AuthorTopic: GR#201 - Pixel Gameart  (Read 8311 times)

Offline felicitousArtisan

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GR#201 - Pixel Gameart

on: January 24, 2014, 11:29:19 pm
So I've been trying to teach myself pixel art for a while. I'm gonna dump stuff in order of development with some notes:


Early attempt at a sci-fi horror chipset, the style is inspired by Capybara because at the time I'd been playing Sword & Sworcery. The colours are very moody and probably a bit low contrast. I'm pleased that I managed to make a functional set of different walls that can be arranged into a variety of shapes.

I then sort of went on a platform tileset kick. I looked at Cave Story, impressed by the efficiency of its simple assets, and produced some assets in a style inspired by that game:

These are made using Dawnbringer's 32 colour palette (you guys can probably tell by looking).

I then decided to have a go at making a comprehensive palette for my own use. It's about 90 colours (92? I can't quite remember) It was probably a terrible idea. It took hours to make and I'm still not 100% happy with it. It was based on Arne's 64 colour palette that was sloshing around the internet but it's been modified heavily:

The palette isn't perfect. It's a little bright for RPGs, but it does produce quite nice, vibrant looking ramps for platformers. Feel free to try it out.
Using this palette, I made some basic platform game tiles, 32x32 in a style of my own:

I also made a sprite base to go with it, with basic animations:

I used these to make a mockup as a piece of album art for the Homestuck Fan Album, 'Land of Fans and Music 3':

I did a bit more work on platformer chipsets, trying to refine further. This is a yellow themed set with a kind of sandy cave feel:

(I'm really happy with those leaves).

Recently I decided it'd be fun to make a retro RPG tileset with 16x16 tiles using Dawnbringer's 16 colour palette. Here is progress on that thus far:

This is proving pretty challenging. I'm not a big dithering fan personally and I'd rather use elegant clusters and shapes where possible, but the limited palette makes that tricky sometimes due to the high contrast. I'm very much open to advice on this!

If there are any things you can advise me on, particularly like consistent errors I'm making, of if you have chipsets or artists you think I should look at because their work is in a similar direction and I could learn from them, drop some comments!

Offline 32

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #1 on: January 25, 2014, 05:56:30 pm
Pretty good stuff all considered, the album cover is nice. Those animations look like they would be very good with a bit of inbetweening.

I'd suggest as a general thing to stop focusing on palettes so much, right now if you just work on some stuff and add new colours when you absolutely need them you'll be able to focus on other aspects and learn some valuable lessons about re-using colours and mixing hue's. I would say your main issue at the moment is a lack of value and detail range throughout your pieces, everything is kind of as bright and as detailed as everything else, rather than drawing attention to specific details (playable surfaces being the main thing). The other thing is just imperfect edges, a lot of corners that could be rounded off and jaggy lines that could use a pixel of AA.

As for your newest mock up I think it's coming along pretty well. Only thing that doesn't look right is the rockface, the texture doesn't really describe anything real to me. I'd suggest looking up some reference pictures and doing your best to emulate them. Dawnbringer's palette also gives you a lot of options for hue shifted colour ramps which you aren't really taking full advantage of.

Keep it up ;D

Offline felicitousArtisan

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #2 on: July 16, 2014, 01:27:52 pm
All right it's been a while. I got tied up working on games and stuff, but now I have a bit of a lull for development so I can do a bit more work on developing pixel art!

I've decided for the time being that I should refrain from making my own palettes until I've mastered using limited ones. Seems to be much better for speeding the learning process and encouraging creative ramping as well as efficient clusters. I'm a big fan of clusters and not big on dithering personally.

So anyway...

I started messing around yesterday morning with the Dawnbringer 32 palette and did a little shovel knight, which went well, so then I made a little Samus. Then I tried making an original Samus-inspired character and a little portrait for them. I wanted to try working with a character not in a helmet and also to puzzle out making a character who was never designed with pixel art in mind into a sprite so I made a little Lightning.
I like the noodly proportions of the Lightning, but speaking to a fellow games dev friend who makes pixel games, I was told that the reason tall sprites are rare is because animations need more frames to not look choppy, and their hitboxes are a pain. I would soon find both of these things to be true with experience...

So next I decided to try making an original character with no helmet.

