Pixelation

Critique => Pixel Art => Topic started by: Allegro on April 10, 2013, 05:20:39 am

Title: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 10, 2013, 05:20:39 am
Hi there, I'm new to the forum, but from what I can tell looking around it seems like a great place to settle in :)

I've recently quit my job and am working on making my first game. I'm heading up the art end of things while a buddy of mine is working on making the game engine. I just "finished" working on our first background, and thought I'd post it up here as I feel like there's still a little room for it to shine.

(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_level_oilsand_concept_v22.png)
So this is an approximation of what it would look like in-game. The idea is that the game will behave like an old school beat-em-up game so they can move in x,y,and z, but that barrier in the mid-ground will be as far back as they can go.

And here's the whole area that I've painted:
(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_level_oilsand_concept_v23.png)
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Fetthesten on April 10, 2013, 07:33:43 am
Looking very good to me, but to make it really sparkle, I have a couple of suggestions.

Your details are very impressive, and the whole background looks very solid. However if it were up to me, I'd add a few splashes of colour to break up the perceived monotony of the scene. Also, I'd add a colour gradient to the water. I can see you've gradually lightened the sky to make it closer to the faraway city scene, but you didn't do the same to the water (or whatever liquid it's supposed to be), which makes for a somewhat inconsistent look. Still, that's looking very impressive.
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Mr. Fahrenheit on April 10, 2013, 10:43:36 am
Definitely clean up the art on the rocks, it looks very messy and unrefined. The clouds are also nice but their shapes look messy as well and they don't fit in with the sky either. I would suggest you lighten the sky up so the clouds don't stick out as much. Same thing with the mud, dirt stuff it could be lightened up as to look like sand so it seems in the same world with the bright sandy stone.
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Cyangmou on April 10, 2013, 11:01:39 am
The overall impression is ok, you surely put in a huge amount of time, but I have to point out that the whole artwork lacks an actual sense of form.
You detailed everything really nicely, but you were by far too much concerned to put in small forms everywhere. While working on all those small things you lost the sense of your big picture and each of the areas with the small forms looks flat and repetitive.
Work from the big picture to the small details and don't start with detailling out each part on it's own and putting it together later.

I worked a bit on some foreground places
(http://www.abload.de/img/allegro_critiquez9zsq.gif)

Some other things I have to mention:
-You use hell a lot of redundant colors everywhere. The bg strip with the city has for example 11 colors, it's possible to get away with the same rsult if you'd only use 3 colors (I recolored it).
-The style of the character and the bg doesn't match. While the character looks really cartoonish and stylized (like some american tv shows), the bg uses a realistic comic impression (SNK Metal Slug). If the char should look like this make a more simpler bg, if the bg should look like this make a more realistic char - I think this is next to all points I mentioned the biggest issue.

I second what Fetthesden said about the water/oil and what MR. Fahrenheit said about the rocks
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 10, 2013, 04:36:58 pm
Thanks for the replies!

My in-laws are visiting for the week from another country, so I might not get a chance to actually adjust anything for a day or two, but I like the feedback :)

[...]I'd add a few splashes of colour to break up the perceived monotony of the scene. Also, I'd add a colour gradient to the water. I can see you've gradually lightened the sky to make it closer to the faraway city scene, but you didn't do the same to the water (or whatever liquid it's supposed to be)[...]

Right, I'd been thinking the same thing about both colour (admittedly I'm slightly colourblind so colour use has never come easy to me.. I like the slight purplish colour that Cyangmou used below) and the gradient. The gradient was supposed to happen and I guess just totally slipped my notice that I'd forgotten to add it.


Definitely clean up the art on the rocks, it looks very messy and unrefined. The clouds are also nice but their shapes look messy as well and they don't fit in with the sky either. I would suggest you lighten the sky up so the clouds don't stick out as much. Same thing with the mud, dirt stuff it could be lightened up as to look like sand so it seems in the same world with the bright sandy stone.

