Well, this month, I'm working on hammering out some basic art assets for use with the level chunker. Eventually I'm going for a nice 48x48 px, 16-bit look; but for the time being I'm just doing 8-bit styled, 4-color roughs. Maybe once they're done and I get some gameplay going, I can simply upscale them, smoothen them out, and then worry about applying shading and stuff like that.
For now, I'm about 35% of the way through basic stances, which I'm doing seperately/first so that I can compare character sizes/builds. That'll be the starting basis for the character-specific sheets, which have gone from 64 frames to 80 frames now, mostly to compensate for the obviously necessary North/South standing/walking animations. It's still doable, but it's still a part I'm kind of struggling/procrastinating with. I need to stop that.
... That story about the tortoise and the hare? It's not working yet.
So on the left, I'm doing some basic fighting stances, inspired by the fighting game counterparts of the characters. Colors will probably be redone, and a few are just copypasted for the sake of positioning, they aren't animated yet. Those that are will likely be 1-2-3-4-4-3-2-1-looped. Rock'N Guy will have a guitar strapped to him at some point, once I decide on how I want it oriented (he looks comparatively plain without it), and admittedly, Slash'M Dude came out looking far more "textbook ninja" than I'd like. Still plugging away at the others.
Slash'M's influences include Strider/Ryu Hayabusa (and arguably Hanzo Hattori), Metal/Shadow Man, and Ibuki/Eiji Kisaragi as far as movement stylization, but I still want to give the guy some definitive character/traits that make him stand out. One thing I'm considering is the colorization factor - sticking with purple or peach makes him instantly definable without blending too much with scenery, but it also makes him more stereotypical as the tradeoff. But I'm not completely sure what other color direction to take him in, as you don't see a lot of bright green ninjas that aren't equipped with turtle shells. Perhaps a bright yellow could work without being too obnoxious, but again, that works totally against the "ninja vibe" (IE: stay stealthy).
On the right, you can see what all I'd like to do with each of the characters by their decription columns:
Side Stand/Run: A standing frame facing to the right, followed by a simple 3 frame running loop.
Fighting Stance: Basically, what I'm copypasting from the image on the left, identifyable by the kind of fighting game character/personality I'm associating them with.
Up Stand/Run: Basically the same as Side Stand/Run, but facing North/"Stage Rear".
Down Stand/Run: Same, but facing South/"Stage Front".
Monkey Bars: A hanging frame, followed by an abstract loop where the character swings forwards. Can also be flipped for handstand purposes as well. A couple may do some smooth-looking tricks like trapeze artistry by alternating between hands and feet, or something like that.
Climb/Swim/Crawl: More a "crawl" at this point than anything else, I'd like to keep it in a context that can arguably double as a swimming motion as well. Climbing will simply be a matter of rotation.
Jump/Roll/Duck: An upward and downward jumping frame, along with the character curled up or bowled over and rotated for rolling effects (smaller/swifter characters may do stuff like cartwheels instead), and finally, a simple 1-frame crouch.
Slash: One of my favorite animation ideas; the first three frames illustrate a horizontal, one-handed slash straight across, ending with both hands on the same side, aimed down-back. Along with the remaining 5 frames, this becomes something of a double-axe handle pose that aims in 45-degree angles other than straight down or straight back. This can be used for various two-handed swinging techniques (including variants that skip frames, like down-back > forward > up-back), or to aim firearms in most appropriate directions. It can even be the focal point of a golf game.
Hit/Block: One-framers, illustrating a standing hit reaction, a standing block pose, a crouching hit reaction/low attack reaction, and a crouching block. Nothing fancy about that.
Stand Punch: A windup-frame, followed by punch attacks aimed downward, forward, and angled upwards.
Stand Kick: Kick attacks just like the punch attacks, although bear in mind, some of these can be designed to flow together as well.
Spin/Slide Attacks: A two-frame spin attack associated with the character, and a sliding move/attack with a cooldown frame.
Jump Kicks/Ladder: Three aerial kick attacks, seeing as standing/crouching punch ones can double as aerial ones often, followed by a single, flippable ladder-climbing frame ala MegaMan.
Trip/Get Up: 2 frames, one falling and one hitting the ground (or being KO'ed), followed by a 2-frame recovery animation.
Duck Punches/Kicks: Same as the standing ones, but for a character in a crouching position
Rush L/M/H: A single frame for dashing/rushing forward suddenly, along with low/mid/high-ranged followup attacks. Whether they're punches, kicks, or whatever in-between will depend on character.
Special: For sure, I want to do a two frame anti-air (active/dropdown), some kind of fireball/spellcasting with another 2 frames, a 2-frame charge-forward attack (like Psycho Crusher/Cannon Drill, etc.). Last two I might make a taunt/winpose or "warp out" if nothing else, but for now they're just there for the sake of flexibility.EDIT: Third image now has at least a few more initial character concept arts, and I messed around with some color options for Slash'M Dude.