AuthorTopic: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!  (Read 117787 times)

Offline Helm

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Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

on: March 05, 2009, 12:21:08 am
This is an idea repository thread for a tutorial I'm planning to do that deals with fundamental aspects of pixel art. At first it will seem like an incoherent mess. I will post here when I have ideas I want to come back to and put in order. Feel free to discuss them with me or offer counters and examples. Eventually the text will be pruned and images will be made to explain the vaguest points and something useful might eventually occur.

Please keep in mind that these are thoughts constantly under consideration, not my religion. It is possible I might discard some or most of the fundamental ideas behind this before I'm done with a final text. This is why it's titled 'brainstorm'.

----------------------------------------------------

Pixel art is like a Go game. Every pixel placed contributes towards a struggle between intentions that will eventually end in an state of variable equilibrium between the opposing forces. Anyone that has played Go knows of the feeling of immense mental strain when they place one piece down on the board and they ponder on the eventual ramifications of that single move towards all the clusters of pieces across the board. A piece feeds on the vital space around it, you see. Not all pixel clusters can live, some will have to die for the purposes of other, more important - towards the whole of the game - clusters. Go is a holistic game, a game about sacrifice and a game about grace. Likewise, drawing with pixels results to similar concerns of balance between clusters of pixels and their optimal positions are again about sacrifice and grace.

Let's consider what a cluster of pixel is as opposed to a single pixel.

This is a single pixel: .
This is a cluster of pixels: _ or that: ,

The cluster of pixels is made from single pixels. However, a single pixel is most of the time near-useless and meaningless if not touching pixels of the same color. 
The pixel artist is concerned with the shapes that occur when pixels of similar color touch each other and convey an opaque, flat, shape.
Most of the defeats and possible triumphs of pixel art occur in that exact moment where the artist makes a cluster of pixels.

What are the defining characteristics of a cluster of pixels on the morphological level? Besides those obvious and common with other types of art (like the information inherent to the color in terms of value/brightness, chroma/saturation or hue/tint that the cluster possesses) we are interested in the particular characteristics of that body of color as pixels. The characteristics of the shape are defined by its outline. It could be made out of straight lines, 'perfect' angled lines (will return to perfect lines later), implied curves or irregular (or jaggy) lines. A cluster has often many of these attributes around its outline. The prime job of the pixel artist is to find the ideal shape for every cluster while considering how they all come together to represent the item they are rendering. It is my belief that there are almost ideal shapes for clusters of pixels and they are those that achieve a twofold, yet holistic goal: how to optimize the resolution of the image. "What's this?" I hear you say "but isn't the resolution set anyway?" The real resolution of the image certainly is. But the fake, that is, the perceived resolution of an image is in the hands of the capable pixel artist, higher than the real one.

There it becomes important to realize what the available fineness of resolution exists for the piece of art the artist is trying to render. The less colors the artist has to convey his image, the more the available resolution tends towards 1 pixel = 1 pixel. The more colors the artist has, the more they can approximate, fake essentially, higher resolutions by proper buffering. Look at this image:



The 256 color gradient makes it impossible to even notice a pixel. The effective resolution here is considerably larger than if the artist had 4 indexes to convey the range between black and white.

In pixel art we do not deal with 256 color gradients, however and therefore the effect isn't anything bigger than perhaps 1 real pixel = 0.75 fake pixels, but it is still a very important thing to consider and makes or breaks great pieces. When looking at a piece of pixel art, the artist should be able to evaluate how many colors can be used to blend clusters of pixels better so as to optimize towards a finer resolution. This is not a point of stylistics, this is what pixels long to be, that is their ideal form. Any style can benefit from this process.

A beginning pixel artist should always start with very constrained palettes, where hue and saturation do not matter, just value. Gameboy 4 colors is excellent. Small sizes, small palette. 1 pixel = 1 pixel there and they can worry more about dealing with how clusters of pixels long for their perfect shapes together rather than care about anti-alias or dithering and other advanced resolution-upping techniques. If you can't render your item with 4 colors in a gameboy screen, you will not be able to do any better at 800x600 with 256 colors or more.

What is the perfect shape of a cluster? It has to do with its outline. The juggling act here is to think of what you're trying to represent with your pixels and then try to retain its essence while at the same time making the clusters you're using to draw it become as close as they can to 'perfect' lines. Perfect lines are the 90 and 45 degree ones. Curves can be assembled from smaller segments of perfect angles also. Avoid single pixel noise. Using perfect lines, before the artist even starts to anti-alias manually, the contours of his clusters should be as close as they can be to 1 pixel = 1 pixel resolution.



A is a freehand doodle line of pixels. This is an implied cluster too, even if it's a line. B is the same line, cleaned manually until it's made of the safest couplings of pixels possible while still retaining the intended curvature.

On the detail of A we see that the jaggies hurt the resolution of the image by conveying larger pixels than our computer monitors are capable of displaying. This is effectively, the bane of pixel art. Banding does this. Bad AA does this. Bad dithering does this. Pillow shading does this.

--

to be continued. Let's discuss while I think.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2009, 12:25:38 am by Helm »

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #1 on: March 05, 2009, 12:36:59 am
{...} While perfect vertical and horisontal lines are an amazing help to the pixel artist that is trying to refine their resolution as much as possible in some ways, they do the exact opposite than what they intend to in others



Here in A we have Ideal clusters of black and yellow. The resolution is practically infinite. Then on B we have two lines of buffer between the two colors. The artist might have thought they were making their image softer and therefore the resolution finer (a correct principle generally) but what they've done instead is completely give away the actual dimension of their smallest-possible pixel line. Pixel drawing is about the art of obfuscation of the single pixel. The more you can hide the actual dimension of the prime building block of the image by presenting perfect clusters of pixels in harmony, the finer the resolution of the image becomes. Of course it's impossible to completely avoid the side-products of buffering, but this principle should be kept in mind regardless.

Banding is horrible partly because of the above explained principle and also due to the 'breaks' in the bands that are ever-so amplified the more the artist piles on bands, effectively lowering the resolution of his image {...}

Offline Doppleganger

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #2 on: March 05, 2009, 05:16:25 am
That's a good start. Something like this eventually need(ed/s) to be done anyways.

I think one *very important* aspect of pixel art to discuss is that of "perfect lines". Which, you kind of went over already, but it definitely could use its own narration. What I speak of, is the unspoken rule that in any particular curve the pixels that make up any straight line that are part of the collection of straight lines that define the curve should always contain a number of pixels relative to the other straight lines that neighbor it. ie; a simple hump in a horizontal line might be; 1, 2, 3, 5, 3, 2, and back to 1 pixels long per line. That is most definitely better displayed through images as it seems like a lengthy explanation is necessary to fully introduce it otherwise. Nonetheless, I feel that it is often overlooked with novice pixel artists, and I find that it is a rule that is almost always applicable.

edit:
Also, I thought I'd comment on how abstract your approach is thus far. For me, I find it to be an interesting and theoretical read that creates new avenues for me to expound on pixel art as an artform and beyond, but I believe that lesser experienced individuals will simply read it and leave with little more understanding than they started with. This, of course, assumes that every subject will be covered in this loquacious manner. Just something worth noting. I guess the better question would be this; who exactly is your target audience?
« Last Edit: March 05, 2009, 05:21:56 am by Doppleganger »

Offline Gil

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #3 on: March 05, 2009, 05:22:05 am
I have a very interesting idea to add that I've not been able to formulate until I saw the other part of the equation, which is your well-written brainstorm here. I will try to show some examples with it, but I need to formulate it more in my head for now.

Basically, I've seen a lot of artists break their clusters with single pixels, it happens in lots of ways and it destroys what you call their heightened resolution in parts of the image, yet provides detail to an image. It happens in games like Symphony of the Night and Flashback most notably, but I've seen it in excellent isometric art and scene pieces too.

Consider for example edge highlighting with single pixel lines on mechanical parts in Flashback. It sometimes even ends with a single white pixel on the corner point of multiple edge highlights. The artist is breaking the infinite resolution by placing a single pixel line.

Here's a crude, badly done example that might or might not show you what I'm talking about. Left cube is definately near infinite resolution, right cube is what I'm talking about. It's very powerful to detail heightened resolution stuff with pixel level detail for some reason or another. Flashback mechanical parts are one example, but there is an abundance of similar methods that I might try to chronicle if it interests you.

Offline Jad

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #4 on: March 05, 2009, 08:18:40 am
Still, by using the pixels in an elegant manner and drawing lines that are harmonic and adhere well to the resolution, that way of creating detail is still in harmony with the clusters. In your example the single-pixel-width lines only define the clusters, and the single-pixel dots help define the lines. There is still harmony here O:

Doppleganger: I think it's a ramble thread because helm's audience is as of yet undefined and he just wants to ramble about, think and discuss this with us! O:
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Offline Feron

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #5 on: March 05, 2009, 01:23:45 pm
On the single pixel topic, one white pixel is quite often used as eyes of sprites and that is very noticeable.

Offline Gil

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #6 on: March 05, 2009, 07:04:36 pm
Jad: while rim highlights are still pretty harmonic to the cluster theory, clothing detail in SOTN is not for example. I'm thinking that the contrast between heightened resolution and pixel level detail is just very visually pleasing and also makes simple detailing more powerful, since it isn't cluttered by more pixel noise around it.

Just a theory

Offline Arachne

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #7 on: March 06, 2009, 12:52:16 am
Yay, lines. ;D

A mistake I see done every now and then, is to go from a [1 1 1] line straight to a [2 2 2] line.



The right way to draw a smooth curve in this case is not very intuitive if you think of lines merely in terms of number sequences. I like to think of it as AAing with angles instead of colors. You have two "colors", a [2 2 2 2] line and a [1 1 1 1] line. Halfway between the two would be [1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5], but we only have integers to draw the line with so we get [1 2 1 2] instead. Substitute the middle with that, like [2 2 1 2 1 1], as shown here,



I think it's always important to explain why you're using a rule or put it in some kind of context. If there's no other way to remember these rules than to memorize them to the letter, beginners might find themselves trying too hard to adhere to all the rules and forgetting to actually look at what they're drawing.

I think the most important thing you can do in pixel art is to look at the result after placing a pixel. Did it look better before or after and why? If you keep an eye out for a pattern in what looks good and what doesn't, you will find it in time (and after a few thousand iterations :P).

Offline Gil

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #8 on: March 06, 2009, 08:58:03 am
In most cases (in my experience), it is better to go with example 1. Example 2 works perfectly here, but the broken sequence can sometimes do more harm than good. As you said, it's all a matter of trying it out and repeating until it looks good.

I usually go with 1 if I only have inner AA to work with (sprites for example), while I'll definately go with 2 if I can get outer AA too.

Online Ai

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #9 on: March 06, 2009, 10:40:35 am
I usually go with 1 if I only have inner AA to work with (sprites for example), while I'll definately go with 2 if I can get outer AA too.
I totally agree. 1 is a more pleasant curve if you AA it in the right way, and is also more regular and easy to AA.

I think Arachne was talking about scenarios with no AA at all, though. In those situations, 2 is definitely nicer.
(IMO the ideal curve, in pixel art, is generally very close to a cubic spline (2 endpoints, 2 control points), and example #2 is almost perfect in this case. example #1 is like spline interpolation that is suffering from rounding errors)

I included some thoughts on this in my old advanced AAing tutorial, IIRC. (http://neota.castleparadox.com/aa_tutorial.html). IMO your technique, Arachne, is very similar to Staggering. It also mentions something else which is important for newbies, IMO: because of gamma, the midpoint of the RGB values of two colors usually *ISN'T* a 50% mix of the two. (eg black #000000, white #ffffff -> wrong result = #7f7f7f, right result = #bababa). Knowing this can help avoid ineffectual shading as well as ugly AA.
New AA tutorial, about handling irregular lines.

'Better software looks like "people who know what their problem is and why they have it"'

Offline Arachne

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #10 on: March 06, 2009, 11:32:06 am
It also mentions something else which is important for newbies, IMO: because of gamma, the midpoint of the RGB values of two colors usually *ISN'T* a 50% mix of the two. (eg black #000000, white #ffffff -> wrong result = #7f7f7f, right result = #bababa). Knowing this can help avoid ineffectual shading as well as ugly AA.
This is a good tip. And it also makes decent monitor calibration a must.

I think what's mentioned in this post by Ilkke, with the principle of looking at diagonals, is a very good way to check if your AA makes sense. Most of the time, though, I have to compare what I'm working on with the previous step to make sure I don't over-AA. If it's actually blurrier than what I had, I have to redo it, and I haven't found a better way to make the AA look good than to go through this tedious process. :blind:

Online Ai

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #11 on: March 06, 2009, 01:08:00 pm
It also mentions something else which is important for newbies, IMO: because of gamma, the midpoint of the RGB values of two colors usually *ISN'T* a 50% mix of the two. (eg black #000000, white #ffffff -> wrong result = #7f7f7f, right result = #bababa). Knowing this can help avoid ineffectual shading as well as ugly AA.
This is a good tip. And it also makes decent monitor calibration a must.

I think what's mentioned in this post by Ilkke, with the principle of looking at diagonals, is a very good way to check if your AA makes sense. Most of the time, though, I have to compare what I'm working on with the previous step to make sure I don't over-AA. If it's actually blurrier than what I had, I have to redo it, and I haven't found a better way to make the AA look good than to go through this tedious process. :blind:
Well honestly I think it really is all maths, especially when you're focusing on exact rendering as you seem to suggest above; you're basically just emulating an gamma-correct optimized AAed-polygon rasterizer (note that most polygon rasterizers are substantially wrong because they aren't gamma correct - Don't base your idea of correct AA on these!.)
Anyway, perhaps I should have also mentioned how I arrived at the 'correct' value: I gamma-adjusted the RGB values to gamma 1.0 (linear) before blending them, and gamma-adjusted them back to standard RGB gamma.

Roughly:
Quote
0.0 #black
1.0 #white
blackcorrect = 0.0 ^ (1/2.2)
whitecorrect = 1.0 ^ (1/2.2)
result = (black + white) / 2
finalresult = result ^ 2.2
The above is inexact, and close enough to perfect for pixel art purposes. I don't actually calculate, I eyeball it (it's good enough though that I hardly ever need to redo it); But this is because I have used examples of polygons rendered with accurate gamma treatment as examples to develop my sense for this; IMO pixel art itself is not a useful training aid here, nor anything but a plain flat gamma-correct antialiased shape rendered by computer. (Blender is a nice tool here, with a shadeless white material on a black background it's easy to experiment and get accurate renders.)
New AA tutorial, about handling irregular lines.

'Better software looks like "people who know what their problem is and why they have it"'

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #12 on: March 07, 2009, 07:24:47 am
Doppleganger: I do think something like this needs to be done too. I don't know if I can do it but I think Pixelation on the whole can do a good enough job of it. To answer your questions:

I will explain perfect lines more.

As to the abstraction and who my target audience is: I've noticed most pixel art tutorials online are basically 'look how I am doing pixel art, try to do the same'. I think this avenue of approach is best left to video tutorials (now that the technology to do this has caught up with us) and that a 'real' tutorial should best approach the fundamentals of the artform from the abstract towards a workable hypothesis. Ostensibly, this has with one leg on academia and one leg on practical application and I will not say this might not be a bit troubling (I can hear the 'lol pretentus artfagllool's from now) for some but this is my target audience: people that have tried pixel art 'blind' for a few months/years and are sensing a lot of the truths of pixel art but canno formulate them exactly. These people that want a theoretical framework that will help their work process and augment their already existing artistic instincts. That's the target audience. Not the "10 easy steps to pixel a street fighter sprite" people, whom are best serviced by numerous other tutorials on the internet already.

I do not intend to cover every aspect of doing pixel art because a lot of that is just doing art art. I want to cover the specific things relevant to pixels in particular that you would not get from reading a good book on art theory for example. I will not cover for example, color selection or anatomy or even rendering in the abstract. I will cover pixel clusters, banding, dithering and the partaining effects of these things. Along with anything else you guys will find worth saying on the side. In short, this will not be all-encompassing. I can't write a book on this, I am not equipped enough. And I can't make you guys write a book on this all together either, heh. But these are thoughts I've been trying to pull all together for quite a while now so this time is good as any. I want to write this and then when someone bands I want to link them to this so they can get a full understanding of what I am saying.

Gil - and other people - : As I said - and perhaps I should stress this more later on in the text - it's a juggling act between expressing 'infinite res' and also conveying what you're trying to render. If you are drawing something with a hard edge that theoretically needs a specular that would be less than a pixel big but you don't have the colors to fake subpixelling then tough shit, singlepixel specular it is. Note in fact how in your example, the shinier the specular, the BIGGER the pixel in question looks around the various other more elegant forms. In fact I postulate that a two-pixel cluster of a less bright color will appear slimmer than that single superbright fatpixel. I am not in a computer with pixel art apps so you'll have to test this out for me. I will write more on the subject when I'm at home. Your further observations are very welcome.

Arachne: curves can never be perfect and in my opinion between perfect lines and more calculated curves the pixel artist should go with the perfect line and then attempt to convey the added curvature of the object he's trying to render via AA, if available. But when we get to that proper you should write about it more.