I wasn't completely sure how clean to make the "rock" as in my head I was imagining it to be somewhere between rock and mud... more like a clay, I guess. And I agree that the large clouds at least need to be tied in a little better. I can work at cleaning their shapes a little as there are definitely some messy spots in the detailing. I agree the sky could probably be brightened a little... I was not completely happy with how neutral everything is looking, however I think I'll need to darken the stone a little as opposed to brightening the mud. It's actually inspired by the Alberta Tar Sands, and I didn't want the liquid to be too dark, but it'supposed to be oil mixed with sand that will be ignitable (not looking forward to animating the fire effects).


[...]While working on all those small things you lost the sense of your big picture and each of the areas with the small forms looks flat and repetitive.[...]
I agree. The way you've built the volumes out is nice


[...]-You use hell a lot of redundant colors everywhere.
 The bg strip with the city has for example 11 colors, it's possible to get away with the same rsult if you'd only use 3 colors (I recolored it).
Sort of... I actually painted the city part with 3 colours, but I'm using Photoshop, and I have the sky overlayed ontop to help with the hazy look... I'm sure that's contributing to the 11 colors that you're seeing. Out of curiosity, are you using photoshop too?)


[...]-The style of the character and the bg doesn't match. While the character looks really cartoonish and stylized (like some american tv shows), the bg uses a realistic comic impression (SNK Metal Slug). If the char should look like this make a more simpler bg, if the bg should look like this make a more realistic char[...]
I'm not sure if I agree on this point. I do like the simplification that you made when building out the volume on the "bridge"... but I also think that I've seen plenty of film with simple characters and detailed backgrounds that I like... I'm going to re-evaluate how the characters look a little as I haven't done anything with them other than an idle animation (http://www.sprixelsoft.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_005.gif) so far... but I personally think the contrast between a simpler character and a more detailed bg can work.


Thanks again for the feedback! I'll post a revision as soon as I get some time to work on it!
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Cyangmou on April 10, 2013, 05:36:16 pm
Sort of... I actually painted the city part with 3 colours, but I'm using Photoshop, and I have the sky overlayed ontop to help with the hazy look... I'm sure that's contributing to the 11 colors that you're seeing. Out of curiosity, are you using photoshop too?)

Gimp 2.6.11 for pixels

I'm not sure if I agree on this point. I do like the simplification that you made when building out the volume on the "bridge"... but I also think that I've seen plenty of film with simple characters and detailed backgrounds that I like... I'm going to re-evaluate how the characters look a little as I haven't done anything with them other than an idle animation (http://www.sprixelsoft.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_005.gif) so far... but I personally think the contrast between a simpler character and a more detailed bg can work.

the simplification on  the bridge is there because I only threw in some quick forms. I neither added texture or pixel techniques nor I started with the actual process of refining. This early state already illustrates the things I tried to explain.

The "contrast between a simpler character and a more detailed bg" works actually. Early animated cartoons (Disney-films and also Ghibli Productions - to name high quality productions) are using a different "technique" for characters and environments. While the characters are drawn with lines and have flat colored planes, most of the bgs are made with traditional paint, like acryl, oil or watercolors. Nonetheless as well characters as environments are drawn in a naturalistic way and they fit together in terms of proportions.

The problem is that your chars proportions are remembering more of the proportions of TV shows like "Family Guy" or "Simpsons" have while your background remembers more of the realistic proportioned backgrounds - and here lies the exact style problem.

I hope you got now what I meant earlier.

Btw your char also has lots of anatomical issues, the most obvious on is that the legs have different lengths, but this is maybe due to the style.

Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 12, 2013, 05:10:18 am
I'm so... so slow at painting... :(


(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_level_oilsand_concept_v24.png)

A lot left to go... but I'm working at it.
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: razorshark on April 13, 2013, 11:30:37 am
Really enjoyed looking at your work so far!
Great job...  ;D

Based upon Cyangmou's comment,  here might be a quick fix for your thug's proportions... it may not be
perfect yet but perhaps it might lead you further towards a better endresult.

(http://www.razorshark.nl/wayofthepixel/thug_legfix.gif)

     Greetings and goodluck, DaniŽl
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 16, 2013, 05:02:54 am
Painting takes me forever :'(

still want to do more clean-up to the main land elements, but I feel that the barrier in the midground is working much better than it was.
(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_level_oilsand_concept_v26.png)
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Mr. Fahrenheit on April 16, 2013, 10:10:11 am
The wall looks much much better then before. If you can put that much effort into the rest of the rocks it will look great! :)
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 18, 2013, 06:31:52 am
Thanks!

