that most of my content is time locked. I've taken this approach because I would like to share my art with as many people as possible, and I especially don't want to completely lock out anyone from educational content. However, I would like to foster a culture that understands digital content isn't supposed to be free. Moreover, as I settle into the routine, I would like to offer more truly exclusive content to patrons, such as behind the scenes material, and resource files. I'm strongly compelled to follow my personal vision, but it doesn't make sense if the fans aren't on board. I'll be listening and working to build this pixel art utopia together. I welcome all interested in making pixel art to join in on the weekly routine with me. But if you just want to kick back and enjoy some pixels you are in good hands.

Allow me to recap the weekly posts. 

Monday - #pixelminis 64x64px size limitation. Super fun practice. Limit colors for bonus points.
Wednesday - #pixelcast Record your work and post it. Amazing way to improve.
Friday - #pixelweeklies Make an original pixel artwork with significant thought and time. I like to work with a 264x264px canvas, but there are no strict guidelines. 

Hop on over to Patreon to see what reward tier suits you best. For less than a fancy cup of coffee you can unlock all content. I look forward to seeing you there!


All earnings directly support the continued production of these Patreon contents, and the development of Thyrian Defenders. Like I said, I'm just trying to earn a living doing what I love. 

- Raymond Schlitter

Thyria Devlog 05: Origins by Raymond Schlitter


long time no see. The fact I haven't published a devlog in a few months might indicate stagnation in the dev cycle. Rest assured, it is quite the contrary. We've actually been so busy and engrossed in development that time has just flown by. Also, we don't want to completely pull back the curtain before release and spoil a profound gaming experience ;)


Thyria, a glorious galaxy to shmup in. 

Thyria, a glorious galaxy to shmup in. 

The name 'Thyria' was discovered from a google search of ancient city names. While we were still developing a yet unnamed platformer, 'Thyria' was the name given to the hub city. After several months went on, we still didn't have a name for the game, but we had grown very fond of 'Thyria,' both in phonetics and visual balance of the letters. After some googling we were sufficiently satisfied with the obscurity of the word, as it wasn't being used for any other game title or prominent works of fiction. Thus, we eventually adopted 'Thyria' as the name of the fictional galaxy the game is set in, and therefore, the name of the franchise. The city once called Thyria was then changed to Thalor. When we shifted over to developing a shmup, 'Thyrian Defenders,' came naturally.


We're big fans of shmups, and have played a lot of them. I'm most fond and familiar with Japanese fare from the 90's. For example, R-Type, Gradius, Darius, Raiden, Raystorm, Axeley, Thunder Force, Silpheed, Aero Fighters, U.N. Squadron, Sky Shark, 1942, Strikers 1945, and the list goes on. I grew up button mashing my sweaty little boy fingers and screaming into CRT displays trying to conquer these difficult games. Classic shmups are in my blood and I get a nostalgic itchy trigger finger just listing them. Some of them I still frequently revisit to keep the skills sharp and pull inspiration from sweet 90's pixel art. Furthermore, some of the aesthetics and the enemy behaviors of TD are definitely inspired by this pool of games. 

Just to clear the air, you may have noticed I didn't mention a game called 'Tyrian.' Despite a similar looking name, we had never even heard of this game until about 6 months into development of TD. Now it seems every week someone will reference this game in relation to TD, likely due to the name. However, any similarities both in name and spirit are purely coincidental. Nothing against Tyrian, I'm sure it's a fine game if it shares any qualities with TD. It just feels a bit odd to be under the implication that you are heavily referencing a game you weren't even aware existed. Although, I understand it's not hard to draw similarities between any two titles within the genre, and that's part of the charm. Shmups are like comfort food, and we want to reinvigorate the old beloved recipe with our own take.

Not all our inspiration comes from the retro library. In order to adapt the shmup to a modern free to play model that keeps the player engaged we had to analyze more current entries in the genre. As far as the game's structure and progression system, we started with the superb model presented in the mobile versions of Sky Force. However, at every design decision we pushed ourselves to innovate and come up with our own unique twist on the model, while removing any of the free to play aspects we felt had a negative impact on the experience. You can still see Sky Force in the roots of the UI and basic progression system, but the actual feel and moment to moment gameplay completely stands on its own. 

