Hello there, exhausted survivors! Craft yourself a comfy chair and relax with this month’s mod blog, as we take a look at the tile pack of DaddyDirkieDirk.
Much like ThrottleKitty, Dirk is a big name among mappers, with countless popular community maps utilising his tiles in interesting and creative ways. If you’ve ever downloaded a map mod, chances are you’ve downloaded Dirk’s tiles alongside it.
While ThrottleKitty’s tiles lean towards industrial and apocalyptic, Dirk’s feature many new colourful items of furniture, graphics for stocked shelves and backroom items like stacked pallets, arcade machines, office and hospital equipment, and multiple new doors and windows that wouldn’t look out of place in a “lovely-doors-and-windows” catalogue!
The tiles work beautifully well with our art style, and many have a “homely” look that our survivors would surely stop and admire, if they’re not busy fighting off a ravenous, undead horde.
Dirk obviously puts a lot of time, effort, and love into their tiles, so we wanted to learn more about him. We found him lounging on a colourful couch in a living room filled with arcade machines, and he kindly answered a few questions for us!
Who are you in real life? Tell us a little about yourself.
“My real name is Diederik but most PZ people call me Dirk or Daddy. I have two kids, which inspired my nickname DaddyDirkieDirk. I have a background in game art and design, and currently work as a Quality Assurance Specialist for an AAA game studio in the Netherlands.”
How did you first discover Project Zomboid? Why do you like it?
“I discovered the game way back, but I only started playing on the 18th of November 2019. I remember the date because that night my wife went into labour and my son was born the next day! I played it with my younger brother on that day with the pre-Build 41 multiplayer, and it was a blast. The appeal of the game is probably the option to do whatever I want inside a true open world zombie apocalypse. With all the planned content, I have a dream where one day I can be a shotgun wielding gunslinger on a horse dressed in chainmail fighting the hordes!”
Tell us about your tilesets. How many individual tiles are there? Can you talk us through your process of making a single tile? What references, if any, do you use when making your tiles?
“I honestly have no clue! Some tilesheets are longer, while others are not fully filled up (yet). I think I have about 80 tilesheets in my pack, but some of those tiles were also created by other people. Even if I assume only a bit over half of the tilesheets are used, that’s over 3000 tiles. (Most of my tile sheets are 1024×2048 pixels, which allows for 64 tiles per sheet.)”
“The idea for a tile usually comes from working on my map. There are a lot of vanilla tiles, but sometimes I have the need for something that’s different. Usually, I start with a rough shape simply with a colour difference for the top, left and right sides. I then drag in a ton of vanilla assets that are similar in shape or material. I use the vanilla materials as colour reference so I can make my colours match the vanilla ones. From there on its just getting the big shapes in first, and working towards the little details. I strongly recommend drawing things on different layers as doing so makes it a lot easier to change things later on. A lot of things I make are drawn from scratch, but I’m also quite keen on taking parts of vanilla assets and kit-bashing them together.”
How did you get into making tiles for PZ? Have you made artwork for other games before? Do you have any training in art/drawing etc.?
“I’ve always been intrigued by making my own world for games, so it was a natural step for me to go into map making, and creating tiles. I have a background in 3D game art but I never had the luck to put it into practice. Pixel art was something new for me, but with Covid happening, it was a nice refuge to be able to focus on something creative.”
Your tiles have that unique “PZ” look. Is that hard to achieve?
“Honestly it took me quite a long time to get the technique down. Having no experience in isometric pixel art meant it had quite the learning curve. In the beginning, I could take weeks for a single tile sheet. I think I spend a literal month on the arcade machines, as they were one of the first tile sheets that I made. Now with “years of knowledge” it is quite easy for me to make decent looking stuff. I have some videos on that as well on my Youtube channel.”
“A rule of thumb I use (which only applies after you’ve learned the basics) is to take a small time frame to get the idea on paper, no more than fifteen minutes. If you can’t get the basic idea of it right in that amount of time, it’s usually best to try a different angle. It’s better to try a couple of different things for a few minutes each to see what works instead of spending hours on something that won’t work at all.”
Your tiles are very varied, from containers and furniture to arcade machines and hospital equipment. Is there a specific type of tile you enjoy making the most?
“Personally, I am a big fan of my height illusion tiles, even though visually they are just edits of vanilla tiles. I like to push the boundaries of what we think is possible in Zomboid, and play around with that. Another thing that I am quite excited by is the new rust and metal scratch overlays that I made to be able to make rusty containers or metal sheet walls.”
Is there anyone in the PZ community (or beyond) you would like to give a shout-out to? Which mods or maps (or tilesets!) by other users do you enjoy or find interesting?
“This is going to be quite the list so please bear with me! Pertominus for his tile pack, in addition to being a great friend, Zlobenia for making amazing buildings and also being an amazing person, Gabester for setting up the unofficial PZ mapping Discord, Throttlekitty for the amazing tiles and help, Commander for being a great source of inspiration (and setting a high bar for mapping!), Fred Cooper for liking bunkers, Melo’s_Tiles for his creative outlook on tile making, Moeki for his amazing “Zomboid 2077” project, BigZombieMonkey for being adept at all the mapping branches, Alree for selflessly trying to make mapping easier, Azakaela for pushing the boundaries of mapping, PIN2 for working on the Fallout Zomboid map/mod, Zubludok, Spyjack, and Neuts for letting me use some of their tiles in my pack, and the devs for making the game. And finally, a quick shout out to my loving family and friends!”
What’s next in your tiling plans? What’s the dream?
“Currently tile making is a bit of a lower priority as most of my gaming time goes into working on my map Dirkerdam. After the map is done, I’ll probably take a break for a bit. The dream would be to make a living doing either tile making, or to become a professional level designer!”
Thanks to DaddyDirkieDirk for answering our questions! We may be hearing more from Dirk soon… You can find his tileset here.