About looking at the pixel you placed and making a judgment call if it made the piece better than before, that sort of thing goes without saying and really I can't base such a text on these methods. It would just deteriorate to "place pixels until you like what you did" well... I'm sure most artists have tried this method extensively. Hopefully through codification why one likes this placement of pixels more than that one will be revealed. A lot of your trouble with aa-ing and then not liking it and redoing it comes from when you have a lot of colors, a small space to antialias and you also want to convey a sharp shape there so the aa-ing you do touches the contour of your cluster and hugs it so much it begins to band. Then you look at it at 1x zoom and it looks blurry, so you remove the much aa. My further text will posit that good clusters of pixels don't need a lot of aa to begin with and that the artist should first learn extensively how to aa with a single shade between two colors with single pixels or clusters of two pixels (we all know what I mean, here) before they go into tapering and blending their shapes with more shades. The problems begin to occur, I mean, when the artist is trying to combine their blending of clusters with their aa-shaping of clusters. More on this when I am on my own computer.

Thank you for the feedback so far. More soon.

Offline skw

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #13 on: March 07, 2009, 03:42:32 pm
Very interesting topic.  I'm sure I'll learn a lot from it!

Gil:  I found out that with such an approach to the detail, pixel art is all about shortcuts and signals rather than presenting the form as it is in the real world.  That means, an artist symbolizes the shape of a given form by means of subtle details like e.g. the 1-pixel highlight you have going in your example.  I'll pull it forth, tweaking colors a bit, and leaving out the second highlight (colors have a heavy impact on how the piece comes out, and how well the tricks work):



Having three available colors for the faces, it's a waste not to use the brightest one at one of the faces! :)

Helm, I remember you've already covered banding in a very interesting academic fashion at some point back in time -- I can't, however, find the right post.  I recall it was some Santa Claus piece.
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Offline blumunkee

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #14 on: March 08, 2009, 07:52:29 am
Quote from: Helm
...As to the abstraction and who my target audience is: I've noticed most pixel art tutorials online are basically 'look how I am doing pixel art, try to do the same'. I think this avenue of approach is best left to video tutorials...and that a 'real' tutorial should best approach the fundamentals of the artform from the abstract towards a workable hypothesis...

I like this approach. When done right, it can create a deep and engaging dialog. As an example, watch the first 4 minutes of this:

http://www.archive.org/details/halmit1a

This is probably very different from how the average teacher presents an introductory Computer Science course. Any instructor can be comprehensive (this is the history, this is the processor, this is source code, any questions?), but it’s an entirely different thing to present the subject in a genuinely provoking manner. Your opening comparison of pixel art to Go hints at that style of teaching.

Quote from: Helm
...Ostensibly, this has with one leg on academia and one leg on practical application and I will not say this might not be a bit troubling...

There is an issue of straddling the gap between the theoretical and the pragmatic. Theory is fine as long as there are some concrete exercises to complement the hand waving. The video lecture above is meant to be used along side the SICP textbook, which provides specific exercises to work through.

Exercises along the lines of “here is an image with some serious issues, address them based off of what you just learned” can solidify the material.

I also like Abelson’s comment that Computer Science is not really about computers in the same way that Biology is not really about microscopes and petri dishes, or in sense that Geometry is not really about using surveying instruments. He then argues that the essence of Computer Science is really about formalizing intuitions about process.

This sentence especially struck a chord with me:

Quote
...when some field is just getting started and you don’t really understand it very well, it’s very easy to confuse the essence of what you’re doing with the tools that you use.

In the same way, pixel art is not really about dithering, or banding, or anti-aliasing, or even individual pixels. I wish I could come up with a nice short sentence that sums up what I feel is the true essence of pixel art, like Abelson did with Computer Science. Something that explains a certain aesthetic and process of problem solving. One that is both singular and holistic; both minimal in implementation and maximal in application.

If Pixelation gets its own tutorial, I hope it is written in a way that can instill these values for use in other art forms.

I’ll try to amass more concrete feedback later.
ALL CREATURE WILL DIE AND ALL THE THINGS WILL BE BROKEN. THAT'S THE LAW OF SAMURAI.

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #15 on: March 10, 2009, 04:58:57 am
{...}

As mentioned before, the goal of the pixel craftsman is twofold. On one hand he tries to make the apparent resolution finer. On the other he struggles to represent what it is he's drawing. The two goals are always in friction. Let's look at these two pieces of high art I just devised:



And this:




I posit that both images represent the same idea. A man shitting in a sine arch.

The first image has a high apparent resolution because the lines are perfect and also - more importantly - because as the viewer looks at this they cannot discern a pixel grid, they cannot see the single pixel almost at all.

In the second image the single pixel is very apparent. If we zoom in a bit more in fact,




That there is a very confined space in which to represent the human figure in its volumes and shapes means that the more colors and clusters we employ, the more the underlying grid of the image has to show.

The particular ambitions of the pixel artist, at this level, are paramount. If one wishes to convey a fully rendered object as realistically as possible, it cannot be helped that the apparent resolution will be lowered. As clusters of pixels come to interact, places where the pixels 'line up' and betray their resolution are inevitable. The trade-off is that the rendered object appears more realistic, with whatever benefits the artist might assign to that. Let's look at a schema:



Here we have a simplified model of aesthetic motivation for the pixel artist. It isn't very different from the motivations of artists in other fields, but there are some additional considerations to inspect that are very pixel-art relevant.  On this point I'd like to say that I am not using the above terms as they're usually meant in the history of art. I am appropriating the terms slightly so the layman can follow along.

With abstraction I mean that the realized object of the piece of art does not clearly refer to something in the natural world.
With realism I mean that the artist is attempting to render his object lushly enough that the viewer will interpret it relatively literally.
With symbolism I mean that the artist is attempting to convey objects with clear higher functions without allowing for literal interpretations.

Try to think of your favourite pixel artists, and place them in a space within the triangle. Try to assign specific works by them in the triangle and then make specific observations about how each artist is prioritizing their two goals: hiding the grid/increasing apparent resolution and conveying the volume, light and surface of their intended object literally. You will find that artists near the top of the triangle will have very high resolutions and very simple/naive objects, whereas artists near the left end of the triangle will have resolutions of moderate fineness while their objects will be meticulously shaded. Art towards the right edge of the triangle will both have very low resolutions and very simple shapes!

The realist pixel artist will often make large areas where the resolution is practically infinite (like the shoulder of the girl in the above Lazur bit) and then place single-pixel, low-resolution level detail on various specific pieces to rejoice in the pixel-ness of his work just a little (the highlights on the hair here for example). The ambition of the artist leans heavily towards removing the grid, but doesn't frown away from going 'hey, here's my pixel, do you love it? I love it!' once in a while.

The complete abstractionist has effectively destroyed the pixel in his work, it is in the place of Ideal Space. It could be vector art or anything else that isn't shackled to the limitations of a monitor really. We do not have examples of such pixel artists really because as you might imagine, that goal would be very self-defeating. However there are a few artists whose work is very very close to vector smooth, like Panda or Ilkke sometimes, but you can tell they're pixel artists at heart because they can't contain themselves from putting in pixel-level details in a few places after all.

The symbolist pixel artist creates art that is very informed about its being made of pixels and wants the viewer to know it also. All of the modern 'retro art' fits in that edge of the triangle for me, with the artificially low resolutions and the flat and fat pixel character designs. These retro artists are not interested in pixel art technique to make the resolution higher, they are interested in invoking nostalgia on the older viewer or to inform the younger viewer of the semiotic particulars of older video game art.


I do not judge any of these motivations. It is however my belief that regardless of which way the artist might feel drawn towards, for their art to maximize its capacity as pixel art, they should reconcile their different aspirations so as to retain a place within the relative center of the triangle (the grey circle area). The realist artist should not attempt to completely abolish the pixel-level detail and end up with a blurry mess of a piece with 250 colors in it. The symbolist artist should not completely forego the attempt to make their pixel clusters achieve their ideal state. The abstractionist should not make their resolution that fine so that in the single pixel no longer feels like it belongs.

« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 06:04:05 am by Helm »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #16 on: March 10, 2009, 05:35:37 am
It's interesting to see some of the thoughts that have occasionally entered my mind be formalized (I tend to think more in terms of Realism VS Abstraction plus an axis of ehm.. involved pixelcraft? (the things that highlight pixeledness, like the 'demoscene/amiga-ish' exaggerated highlights, certain types of dithering, intentional resolution drop..))

I have to say, that the top image is so abstract I have trouble thinking of it as anything but well.. maybe a floating house viewed through a doorway. (viewed sideways)
I presume you mean 'Abstractionist' where you say 'symbolist' for the last and repeated time :)
New AA tutorial, about handling irregular lines.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #17 on: March 10, 2009, 06:00:06 am
I was joking about the top image portraying the man shitting... or indeed, much of anything. It is in the Kandinsky/Mondrian sense that it conveys (badly, as I have no real creative interest in this sort of abstract naive geometricisim) a primal vitality through motion, color and shape. Check the writings of Kandinsky and Mondrian for more. The point was that it wasn't really representational. Perhaps I should take that joke out.

The "it's interesting to see some of the thoughts that have occasionally entered my mind formalized" statement is exactly the point of this thread. To formalize these thoughts and enter them all into a single, applicable theoretical framework.

No I don't mean 'symbolist' when I say abstractionist the one time that it occurs in the text.
I found what you were referring to and fixed it. Thanks.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2009, 06:04:27 am by Helm »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #18 on: March 10, 2009, 07:26:47 am
is the abstract/realistic/symbolic triangle borrowed from McCloud? is it something older?

thanks for this thread, helm. it's heady, handy.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #19 on: March 10, 2009, 08:17:13 am
It's certainly inspired. I don't think he used that exact schema though. I think 'abstract' and 'symbolist' might be a bit too close for it to be very handy... we'll see.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #20 on: March 11, 2009, 11:37:58 am
Banding Primer

If you use pixels to draw something, it is inevitable that some banding will occur. Banding is when pixel clusters 'hug' each other to create visible resolution lowering. Since the pixel artist will be putting clusters of pixels close to each other in order to communicate certain shapes that are one way and not any other, it is inevitable that they will run against situations where they must create minor banding to convey succesfully what they're drawing. This is a risk that the artist should be willing to take. However there occurs a lot of banding by the inexperienced artist (or the experienced artist in a hurry) that has no artistic merit. Let's look at art by an experienced pixel artist that seemed to be a bit in a hurry that is to his benefit to go over and eradicate. This from the amazing videogame Spelunky which I've been playing a lot as of late and as such I've had the time to look at its art a lot and I've spotted the bandings. The artist is Derek Yu.

(note I do not use my own art to spot banding because I can no longer create STRONG banding by mistake, it sticks out like a sore thumb to me and if I draw it up on purpose it seems disingenuous. Also note that the following examination is in the interest of learning and not meant at all as a disrespect for the artist.)



Here is a play-screen of Spelunky. The art is pretty beautiful in my opinion, but it shows signs of 'working fast'. This makes sense as Spelunky is still in beta form, not finalized and Derek did what any smart artist would do, he created assets to put in the game and left time for fixing the little things at the end of the project. It is a very useful circumstance for us however because we can go in and look at it in it's intermmediate shape and examine the methodology that creates common errors such as banding. Let's zoom in and check the main sprite and the basic rock tile next to him.




In red I have blocked the places where (I submit) unintentional banding occurs. In purple I have outlined further cases of banding that are not fatal (because they are artistic compromises made by the artist in order for him to convey the shapes he intends to) but are best addressed also. As you can see the unifying characteristic of banding is that it conveys a lower resolution than intended. The viewer spots fat pixels, or rows of fat pixels.

In the attempt to move around pixels in such a tight little place, until the banding is resolved, the design points of the character move around a lot, whereas the rocks next to him are very easily rid of the banding without many changes. Why does this occur? It occurs because the character has a higher semiotic value for the viewer, because he has a face, and arms, and a torso, and all these things must be communicated clearly, whereas a bunch of rocks are just a bunch of rocks and there's not much problem just moving around a few pixels here and there. But the whole demeanor of the character sprite can change by a single pixel's worth of alteration. I posit this argument:

1. the more semiotically charged what the artist is trying to rid of banding is, the more costly in terms of characterization single pixel changes are.
2. the smaller (in pixels) the size of the item the artist is trying to rid of banding is, the more costly in terms of characterization the single pixel changes are

Therefore

3. The smallest the character sprite is in resolution, the more difficult it is to remove banding while retaining it's intended characteristics.

Proof of concept: Go change a single pixel on the pacman open mouth frame. Or a single pixel from a NES final fantasy battle sprite. Just a single one. See how much the idea of the character changes. But change a single pixel in a 64x64 sprite. Not much difference. Furthermore, change a single pixel in an 64x64 ground tile. Almost no emotional impact to the change.

Consider here the informative qualities of a single pixel in the different contexts. If a pixel is supposed to inform the viewer of a character's eye, it is extremely important. If a single pixel is supposed to convey that this is a bit of shading on a rock, not so important. This ties with the Information versus Detail qualities of pixels, something to write about more later on.

Anyway, here I deal with the banding on that sprite:



I urge the viewer to open the animation in their animation program and inspect every change closely. Smaller changes around the banding that seemingly make no sense will start to once the viewer starts to see how every change impacts the areas around it holistically. How removal of banding also triggers the impulse to alter and fix manual anti-alias. This process, is what refining ones pixel art entails. This, in my opinion is, what it means to take something composed of pixels, and make it pixel art. This is the zen stage of pixel art, where antialias, dithering, banding-removal and other minute handlings of pixels bestows on the piece the blessings and limitations of pixel art. Not everything made of pixels is pixel art. Not even all art made of pixels is pixel art. The full immersion in that state of definition and refinement outlined briefly above usually and optimally, creates results that are very much great pixel art. It's not a binary switch "PIXEL ART / NOT PIXEL ART", it's a gradual slope. The more time the artist spends in that zen state of minutely switching around placements of pixel clusters, the more his end result will be graced by the benefits of great pixel art.

Let's also look at a bigger piece, again from Spelunky. This is part of the intro splash screen:




Nice and big so banding can be spotted. Here's a challenge. Go over it in your pixel art program and spot the banding just on the Indy character in the middle. Then check below for my take.



Here's most, but not all, important banding errors in this part of the image (extra challenge! spot the additional minor banding errors! I can see at least 3 more). They show a few different types of banding. Let's go over them:

A, H :  Just basic 'Fat Pixel' banding. An illusionary effect of where 4 real pixels convey a shape that seems like a double-res pixel. It is very important to note that the Fat Pixel, when used intentionally and intuitively creates specific effects that are very controlled and worthwhile. It does remain a lowering of the resolution but sometimes that's exactly what the pixel artist needs.

B: Row of Fat Pixels. This is the worst, especially when there's a row followed by a row just a pixel displaced lower or higher. I mean this:



Or even worse, stuff like this:



This is BANDING THE ULTIMATE (or more handily I dub it 'staircase banding') and it makes my heart bleed. Obviously these are not spotted in the Spelunky art because wherea Derek Yu might or might not be very theoretically aware of the banding effect as discussed in this text, like any good pixel artist, he certailny must find gross errors like the above aesthetically insulting even on an artistic-instinctual level.

C: Skipping-One Banding. When an additional cluster is banding with a section that isn't directly touching it. This isn't a big problem, but once the eye is trained to spot these alignments, they cannot be unseen.

D, E: This is an amazing bit of banding. Check how It's two Fat Pixels, Skipping-One row to create a Row of Fat Pixels. I show this to explain to the reader that they should train their eyes to not only notice banding on immediate pixel rows, but even 'higher level' banding. Essentially, the viewer must learn to project horisontal, vertical, and 45 degree lines from every piece of banding cluster in their art and see how it effects the pixels in these directions all the way to the edges of their piece. This sort of training makes the artist holistically aware of how their piece is structured also, and this is a great artistic skill to have regardless of pixels. (Should I write a Banding 202 article here for this or is it beyond the scope of this tutorial?)

F: This is the most common type of banding. It's when a full outline of a shape is hugged by close shading. There's much worse examples than this in most amateur pixel art (like the awful staircases I showed above) but Derek is not an amateur by any chance so it's not a very pronounced example. Check below for how when fixing it this takes a lot of extensive reworking and aa of the shape.

G: This is banding as well. 45 degree lines band pretty horribly in fact.

Here's some suggestions for fixes:



Again, I suggest the reader takes this in their animation program and checks the choices made to remove banding.

--------------

I stress that some degree of banding is inescapable in pixel art. Don't obsess over erasing every little bit of banding all the time, but keep in mind that the most glaring errors effectively destroy the illusion of increased perspective on your art and most importantly (since a lot of symbolist pixel artists simply don't care about hiding the actual resolution/ increasing the effective resolution) banding betrays sloppiness. Why? Because when someone draws in a non-digital medium, where there is no grid,they can go from general shape to specific detail without creating visual effects such as banding. But on the computer screen, when the artist places a general, rough shape, and then later on puts another cluster of pixels somewhere closeby, it is very probable that exactly because of the small resolution, some edges of these clusters will have lined up, creating banding. When this ends up in finalized pixel art, it tells the discerning viewer that the artist didn't spend the time to optimally place every pixel cluster in his image. And that is a big part of what makes pixel art a potent artistic medium.