Outside of games, several other inspirations have found there way into TD. Working in the sci-fi genre post 1977 makes it impossible to escape some influence from one of the most heavily referenced icons of pop culture. You guessed it, Star Wars. However, I'm also greatly inspired by nature in all my art. It may not be so apparent, but many of the enemy designs are loosely based off plants, insects, and animals. While the precise and mechanical aspect of my art likely stems from my upbringing. Due to my father's business, I grew up surrounded by airplanes and intricately machined parts. My baby playpen was literally in an airplane assembly shop at one point. 


I have many actual game updates to talk about, but I told myself I would try to keep it short and on point. No worries, the next devlog will come along without great delay, full of juicy details about the new content we've been cooking. In the meantime keep up with the latest on social media. Cheers!

Thyria Devlog 04: Story and Characters by Raymond Schlitter

Hi again. The year is no longer new and the devlog is overdue. As promised I will be covering details about the story of Thyrian Defenders in this update. So without further delay let's launch away.

Taz braces himself for a stupendous ride through hyperspace.

Taz braces himself for a stupendous ride through hyperspace.

The Setting

Just a few of the locations you will visit at the beginning of your journey across the Thyrian Galaxy. 

Just a few of the locations you will visit at the beginning of your journey across the Thyrian Galaxy. 

Thyria, an immense spiral galaxy full of countless planets and life forms. Somewhere in this web of worlds our story begins in a small system called Nova 9. The presence of two advanced species in the same system has inevitably lead to war. On one side you have the human world of Gradus, and on the other you have the lizard people of Virdune. After generations of prosperous cultural exchange, the discovery of an awesome new energy source quickly leads to conflict between the species.

It turns out plasma energy harvested from Space Kraken is the hot commodity everyone is after. Space Kraken have illuminated the night sky with their energy rich bodies for longer than anyone can remember. What was once seen as a natural marvel is now a prized hunt. Ironic how the outbreak of violence stems from such a peaceful and beloved creature.

Precious plasma energy is harvested directly from space kraken bodies, or plasma crystals that are produced by the creatures.  

Precious plasma energy is harvested directly from space kraken bodies, or plasma crystals that are produced by the creatures.  

It's a chaotic time full of contradiction. Both sides are shocked by the horrors of war, yet they are unwilling to give up the pursuit of greater power. The atmosphere is tense and it feels like something could give at any moment. Many believed a new weapon or some kind of technological breakthrough would be the turning point. The war would take a drastic turn, but not for a reason anyone predicted. It's at this pivotal moment our game begins. 

You play as Taz, A young fighter pilot for the Royal Space Force of Gradus. After recently completing training (tutorial level), Taz is assigned to an attack squadron of Titan ships. His first assignment is a recon mission to investigate reports of unknown craft operating in the Cryptum Asteroid field, a highly contested sector for its Kraken population and rich deposits of plasma crystals.  

As soon as the squad arrives at the recon point a small squadron of Virdunese fighters also appear on the scene. Apparently both sides are there to investigate unknown craft. Confused and pointing fingers at one another, a full on dog fight is about to go down before both squadrons are ambushed by the real culprit, alien invaders!

Seemingly out of nowhere an alien force surrounds both squadrons. Their sharp angular hulls fashioned with all manner of weaponry suggest hostile intentions. Indeed, the aliens are not there to make friends as they begin attacking both squadrons without bias. Both friend and foe are dying in a blaze of chaos surrounding Taz. Somehow he survives the first onslaught of these mysterious attackers, but it seems he's now all alone with no choice but to fight. Mission one start! 

At this point in the story the first level of the game begins. Cutscenes, and in game conversations will continue the story through the game. You will quickly learn these alien attackers called the Exodon are invading on a galactic scale and all of Thyria is in peril. The petty conflict between Gradus and Virdune ends and a new war against the Exodon begins. Taz bravely joins the fight to save the galaxy, but he won't be able to do it alone. As you travel to new frontiers and liberate worlds from the Exodon, new friends join you in the fight. In time this brave alliance of alien warriors become known as 'Thyrian Defenders.'  

