GrafxKid is the art handle of Jay Mercado, the creator behind Cherry Rescue! and Robby’s Day Out, two fun games made with GB Studio. He has also released a large number of pixel art based sprite packs and tilesets that can be used in games. An artist first, GrafxKid took some time to answer questions about his art making and how it moved into game making.
How did you get into pixel art, and how did it evolve into game development?
I’m currently a freelance artist for both vector artwork, design work, and pixel artwork and animations. I enjoy retro 2D video games the most, since I like to learn new styles of art and animation. I got into pixel art back in high school, doodling pixel styled score numbers that you see in video games, if that makes sense. This then opened up the rabbit hole known as pixel art. I started learning about pixel art, techniques, palettes, different works over the years, and have excelled at it greatly. I’m not able to create pixel art as frequently as I used to, which I wish I had more time to do since I really enjoy it. I took a computer class in high school, and the final project was to make a functioning game in Game Maker 8.1 Lite. I dabbled in graphics a bit, made an orange ball character and named him Nero. He’s technically my first original character sprite. A modern version of Nero is available in my Sprite Pack 1 (available on GrafxKid’s itch page linked below). I read about GB Studio somewhere, decided to try it out, and discovered that it was much easier to understand than other game making programs I used before. I did try out Game Maker back then, but revisiting it now is overwhelming. GB Studio had a greatly streamlined UI, and I felt eager to make something.
What’s your process for making your art?
I usually think about something brand new that I haven’t yet made before or try to improve upon a current style. First, I begin brainstorming on paper how something will look, listing anything the project might need like animations or features, and then proceed to draw for said project. By doing this over the years, you develop a style in your artwork, at least this is what I feel.
Your sprite packs and tile sets are fantastic, how do you decide what to make next?
I like tackling different forms of characters, with my current pack being heavily combat based. I love having a variety of different characters together in one pack, it makes a pack very interesting. I mostly prefer sprites to tiles, since I like animating more than scenery design.
Can you tell us what it was like making Cherry Rescue!, being one the earlier platforms released with the beta?
Honestly, I felt like I was in high school again, making a platformer in Game Maker 8.1 Lite for that computer class project. The GB Studio engine was fun to program with, since it’s like stacking orders on top of each other, testing to see if something works or not.
Was there any particular challenge that was difficult or memorable?
One aspect that I felt proud of was getting a mission complete flag check to successfully work in Robby’s Day Out, so that the player reads different dialogue depending on the progress of the game.
The game has a great presentation and vibe, was there any style or game you were trying to reference or allude to?
The game in general is a throwback to a piece of art I made in 2018, called Cherry Duo! I was looking at Japanese Game Boy box art as inspiration at the time. Cherry Rescue! is heavily built on the idea of what you see on Cherry Duo!, even down to the character designs. The simple character was fun to work with, as well as the enemies and graphics.
What’s next for you? Got any projects you’d like to tell us about?
I’m currently working on a secret project with a close pal of mine, and also Sprite Pack 7 is currently being developed. Other than these projects, I’m still doing commissioned artworks here and there. My one big project that’s finished is my webcomic Today Land, which you can read on WEBTOONS!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Create as much as you can! It feels nice to create something and say “Wow! I made this!” I love seeing what other people are making, no matter the media type.
You can read our spotlight on Cherry Rescue! here, and play the game for yourself on GrafxKid’s itch page where you’ll also find his other game, Robby’s Day Out and some awesome pixel art sprite packs and tilesets. GrafxKid’s work can also be found on his Twitter, artstation and PixelJoint pages. You can also check out his WEBTOONS series, Today Land.
Audio Engineer, Mac Technologist and Video Game Developer. Managing Editor of GBStudio Central. (he/him)