{...}
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 11:41:16 am by Helm »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #21 on: March 11, 2009, 01:47:53 pm
A, H :  Just basic 'Fat Pixel' banding. An illusionary effect of where 4 real pixels convey a shape that seems like a double-res pixel. It is very important to note that the Fat Pixel, when used intentionally and intuitively creates specific effects that are very controlled and worthwhile. It does remain a lowering of the resolution but sometimes that's exactly what the pixel artist needs.
Swords are a good example here (although banding typically only appears once rendered onto a background)
Quote
--------------

I stress that some degree of banding is inescapable in pixel art. Don't obsess over erasing every little bit of banding all the time, but keep in mind that the most glaring errors effectively destroy the illusion of increased perspective on your art and most importantly (since a lot of symbolist pixel artists simply don't care about hiding the actual resolution/ increasing the effective resolution) banding betrays sloppiness. Why? Because when someone draws in a non-digital medium, where there is no grid,they can go from general shape to specific detail without creating visual effects such as banding. But on the computer screen, when the artist places a general, rough shape, and then later on puts another cluster of pixels somewhere closeby, it is very probable that exactly because of the small resolution, some edges of these clusters will have lined up, creating banding. When this ends up in finalized pixel art, it tells the discerning viewer that the artist didn't spend the time to optimally place every pixel cluster in his image. And that is a big part of what makes pixel art a potent artistic medium.

{...}
I'd like to mention that drawing starting from dark (black?) and adding shades, finally adding the lightest shade, helps keep this problem down for me. I believe this is because likely trouble areas stand out with better contrast.

I appreciate the way you've avoided reference to specific methods so far. I think possible helpful methods (in the vein of the above) might be useful via footnotes.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2009, 09:21:17 pm by Ai »
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #22 on: March 11, 2009, 01:53:27 pm
"The realist pixel artist will often make large areas where the resolution is practically infinite (like the shoulder of the girl in the above Lazur bit)"
i don't understand. Would you mean that Lazur places meticulously shaded areas (like the soulder) to make the apparent resolution finer ?

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #23 on: March 11, 2009, 02:50:38 pm
(Should I write a Banding 202 article here for this or is it beyond the scope of this tutorial?)
Personally, I think any elaboration would be a good thing. Not necessarily for the beginners, but for those who will be offering them critique. :)

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #24 on: March 11, 2009, 03:09:02 pm
Quote
I'd like to mention that drawing starting from dark (black?) and adding shades, finally adding the lightest shade, helps keep this problem down for me. I believe this is because likely trouble areas stand out with better contrast.

I don't see that as relevant to banding in any way really.

Hugo: I cannot speculate on Lazur's conscious intention, but yes, I believe a lot of the demoscene artists were of two subconscious minds when they made pixel art. On one hand they were 'woo, pixels! I like pixels, here let me emphasize a section of pixels stylistically' and on the other - the more dominant one - they were IF I MAKE THIS SUPERSMOOTH AND AWESOME AND IT LOOKS LIKE A PHOTO I WILL WIN THIS COMPO.

Arachne, alright. Perhaps after I tackle the next bit that comes to mind which is about pixel clusters and aa/tapering/fading which I think will be very useful.


Keep the feedback coming, it is very important to keep me motivated in writing the blocktexts.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #25 on: March 11, 2009, 09:18:07 pm
I'd consider getting rid of the Go analogy. Not only because the average reader will have no idea how to play Go, but also because the analogy feels a little forced.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #26 on: March 11, 2009, 09:38:10 pm
I don't find it forced so much as under-utilized and undeveloped. A claim is made that they are similiar, but there's no real proof. Are there really similarities between Go strategy and pixel clusters, banding, and dithering?
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #27 on: March 11, 2009, 11:19:23 pm
What Helm is suggesting, to me, is that pixel art is a delicate equilibrium of forces. As explained in one of his later posts, these can be simplified to symbolism, abstraction and realism. Just as in a game of Go, one move can alter the entire balance of the artpiece by a single move, which is why pixel art is as much of a game of strategy as it is an art form.

He could have made the analog with chess, but then you'd lose the wonderful visual analogy, where you can see the whole equilibrium shift when placing a go piece, just as we can visually follow the consequences of placing a single pixel.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #28 on: March 12, 2009, 02:33:16 am
I see what he was getting at with the analogy, but I still feel my two points are valid. The average reader will not know enough about Go to get more from the analogy then they would from the idea being plainly stated, and I feel the similarities are too few to consider it a good analogy.

If you want to keep it, I wouldn't use it as the hook. Maybe put it elsewhere in the article.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #29 on: March 12, 2009, 03:11:44 am
Let's agree to disagree then, it stays a very strong analogy to me. Some other people's ideas on this perhaps?

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #30 on: March 12, 2009, 05:25:38 am
Hey, I decided I'd have a little try at spotting some other banding issues in the art, but don't expect expect too much.



Note: I am very much a beginner when it comes to pixel art, or art as a whole, and despite the rather well-explained tutorial, I am still not entirely sure when I see banding or not (except staircase banding), so forgive me if I am totally off base, which I most likely am.
Also, this is the original version, and it isn't animated. I didn't re-do Helm's error-spotting. And it is slightly larger than his, so I think I spotted a few that he didn't look at.

Anyways, some feedback is appreciated on this.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #31 on: March 12, 2009, 07:34:38 am
I will keep the Go analogy, but I will explain it more on a final piece, with visual aids. I aim to make a little mario sprite made of Go pieces on a go board (it is a 18x18 grid so he fits hehe) so that will help.

As Gil says, the Go analogy works for me because clusters feed on the space around them and most problems in pixel art occur where clusters 'battle' when they touch. Same as Go.

Dr D : Good work! Here's some more.



The one with the ! pointing at it I think is probably necessary banding. It's just a full outline. It could be broken with aa but I think in such a dark place a full outline is probably for the best.

EDIT: keep the ideas and criticism coming. I really appreciate the comments, but DEEG DEEEPER!! I can take it. I don't want this to be half-assed.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2009, 07:36:41 am by Helm »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #32 on: March 12, 2009, 10:19:04 am
(it is a 18x18 grid so he fits hehe)

19x19 actually since you play on the crossroads and not in the squares :)

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #33 on: March 12, 2009, 10:51:11 am
I was talking of how many squares there are. I'm sure there's more interesting things to remark upon in this thread than that, though.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #34 on: March 12, 2009, 11:06:10 am
Indeed there are. Very interesting thread so far. When I can think of something interesting to write here, I shalt.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #35 on: March 12, 2009, 01:49:35 pm
"and then place single-pixel, low-resolution level detail on various specific pieces to rejoice in the pixel-ness of his work just a little (the highlights on the hair here for example)."
i don't think demosceners have used highlights for this purpose. lot of demosceners have copied Boris Vallejo's style (overhighlighted pics). specular-dot-highlights were overused to make pics more glows, magics, "flash", hypnotics.

If i correctly understand, you prefer to start pics with "clusters-of-pixels" rather than "flat colors" (like painters). Pixel artists should work "areas-by-areas", rather than "from general to details" ?

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #36 on: March 12, 2009, 01:57:49 pm
As I said I cannot speak for the intention of the demoscene artists responsibly, just making educated guesses.

A flat color is a cluster of pixels as well. I start my pieces with silluette and then I break it up to volumes and then I light the volumes. Then the pixel artistry begins.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #37 on: March 12, 2009, 03:45:50 pm
Hugo, I suggest a thorough reread on the cluster part, I think you misread.

Btw, Helm, I think this is a great thread. Pixel art needs a lot more study to be considered a real art form. I feel that for many it is still a pop art gimmick, especially seeing the books that appear on the subject (lousy eboy references and stuff)

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #38 on: March 12, 2009, 04:41:05 pm
I don't think texts such as these will help in any way with the popular image of pixel art, it will always be video-game and nerd-nostalgia related in the eyes of the general public. This is more for us as already established lovers of pixel art that want to apply some... taxonomy to our various fleeting thoughts on how best to approach making pixel art.

I do thank you for the encouragement though.

The next piece I write will be exactly about pixel clusters and therefore aa, buffering, tapering etc, I think it'll help Hugo understand, amongst others. It's the piece I am most anxious to write because I am not exactly certain what it will be about (the banding piece on the contrary, wrote itself, I had considered these things fully for some time before writing them) and that means improvisation and hopefully point-counterpoint dialogue will arise. I will suggest a pretty grand idea about unification there. Perhaps tomorrow. Perhaps the day after. It'll be the last 'big piece' of raw text in here before I start refining and shaping the whole thing into one text.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #39 on: March 12, 2009, 05:39:12 pm
I agree that this text won't help the public image, but if we want this to be a proper art form, we have to believe it ourselves first. We have the people with the background to elevate this to the next level for ourselves and we owe that to ourselves if we are going to make any convincing argument to friends that what we're doing is more than just a second rate form of creativity.

Anyway, I might contribute to this cause with some animation knowledge, but I'm not sure which techniques applied to pixel art animation don't appear in traditional animation. I have some important stuff though for low frame animation, which definately ties in to pixel art. I also feel that there is a strong connection between what you define as pixel clusters and their individual trajectory through animated frames, which can make or break delicate animations. Sometimes I deliberately shade pieces incorrectly on some frames to keep a fluidity in some important visual clusters, such as a specular part.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #40 on: March 12, 2009, 06:00:16 pm
I think mainly subpixelling is pixel-only relevant as far as animation goes... what else? You animation people think it over.

I appreciate your sentiment but I do not also share it, you know... I don't want to prove to anyone what I think is art should be art for them also. Pixel art is already an art for me, I am starting with that as a presupposition when I write this stuff, it's not an apologia towards the unbeliever. If someone doesn't think pixel art is art then I don't mind to engage in exploratory dialog but I am not really interested to change their mind. Pixelation is already my "vital space", a friendly environment in which I don't have to explain I'm not an elephant every 5 minutes. It's enough for me, I don't need to go out and stake claim to larger areas.

I do not shy away from that perhaps our status as pixel artists on the whole would benefit from a larger awareness and acceptance of the medium as a valid one, artistically. And if it helps people believe in themselves that this sort of relatively (and I stress this) 'deep' approach to the subject exists then alright... but perhaps it's best if it doesn't, heh. A love of artistry should come from the heart, you shouldn't have some academic source to back you up when the going gets tough. Oh well, I don't think I'm doing any harm at least. Even if my attempts spawn a few "Pixel-art-is-ART!!!!" drones that go around pontificating "HELM SAID IT IN THAT THREAD THAT THIS IS DEEP, SO IT'S ART" well... that would be groan-worthy and embarrassing. But I'll survive and we'll survive and Pixelation will have gained from the discourse in any case.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #41 on: March 12, 2009, 06:23:56 pm
I do agree with your views on it, though I do have that sort of self-justification to go through. Mainly because I'm putting a lot on the line lately to make my way into a business (game design), partly fueled by a love for pixels (only about 10% though). I assume that you have to go through or have gone through this self-justification period as a professional comic artist.

I know that subpixeling is the obvious technique to cover, but I feel there are some other. I will meditate on it.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #42 on: March 12, 2009, 06:49:22 pm
Apart from subpixeling and perhaps colourcycling I can't think of anything pixelspecific as far as animation goes. The rest is just like what you have in traditional 2D animation.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #43 on: March 12, 2009, 11:36:53 pm
Well, as I said you can write some stuff about pixel cluster movement over different frames. You want to make sure your visible elements have some sort of persistence, so the mind can make an animation out of simple frames. It ties in with Helm's theory on clusters.

Subpixeling on the other hand ties in perfectly with the theory on AA. I'll see if I can write some interesting stuff later. I'm sure Conceit has some insights on the subject too.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #44 on: March 13, 2009, 08:32:41 pm
Pixel Clusters

Let's look at this sprite from a NES game from 1992, Little Samson:



In the loop I show the clusters that make up his face, headband and hair.

A cluster of pixels of the same color here, exactly because the NES could allow only 3 colors (plus one for transparency) for the sprite, becomes extremely important. The headband is just one, the hair is just one, the shape of the face is one. The eye is one, and the other eye is another. This is a very pure example.

If we change a single pixel of these important clusters, what they signify changes, along with their relationship with the clusters around them.
Here's what happens when we move a single pixel around on each frame in various places. Note how the balances and relationships between elements change



NES art is a very useful step in learning to do pixel art because it forces the beginner pixel artist to realize the power of pixel clusters and finding ideal shapes for them to work in unison to convey the intended characterization, without getting bogged down in dozens of colors and a huge resolution.

Let's look at something a bit more complicated:



This is a piece by the lovely Kenneth Fejer. You can see his work here.

Let's look at a detail of the piece up close:



The cluster of pixels outlined in red is where we aim our attention. Around it there is another color tone that is halfway between the bright green and the dark green. Single pixels smooth out the pixel cluster we're looking at. That is called buffering or manual anti-aliasing. I will not go into detail as to what antialiasing is here, more capable artists/german-aa-machines are working on texts to fulfill this purpose. Let's for now assume you are well aware of how anti-aliasing works. The reason I am showing you this piece in particular is because if you look at the buffer shade there between the two main colors, you'd think 'well... these pixels aren't a pixel cluster, are they'. They do not touch, they are - mostly - single pixels, so what are they exactly?

They are part of the meta-cluster that they are buffering towards, or from. For reasons of simplicity, it is best to think of them as always belonging to the smaller cluster that is touching the bigger cluster, but this doesn't really matter in applicative terms.

Once the artist realizes that the anti-aliasing around a cluster is nothing more than part of that cluster and its main purpose is to define that shape better, they stand to expel a lot of the anxiety and confusion that usually occurs to the beginner when they're faced with the near-infinite options of pixel placement that are available when they start a new piece. The artist can stop concerning themselves with just placing single pixels willy-nilly and replacing them and rearranging them by trial and error "until something looks right" and can instead apply a functional, progressive way in which to build their art. Pixel clusters are the tool that the pixel artist uses to convey 99% of the render of their object, not pixels themselves. The beginning artist should start a piece with a single pixel cluster shaped as the silluette of what they're trying to convey. Let's say, for example that I want to draw a face.



This is what I start with. Then the silhouette should be segmented to temporary planes. The experienced artist, once comfortable with visualizing his model might not have to do this stage and go directly to the next one, but for the purposes of this tutorial I'll go ahead and do it:




This is more or less a simplified 3d wireframe, with the planes of the face. This isn't lit yet, it just shows me a selection of shapes from which on the very next step I shall pick to make my pixel clusters. Naturally the smaller the piece the more difficult to actually pixel this stage, but it's not difficult to imagine it, and the artist should always imagine the factual planes of what they're attempting to render.



This is really the most important level in establishing ones pixel clusters. I have chosen a light-source and lit some of the planes. They have created pixel clusters of different colors that are competing in the small space for definition and information. Please note that I have not anti-aliased consciously, nor have I removed much of the apparent banding yet. If your pixel art doesn't look solid in this stage, no amount of pixel polish and tricks later on will save it. This is where your traditional skills come into play. Note also that the palette I'm using isn't very contrasted yet, this doesn't matter. If you light the planes correctly, you can then adjust the contrast as much as you want the the piece will still stand.


Here for example is a drastic contrast adjustment via fast remapping:


"The horror... The horror."

Look at the planes in this stage before we move on. Isn't it easy to tell where buffering should be applied? It's a matter of common sense. The sharper the edge, the less anti-alias needed. The smoother the transition, the more anti-aliasing will be needed. The buffer pixels should never overpower the cluster they belong to.



Here I have refined and antialiased the clusters into metaclusters. Keep in mind that Anti-aliasing can create banding! Look below:



If the buffering pixels line up with an edge below they will band. This is an extremely common error with anti-alias-happy artists and they can spot that something looks 'off' but can't put their finger on what it is exactly. Well, now you know. This is where a pixel artist expert in anti-aliasing shows their true skill. This is the thick of the fray, as it were. Adjusting single buffer pixels until they don't band, but yet represent the intended shapes.



Here I do more and introduce dithering. Not a lot of it is needed in most pieces of pixel art. Dithering isn't a mystery of any sort, think of it as the tapered, fading edge of a brush stroke... the dither belongs to a parent cluster. The places where one needs to dither following this methodology are self-evident, it's where I didn't have enough colors to make a transition smoother. Again this creates banding (dither-aa-clash) and it renegotiates some unclaimed space from the flat pixel clusters. Solving these problems elegantly is what pixel artistry is about.



Though color is beyond the scope of this tutorial, here's the final piece with a palette. It's very easy to colorize a solid grayscale construction. Then bits of banding around the outline were removed and a final refinement and it's done.


{...}

-------------------

Still a lot to write, a lot to flesh out, but let's discuss this part before moving on.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2009, 08:43:47 pm by Helm »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #45 on: March 14, 2009, 10:23:11 am


Just making art I'm going to need.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #46 on: March 14, 2009, 12:13:32 pm
What on to the pixel clusters, well. . . this is a nice bit of good writing!  I like the meta-clusters theory -- never thought of it in this way, or even if, never been able to formulate my thoughts in this way.  One question:  Is buffering the same thing as manual aa, ot is this a special type of manual aa?

I'm reaching an obvious conclusion that pixel clusters are nothing different than paint daubs in any other media, such as paints, or even digital stuff -- Photoshop sort.  An artist starts with emphasizing the spatial relations by means of a stroke-play, then goes on to define the right shapes and volumes out of vague blots and spots -- just as a pixel artist, after polishing a particular cluster, apply aa to it to polish it even more.  Then the colors mingle, and the hue once used as a buffer can be utilized somewhere else as a main cluster color. . .