...Lesbian...space...ranger? Sure, why not.
So I made her a run cycle. I decided on 6 frames to start me off because it seems like the smallest really viable run cycle for a sprite of this size and proportion style.

The two last frames are too similar, leading to a choppy look, though obviously it was gonna be choppy anyway a 6 frame run on a sprite this size can't really come out silky smooth!

Not bad for my first complete run cycle on a finished sprite.

Since this time rather than like previous attempts where I tried to draw the full sprite from scratch every frame, I chose instead to go for the easier method of just changing the legs, it wasn't a big problem to make some variants:

Crosses show that errant frame and the frame after as a replacement.

Progress!  ;D

I tried implementing it in Construct 2 to test. It works (woo!) but as my friend warned me, this style of sprite doesn't have the easiest hitbox to work with or play with. Shame because I think these proportions look cool. Maybe best kept for things like adventure games, RPGs etc. But I'd like to aim to make something more actiony because most of the games I make are things like RPG, adventure and visual novels already!

Things to work on:
- I need to sort out those outlines; they look janky.
- Be more daring with values.
- Try a run cycle with more frames for a smoother finish.
- Try maybe including subtle details like head bobbing or hair flopping.
- Have another go at a tileset. Maybe try to make all the assets for a very basic platformer.

Maybe I should try to make something like a basic 16x tileset in DB32 with a simple character and background as a challenge? It seems like completing things teaches a lot more than doing bits.

Offline Farage

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #3 on: July 16, 2014, 05:21:58 pm
Your friend is wrong.
Hitboxes are custom, they don't need to apply to the actual size of your sprite.
Else it would be impossible to kill a boss in megaman or castlevania :P
Nice sprites btw!

Offline felicitousArtisan

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #4 on: July 17, 2014, 11:33:47 am
Okay, so having a go at making a chipset. 16x tiles, Dawnbringer 32 palette

It's okay but...

Quickly throwing together a mockup reveals a few issues, primarily that the undersides of the rocks in the foreground merge into the highlights of the rocks in the background. Maybe highlighting underside of rocks, maybe with a colour like red, blue or green for some interesting mood lighting would help?
Maybe the top of the earth tiles isn't bright and obviously walkable enough? Hmm.

Offline astraldata

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #5 on: July 18, 2014, 08:15:42 pm
The problem with the rocks is mostly that the background ones (deeper rocks) shouldn't be as detailed as the foreground rocks due to them being more in shadow. You could try decreasing the contrast (also with the planks). I did an edit to show what I mean:





This is all using the same palette you used. I didn't tweak the colors at all.

I also did a few other various things to improve the overall contrast and readability of the set as well as added a little interest by reusing the colors. Put in a few suggestions as well (like the darker colors on the sci-fi level portion -- didn't unify the image as a whole for this reason -- I just wanted to show you some options for contrast).

(Btw, I love your lesbian space ranger xD -- tons of awesome there.)
« Last Edit: July 18, 2014, 08:21:26 pm by astraldata »
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Offline miro42

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #6 on: July 18, 2014, 11:56:00 pm

Progress!  ;D


I think one of the biggest problems with this animation is that the torso is incredibly static, plus it is practically looking at the viewer so she is sort of Riverdancing rather than running.  Yes, it means a lot more work, but it'll be worth it.

As well, find a good animation book.  I always suggest Richard Williams Animator's Survival Kit as it is the most comprehensive book that I've found on the subject.

So here's my edit and comments.



With the animation that you have done she never really has both feet off of the ground at the same time.  Unless your character is really heavy and dragging her feet this won't happen.  As nimble as she is raising her legs so high she'll definitely have both legs off the ground on at least one frame.  I've inserted a frame at frame 2 and at six for the opposing foot where her rear leg is out farther and her forward leg is doing heel-toe.  Generally people run heel-toe, meaning that the first thing that touches the ground is the heel, which then rolls to the toe as the run continues.  You don't have a frame that looks like this; she just lands flat-footed.  Now, there are people that run like this, but I suggest that this type of character should not.

Also in her right leg passing position I moved her left leg back more, because she never actually has her legs under her weight before she gets the other leg up.

There is still a lot that can be done but I think that's a good starting off point.