The Characters

A young hotshot pilot in the Royal Space Force of Gradus. While his naivety sometimes leads to rash behavior, deep down his actions are always good-willed. Overly reliant on his talents, Taz will have to learn to depend on new friends to stand a chance against the Exodon. 

Taz pilots the Titan, the Royal Space Force's most advanced light attack craft. For in depth details about the Titan and its weapons, check out devlog 03. 

While Taz is the character you play as, you will recruit a few characters throughout the game who will actually come fight at your side during gameplay. We call this the sidekick feature. It is initiated by item pickups found in special chests. Please fly nice, you control their destiny.

There are three characters that become sidekicks and you unlock each of them at different points as you progress in the story. Don't worry, it's a simple matter of progression and they can't be missed. Let's meet your squad.

Even as a seasoned squadron leader for the Virdunese Space Force, T-Rex can scarcely contain that famous temper his people are known for. He is highly competitive, and after so many years at war with Gradus, he naturally becomes Taz's rival. After the Exodon decimate his squadron he’s lucky to find new friends to bark at.

Piloting the Lancer, T-Rex fires piercing hydro spears from four angles. This is great for attacking enemies on your periphery both in front and behind you. 

Hailing from Draconia, Redwing is a powerful dragon cloaked in brilliant red scales. Beyond a stoic facade she carries a deep well of emotion. After her world is thrown into crisis by the Exodon invasion she taps into ancient fighting instincts and learns to release her feelings through fiery combat.

Redwing doesn't need a ship. She flies herself! Her attack is a short-ranged but powerful fireball that shoots straight out and pierces enemies. Major damage!

This ever-inquisitive hunk of bolts is a member of the peaceful robot world known as Krillis. Thexter must learn how to compute war after his mechanical world is laid to ruin by the Exodon. The concept of war sends him into an existential crisis, and his new friends must teach him what it means to be alive. 

Thexter is strongly against violence so he attacks with a stun wave. This temporarily freezes enemies so you can go ahead and take care of the violent shooting part yourself. 

The mysterious Exodon cast their shroud of darkness over the entire galaxy. 

The mysterious Exodon cast their shroud of darkness over the entire galaxy. 

You get it by now, these guys are bad business. Exodon seem to be bred for battle, but are they more than just a mindless war race? Little is know about who, or what the Exodon are.   

Captain McCluster with that usual stern look of dissapproval. 

Captain McCluster with that usual stern look of dissapproval. 

There will also be many colorful NPCs throughout the story, both friend and foe. For example, the hard-ass Captain Mcluster will brief you on your missions. The quirky boss characters will all have something to say as well.

What's in a STORY?

Gameplay still rules the day, as it should with just about all video games, However, the power of narrative can make a great gameplay experience even more immersive. With Thyrian Defenders you can see we are weaving a story about friendship and unity. The bonds with these characters will not only be formed through story sequences, but also through gameplay with the sidekick feature.

A narrative is also being told through the game's visuals. For example, bomb craters and destroyed structures in the background tell of the destructive power of the Exodon. Bones of an ancient beast on the desert floor tell a story of a different era on that planet. Everything is thought out well beyond what is necessary for the content of the game. This thoughtful design is intended to trigger the imagination of the player and make the world feel alive. 

Recent Updates 

We're always working on balancing but we made a significant change recently by increasing the vertical scroll speed by about 30 percent. This changes the pace of the entire game and required everything to be rebalanced, but the results are well worth it. The action is much tighter and there's never a dull moment. Also the levels go by faster making it a more palpable experience for mobile. All around fun factor is up!

I've mostly been busy grinding out background graphics, but I've also developed some new enemies, including a cool segmented worm boss. Markus has nearly completed the first Hyperspace level and is polishing up the encounter with the worm boss I just mentioned. Alan has been very productive recently and the OST is nearly finished. So as usual, I'll leave you with another new tune to fuel your shooter dreams. This is the hard rocking track for Pyrex, our lava themed level. Enjoy!


I hope you enjoyed this update. Some time down the line I would like to do another feature on story elements once we have actual story scenes implemented into the game. But that will come at the very end of development. Gameplay always comes first! Perhaps next time I will go in more depth about the worlds and the rich background graphics I've been creating. As Japanese game devs like to say, 'please be excited.' 


-Words by Raymond Schlitter