I think you should've picked a little bigger picture for this tutorial, something the size of e.g. the Kenneth's woodgirl piece, as the changes, though visible, aren't easily discernible.

. . . and BANDING.  I think MEGA-BANDING or ROUND BANDING:


A sky without stars by BlackZero

. . . type "moon" in the search engine at Pixeljoint and check some examples at the end of a list . . .

needs a description on its own, though technically it's just a ROW OF FAT PIXELS, occasionally transmuting into the STAIRCASE BANDING.  This would mix well with the part on aa, since aa-ing round shapes is something all of us have or had problems with at some point in time -- and it's easy to commit some "banding mistakes" just as the guy in the picture above did.  I remember some professional artists switching to the pixel art medium had those problems as well.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 12:18:22 pm by johnnyspade »
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #47 on: March 14, 2009, 01:21:55 pm
"I'm reaching an obvious conclusion that pixel clusters are nothing different than paint daubs in any other media, such as paints"
yeah, i think the same thing...


but it seems this is not what Helm means...  :blind:

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #48 on: March 14, 2009, 02:04:40 pm
Yeah that's what I mean obviously, but the specific thing in pixel art is that you can go in and make the shape of every cluster very very deliberate, whereas in most real-art cases when you put your drawing utensil down on the paper you're going to have to live with a degree of randomness in its shape. You can always go in and mess with it later on but not to the fineness you would with pixel art.

Yeah buffering is the same as manual aa though as a verb it sounds better.

Quote
Then the colors mingle, and the hue once used as a buffer can be utilized somewhere else as a main cluster color. . .

Yeah, exactly, that sort of optimization of the same color slot both for buffering work and to be used as a main color for other clusters also isn't as common in other artforms. In oils, the artist might have a very limited palette too, but just by the natural way the oil strokes work they can do fades and stuff without reaching for a different color, if you see what I mean...

I disagree on the 'round banding'. I think circular gradients that are levelled like that are common in other sorts of art as well and they do not convey a lower resolution if their edges are properly buffered.

I don't mind that the piece of art I used is small, I would expect the dedicated reader to take the art and look at it in his program of choice after all.

So what's left now is to take this from the top and fix the writing here and there and provide more examples where needed, along with a few points that will occur to me later on. I don't know when I will do this, as I have troubles 'finishing up' stuff that I consider I've already essentially done. The information is there. The formatting... heh, not a fun job.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #49 on: March 14, 2009, 02:29:52 pm
Quote from: Helm
I disagree on the 'round banding'. I think circular gradients that are levelled like that are common in other sorts of art as well and they do not convey a lower resolution if their edges are properly buffered.

I wanted to focus only on the moon outline, not the whole lunar-light-to-the-sky gradient.  So, just to clear things out: compare with the piece above, basically it's something like this:



The left example.  The right one is an effect of putting automatic 1-pixel circles one "on top" of another.  It looks displeasing and even worse, but notice -- they don't band like in the previous example!

PS:  This tutorial will be a pretty massive thing when you release it in one bit! :)  Keep it up!  /What on to the general formatting, I can help with that if you like.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2009, 02:49:27 pm by johnnyspade »
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #50 on: March 14, 2009, 03:36:38 pm
I'm not sure how to format the tutorial. I guess hyperlink to chapters.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #51 on: March 14, 2009, 04:21:53 pm
Do you want to create a new site for it, or will you throw it in one thread here, at Pixelation?

With the former option, I'd say yes, go with the links to chapters division -- or you can make it one page with subdivisions (something like all Wikipedia articles have).
With the latter, one chapter = one post seems the most reasonable way.
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #52 on: March 14, 2009, 04:36:10 pm
I'm not sure how to format the tutorial. I guess hyperlink to chapters.

I think this would be a great time to create a  Wayofthepixel main website, just a few sections with resources and general theory like this.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #53 on: March 14, 2009, 04:57:28 pm
Indeed, a simple website with this kinda stuff on would probably be worthwhile.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #54 on: March 15, 2009, 05:36:24 pm
What about a moderated Wiki? That way the community can contribute without too much hassle.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #55 on: March 15, 2009, 11:28:25 pm
We tried pixipedia back when pixelopolis first started and that did not work too well, but who knows.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #56 on: March 16, 2009, 01:15:39 am
I've always wished for a wikipedia based around pixel art. That way, whenever you need to explain something to someone, or you needed help yourself, you could just check the wiki instead of trying to search through all the long topics here. :P

If you guys got one up, I'd gladly help and contribute. =)

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #57 on: March 16, 2009, 10:06:44 am
For me a pixiwiki would be a nightmare to keep moderated. I don't want that kind of responsibility. I think I'll just make it a small website or something. I kinda want to write about dithering more though, so I'm not done after all.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #58 on: March 16, 2009, 04:42:09 pm
You've got a point- people would be editing articles, etc. A website would be just as useful though- can't wait.

Also, can't wait to read about dithering =)

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #59 on: March 16, 2009, 11:18:07 pm
Well, I think you could get the benefits of both -- If you could allow people to comment on each article, much like the "Talk" pages on Wikipedia or other MediaWiki based wikis, plans and details of future expanded content could be discussed there in a manageable way.
New AA tutorial, about handling irregular lines.

'Better software looks like "people who know what their problem is and why they have it"'

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #60 on: March 17, 2009, 06:56:30 pm
Yeah sure, but if we do this we might as well use the forum, no?

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #61 on: March 17, 2009, 07:30:21 pm
disadvantage of a forum is it gives priority chronologically rather than based on how useful the information is. You can fight it (with stickies or whatever) but forums are fundamentally set up to allow discussion rather than to spit out useful information.

(edit)
on a forum, everything is timestamped, everything is directly attributed to its author, and listed chronologically. newer threads are more visible, stuff that happens later in threads is less visible. useful information and arguments and opinions and questions and conjecture all take the same priority - where in a wiki most of this stuff is hidden so that the stuff people actually agree upon is easily visible.

wikis are what you get when you let a lot of people write a lot of self indulgent stuff and then other people systematically edit all the personal touches out of it in order to maximise its utility. What you end up with, in the best possible case, is a useful, soulless resource, raw knowledge.

but in order to get that, the wiki has to hit that critical mass where you have a small community of people who make lots of minor alterations to meet the declared ruleset - which doesn't have to be the pixelation mod staff, lots of people are passionate and pedantic - and a much larger community of people who stop by every now and then to read bits and add bits of content. lots of wikis go stagnant before this happens.

The main troubles with a pixel wiki would be:
- declaring what is supposed to be included, and what isn't allowed to be included.
- getting people to go there.

once the intial conditions are set, and assuming a regular stream of human minds applied to its pages, it should be self-regulating.

that said, i don't know that a pixel wiki is a good idea. What would go on it?

(further edit)
I should say that I think this article helm is writing doesn't seem especially suited to a wiki format or to a discussiony sort of thing, I think he should just post it on a site or a blog somewhere and we could ooh and ahh at it or not, same as with tsugomo's tutorials or any of a bunch of other tutorials. But the wiki idea is cool.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 09:53:11 pm by tocky »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #62 on: March 17, 2009, 10:05:20 pm
I think I'll go with simple website or whatever. I'm not done yet, certain parts need rewrites and there's the dithering bit... next week I'll finish this.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #63 on: March 17, 2009, 10:16:24 pm
Oh, apropos Tsugumo tutorials, dunno if it will be of any use here but at some point in the past I started translating them to Polish.  Gas did Russian translation, likewise; if I recall correctly.  If Tsugumo ever reads it, I'd like to thank him for a piece of good learning material.

CLICK!

Sorry for such a digression; still, I think it fits the purpose of this thread -- I'm throwing it at the periphery. :)
« Last Edit: March 17, 2009, 10:24:21 pm by johnnyspade »
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #64 on: March 18, 2009, 03:08:34 pm
Dithering
Basic Dithering

On the bare level (which is the one the artist should approach this effect most of the time) dithering is like buffering. It belongs to a pixel cluster and serves the end of smoothing parts of it which touch other pixel clusters. Let us consider this schema:



The top form is an 1bit pixel cluster. Think of this as an oily brush stroke. If the artist just has the two colors to work with yet they wanted the shape to taper off or be softer in places they could employ dithering very selectively like in the bottom form. Look how the dithering emphasizes the flow of the pixel cluster and most importantly look how the dithering doesn't dominate the cluster. If there is more dithering belonging to a cluster than there is solid, opaque color, then the dithering becomes a cluster in itself. This is a necessary function for dithering some times, especially in environments where the artist may use only very few colors to convey objects that have a lot of levels. But for the purposes of a basic survey of the effect, the artist is encouraged to keep the dithering as part of the cluster it belongs to and to use it to emphasize the flow of the form.

The middle form is a slightly different proposition. Here the artist has more shades. He has used them to break up the brush stroke cluster into smaller clusters of pixels. Note how if you squint, the middle form and the form below it are very similar. Dithering = buffering. However, in segmenting the cluster into smaller clusters then the artist has the opportunity to smooth things out further within the meta-cluster by dithering between the available colors, as seen in the right, and final, form. Again the artist should keep in mind the flow of the meta-cluster and now additionally the flow of the smaller clusters that it comprises of. In most cases the pixel artist will not be working with such large clusters. Instead they may find themselves wrestling with 3-4 pixels at a time trying to find where they belong. This is the essence of pixel art, finding where each pixel belongs in relation to the clusters that are vying for its inclusion. In small spaces, the power of the single pixel, as we've discussed, becomes stronger. A single pixel can make or break a cluster and therefore dithering serves to confuse the forms more than it smooths them. Let's then consider this argument:

1. The smaller the pixel space the artist has to work with, the less dithering they should employ for purposes of smoothing between clusters.
2. The more colors the artist has to work with, the less dithering they need to employ for the same purpose.
Therefore:
     3. In most pieces of small, unrestricted (in terms of color count) pixel art don't be surprised if you never have to dither for purposes of smoothing.
(there might be a call for dithering for textural purposes, to be explained later)

{Furthermore this would explain why dithering is almost never employed in the rendering of video game sprites, where as we've mentioned before, besides usually being small, also show single pixels as being very powerful in conveying specific information.}

If the viewer zooms in on the example they will note that for this I used the 50% checkerboard dither, and then the 25% version where every second line (vertical or horizontal, it's the same) is omitted. The reason for this is very simple: When I desire to do basic dithering, I start with 50% dither and establish a good cluster shape that augments the flow I am looking for. Then I ease the edges of this 50% pattern more into the clusters they are bridging towards with the 25% dither, and then finally some spare pixels around that. This ensure that the priority of shapes, as they take place in the image is always Solid Color > 50% dither > 25% dither. Again, in most basic applications of dithering, the artist will not be called to use 25% dithering (or other, less busy patterns) in big surfaces and as clusters in themselves. This fundamental exercise comes in handy much more than it restricts the beginning artist.

Let's look at what not to do:



Here we have a hierarchy of errors. The initial cluster is ill-defined. This occurs a lot with beginning pixel artists that start by tracing some reference (like a photo of their girlfriend) at a very high resolution and then they place clusters without any flow or optimization. Then they try to, effectivel, blur between the bad clusters, creating amorphous shapes without priority. When you have a bad metacluster, dithering will only serve to make it worse. Especially if the dithering is overdone and it dominates the initial shapes. What beginners then often end up with is not Pixel Art, but a piece of art made of pixels.

----
On an Advanced Dithering section I will discuss the usage of dithering not so much for purposes of softening but for achieving a rough texturing or a richer base surface. Interlace dithering, a specific sort of banding error that is special to dithering (dither-aa clash) and the capabilities of noisy dithering as opposed to ordered.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #65 on: March 29, 2009, 04:21:48 pm
"I will discuss the usage of dithering not so much for purposes of softening but for achieving a rough texturing or a richer base surface"

THE NEXT ! I WAIT  :)

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #66 on: March 29, 2009, 05:33:51 pm
Oh yeah, gimme some time on that, I tend to 'rotate' the stuff I work on. Now I'm doing some comic work and some music work.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #67 on: April 16, 2009, 02:04:29 am
This thread has already helped my pixelling a ridiculous amount. Thank you.

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #68 on: April 16, 2009, 11:21:02 am
I'm glad to hear that, man I am a lazy sod. Just what's left to do is boring. If anyone wants to take the initiative and set this up as a minimal website or whatever, do it and put your name under the title next to mine too.

Offline Colonel Mustard

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #69 on: April 16, 2009, 11:04:58 pm
I've got some unused space on my webhost. Do you want it as a simple html file or a wiki

edit: Read about the suggestions for a wiki that came up earlier. You could have a wiki with restricted access just to have easy ways of modifying the content. I'll just throw it together quickly and hope I don't miss anything, and you can choose.

edit 2: www.pixel.schlet.net, without much formatting so far, just threw it into dreamweaver. Added the zoom as well, if you want it. Hoping I didn't miss anything or added something that shouldn't be there.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2009, 11:33:10 pm by Colonel Mustard »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #70 on: April 17, 2009, 12:46:20 am
Yeah that's great. Only think I'd ask for is some formatting at the top like contents you know and the hyperlinks just targetting at the html height where the paragraph starts. Do that and I promise (if you send me the whole site on a zip) to proofread it, expand it a bit and fix a few pending gaps of knowledge here and there.

Then I can put it somewhere on Pixelation.com or locustleaves.com

I really appreciate it, Mustard.

I appreciate you, Mustard. You're delicious. If mild.

Let me touch you, Colonel.

Offline Colonel Mustard

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #71 on: April 17, 2009, 12:54:23 am
Here's the whole thing: http://www.pixel.schlet.net/pkr.zip

The html isn't that clean, I just pasted it straight into Dreamweaver to keep the original formatting. The content links at the top is done with <a name="C1">Chapter name[/url] so you can link to it later with just <a href="#C1">Link< /a>. Dreamweaver creates alot of paragraph elements by default, but it looks okay so I didn't see any real reason to mess with it. Some of the styling is inline, some is done with style.css.

And, I don't let anyone touch the Colonel :(

Offline Scribblette

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #72 on: April 17, 2009, 04:21:21 am
Quote
the defining characteristics of a cluster of pixels on the morphological level, obfuscation, sine arch (especially given context of first image!), semiotic, semiotic, semiotic...

Banana taste good to monkey, but monkey like less banana peel. Difficult to peel when made for monkeys with big nails. This monkey lost nails scratching cave pictures. Then rock fall on head.

I had to google definitions. Eesh. I need to read more books. Until I skipped ahead to find the first image of the chap on the toilet was actually a joke, my head was exploding trying to spot what 'must' be there. I can definitely see the sailboat though.

It was very, VERY helpful to read it as one coherent piece on the website, however. And to take it slow reading it. Thank you. I've been struggling with banding and the theory was appreciated. I'm especially looking forward to dithering as texturing - I've been hunting information on that for a couple years now!

Maybe a link to the website could be put in the first post.

IDEA! Rock peel good! Monkey eat more banana now. Nyum nyum nyum.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 04:24:59 am by Scribblette »
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Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #73 on: April 17, 2009, 11:38:02 am
The monkey stuff was hilarious.

I'll write more, I PROMISE. In the next couple of days.

Mustard, it's good that you don't let just anyone touch the Colonel. I'll work for your affection, I will. You'll see  :ouch:

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #74 on: April 17, 2009, 02:04:17 pm
Hrm, even when I asked you for a link to a section of the tut I hadnt read the thing as a whole.

I think it's great, very necesary and way overdue what you're doing in terms of demystification here. The whole pixel cluster thing fits well with my conception of pixels too.

One thing that bothered me though, is how you establish that there's NOTHING MORE to dithering than what you say, You can make good use of arranging the dots to create subjective dotted lines to guide the eye.  I have seen how some people overstimate it and may make pieces only centred on overdithering for the hell of it, but just dismissing the posibility seems a bit much, atleast you could indicate there's more posibilities to try out.

EDIT: HOLY SHIT! :o I'm just now reading the beggining of the damn thing...and you bastard! I remember when I posted that exact same triangle linking it from somewhere, and I remember clearly that you said it was a faulty way to make a dinstinction between types of art because abstract could be equated with symbolism!  :lol:

Also, I would consider myself to be somewhere towards the right wing of that triangle, and I feel the need to add it's not just nostalgia at work here. Much of what motivates me is how the viewer's imagination and interpretation is involved in low res. I love how when you're animating a face in low res there MUST exagerated changes in the character's features, forcing the viewer to piece together all the information conveyed trough subpixel animation.
Take the purposedfully limited res as an equivalent of anime's purposedfully limited frame count, it's for an effect not for nostalgia.

Let me insist on the wiki thing,this should be awiki if a limited acces wiki at that. We could even just have an official website form of it, and have a wiki infrastructure behind that can be edited and is only 'dumped' to website form when consensus is reached on an article. !yus!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 02:28:37 pm by Conceit »

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #75 on: April 17, 2009, 02:35:00 pm
My biggest problem with all that is not that I don't want my text to be altered (actually I'd welcome it, this is why I posted here anyway) but that I don't have the time or inclination to do daily work on maintaining the wiki factual and to my agreement (if it has my name on it I have to agree with it, right?). So instead I simply urge other people to engage in dialogue over the points of the text and I will change it accordingly whenever I revisit it (like I will about your point on dithering). Other people should definitely write more theory texts on pixels anyway, this really isn't an end-all-be-all.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #76 on: April 17, 2009, 03:43:47 pm
Cool, I get it  :mean:...I didnt realize this was getting your name on it, just saw it as more of a community thing. :y:

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #77 on: April 17, 2009, 03:51:40 pm
I wrote the thing, shouldn't I put my name on it?