Hope that helps.  If I didn't explain myself or what I changed well enough please let me know. :D

On a side note I would never think she's a she.  I think because her ribs are wider than her pelvis, and women generally, if not always, have a slightly slimmer ribcage than pelvis.  Other than that I love the model.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 05:28:15 am by miro42 »

Offline astraldata

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #7 on: July 20, 2014, 12:04:16 am
I second Richard Williams' animation book (and most of the comments miro42 made about the lesbian space ranger chick's leg animations. I thought the 'hop' look of the original was kind of funny though so I didn't mention it just yet so you could just focus on the tiles, however I think miro42's edit exaggerated the forward foot frame a bit too much -- but it was needed to some extent, no matter how far out front it reaches, though I'd bring the (distant) foot on that "stepping outward" frame back a few pixels more than the foot's width for spacing reasons).

And as far as the ribcage width -- I do agree it doesn't look like a 'she' -- but maybe 's/he' has had really good transgender surgery? I'd go with that. To keep 'him/her' looking more female, shrink the ribcage, but I love the beer-gut -- don't change that. xD
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Offline felicitousArtisan

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #8 on: July 31, 2014, 09:22:11 am
Thanks for the advice, guys. I'll see what I can do. I've actually had the Animator's Survival Kit for years, but I think I got it when I was too young to really understand, also it was a lot harder to try and test out the exercises back in the 00s before we had things like graphics tablets and photoshop timelines! I'll have a go at building a walk/run cycle with some squash and stretch and see if I can then make that into a consistent sprite, I guess?

Thanks for the stuff on the chipset by the way, that's really helpful!

Offline felicitousArtisan

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #9 on: July 31, 2014, 09:00:37 pm
Okay, I made some edits to the chipset:

I...I think I really need to...come up with a theme. Right now I'm kind of just making whatever I think "I wonder if I could make..." about haha!

The result is a bit eclectic.

Hard to make consistent looking areas with! But the colours are gradually getting better, though I am aware I'm still a bit of a wuss with my ramps. Need to work on that.
I should probably try to make a few different chipsets that are thematically consistent and have a distinctive palette like areas typically would in a game.

For animation, I think I need to kind of think the process from the bottom up, so I'm doing sketches and basic exercises:

Offline rikfuzz

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #10 on: August 01, 2014, 01:57:39 pm
Looks great!  What's a chipset?  Do you mean tileset or is there some other term I don't know?

Offline DawnBringer

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #11 on: August 01, 2014, 03:18:32 pm
"What's a chipset?" Paula, Denise & Agnus just rolled over in their graves!

Offline rikfuzz

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #12 on: August 01, 2014, 03:36:21 pm
 :lol:  Ok I meant in this context, and that gang will never die anyway.

So turns out, as far as I can tell, chipset is an RPG Maker only term?  (Still not sure why though)

Offline Carnivac

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #13 on: August 01, 2014, 03:39:57 pm
Looks great!  What's a chipset?  Do you mean tileset or is there some other term I don't know?

Yeah it's a tilesheet pretty much.  I never understood why they used it in RPGMaker when I always knew chipset the same way DawnBringer just mentioned (probably cos I too had an Amiga) though I quickly dispensed with that term for it after finding Game Maker and leaving RPGMaker behind (kinda limiting product when you don't really like RPGs).

I don't get the logic behind the usage in RPGMaker though.  What are the chips?
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Offline felicitousArtisan

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Re: Developing pixel art for game creation [advice welcome]

Reply #14 on: August 02, 2014, 09:07:27 am
Looks great!  What's a chipset?  Do you mean tileset or is there some other term I don't know?

Yeah it's a tilesheet pretty much.  I never understood why they used it in RPGMaker when I always knew chipset the same way DawnBringer just mentioned (probably cos I too had an Amiga) though I quickly dispensed with that term for it after finding Game Maker and leaving RPGMaker behind (kinda limiting product when you don't really like RPGs).

I don't get the logic behind the usage in RPGMaker though.  What are the chips?

Ah sorry! I meant tileset! I was kind of in the RPGmaker community for a long time and it was some of my earliest exposure to pixel art, so the term "chipset" is wired into my head as an interchangeable term with tileset! Apologies for confusion, I was just being a derp!
Man, I dunno why they call it a chipset though *shrug* the more I think about it, the less the term makes sense. It also explains why when looking for inspiration and tutorials "chipset" gave me just RPGmaker stuff!

Okay so to clarify in non-stupid wording, I think trying to make a thematically consistent tileset would probably be a good exercise?