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A groundbreaking 
love letter to 8 bits!
A groundbreaking love letter to 8 bits!
14,749 backers pledged $311,502 to help bring this project to life.

Update #14: Paypal, and our Art Process, Revealed!

Posted by Yacht Club Games (Creator)

Hey team! On top of our news update, we thought we could give everyone an insight into how we make those fancy illustrations and pixel models!


Sanctuary Crew Shovel Knight LiveStream! - Channel 1- Today! at 5PM PST -

Reddit AMA  - Tuesday at 1PM EST/10AM PST -

Destructoid Demo Twitch Hosted by Foom - Tuesday at 4PM EST/1PM PST -

Art Contest Deadline - Thursday, April 11th at 8PM EST/5PM PST - email yours to

Paypal Now Available!

You asked! We looked into it! Then we stalled! And now we delivered! If you’re interested in donating towards Shovel Knight through methods outside of Kickstarter then head on over to our Shovel Knight Paypal Page. We’ll honor most of the existing reward tiers and count these contributions toward the Stretch Goals. This overtime for donations will end on April 30th, so act fast!

Let’s Talk About Linux and Mac

Did you hear the news? Shovel Knight is now destined for Linux and Mac! Our main page is pretty jam packed with information, so let’s clarify how this impacts your backer options.

  • At the $10 Reward Tier you will receive access to all DRM free (PC/MAC/LINUX) versions of Shovel Knight. You can just download the one you want or you can archive all of them for that day when you’re totally going to try dual booting into that minimalistic new Linux distro!

  • At the $15 Reward Tier (or above) we’ll send out a poll with expanded digital options. This would include the option to receive the previously mentioned DRM free versions, Wii U, 3DS, or Steam.

  • Those who choose the Steam version will be able to download and switch between any platform type using Valve’s “Steam Play”.

There are two fine print issues regarding this exciting news! First, the Steam version depends on the success of Shovel Knight on Steam Greenlight -- we’re going strong, but we aren’t there yet! Secondly, please note that our original date of Winter 2013 does not reflect the target release date of these additional platforms. We’ll know more about the date once we run the Unix numbers.

How We Make the Art!

Before we make any art, we usually talk about the character or feature first. We talk about what the character needs to do: does it walk or fly? move back and forth? is this a full-fledged character? Check out these very early whiteboard concepts of Propeller Knight, Plague Knight, and Polar Knight:

We also talk about the character thematically (even the minor enemies!): is this character cowardly or brazen? Is it energetic or lethargic? From these conversations, a concept is created. Usually these are roughs or scribbles on an index card or sketchbook:

We’ll often make several of these drawings until one starts to feel ‘right’. At this point, we will pixel the character. This step gives the character its in-game appearance and also points out any issues with the concept design before it is illustrated:

After the pixel model is made, it’s ready for a definitive illustration. We work on a cool pose or two for the character and settle on one. This step is usually done digitally:

After getting the basics of the illustration down, it goes to digital inking! This is a laborious process, requiring the hand-placement of dozens of vector lines (also, is this art screaming for a coloring book or what!?):

Finally, the piece is ready for color! We generally use 3 shades of each color to achieve both shadows and highlights:

After the illustration is done, we will check it against the sprite and other art to make sure everything is consistently excellent. Now all we need to do is animate the sprite and implement it in the game! Easy!


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    1. saiqlo on

      Bring on the coloring book!

    2. Diggle Hyde on

      Ah, yay. I'm happy again. Thanks for the update.

    3. Diggle Hyde on

      I'm a bit upset about 15$ for steam key too. Welp, I still do love DRM free copies, just make sure to make it easy to download via any distribution available like humble store or gog.

    4. Yacht Club Games Creator on

      Thank you everyone for your input. Please check the most recent update for information that I hope addresses your concerns.

    5. Franck Mahon on

      Like many here I'm disappointed to read in an update's comment section that the Steam version will cost $5 more especially when the $15 pledge and Update#1 didn't mention it and when the $10 one says "Get a digital copy of Shovel Knight for PC"
      In addition, as Nathan mentioned it, Steam keys are free for existing customers as stated in their Greenlight FAQ:

    6. Missing avatar

      Dexter Wood on

      @Nathan Horne
      Yeah, under that specific circumstance, Steam Keys shouldn't really cost more. The Nintendo keys on the other hand probably do have certain limitations on how much developers can hand out.

      I just wish I had known about that extra five bucks for a Steam key thing about an hour ago...

    7. Benjamin Holmwood on

      So I have to pledge an additional $5 now to get the game on Steam if it gets through Greenlight? It would have been nice to know that before I pledged. Especially since, as Nathan Horne pointed out, Valve says they do not charge more for extra Steam keys. I understand that implementing Steam specific features costs you extra, so why don't you just say that is the reason, not that extra keys cost more, as that seems inaccurate. Then again, I've never been in contact with Valve regarding these issues, so maybe you've been given extra information that we haven't?

    8. Brian Scott on

      Oh hell ya those do scream out coloring book!!! My son would love it! How about an add-on for coloring book?

    9. Nathan Horne on

      While you have every right to decide which rewards are given for which tiers, it is not true that Steam charges developers for additional keys.

      From the Steam Workshop FAQ:"If my game is accepted through Steam Greenlight, can I give my previous customers keys for the Steam version? Once your game is accepted for distribution on Steam, we will give you as many keys for your game as you want at no cost."

      Many indie developers give keys to their existing customers once they get through Greenlight for no additional cost.

    10. Yacht Club Games Creator on

      While a very limited number of keys are provided for for promotional reasons, there are extra costs involved when obtaining large amounts of codes in bulk. This also goes towards the development of Steam integration and specific features.

      @Drew Newman
      We're actually using Illustrator for the tri-tone poses. Our pixel animators are using Promotion:

      @Henrik Rostedt
      Yes, you are correct! $15 or above gets you a Steam copy of the game (Greenlight pending).

    11. Shawn Drape on

      Am I reading it right that if I want the Wii U or 3DS version I'm ineligible for the DRM free versions? I have to say that if that's the case I don't see the point of it. It almost makes more sense to offer the Steam version at $10 and have the DRM-free at $15.

    12. BladedFalcon on

      Yay for Paypal page and overtime! with that, Gender swap mode feels like pretty much a given, and Challenge mode like a very real possibility! :D Hopefully of course, you guys will keep it up with awesome streams, updates and info to keep the promotion going, right? ^^

      Also, very cool to see more info about how the creative process goes! :D It's specially fun to see the early sketches and watch how the character ultimately evolves! thanks guys!

    13. Yacht Club Games Creator on

      Hey guys! You might have noticed that our website tanked in all of the excitement. This means Paypal is down and the images for this update are not displaying. We're looking into it right now so please check back soon.

    14. Nathan Horne on

      I am a bit disappointed to hear that Steam keys are going to be extra beyond the cost of the game.

    15. Missing avatar

      Devin Marshall on

      Thanks for talking about the artistic process, it gives me some inspiration :D

    16. Chris Gronlie on

      Very cool. Thanks for showing us your behind the scenes process for character creation.

    17. Henrik Rostedt on

      So, have I got this right, to get Shovel Knight on Steam (when greenlit) I have to pledge $15 or above?

    18. Missing avatar

      Rob on

      Why does a Steam key cost extra? Valve provides them for free.
      (This is, of course, dependent of getting through Greenlight, of course.)

    19. Runcycle Media on

      Flash for the vector tri-tone poses I assume? I'm curious what you use to make the pixel art, however, as I've tried some small programs but they've never been efficient enough for pixel animation. Great work, thanks for giving us a glimpse of your pipeline!