Offline Scribblette

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #78 on: April 17, 2009, 04:42:50 pm
Monkey snort banana out nose at that. Funny people.

I expect it's not too difficult to set up a theory/tutorial board with posts such as these locked up nice and safe. I too think a wikipedia is a massive undertaking, disappears too easily, and would much rather that time be spent explaining WIPs, theory, etc. Once there's a critical mass of information it could always be formatted into a main page by someone with too much time on their hand, anyway.

Quote
I'll write more, I PROMISE. In the next couple of days.

Helm, I'm concerned for your safety. I've heard wonderful pixel artists promise to explain any part of the mystery that is dithering for textures, but they have always DISAPPEARED shortly thereafter. I didn't even find any banana peels as evidence of foul play. They would just silently poof - and they were gone. It frightens me to think the same fate might befall you. If strange things start to happen around you, please let us know so we can have at least some proof to better forewarn the next prospective victim.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 04:44:54 pm by Scribblette »
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Offline Colonel Mustard

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #79 on: April 17, 2009, 09:48:48 pm
Well, only reason I suggested a wiki is for the easy ways of modifying the content, but for that you could go with a modified wordpress as well. But if you're not afraid of getting knee deep into some HTML it doesn't really matter.

Offline Jorund

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #80 on: January 05, 2010, 02:18:27 pm
I know the thread is month old, but I recently send a pm to Helm about the matter and he asked me to post it here for open discussion.

I know that a main website is a problem; or maybe not a problem, but not the optimal solution, because some things/ones might get left out. And the wiki can get messed up.
But as Scriblette said:
Quote
I expect it's not too difficult to set up a theory/tutorial board with posts such as these locked up nice and safe.

This could be easily done. In the same theory board (or in general discussion) there could be one thread dedicated to expand it's content, or many personal threads (like Ramblethread) that after sometime get revised, edited and squeeze of all their juice into a new clean thread. The personal threads could be "sign" by the artist so we don't get confused and accept them as the absolute truth. Ex: "Helm's Theory on Dithering", "EyeCraft's Theory on why he's called EvilEye", and so on.

Just that... I like the C&C style, but theorical threads are needed also, if not the critic/edit discussion sometimes turns into: what if i put the pixel here?... what about there?... not good? or I know that your edit is better but i don't know why. And a board is needed to contain them because some theorical ideas that have been written in the forum got lost with time.

Bye!  ;D

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #81 on: January 06, 2010, 07:52:29 pm
I'm all for a theory subsection, however not locked but open. Just a few threads not in the danger to fall off the first page here in the General Discussion, as long as mirrors of posts culled from other threads that can be useful. My concern is how would people navigate a thread named for example 'Ramblethread' while searching for exactly 'dithering' or 'antialias'. I guess just search function - search subforum 'theory' could be enough. I wish we had some sort of tags system, though.

Offline Jorund

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #82 on: January 07, 2010, 02:18:12 am
I guess just search function - search subforum 'theory' could be enough.

I think that the search function doesn't work properly. I don't remember what it was, but i was searching for one word, and didn't get any results, but instead with the google function: "site:/www.wayofthepixel.net/ **word**" I got a lot of results.

There could be an "Index Thread". That would go something like this:

For Dithering:
* Thread/Post A
* Thread/Post C

For Anti-alias:
* Post B

Something like the "Tools, Resources and Linkage" thread, but with internal links.

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #83 on: January 07, 2010, 05:15:47 pm
Can anyone replicate that error in the search engine? I've used it to good effect a lot of times, personally.

Also, any other thoughts by other users on the matter at hand?

Offline Jorund

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #84 on: January 07, 2010, 06:13:58 pm
Can anyone replicate that error in the search engine?

I searched for "isometric" in the search box, and i got one result: this
I then searched it in google: site:www.wayofthepixel.net isometric, and I got 133 results.

Maybe I'm using the forum search incorrectly, but I don't think so.

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #85 on: January 07, 2010, 07:11:24 pm
Same here, hmmm... I wonder what's up.

Offline Sherman Gill

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #86 on: January 07, 2010, 09:02:56 pm
It searches wherever you currently are. If you're searching from inside a thread, it searches that thread, if you're searching from inside a subforum, it searches that subforum, aaand if you search from the main page, it searches the whole forum.
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #87 on: January 07, 2010, 11:35:47 pm
Just to be sure, you could try cleaning the search index and reindexing? Might take a while though. That is, if that possibility exists with SMF, I never looked.

Offline Jorund

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #88 on: January 07, 2010, 11:38:19 pm
It searches wherever you currently are. If you're searching from inside a thread, it searches that thread, if you're searching from inside a subforum, it searches that subforum, aaand if you search from the main page, it searches the whole forum.

You're right. Just try searching for isometric in the main page and it turned out 13 pages of results. :)

Offline Smash

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #89 on: January 08, 2010, 03:55:07 am
I know the thread is month old

Thanks for the bump. This is all golden.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #90 on: January 08, 2010, 01:04:17 pm
Jorund's idea is good. I would like to see it come to fruition.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #91 on: March 14, 2010, 08:36:22 am
shouldn't this post thread (:blind:) get featured? it's a true minegold. It'd be a pitty to have it burried in the depth of General Discussions alone.

Offline Scribblette

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #92 on: March 14, 2010, 09:35:29 am
Nooo!! Because then someone else fantastic might volunteer a part about texturing only, for then they too to slowly disappear forever!
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Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #93 on: March 14, 2010, 10:19:27 am
This is a constant work in progress for me, expect this thread to be around for a long time before it's locked and treasure chested or whatever.

Offline alspal

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #94 on: March 15, 2010, 12:19:27 am
The abstractionist should not make their resolution that fine so that in the single pixel no longer feels like it belongs.

I don't understand what you're saying, is someone able to rephrase this for me. By "their resolution that fine" do you mean small resolution? "single pixel no longer feels like it belongs", what does that mean? Maybe I'm just out of touch with feelings.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2010, 12:21:36 am by alspal »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #95 on: March 15, 2010, 03:27:25 am
The abstractionist should not make their resolution that fine so that in the single pixel no longer feels like it belongs.

I don't understand what you're saying, is someone able to rephrase this for me. By "their resolution that fine" do you mean small resolution? "single pixel no longer feels like it belongs", what does that mean? Maybe I'm just out of touch with feelings.
Fine resolution generally refers to more pixels in less space. Each pixel is less significant, as more pixels are used to draw the total picture.
For example: in a 32x32 picture, there are 1024 pixels. Each pixel can be said to have a significance of 1/1024 (though grouping of pixels can result in a given set of pixels with N members having much greater significance than N/total_picture_pixels)
In a 16x16 picture, 256 elements, each pixel 1/256th important.
64x64 -> 4096, and so on:
...
256x256 -> 65536
...
400x300 -> 120000
512x512 -> 262144

As the total number of pixels drops, so does the pixelliness rise. In my observation, 400x300 or 120000 pixels is about at the threshold between 'the individual pixel still signifies' and 'it doesn't really matter if that pixel's a bit out of place.'
Others might place the threshold lower, but the idea's the same; devaluation of currency(pixels) through excess supply :).

Anyway Helm sort of implicitly described a good heuristic too: Add a lone pixel to an existing picture. Can you make that pixel mean something in itself, without adding any other pixels? If not, the resolution may be too high to be pixelly.
New AA tutorial, about handling irregular lines.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #96 on: March 16, 2010, 07:19:55 pm
As the total number of pixels drops, so does the pixelliness rise. In my observation, 400x300 or 120000 pixels is about at the threshold between 'the individual pixel still signifies' and 'it doesn't really matter if that pixel's a bit out of place.'
Others might place the threshold lower, but the idea's the same; devaluation of currency(pixels) through excess supply :).

Anyway Helm sort of implicitly described a good heuristic too: Add a lone pixel to an existing picture. Can you make that pixel mean something in itself, without adding any other pixels? If not, the resolution may be too high to be pixelly.

doesn't that completely ignores the fact that different areas of the image will receive different eye attention and that a lone pixel may make the difference somewhere and remain unnoticed somewhere else ?

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #97 on: March 16, 2010, 09:57:58 pm
Pypebros:
No, because it would then have satisfied the criteria I specified. It needn't have meaning individually in any particular place, as long as it has meaning in some place. (although I submit that the number of meaningful positions it could have also drops precipitously as resolution rises)
New AA tutorial, about handling irregular lines.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #98 on: March 16, 2010, 10:52:34 pm
Would it be possible also to get a PDF version of it also? I don't have internet at my place currently (I might not for a good few months either)
and it would be a good thing to have a guide accessible even offline :D

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #99 on: May 27, 2010, 10:20:51 pm
I'll be returning to this subject soon I think. This space reserved. (a reminder for me to post more than anything, really)

Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #100 on: June 05, 2010, 06:38:45 pm
On the reinvigorated interest in retro art, pixel art and the demoscene

Demoscene art broadly falls within the 'Realist' end of the triangle suggested in the beginning of this article. As such its goal has always been primarily to convey lushly rendered images in spite of the limitations of the digital imagery format. Though there were demoscene artists that were adept low-color/restricted mode pixel artists, the aesthetic strength of pixels and precisely controlled pixel clusters is downplayed, especially in the Amiga demoscene, in favor of the illusion of unrestricted illustration. Colors were mixed to offer the illusion that there were no discernible color limit, antialias smoothened out the perceived resolution to the closest possible approximation of infinite, so on. Sometimes sharp single pixel or pixel line specular are a feature of this work but I've grown to question whether they were intended as any sort of 'pixel art' statement.

Lately there's been a resurgence of interest in some forms of pixel art, mostly the low-color fake 8-bitesque variety where the pixels are chunky, bright and visible. We often stumble across articles from outside sources mentioning the beauty of pixel art and the examples cited are often blocky chunky retro pieces of that sort (or isometric Eboy stuff). Why isn't there a similar interest then in the demoscene type of pixel art, though a lot of it is striking to look at and certainly its made of pixels?

I offer two (well, three) explanations for this. On one hand, demoscene art achieves its goal a bit too much, therefore it doesn't look like pixel art exactly. It looks like peculiarly sharp cgi/photoshop work in small resolutions. Its graces are apparent to those that zoom and Those that Zoom are an esoteric bunch in any climate. Most people use blurry browsers now, keep this in mind. Some people love this 'quasi-cg' look but it seems they mostly come from an 80's computer scene background to begin with. In this way demoscene artwork is insular, it's from the scene and for the scene. I doubt there will ever be again a wider interest in that type of realistic pixel artwork, regardless of how well its made, technically. At most art appreciators will wonder from afar.

I do not think the lack of interest is due to how much of that artwork was straight copies from photographs or Frazetta illustrations as I don't think the wide public minds this. After all we're the result of a very self-voracious pop culture where anything worth looking at is worth looking at as if it's new again at some point.

On the other hand I think demoscene-type artwork isn't enjoying a similar resurgence in interest as the retro-art type of work because it isn't closely related to indie gaming. On a very significant level it seems that the interest in retro pixel art is tied very directly to feelings of nostalgia over outmodded console and other gaming systems on the part of those enthusiasts. The demoscene *is* related to gaming but in a tangential manner and going from personal experience, a frustrating one as well. Does anyone remember watching a demo by some group and struggling to find out what button to press to 'start the game'? Surely all this awesome-looking art meant you were watching the intro to some game, right? I think that sort of warm-cold disappointment when one realizes this is after all just a showcase of skill on a computer used for interactive pursuits colors the memory of scene artwork by insiders and outsiders the same. It's also useful to remember that the results of when demoscenesters made games were usually disappointing to abysmal (though exceptions exist).

Actually I think there's a third reason for this disparity of interest in the facets of pixel artistry, and one that possibly puts the middle-ground between 'retro style' pixel art and 'demoscene' style realistic pixel art in a possible future advantage.

As outsiders become re-accustomed with the newer strands of retro-looking pixel art they will unconsciously begin to prize the main attraction, beneath the chunky nostalgic sprites and the bright colors. I believe that is the sense of 'controlled medium gives controlled results' that the grind-based essence of pixel art allows for is the ultimate charm of it. I believe pixel artists might be consciously unaware of it but that's the sort of result their work strives for naturally, the workflow leads to precise pixel clusters and maximization of effect through controlled movement.

Demoscene artwork obfuscates its pixel-art nature too much for control to show for the beginner appreciator of the form. Sometimes it's so obscured that even experienced artists such as us cannot tell if something is controlled until we zoom in. However modern pixel art by modern artists that are influenced and aware of 'new-school' techniques manage to combine both the vitality and sharpness of retro-style pixel art and the fluidity and realism of demoscene art, oftentimes in the same piece. I believe that's a gateway for the increased sophistication of the interest of the curious outsiders to the medium. Through this 'middle stage' which is both game-arty and art-arty, where new-school pixel techniques developed for crisp monitors are well-established and endorsed that a wider public can come to appreciate the history of the medium.

If the artist reader is interested in pursuing this end I suggest to them to:

1. Avoid overblurry 'demoscene' style gradient-based soft render artwork that obfuscates the pixel art aspect of pixel art too much. The "OMG I can't believe this is pixelled!" effect that was so prized for those whose craftsman mentality was based around wooing insiders and winning competitions is not at this time pertinent.

2. Learn your newschool techniques to the point where even your most lushly rendered pixel art clearly communicates 'I am made out of pixels, placed by hand' even at 1x zoom where a casual outsider can see the control and feel its impact.

3. On the other hand avoid oversimplified 'retro' art that downplays the importance of control over the basic nostalgia trip.

4. Finally and most importantly (though I guess this cannot be communicated as a simple suggestion) pixel artwork should be about something else than itself, being, pixel artwork. To get someone interested in pixels I believe we have to get them interested in what we're doing with pixels first. A lot of newschool art fails at this spectacularily, being aesthetically little more than variable excercises in how to anti-alias correctly and so on. Retro-art overcomes this hurdle because it is usually, *in service of a game*. If you don't want to make game pixel art, then make _____  pixel art, where the gap fill in with your heart's desire. Don't just make 'I need to win this demoscene compo' pixel art.

This is not a manifesto. I do not even plan to follow those guidelines to the letter as I have other interests other than creating art that operates as a gateway to the history of the medium for outsiders (though it is certainly one of my considerations) but to those that often lament that outside interest, who would like for their artwork to be accepted and for the wider public to be more aware of what pixel art as we see it is, then you can put your effort where your mouth is thusly. The 'middle ground' of pixel art requires intellectual honesty, make pixel art in a controlled fashion and have the end result speak of control and those idiosyncratic outsiders that find restriction/control schemata attractive will realize that pixel art is not just about 8bit nostalgia.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #101 on: June 05, 2010, 07:11:56 pm
The big problem is that indie gamers create abyssmal "retro art". When you tell them to fix up issues such as bland color palettes, banding and sloppy linework, you get the following answer:

"It's supposed to look like that because it's 8bit"

The artists are often looking for a quick gratification. I create this bad art, but it looks "retro", so I don't have to fix it.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #102 on: June 05, 2010, 08:29:35 pm
Let them. We're talking about what we'd do if we wanted to promote understanding of the medium. I sincerily believe that even 8-bit art with new-school sensibility and pixel knowledge will eventually be more well liked by the public than generic looking fake 'retro art'.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #103 on: June 05, 2010, 10:54:47 pm
Bad pixelart just tends to look bad for everyone, not just pixel artists.
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #104 on: June 06, 2010, 02:11:56 am
That is decisively not true Lizzrd. I can show you multiple examples of pixel art that DID get global attention and none of them are above average quality. They are revered for their "retro" look.

Helm: true enough I guess. The problem would be to gather enough momentum to push pixel art as a medium into the open. The question is of course whether this is needed. It's not that important. I don't see an increase or decline in the number of pixel art fans for the last 5 or 10 years, so we really don't need to worry about the art dying out.

People think that the current indie gaming scene is rediscovering the pixel art aesthetic, but that's not true. When I was in art college 6 years ago, there was an equally big movement centered around the likes of Eboy.

Luckily for us there are quite a few excellent games out there that do get a fair bit of attention. Spelunky, Owlboy, Konjak's stuff, Wayforward's stuff. Unsurprisingly, most of the better pixel artists can trace their roots to Pixelation.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #105 on: June 06, 2010, 04:48:30 am
What are some of those games, Gil?  Can you give some examples?

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #106 on: June 06, 2010, 05:09:00 am
most of the better pixel artists can trace their roots to Pixelation.

I like this statement and find it to be true. Also, it is important to note that most of the better pixel artists do things other than pixel art. Such as draw. Lots.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #107 on: June 07, 2010, 10:51:05 am
The big problem is that indie gamers create abyssmal "retro art". When you tell them to fix up issues such as bland color palettes, banding and sloppy linework, you get the following answer:

"It's supposed to look like that because it's 8bit"

The artists are often looking for a quick gratification. I create this bad art, but it looks "retro", so I don't have to fix it.

