I am not going to insult your intelligence or graphical ability with this article. This isn't a guide on how to draw. This is a special way which requires some patience, but its results will pay off.
I found out about this about 5 years ago at tommyttk's house when I got hold of a character I had drawn and right clicked repeatedly until there was a stack of them on the screen. I played the game and to my amazement, instead of looking like a dolly mixture (Head on top of a body) it looked like a 3D, sleepingbag monster!
The great thing about it was that you could rotate it round using the racing car movement and it would look correct from every angle. To cut a long story short I worked on it for a while, making more and more complex designs consisting of different layers. I believe that the best way to demonstrate the power of this technique is to show you some examples. Here's the Santa seen in Santasatnas.
The best way to learn how to make these is through trial and error. I don't have any trouble getting the 'height' of things right, just make sure that you start from the bottom and work up so that the order of the sprites is correct. You have to be able to picture the final image in your head as it's annoying to forget to add, say, a dangly object once you get to the top of the legs and having to go back and modify all of the sprites made so far. Each sprite is positioned 1 pixel above the previous one and for a solid wall of colour I recommend 2 - 3 pixels thick from the outside of the sprite in order to eliminate any tearing as the object rotates round.
How long will it take to make something like this? The car took about an hour to make, then another hour to prnt scrn for all 32 directions, paste them into an active object, set the hotspot to center (Works surprisingly well, as you can see) then to clear up any rough edges. Santa probably took about 3 hours. Here are the 19 steps taken to create the car.
The stages are as follows...
1) Make an active object and draw the base layer. It doesn't matter where you put the hotspot. Repeat to all directions
2) Clone the object and modify it slightly, placing it one pixel above the previous one
3) Repeat until image is done
4) Print the screen for every one of the 32 directions (In game, use the arrow keys to view every direction one by one), be sure it's on a plain plane/background
5) Place the picture in a new active object. Place the hotspot where you believe is best for the object. Horizontally it's best in the center of the object, vertically I don't really think matters. The car I've made has its hotspot in the center, as it's quick and easy to position and it gives good results.
6) Repeat for all 32 directions
7) Enjoy your nice, shiny new 3D model.
Just as a farewell gift, have this download example file. The green car can be easily modified because I went round to all 32 directions, clearing up the colours so two 'fill' clicks and you've recoloured one of the directions. Feel free to use this in your games, just remember who made it so that you're not surprised when I release a(nother) game with it in.
Just to point out, an isometric angle isn't the same as a 32 direction angle you need to make some conversion. If you move your car like it has a topdown movement, i.e. the number of pixels you move up per second is the same as the number of pixels you left per second then you will be moving in the right direction relative to the angle of the car, however if you get the speeds into the correct 2:1 aspect (2 pixels in the x equals 1 pixel in the y) then the angles are fairly different and you will see your car dragging to the left or right. If you used a real 3d program to generate isometric cars in 32 directions it will get the angles right. I would prefer to have the car pointing in the isometric angle rather than the topdown angle. You can see what the angle should be if you take a circle. draw a line pointing in the topdown direction and then stretch the image in the x axis by 2. In fact, if you did that to the car in the example, (despite making it look hideous) the car would pointing in the right direction... maybe I should write an article about it Comment edited by ~Matt Esch~ on 5/13/2009
Hah, amusing, you implemented volume graphics into Klik! If you kept each layer as it's own separate active with offset hot spots (sure, 1 character would be like, 100objects, but this is just for the sake of arguement) You could implement dynamic damage, like, if one layer gets a major hit, it tells the surrounding layers (along the depth axis) they should also be damaged.
Still, it's very clever I likes it, lovely,simple little linear perspective 3d effect.