For the music video for dubstep-rock act Nero’s first chart hit, Me & You, James May – aka Smudgethis – created a fictional arcade game from the early 90s, featuring Nero’s two members. The game was a sideways-scrolling beat-em-up with 16-bit graphics, similar to Double Dragon, but far superior to the 8-bit games of retro classics like Super Mario Bros.

To create this style, characters should still be blocky, but more complex than older games – and while you’ll need to use a limited colour palette to achieve the look, remember that these games still had 65,536 colours to play with.

Here, James shows you how to create a character based on a photo, using a simple colour palette and the Pencil tool.

As well as an animation guide, you’ll also need a photo of a person. James has used a photo of a punk (18888111.jpg) from this month’s stock selection from Photos To Go.

Next month, James will show you how to take this character into After Effects, animate him and apply retro game effects.

Time to complete

2 hours



Project Files

(it’s free!)

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