I often find that the answer is 'I can't really draw, but I want graphics for my game. I found this aesthetic to be a way for me to make art that actually looks like something'

or something like that.
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #108 on: June 07, 2010, 12:33:06 pm
I've talked with so many people just don't see the point of having good quality pixel art when games like Crysis or Doom 3 look so much better.
They thought that if you're just going to make pixel art you should make it 'retro', a.k.a. using small amounts of colors badly>:(
« Last Edit: June 07, 2010, 01:11:14 pm by CrazyMLC »
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #109 on: June 07, 2010, 01:29:15 pm
Yeah well they are stupid cause it's not r eally graphics that count, it's the fun you hvae playing it and how the controls are.
even more realistic games aren't possible before we get "better" controls to pc.
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #110 on: June 07, 2010, 03:30:59 pm
But about the idea that there could be a middle point between pixel art that hides its pixel artiness (demoscene) and the low-barrier entry of retro pixel art (it's made of a few squares!), where the appeal is in the crisp, controlled and sharp form and shape, how about it? Something that is neither retro-nostalgia "IT LOOKS LIKE AN ATARI!!!" or the other end of "OMG IT LOOKS LIKE OILPAINTING"? Any thoughts? In my ideal space it's somewhere below Fool's level of rendering and somewhere above stuff like this.

Basically I think there needs to be a reduction of dependence on anti-alias, especially where it starts veering towards vector-like art. Dithering is a good idea where it can sort of be visible at 1x zoom, single pixel speculars are good but single pixel noise is bad. And on the other hand the subject matter should be expansive and brave, not just 8-bit looking character/game art. Of course, banding is the devil because banding == carelessness, lack of control and forethought on how clusters work together.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #111 on: June 07, 2010, 10:40:59 pm
I think there could be a lot more interesting stuff done with low resolution work, like superbrothers--I wouldn't say their stuff isn't retro at all, but I would also say it is also anti-retro

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #112 on: June 07, 2010, 11:24:19 pm
I love superbrothers but how is it anti-retro? Not saying it isn't specifically, I'd just like to hear your argumentation.

EDIT: as an addendum to my position on my post before this, also another way to create 'gateway' pixel art that emphasizes sweet sweet control and beautiful pixel clusters without making it look like demoscene oilsoup is - besides working slightly sharper/with less aa than some of us are used to - is to enforce a mandatory x2 zoom on some pieces. In pixelation we have the zoom script and the sharpixel css, but not every place on the internet does. I think people being able to see the pixels at at least x2 zoom would get them to appreciate them more than they would if they were 'doing their job' and faking infinite resolution/oil painting pastiche, sometimes.

Like this for example, is the opposite of what I'm talking about. Looks good at 1x zoom because it's so heavily photoreferenced/aa-smoothed but looking at it at 2x zoom makes it look worse, the pattern dithers break the planes and make the whole thing look flat, there's banding in the aa and so on. No offence to dawnbringer of course and I'm sure a lot of dedicated pixel artists can see the artistry... but besides wowing outsiders about how 'holy shit, is this even pixel art, this looks like a photo!!!!!'... what is it doing at 2x zoom that makes it good pixel art?

What I think I'm getting at is that in order to get more people to appreciate the medium, the medium itself should not only welcome scrutiny but give positive returns for the attentive. At 2x zoom a lot is apparent about technique that isn't at 1x zoom. At 5x zoom the pixels are so large there's not a lot of technique left to talk about (retro pixel art) but where is the median?
« Last Edit: June 07, 2010, 11:31:30 pm by Helm »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #113 on: June 08, 2010, 04:48:05 am
Well to answer that I think I'll have to try to explain what I perceive to be retro pixel art.  There are a lot of examples that would work just as well but I'll pick a screenshot from snake's Owlboy:



To me, this is about as retro as it gets.  Not timeline-wise, as we have pixel art that references C64 or Atari or art, but in terms of intention or goal.  Owlboy seems to be trying to elicit from the viewer the reaction of "hey this looks just like SNES!" or perhaps more accurately "this looks just like SNES but better!"  And most pixel artists out there, it seems to me, are going for the same reaction, even if they aren't actually making a game and are just making sprites or mock ups.  That "I wish I could play this" reaction, which seems to aim specifically as though these pieces of pixel art were something you could have popped into your SNES at one point.  These styles deliberately appeal to the viewers (and the artist's) nostalgia, which is, I think, incredible indulgent.  Which is fine; I can't deny that I look for a download button when I see a screenshot like this.  I don't know snake's story but I imagine it goes like this: he got into pixel art because he wanted to make games like he used to play when he was young; over the years he got incredibly good, even better than most of the old 'masters' and still makes art like he wanted to see in a game when he was young.  That may not actually be snake's story, but it's a common enough story regardless (it would be my own story if I had ever gotten good at pixel art).  Most of the old talented pixelation members are still making big-headed sprites or muscly warriors or the like as though there is nothing else to do with the medium, and that's what most people want to see.  To me, this sort of continuing progress in technical skill is, while impressive on one level, ultimately boring, because most of the art is still focused around the sensibilities of games from the 90s.  In my view not much better than the 'bad pixel art' stuff Gil was talking about that focuses completely on the nostalgia trip.



(from DESIGN REBOOT HD)

But superbrothers... it is retro, to an extent, and I wont say it isn't indulgent at all--I think you'd be hard pressed to find any art that isn't indulgent in one way or another--but it seems much more self conscious.  The left screen looks a lot like a videogame, and superficially looks like it is all retro--it's lo-fi, you can see all the pixels in a relatively simple style, and it is some sort of warrior we like we could see in an old-school RPG.  But I can't imagine that existing when I was a kid.  It's anti-retro because it doesn't appeal to nostalgia like Owlboy does because nobody made games that looked like that back then--and I don't think many people would have liked to see it back then either--most people wanted a prettier Zelda or a more badass Contra or an upgraded game of choice.  It eschews old game sensibilities like the bright colors or big muscles and heads or dramatic poses.  I guess I see it as anti-retro because the big pixels make me want to say "just like old games" but when I look at how it's presented I just think, no, games weren't like that at all.  



I had a lot more trouble articulating that than I thought I would... I'll continue to think on the subject.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 05:54:54 pm by Darien »

Offline Jad

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #114 on: June 08, 2010, 06:55:59 am
Most of the old talented pixelation members are still making big-headed sprites or muscly warriors or the like as though there is nothing else to do with the medium (...) . 

I .. I, really, no, or ... ? Is that really so? Muscly warriors? Isn't that just a sorta bad example. You could've said 'game-y art' and I'd have agreed with you.

To me, this sort of continuing progress in technical skill is (...) ultimately boring, because most of the art is still focused around the sensibilities of games from the 90s. 
Haha, yeah. Games from the 90s (or rather, nerd pop media from the 80s/90s, esp. japanese) is a never-ending source of goodness and fun for me. Whenever I think I've lost interest in anime, something from 85-95 pops up and makes me love the shit of it - whenever I think I've lost interest in games, I find a game from the 90s that makes me all giddy. For me this is not about nostalgia, it's about the whole culture - something that existed before has died down now, but for me there is no reason to keep it so. The games and media from back then feels so incredibly fresh and intersting to me, for me it's just a matter of creating media that melds with my own interests and sensibilities. I want to kick off from there, but evolve it and release the potential that lied in the game and media of that style. I'm glad others are doing the same! But yes, of course, it does get boring when noone feels like surpassing their old masters, but just copy them over and over. But still, people are getting better and better at pixel art. If these people didn't exist, the art form and skill would be completely DEAD now. The oh-so-omnipresent graphics of seiken densetsu 3 wouldn't be something boring that everyone has learned to copy - it'd be a relic of time, and a proof of craftsmanship that NOONE possesses (sp?) anymore. I'm so happy it isn't so. ; u ; (way more words than I'd have needed to get my point across, but I'm at work and don't have time to write short things)

In my view not much better than the 'bad pixel art' stuff Gil was talking about that focuses completely on the nostalgia trip.

Except that Gil was talking about horrible art that believes that being retro is an excuse for being so.

You're talking about excellent art, that you feel maybe should excuse itself for being too retro. (as in, copying something existing instead of going its own way with the aesthetic, I think...?)

I think the latter is much much better.
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #115 on: June 08, 2010, 08:19:35 am
NOONE possesses (sp?)

Almost, it's "NO ONE possesses".


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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #116 on: June 08, 2010, 01:44:38 pm
On the topic of snake and owlboy:

interview with snake where he talks about why owlboy looks like it does and also about pixelart in games, surprisingly fitting for this topic.

http://www.gamereactor.no/grtv/?id=7181&l=GDC

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #117 on: June 08, 2010, 03:34:26 pm
Most of the old talented pixelation members are still making big-headed sprites or muscly warriors or the like as though there is nothing else to do with the medium (...) . 

I .. I, really, no, or ... ? Is that really so? Muscly warriors? Isn't that just a sorta bad example. You could've said 'game-y art' and I'd have agreed with you.

I originally wrote "muscly demons" but I didn't want to take such a direct knock at st0ven.  But I don't think "game-y art" really approximates what I mean... superbrothers can be very game-y (and remember my intention with that post was to explain why superbrothers was anti-retro, not just to say why I've been bored by recent retro pixel art).  I think "game-y art that still clings to 80s or 90s sensibilities" is closer to what I'm talking about.  And that's what stops superbrothers from being strictly retro for me--the way it, I think, very deliberately doesn't play into those old school sensibilities.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #118 on: June 08, 2010, 04:55:44 pm
Darien thanks for your explanation. I do not personally agree that Snake's art for Owlboy looks 'like Snes art'. For me stuff like this looks like SNES art. RPG portraits, little jrpg characters, sideways views for brawlers or fight scenes with all the mauve and purple tints and over-rendered shapes. Snake's shading style in Owlboy is decidedly new-school, very sharp, not that much anti-alias. His color choice is not oldschool because it's quite austere. I see snake's art coming from a capcom appreciation background but as far as owlboy goes  I think it goes beyond that quite a bit. I do not look at Owlboy art and think 'this is like what I could have on my Mega Drive (I didn't have a snes)!' at all. What I mentioned plus that there are no visible grids and tile boundries is enough to put it decidedly outside the retropixelart context. Put it next to Cave Story and you'll see my point.

About superbrothers, whereas people would have liked art like that in the past is not the point. That you could sorta find art like that (I agree that it's not the same but it hearkens back to some paradigms) on the c64 and especially the Atari with its quadriplewide pixels means that people will recognize the nostalgia. I do think superbrothers art starts at least at a nostalgic base but then yes, according to what project they're working on, it might move against those nostalgic preconceptions. I cannot say for anything in specific because I haven't played their game yet.

So although I found your points very interesting, I cannot say we've come to an understanding.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #119 on: June 08, 2010, 06:18:39 pm
Perhaps to say Owlboy looks like SNES and superbrothers doesn't look like old games was a little simplistic... of course there are many ways that Owlboy is new school just as there is a lot of new pixel art that doesn't look like it was lifted off a Mega Drive or SNES.  I guess when I said Owlboy "looks like SNES" I meant mostly in terms of attitude toward itself and where it comes from, rather than technical rendering--perhaps that it is very comfortable with itself in continuing and expanding upon the tradition of old 2D games and game art.  Superbrothers on the other hand seems to me to have a different attitude... one that is a little less loving toward its roots, maybe.  It doesn't look like an old game to me because I never saw that attitude before.

Quote
So although I found your points very interesting, I cannot say we've come to an understanding.

That's okay, I haven't thought about these subjects much before and so I am still trying to come to an understanding with myself.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 06:20:18 pm by Darien »

Offline zeid

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #120 on: June 08, 2010, 06:53:53 pm
Just found this thread; I've always wanted to discuss and explore in a more logical and technical fashion the pixel art unique matter helm and others have been discussing at the start.

I also wanted to insert a little opinion and say, the nostalgia associated with pixel art serves to hold it back as a serious medium in the eyes of many.  So I'm very glad that Snake said what he did in that interview, and that a game like that is coming out.

While Owlboy's art might not intentionally be trying to bring a nostalgic value to the game, it is inherent.  Perhaps this is a limitation to some extent of pixel art in games and at particularly low scale.  Good pixel art at smaller and smaller sizes should have a stronger symbolic expression.  going back to your earlier post, and elaborating on some of what you have said, I think it would be safe to say creating pixel art at lower and lower sizes resorts in the need for less realism and more symbolism (symbolism is of course tied closely with abstraction in the terminology I am using).  The cost of not doing so is a reduction to readability.  Too much abstraction and your image may result in an underrendered look.  Too little abstraction and you get 'fuzzy' images.

The last thing to note about this is it is acceptable in traditional media to symbolize/abstract despite the scale of the image so long as it is done tastefully;  This means of course that you can have larger scale images with higher symbolic value/more abstracted features while it still remains acceptably high quality art.  On the other hand you cannot have lower scales without the symbolism, or you aren't using the pixel medium to it's fullest and are just creating down scaled images with the same loss of precision of having resized other art mediums.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 12:48:33 am by zeid »
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #121 on: June 08, 2010, 07:09:52 pm
yes on that, zeid, I think that given the game-related history of pixel art, even the fact that in small resolutions an 'object' is defined by being separate from a 'background' (sprites and bobs and tiles and backgrounds and so on) gives in an inherent relation to symbolism, whereas if you make an oil painting using a huge brush and three colors that doesn't mean that this brush-stroke is an 'object' at all, a dualist entity that is on top of the canvas background. It could mean that if the artist was going for it but I'm just saying in pixel art when you go smaller and smaller it seems you're inviting symbolism-via-abstraction. Abstraction is fine art is resolutely not symbolist. A Mondrian painting does not necessarily have objects in it that 'stand in for other objects'.

Offline zeid

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #122 on: June 10, 2010, 02:41:27 am
I'm planning on writting a piece on pixel art of the sub-pixel level (representing image data less then 1 pixel in size) and super-pixel level (representing image data more then 1 pixel in size).  I know a lot of people don't make this distinction but I group AA, sub-pixel animation and similar use of pixel clusters in the same capacity all into the group of "subpixel representation".

I've been considering dithering dependant on, context to fall into either super-pixel, or sub-pixel.
Right now I regard it as a super-pixel technique when it's use in regards to colour conservation;  i.e The use of larger then pixel sized patterns to create the impression of a new colour on the pixel level.
However I place dithering into the sub-pixel category when it comes to creating texture;  i.e. The use of the pixels in relation to one another to create the impression of obscured detail relating to a texture of sorts.

I've been meaning to discuss something like this for a long time (years), this seems like the thread to bring it up and to help develop my thoughts on the matter further with the influence and insight of other artists.

What are people's thoughts on this concept?  Agree dissagree, classify things differently?
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #123 on: June 15, 2010, 06:08:04 pm
On Banding Solutions

The pixel artist that works with more than two colors will undoubtedly run into banding problems. Here are some useful approaches for clearing out banding in one's pixel clusters.



First let's talk about the problems a little.

A is the case where a mostly regular cluster has a few irregular edges. The instinct of many pixel artists is to 'follow the shape' with anti-alias so it's 'shaded' while still retaining its irregular identity. This impulse isn't the best solution. Squares are strong in pixel art. Pixel art does perfect lines better than any other medium we know of. Absolutely crisp and straight, 90 degree angles in pixel art as a strength. The good pixel artist subconsciously is drawn towards the platonic solids they can present in their art, so to 'fill in the form' is a possible solution. However we see in the example above that the artist has exacerbated the problem by introducing banding. Instead of a perfect shape he's left with a very visually striking reminder of the shape's imperfection. The blemishes at the edges have been made doubly apparent because banding draws attention to the grid.

Let's talk about B last.

C is slightly more complicated combination of clusters where the artist is both trying to 'shade' the irregular contours of the shape and at the same time taper its end off into its own cluster to suggest a gradation or fade. To use contour anti-alias (single or double-pixel rows going around regular angles) that introduce a new cluster is a common reflex in pixel artists, however by introducing banding here what is instead achieved is a very strange visual illusion where the pixel cluster is blurred and doubled. I can't explain this any better, anyone who has spotted the perils of banding can see what I'm talking about.

B is a composite problem, where there's both a 90 degree boxy shape conveyed but there's also sloping and a free-form taper edge. Banding here has made every problem that much worse.

I want the reader to stop a while here and consider how they'd solve these problems. Go in your pixel art program and make do as best you can, commit to an approach on how to deal with the banding issues apparent in these examples. Then come back and read the rest and see how your choices parallel mine.











Here's a set of solutions.

On A you'll see I opted to double the anti-alias vertically. This effectively makes the antialias from contour anti-alias to separate pixel clusters on its own. This might seem counterintuitive at first but it looks much better than the banding. It suits however only the situations where the form can be elongated in either axis like that. Generally keep in mind:



When pixels of close shades touch in a systematic manner, there'll be banding. Although it seems counterintuitive, using clusters that are not one-pixel thin, less colors and therefore stronger segregation works better than banding because it suggests there's an orderly system of stacking that isn't dependent on the pixel grid, but on the number of available colors. If you have to choose between the two in pixel art, I posit that it's better to draw attention to a small color palette than it is to draw attention to the grid.

On C my solution here is to remove most of the contour anti-alias that would connect it to the separate cluster. Again this feels counter-intuitive but art with a grid has special considerations to keep in mind.




Best to deemphasize the introduction of a new color cluster through anti-alias *at the connection* between the two, otherwise between trying to anti-alias one form into another and introducing the new shape gradually, banding will occur.

