Concept to Finish
What I start with is by making a rough sketch. Something that envisions what I want the finished asset to look like. Something to get me started and to use as a reference and so far it has worked pretty good. Going in and creating pixel art without is completely fine, though for me it is easier to see a bit what I am trying to create before going in and trying to create it.
I have a notebook to draw in and a couple of pigment liners to draw with. That is probably the most important step being prepared with a couple of reserve drawing tools. I look at a picture for reference when doing buildings, finding references in real life is great. Looking where noone else looks is a great way to be a bit more unique, not saying that we are unique but might help you other developers and hobbyists!
This is a typical drawing that I make. Trying to figure out how I want the building to look in the game. Thinking about perspective, what the building should entail and what story it wants to tell. This diner wants to have a coziness to it. People sitting outside drinking their coffee, eating their food. A social place.
It doesn't have to be perfect it just needs to capture your vision. It can make your work easier to plan ahead. It isn't dead necessary just a nice touch. I prefer doing it the traditional way with pen and paper. However the method you use is not that important.
Blocking out phase.
After I have done a concept, I want to take it the next step and this is where I try to "block" out the picture from paper. Where I can adjust the plan before finishing up the asset. I draw mostly lines to get the shape and structure of the object I'm drawing.
The concept on the left is the vision and on the right is in the program, making some adjustments. If i like the look of how it will be when it is more finished I stick with it. Later all these black lines will be replaced, since most of the pixel artwork I do is without an outline.
Finishing the Asset
After I have the outline I fill in the colors, remove the black outlines and add detail. When I do my pixel art I decide in the beginning of the project how many shades and highlights I'm allowed to use. This time around I keep it to about 3 shades and 1 highlight. depending on the shape of the building. At the very least I use 2 shades and a highlight.
Since this game has a slight left perspective, so you can see the left walls. Instead of going for a complete front perspective. Mostly to give a sense of depth in the game. Down below is the finished asset tiled up in Pyxel Edit. Since it allows me to do tiles of all the buildings, I can easily create buildings that are bigger and smaller with the use of tiles. On this project I use 64x64 tiles this building is cut up into 3x4 pieces.
I will go into more depth on each of the steps with perhaps a video showing each step in the process. But this is a rough look at how we create the assets for Indie Developer Survival. This is what they look in the game. It is quite similar to the concepts that I have made so far!