On B my solution is as expected, composite. I identified the perfect angle on the right slope of the form and gave it one-point anti-alias. I made the irregular nooks sharp and readable and I suggested a slight curvature at the bottom of the identified square with a single pixel's worth of anti-alias. I broke up the line on the bottom of the form with the anti-alias because I judged any other solution for that configuration of pixels would lead to more banding. That last bit is effectively, sub-pixelling.

Here's a different set of solutions:



As you can see here anti-alias is mostly removed. This is a different approach but a valid nonetheless. On A note that the 'platonic square' that the cluster desires to be is again empathized and no banding is occurring. On C not how the two clusters (and no aa, at this point) interlock as if they're shaking hands: that's an elegant solution to the edge between clusters issue. In your paint program, add a pixel on the top or bottom of the 'handshake' to see what I mean about it. On B the minimal AA brings out the cluster shape loud and clear, but it also brings attention to the grid. It's a cost/benefit choice.

« Last Edit: June 15, 2010, 06:11:05 pm by Helm »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #124 on: June 16, 2010, 07:20:35 am
I think I avoid banding most of the time... Is this right?


I'm not sure about the doubled AA in the first A-solution. Do you know of any examples of that method?

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #125 on: June 16, 2010, 07:42:25 am
Your AA seems solid to me.

Bading gets worse, more like this:



As to the A example, you can see it in a lot of pixel art, especially with metallic surfaces but nothing specific comes to mind.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #126 on: June 16, 2010, 04:47:40 pm
Thanks.
I noticed that the examples expanded/contracted a bit in the two different solutions, which gave me this idea -

Contriving size of subject to remove AA & avoid banding:

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #127 on: June 16, 2010, 04:49:36 pm
Yes, thank you, that is a useful chart.

Philosophically I think even the sharpest-minded pixel artist should use at least a few bits of sparse one-point anti-alias in a piece just to show that manual antialias is in his artistic lexicon, you know?

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #128 on: June 17, 2010, 07:46:59 pm
I just realised something. We often completely disregard the circumstances old gameart was made for. Older systems such as the C64 and all lowres arcade machines (even recent games still coming out) run with solid scanlines, not interlace or progressive scan. Only one field of scanlines is active at any point in time and it never changes which one it is. Thus you get very solid and visible sectioning of the pixels. Either horizontally or vertically, depending how the monitor is rotated (lots of vertical games in the arcades)

The thing is that scanlines slice through the grid and thus they make it more obvious and at the same time also kinda hide it.

Look at this:


In the versions with scanlines I would say the evil banding version looks best, the scanlines effectively hide the stepping between which shows where the grid meets.
I would also say that this goes for stuff like AA, as in it is needed less, because stepping is hidden to a degree.

Just something to keep in mind for things like CCs and such.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #129 on: June 17, 2010, 08:09:50 pm


Here was my try at solving the problems before scrolling down.
Man cannot remake himself without suffering for he is both the marble and the sculptor.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #130 on: June 17, 2010, 09:13:02 pm
Ptoing, very illuminating post! I agree that if one is making pixel art for a non-crisp monitor then banding is less of an issue. But what I'm writing has to do 100% with pixel appreciation in sharp monitors. I don't think it's viable for someone to say 'I'll put banding in my crisp art even if it's never going to run with scanlines just because Capcom did it in the 90s'.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #131 on: June 18, 2010, 12:03:46 am
Yes of course, I totally agree. I reckon there are people who like old arcade games and the capcom style and whatnot who probably do not think too much about how the scanlines influenced the making of stuff and just ape the style regardless.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #132 on: June 18, 2010, 12:26:55 am
Rydin, consider these changes

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #133 on: June 18, 2010, 06:54:24 am
Those 90 degree edges work a lot better.
Man cannot remake himself without suffering for he is both the marble and the sculptor.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #134 on: July 11, 2010, 09:26:26 pm
Not all pixel clusters are equal. Some are ugly and prone to banding, others are beautiful and fit together like lego blocks.



Most bigger shapes can be analyzed in a combination of beautiful shapes that lead to the minimum of banding.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #135 on: July 11, 2010, 10:33:57 pm
I've noticed Vierbit uses this one a lot...and I like it.



Also, you forgot the Tetris L block :P

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #136 on: July 11, 2010, 11:53:42 pm
Actually the L tetromino is one of the ugliest small clusters that come to mind.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #137 on: July 12, 2010, 10:31:40 am
I would say that is a bit of a blanket statement right there. If you do something mechanical with a lot of corners and highlights on corners something L shaped would be just fine in most cases. Same goes for little L shaped mechanical vent details and whatnot.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #138 on: July 12, 2010, 01:40:48 pm
Okay. L is good for vents.  :-\

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #139 on: July 12, 2010, 01:55:00 pm
I see where you are coming from, it probably is not some cluster you can use all over the joint, but neither is the T one imo.

I think the notion of "here be clusters that work" is not that great, as I do not believe that there are any that always work or even mostly. It always depends on what is around them and such.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #140 on: July 13, 2010, 03:44:27 pm
To add to the concept of beautiful clusters: the more beautiful a cluster the less the artist should feel they have to hide it with antialias and blending and other tricks. Therefore it follows that the fewer colors an artist has to work with, the more they should gravitate towards beautiful clusters.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #141 on: October 15, 2011, 01:20:50 pm
Here's an unsettling thought that recently came to me.

Ordered dither always leads to a degree of banding.

Think about it, the way an

XOXOXO
OXOXOX
XOXOXO

50% dither pattern is made essentially brings attention to the grid, lowers the percieved resolution in order to gain some texture or be used for buffering.
This goes for the denser, toching types of dither.

Then again, noise dither might not promote banding, but it looks careless.

So here's a small selection of patterned dithers that do not contribute to banding. Easing from one to another is bound to prodouce some, but them the breaks.



Anyone who understands the theory could supply more patterns.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #142 on: October 15, 2011, 07:05:26 pm
I don't think that any of those increase the perceived resolution compared to 50% dither. You can still see what is the smallest unit and that the gaps in many of them are the smallest unit as well, thus giving away the resolution. And depending on what you are doing they would work less in terms of blending colours.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #143 on: October 15, 2011, 09:02:46 pm
I disagree. The issue with touching pixels in dithering is not only that they give away the minute unit, but that they touch in such a way that they show off the grid that they're aligned on. The examples I provided above certainly do show that there are pixels, but they are patterned without magnifying the grid.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #144 on: October 15, 2011, 10:36:44 pm
Not to the same extent as 50% dither perhaps, but they still show the grid imo.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #145 on: October 15, 2011, 11:31:29 pm
The way I see it, elements arranged with equidistance do not necessarily connote a pixel grid. It's a simple thing to explain, it's at the core of how I pixel nowadays:



Equidistance is a powerful design tool. But (the worst) banding occurs when things aren't just equidistant in some abstract level, but are actively aligned at the edges.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2011, 11:36:15 pm by Helm »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #146 on: October 16, 2011, 08:32:39 am
I know exactly what you mean. They do not show the grid as blatantly as the oldschool dither stuff, but for me they still very prominently show the smallest unit and thus to some degree the grid.

I would still say that 50% dither is very nice for blending, esp if you use colours which are not too far apart in value.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #147 on: October 16, 2011, 03:50:44 pm
It is but then it's designed to be close to imperceptible. It's an interesting give/take.  If you're trying to hide dither, perhaps close colors and 50% are the best you can do (and in the past on blurry tvs it would not give anything away, really) but if you're trying to both use it as a blending device and as a texture device and you don't want banding...

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #148 on: October 19, 2011, 12:46:00 am
It is but then it's designed to be close to imperceptible. It's an interesting give/take.  If you're trying to hide dither, perhaps close colors and 50% are the best you can do (and in the past on blurry tvs it would not give anything away, really) but if you're trying to both use it as a blending device and as a texture device and you don't want banding...

I think you have done too much to apply your definition of banding to the traditional 50% dither without taking into consideration the fact that actual banding has a distinct unappealing look to the edge of a pixel cluster where as the 50% dither ( if also done in a relatively solid pixel cluster) will never give off that same striking appearance to the edge.
Your distaste in banding is justified, and the definition that you have created is mostly just fine, but it just so happened that you made a connection to that definition with the traditional dither and you're trying to fix a problem that really isn't a problem imo. Eliminating the grid seems like a moot point as most of your work ( while made with the intention of aesthetically formed pixel clusters) often showcases the grid. I know different pieces have different purposes but between your signature and avatar, " eliminating the grid( the actual pixel grid, not in the way a banding edge duplicates forms and makes the grid apparent)" does not seem to be a point of yours.

Your pattern dithers are nice, but they are just that: pattern dithers. The traditional dither, while allowing for texture, is also a bridge between two colors and our ability to notice it as 50% one color and 50% the other attempts to make our mind perceive it as one blended color. Pattern dither always seems to suggest smaller repeating details such as scales or pores on the skin, and while this is useful in representation or stylistic render, it fails at the main purpose of the traditional dither which is to make two colors into one.

Edit: I skimmed over the last part of " as a blending device and as a texture device and dont want banding". My argument still stands that to you the 50% dither is only banding by your definition and not by actual practice, but I think pattern dither has always been the obvious choice if you wanted both texture and blending so it should be the go to anyway- but not for the sake of perceived avoidance of banding.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2011, 12:54:55 am by Ryumaru »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #149 on: October 19, 2011, 02:04:53 am
The thing with banding is that the more you become attuned to it, the more you can see it. At your point in your pixel journey you might think I'm overreacting to 50% dither blocks banding. I understand that. But I'm not.

Again, I'm not saying people shouldn't use 50% dither, I might use it too. I'm just saying it bands. People can create whatever they want, with as much banding as they want for all it concerns me.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #150 on: October 19, 2011, 08:29:27 am
While that may be true, banding is nothing more than an aesthetic pixel device that has generally been deemed unattractive which is what caused your assault against it in the first place. However, the 50% dither has been proven to be generally attractive. While attractiveness is a subjective thing, large general consensus can hold ground. It obviously took you up until now to discover that the 50% dither bands. Do you now find it less attractive than you used to? While you may not want to admit it I would bet that you do now that you have attached it to the connotation of banding. Your perception of an obviously unattractive element ( common banding) has muddied your perception of something much more harmless ( 50% dither).
Furthermore, I highly doubt that you always saw something slightly disturbing about the dither in the way one would about common banding. Explaining your epiphany as a " thought" shows ( to me, based on what I read) that it was not an aesthetic observation ( 50% dither is unattractive -> why? -> ah, I see, banding!) but ( banding is defined by these terms and has these characteristics -> so does 50% dither -> 50% dither is a form of banding!). In this way you are fixing a non-issue in terms of general aesthetic. If banding was attractive, would you be so quick to eradicate it?

Just as other people can band as they want, so can you avoid it- however id be hard pressed to believe that finding unattractiveness in the 50% dither would come to everyone given enough study of the pixel. While I am at a much lower place in the journey of the pixel than you, I can say I have attained a certain level where these higher pixel orders are not lost on me. I could of course be wrong in my statements as I am not in your head. Maybe you did always find the 50% dither unattractive, but it didn't stop you, or anyone else from using it. The same cannot be said about common banding. If you are trying to fix banding in terms of generally pleasing aesthetics, your quest ends before the 50% dither; if you are trying to fix banding as it's own issue as a characteristic in and of itself ( such as not using a certain color in an oil painting purely for personal reasons) then of course you are to continue.

I apologize if you didn't really want this much discussion on the issue ( or if we are just both at the point where we deem the other " wrong"- a horrible place to be in a discussion), especially since I have not been practicing the medium recently. I have not however, stopped thinking of the pixel- and banding was something I can distinctively remember trying to address in my work before you formed it's current definition and ways to avoid it- and I harken back to those experiences when discussing this. I could tell it was a problem before I knew what it was- and feel that a similar feeling would have existed with 50% dither if it was equally as displeasing as common banding.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #151 on: October 19, 2011, 12:58:20 pm
So here's a small selection of patterned dithers that do not contribute to banding. Easing from one to another is bound to prodouce some, but them the breaks.




Hmm, the middle patterns of each row appear to have visible rows, because they have no diagonal quality. The bottom left and top right and left are good. I'd hesitate to use the middle patterns instead of 50% though because it would introduce lines, or... bands... into my transition.

I'm wouldn't be too picky about it in my personal work though, and all are good patterns which I might use, I just don't think visible bands are any better than the super dense (to the point of negligible) banding that is 50% dither.

I think a cluster needs to have banding across a visible length to be considered banding. In the case of 50% dither the fact that the corners are touching doesn't make any one cluster look any more aligned than another, because the clusters are all single pixels and are as offset as possible at their density. Introducing gaps into the mix to try to separate the corners just introduces clusters and potential rows or columns which are worse bands than any 50% could ever be.

Granted, you're talking about the

corners in B, but if that middle line was only a pixel long it would just connect the two lines in the most efficient way possible, with a single pixel and I don't think that counts as banding in any sense I understand it. If the middle line was 2 pixels long then I'd say it was banding, but 50% isnt double pixels, it's as meshed and integrated as you can get. If it was 50% dither with doublewide pixels, yeah, that's banding. But not with squares.

Interesting stuff though and I kinda rambled without a solid point, but it's the ramblethread, right? Not discouraging the notions you're bringing up, just offering my own reaction to them. Whether I disagree with them or not is irrelevant, exploring pixels like this is EXCITING. :'D

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #152 on: October 19, 2011, 03:00:16 pm
Quote
It obviously took you up until now to discover that the 50% dither bands. Do you now find it less attractive than you used to?

Chicken and egg is obfuscating in this case. It does not matter. I cannot rely on my memories, perhaps I looked at bandy pixel art when I was 17 and I thought it looked fine. Perhaps something felt off back then too, who knows? I can only go with recent memory and what I feel now. And yes, if you think about something in certain terms, facets of it slowly become clear. Practise and theory together urge me along in a direction, in which, possibly, 50% dither is something I'll be avoiding from now on. It's interesting to me that you feel the need to protect or stand up for the earliest dither. I am not insulting or assaulting it, it isn't such a case as with 'selout' for example, the dither has merit (obviously) and I'm not going to go on a crusade to eradicate it from new-school-pixel-art. It's just observations I make on my own path through the art, that's all I've been doing in this thread.

Atnas, your theory sounds about right that for something to be banding it needs to be more than a single pixel as a cluster. However zoom in on some art and look at dither-aa clash, then even single pixels touching a shape can band and distort the contour. And also, the more you zoom in and the more you can see 50% dither pixels, the more they're segmenting the resolution. It's just an interesting thing.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #153 on: October 20, 2011, 03:16:30 am
As I saw it, the beginning of this thread dealt with the minute pixel orders that bring things to the next level of professionalism and aesthetic solidity ( especially with the pixel perfect line examples as well as the balance of resolution disguising and representation) and this seems to gear itself as to what is commonly considered " good practice" in pixel art. So many problems arise when we work with something subjective ( such as the best way to work with a medium) but my defense lies with the thought that the 50% dither is not a poor practice like common banding is, and should not be treated as such. Many oil painters will swear away from the use of black paint, saying that it " deadens" the color and that complimentary mixes should be used to make neutrals instead. What they don't realize is the very style that seemed to advocate such color practices- impressionism never condemned the use of black pigment in this way. The real problem that falsely appears to arise from the use of black ( also prevalent in novice pixel art) is linear ramps that don't accurately change chroma or in the case of lighting and subsurface scattering on skin, hue.

This example is to say that as far as what is generally good pixel practice I believe you are deeming all black pigment ( banding) as poor practice when it is really only the linear ramp ( common banding ) and not the 50% dither ( using black pigment appropriately) that is the problem.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #154 on: October 20, 2011, 07:20:45 am
I said there are drawbacks to 50% dither, not that it's all drawbacks.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #155 on: October 20, 2011, 08:06:21 am
^
That I can subscribe to 100%.

Here is an example of where 50% dither (or any kinda dither, depending on how it hugs the edges of shapes or lines) can be problematic. It's something that I coined around 2006 as dither to aa clash, short ditaac.



You can see how in 1B the dither creates antialias between the main red shape and the black and white shapes, thus making the shape look more jagged than wanted.

In 2B the dither fill was made after actually aaing the shapes, as in 2A, and finally in 2C I made some adjustments to the dither at the bottom where the shape is aaed toward white so that there is no dark red of the dither next to the lighter red of the aa to white.

This kinda stuff is mainly a problem when working with limited palettes. Another problem that comes with 50% dither is a style one. Back in the day people pretty much only used dither for 2 reasons. 1) Colour restrictions and 2) On CRT screens dither, esp 50% dither is virtually not perceptible as 2 separate colours and thus the problems of both banding and ditaac become smaller. But nowadays people often use dither because they think it looks cool. It can, but not always does imo.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #156 on: October 20, 2011, 10:47:07 am
I said there are drawbacks to 50% dither, not that it's all drawbacks.

Given a small enough area, there are drawbacks to any particular pixel device when battling between good pixel practice and representation of form through squares, no? While banding can only be right if it is accurately describing details ( think occurance of banding in scaled photos) 50% dither's jarring problems only arise on edges such as ptoings example of ditaac.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #157 on: December 03, 2011, 01:29:08 am
I hope you don't mind the bump, but I've been trying to find dither patterns that work on edges and this is what I got:

I really like the "corner clusters", I feel that they have a lot of potential.
If you have any more patterns that work, I'd be glad to see them. :)
:B

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #158 on: December 03, 2011, 05:01:51 am
That's very interesting. Thanks for posting. It's complex, having to think of what the form you're patterning over is and how its edges go and picking a good pattern related to that on top of everything else.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #159 on: March 24, 2012, 11:04:21 am


...Look at these beautiful clusters. Only the 'R' in "Gear" has some banding on the curve that could be eliminated. Also a couple of black pixels where the greendither meets the hair could be removed to the benefit of the image, but whatever. So nice and sharp and well-thought out. Some pixel artist knew their stuff in TOSE.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #160 on: March 24, 2012, 02:27:42 pm
Isn't the Split in the Es and As and the bright outlines on top of and beneath the letters banding or am I missing something?
That's picture perfectly the example you gave about diminishing "infinite resolution".

There's also 45° anti aliasing on the G which, I guess, works if they tried to go for a glow effect but that is used way too inconsistently to be considered intentional.
Some parts of the logo are blurry, others are crisp to the point of having jaggies like for example the first A.

It seems weird that you who can't not see banding would praise this or am I just grossly misunderstanding the concept of banding here?
That wouldn't surprise me, actually.
Does scaling an image blur it?
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #161 on: March 24, 2012, 03:02:29 pm
Yes it is, but they don't want to convey a sharp edge there, but rather that gradiation. With the palette and the res, that's the best they can do. I only begrudge banding when it's avoidable.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #162 on: March 26, 2012, 12:39:07 pm
Yes it is, but they don't want to convey a sharp edge there, but rather that gradiation.

I'm looking at hi res versions of that logo and they are all sharp without any gradients on them so why do you think that is intentional?
Is it because of the impact a single pixel has at that resolution that you assume such a mishap can only be intentional given how deliberately everything else has been placed?
Well that doesn't explain the inconsistencies in other places I described earlier.

It makes more sense to me that this is sloppy anti aliasing so that the gradiation is in fact a subpixel.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 12:42:19 pm by 9_6 »
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #163 on: March 26, 2012, 01:20:39 pm
There's probably brand issues if you start pushing the logo around into your pixel grid to that extent, I can't see any way you could avoid at least some of that antialiasing.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #164 on: March 26, 2012, 02:30:36 pm
Yes, I took it as a style choice to make the vertical aspect of the logo a bit blurred while keeping the horisontal sharp, and this is the way the artist could do it with the means they had. Look at the cloud shapes, how almost all of them are good clusters, how there's little to no noise and how he buffers from the cloud color to the sky color  selectively with the middle shade, not everywhere making it a blurry mess. Look how the foliage (mostly) avoids banding well and especially look at how sharp and crisp the figure is.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #165 on: March 26, 2012, 04:38:22 pm
And then look how everything you just described just makes the beginner mistakes and irregular polish on the logo seem all the more jarring.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2012, 04:40:10 pm by 9_6 »
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #166 on: March 26, 2012, 11:51:55 pm
I don't see it as such a big deal.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #167 on: April 13, 2012, 08:48:44 am
I downloaded metal gear solid just for the art. Gameplay was amazing too ( until my emulator stopped saving progress). I don't want to say ahead of it's time, but it was definitely a great hybrid of being informed of higher resolution console graphics and consolidating it into the GBC screen with extremely solid pixel tech. Looks better than some GBA games. I don't have any issue with the logo either, It's easy to tell it was done with intent and it's not glaring anyway.

And those cutscenes too... Loved the inky style- the game had such a great aesthetic.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #168 on: August 07, 2012, 09:47:43 pm
I've been rereading this. It needs a *lot* of cleanup. I hope people can get through the strange writing style and the hanging metaphors and stuff to the meat of things. What I wanted to get to is that I was discussing with my friend who doesn't know much about pixels about what I've tried to contribute to the form and the two things I sketched out in paper for her to understand where about perfect lines and how to clean up cluster contours, and about banding avoidance. She got both very easily. These two things would be first and most important lessons I would teach a pixel newcomer. I think every pixel artist that wants to progress should take small photos of things and try to abstract them first in 1bit and then in 2bit to 1. learn how to make good lines and 2. learn how to make lines touch without too much banding. This knowledge can be systemized. If I weren't working two jobs, I would create a small curriculum and keep a repository of how people 'solved' the same set of images. Perhaps someone else wants to step up. Something like a high contrast human face to be abstracted in 16x16, a telephone, a car, a baseball, stuff like that, simple and iconic and useful. Not an oil painting.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #169 on: August 08, 2012, 01:37:45 am
I'd volunteer to assist with that,

something along these lines for the series of images and examples of the task itself to outline?




probably without the animation though, I just couldn't help myself  :-X

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #170 on: August 08, 2012, 08:06:03 am
Yes, exactly like that, though I'd like to see 1bit rendering, not silluette.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #171 on: August 08, 2012, 03:12:06 pm
more like this?


and I'll start hunting down the relevant images and collate them here for feedback, do you think it should be providing only one rendered example like this? and leave the rest so there is no influence on their approach?

and 16x16 >24x24 >32x32 is probably a great exercise, because to be fair 16x16 it's incredibly difficult and in some cases impossible to get any dicernably readable detail of some subjects in 1bit, but encouraging them to try, then increase their canvas for the attempting to further define the objects. but it definitely has merit trying to fit that detail in, because you push the limits of pixels and cement the boundaries of expression in your mind, and then with the 2 bit you reinforce how those 1 colour cluster boundaries can be overcome with more colours.

and well yeah I just think incrementally increasing resolution would be a really good part of the exercise and certainly not too much to throw at potential participants.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #172 on: August 08, 2012, 03:42:06 pm
Old style telephones in low colors reminds me of a prop in a 4 color hack n slash exploration platform game I was trying to develop about 6 or 7 years ago. 


Ok it's not 2 color but it is small.  :P  I'll be quite now.  I'm not even quite sure what this thread is about. 
« Last Edit: August 08, 2012, 03:43:48 pm by Carnivac »
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #173 on: August 08, 2012, 04:59:18 pm
 ;D that looks interesting, and the phones read quite well, not sure about that background purple and it's effect on readability

heh thought this was a good piece to use to explore gameboy style 2bit, I've read quite a few references about sprite and background layers having the possibility for adjusting brightness levels per layer so did it like that too, although it might've only been 2, I made 3 in my experiment. Anyway, here:



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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #174 on: August 08, 2012, 05:46:22 pm
I've no problem with the purple but maybe I'm used to it.  Also it's designed for a system where all 27 available colors are roughly equal to all RGB values of 0, 127 and 255 and those 3 of the 4 colors per screen (game area as the status bar could have it's own palette) often changed from screen to screen (flick screen rather than scrolling and the fourth color is always black) to add a bit of variety in atmopshere.  Certainly looks alright on the actual machine I was developing it for anyways and in the correct low resolution.  I kinda miss that project.   There's a full in-game shot of it in my portfolio here on this very site.  :(
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #175 on: August 10, 2012, 02:36:00 pm


God, the 1bit version is the most difficult. What part of the reference to change for readability, how to convey volume versus detail using only the same tool. Pixelling is hard. 24x24 seems to be a sweet spot for single item renders. It's a good idea to go from 16x16 and up I think, even if the 16x16 piece doesn't work on its own.

By doing this and comparing it to your version I've realized a few things about your technique that need work. Sorry if it's unwarranted critique. Forget about breaking up the highlight line at this resolution. It conveys sparkliness to some extent, I guess. But at the detriment of everything else. Leave the sparkliness for when you have more colors, I would say.

Yes, this is a good path. If you want, go for it, Grimsane. And thank you for the proactivity.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #176 on: August 10, 2012, 03:03:25 pm
No, not at all, thanks for saying so I was wondering the same, I think at 32x32 it works, at 24x24 it's questionable, and at 16x16 it's a really bad approach, I think also having a flexible 1bit colour range is hugely beneficial, and I was approaching it in negative space due to the black nature of the phone, I guess that isn't necessarily the best option at lowest resolution, but admittedly it's not something I've really tried, and I didn't spend too long doing them I'm sure with more forethought some things would become apparent, I actually only added that effect to the 16x16 ones at the last moment to make it match the larger icons (in hindsight rather foolish of me) if we were recommending how to approach it, I think doing them rather swiftly and doing a large amount and then going back and analysing the early attempts with a fresh eye and more experience garnered since would be some good advice, if participants spent a long time trying to perfect their first attempts they might burn up motivation before moving on to do the other images or resolutions, so it'd be a decent piece of advice to place in any forewords/activity brief

and I was pondering whether an alpha background/uncounted background tone might be useful even when subtle it helps separate the object from the background and allows readability of negative space like between the receiver and the cradle. while the brightest tone isn't touching the border and it's conceivable to use it as a background fill I think the background tone is something worth mentioning in the brief, it'll open up the rendering possibilities, and as Icons it seems acceptable

Going to search actively now, and probably post a series of thumbnails of the images. Because if the thumbnails read well enough we'll know the image is good for the task

* Here's a start, I can create an IMGUR gallery with the full resolution pictures once I am finished and the consensus in approval of the images if that makes it easier


« Last Edit: August 10, 2012, 10:47:46 pm by Grimsane »

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #177 on: October 04, 2012, 07:29:49 pm
@Grimsane:
Did you make an own thread for this?
If yes, where?
And if not, will you make an own thread?
I want to try it but I don't want to derail the "ramble".  :)

@Helm:
I learned more from this ramble than from many tutorials.
Thank you for your work!

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #178 on: October 04, 2012, 08:23:06 pm
I'm glad if I've helped.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #179 on: July 17, 2013, 08:18:44 pm
Alright, I've been pixelling a lot lately so new thoughts are coming to me. It's refreshing that stuff so elemental as what I'm about to suggest hadn't occurred to me. It means there's a lot more work to do to become better.

So, stop pencilling with a freehand dot. Use the line tool instead.

To qualify this, I am not talking about rough flat concepting, I would suggest freehand for that and a not-single pixel brush. Go from general to specific. But when you start rendering, essentially whenever you go to a single dot pixel, avoid working with the freehand tool, use the line tool (I am assuming the line tool is showing you the preview of the line you're drawing before you let go of the mouse button, a la Pro Motion - I don't think there's any pixel app that doesn't, but it's important so I'm mentioning that too).

Here's why: When you work with the freehand dot you tend to create bad, jagged clusters which you then clean up. That's fine, but I am sensing it puts the mind in a bad place to start with messy shapes and move to cleaner shapes *when rendering* (in concept flats, it's impossible to not have to do this). Make an effort to switch mindsets by switching the tool, and only put down clusters that have good shape when rendering.

The line tool helps in this because you can see a shape in front of you and you can alter it before you let it 'fall down' on the paper. Freehand doesn't do this, you can only undo. Getting caught in an undo-loop is bad for obvious reasons. So try to be mindful when you put down lines, even if they're 2-3 pixel lines. Consider perfect angles, and try to think ahead "how much of this cluster am I going to paint over when I go to a darker/lighter colour?'. In that in-between stage where you're rendering over flats, but not doing final nitpicks and hue shifts and other fancy stuff, try to describe the bulk of the information in the thing you're drawing with that middle shade, so when you paint over with other colors, the cluster guide is right there in the middle and it's a matter of replacement of parts, tapering edges, making an edge softer etc, than it is to add additional clusters that override older clusters. That's when you're left with ugly single pixels and odd jumps in the palette next to each other in unflattering ways.

The line tool helps visualize a good shape before you put it on the paper. It seems like a simple idea, doesn't it?

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #180 on: July 18, 2013, 01:16:27 am
Ah I see what you mean.
Building solid shapes from the line tool instead lines or outlines to fill.
I'll have to put something together for this and try it.

Vector art process has a similar sense of "start clean, get messy".
And also supports pre and post manipulation.

It'd be interesting to have a line length limit option to strictly control the size of clusters you could build.

Previews are a wonderful thing but are obviously restricted to math based tools or change.
But I kind of wonder, there could be other places that they might be useful.
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #181 on: August 10, 2013, 05:19:55 am
In Photoshop, when using a 1px brush, and I want straight lines I simply hold SHIFT and Left-Click - that draws a line from point to point. Pretty quick.

But you're suggesting actually using a brush that's in the shape of a line? What do you do when you need it to be a different angle? Which would be often. I like a 2x2 or 3x3 when slapping rough forms. Then a 1px clean-up.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #182 on: August 10, 2013, 11:59:57 am
He means the line tool which when you click and hold, or just click the first time then drag the mouse lets you see the line you are about to lay down.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #183 on: August 10, 2013, 12:35:20 pm
Not in Photoshop though. The linetool in PS does not show anything that is really representative of the final line before it is not set down (aka, bullshit).

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #184 on: August 10, 2013, 01:02:52 pm
Yah it's odd that it only previews the vector that will lay across the pixels as you move the mouse.
You can see the pixels that it will affect and how it will AA them if you turn on a per pixel grid.



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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #185 on: August 10, 2013, 02:07:03 pm
Eh, that is pretty weird, with the PP grid. Then again, I would never wanna pixel in PS, the only thing that I would ever use it for as far as freelance pixelart goes is perhaps adjustments and other such things which I can not easily do in PM.

There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #186 on: February 17, 2015, 02:04:33 pm
Single pixels that work

I know we all like single pixel speculars here and there. Aside from AA it's the other single pixel that's difficult to give up. I am going to present a single pixel solution for highlights that works within cluster theory, and it stands as an example of other similar solutions.

What's the problem with single pixels again? They lack direction, they look like noise. So they reduce motion to a piece and they reduce cohesion of the clusters working together.

However, if we can make a specular one-pixel highlight part of a metacluster, then the metacluster can give the single pixel motion, and it is by virtue of being a meta-cluster, more cohesive than just a single pixel on its own.

Consider a 2x2 pixel square cluster. Now consider another. Overlay them on their corner so they both share a single pixel. make that pixel extra bright, as if the two 2x2 blocks were in an overlay blend mode and they're adding up.




This single pixel has more motion (45 degree brush stroke, in this case) and cohesion (in a pyramid of brightness with the 2x2 squares to support it in the middle) than if it were just standing there just by itself. If the bright pixel has a value and hue relevant (not necessarily resultant on both fronts, it could be antithetical if you want) to the 2x2 squares underneath it, that's an extra layer of pleasing complexity.

The same premise works for a three pixel line with the middle pixel being a brighter single, or any other meta-cluster. Give it a thought.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #187 on: February 18, 2015, 03:35:53 am
yeah. I consider this a pixel artist's manual level of detail.
As a general notion I'd call it Embedded Detail.
It's a form of cluster based "anti-aliasing", that is anti-nonClustering.
Especially in works that would suffer from resizes, this approach stabilizes visual quality.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #188 on: February 04, 2016, 12:12:08 am
I know that it all started out as an idea / new approach and not by the intent to create a new rule.  If I recall right you even wrote that you, Helm, don't intended to do so.
The results are observable in the net, actually I don't care anyways. I just think it's highly interesting to observe the behaviour and effects something like this can have.


One crazy idea I wanted to share/discuss for quite some time now is "contrasting".

What you need to partake / make up your mind is a perfectly calibrated monitor - If you haven't a high quality monitor, which is pretty decent at giving back values your perception will be quite off.
Although you can calibrate your monitor with this tool (which already can greatly enhance perception): http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/

I also thought I'd reduce the concept down to the simplest example I could think of: 

-With contrasting I just mean how small/big the gaps we use between "areas of the same color".
As we all know color is quite a topic on it's own, so I am just focusing on value for this example
(which is basically one of the 3 dimensions of the hsv - color space - (hue, saturation, value) but also has the biggest effect).

I also decided to do my example against the most neutral color at our hands - 50% gray.

I made a chart which contains:
lines: squares at brightness levels starting at 50 and going up to 100 (pure white)
columns: outlines with a value level starting at 45 and going down to 0 (true black)

I think that there are areas where the outline looks "washed out"
I think there are areas where the outline starts to "burn" (the contrast hurts your eyes)
I think that there is an area where the outline just looks alright.

For this simple example I want to pin down the area where background, outline and the square look as a whole nice to your eye.
SO all you have to do is actually look at the chart and search the points where it starts to look washed out and where it starts to burn.

Beware that the human eye adjusts it's color with time. SO you should have looked at something else before you do this and try to not spend longer than about 5 minutes with looking at it, otherwise your perception changes, because of the architecture of the human eye.

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Offline Helm

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #189 on: February 04, 2016, 07:54:30 am
Very interesting. Starting from brightest square values, my eye seems to want 30-35-25 outline values for most entries.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #190 on: February 04, 2016, 09:20:31 am
Is this what you wanted?

The line between washed out and good is a bit weird to me, apparently.

also:
I made a chart which contains:
lines: squares at brightness levels starting at 50 and going up to 100 (pure white)
columns: outlines with a value level starting at 45 and going down to 0 (true black)

I think you meant those the other way around.
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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #191 on: February 04, 2016, 10:11:23 am
For this simple example I want to pin down the area where background, outline and the square look as a whole nice to your eye.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #192 on: February 04, 2016, 10:33:24 am
Ah, there's a theme here.

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Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!

Reply #193 on: February 05, 2016, 11:13:43 pm


My impression is that the color of the background is actually a lot more important to what good outline colors are, rather than the color of the outlined thing. Except if the outlined thing is very dark, in which case the outline has to be a bit darker for the sake of contrast.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2016, 11:19:29 pm by Mr. Beast »