I'm unfortunately going to have to leave it as is, and focus on animation for now, but I do plan on fixing it up... hopefully before the end of May.
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 21, 2013, 05:32:51 pm
Really enjoyed looking at your work so far!
Great job...  ;D

Based upon Cyangmou's comment,  here might be a quick fix for your thug's proportions... it may not be
perfect yet but perhaps it might lead you further towards a better endresult.

(http://www.razorshark.nl/wayofthepixel/thug_legfix.gif)


I didn't really want to change the proportions and create a larger sprite the way that you did as I feel that their size is how I want them, but I did refine their look a little. I think this is how I'm going to proceed. I have to start animating jumps and walks and runs today.

Here are the two versions side by side:
(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_005.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_008.gif)
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Peltast on April 21, 2013, 05:46:21 pm
I'm not at all an expert on animation, but just one thing to point out: I think the animation would benefit a lot from frames at the beginning/end that allow it to slow it down.  If you try to 'pulse' like that in real life, you'll notice you naturally slow down at the beginning and end of your movement; this is because you're pushing with your feet, and allowing gravity to slow your upward movement until you start going down again.  That happens in an arc, not in a linear fashion.

Take a look at fighter sprites and you'll see what I mean.  This isn't the best example, but I'm too lazy to find a better one:
(http://i.imgur.com/PQozcMF.gif)

And if you're up to it, I'd recommend animating the feet as well.  They are what is actually driving the upward motion, so it's most natural for them to move first and everything else to follow.
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 21, 2013, 06:33:28 pm
I agree to an extent, but there are a couple of problems... one being I just don't think I have the bandwidth to get all of the animation done if I increase the number of frames that will be in all of the various cycles.

If that weren't an issue, I could slow the fps down a little to help it be slower, however another problem is that at the size I'm working at, the character is only moving a very small number of pixels. The character you pointed out is larger, and so there's more resolution to play with subtle motions in... I'm not confident in my ability to make this more subtle at the scale that I'm working at.

Maybe it would be more appropriate to take out the animation, and leave it more like a Megaman or Battletoads style keep-alive where he just blinks on occasion? The characters are going to have multiple weapons that they can pick up and throw and swing, which means there will be multiple stances per character... so I'm trying to keep the stuff as graphic and the animation as limited possible

Now Scott Pilgrim used more frames of animation and looked great; but I felt that what I was doing might be a nice compromise between that and the old NES style idle animation : (http://images.wikia.com/scottpilgrim/images/6/66/Scott_idle_healty-1-.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_009.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/battletoadsidle.gif)

edit: meant to include an updated foot animation... I think it does actually make a difference.
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Jigsaw on April 28, 2013, 04:06:40 pm
It's not a question of resolution, or framerate, it's a question of timing on the frames you do have. I mean, sure, you can get more subtle motion if you increase resolution or framerate, but here's a 2 minute edit I did of your animation without redrawing a single thing:

(https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-KhrAbKw92MY/UX1IkDppg3I/AAAAAAAAIMs/MLOeo9aJE3c/s800/idle-edit.gif)
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 28, 2013, 05:23:15 pm
Thanks Jigsaw
I hadn't considered the option of holding each frame a separate amount of time. I've gone back and edited my idle and block animations get get something a little more smooth.

I have about 30 cycles I have to rough out in the next week, so it's going to be a busy week for me :(

Here's what I've done so far. (I want an extra frame in the jump just before landing and since I hope to reuse the bottom pose for our crouch... I'll probably see about adding an extra frame before the crouch too... unsure if it will be the same frame that will be used at the end of the jump. Also, I plan on fixing the size of the arms in the run, though I like them looking bulkier in the block and doublejump/tumble)

(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_block_003.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_012.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_walk_005.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_run_003.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_jump_0011.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_doublejump_003.gif)
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Seiseki on April 28, 2013, 07:13:38 pm
You really need to look into and understand banding because I see it a lot in your work.
http://www.pixeljoint.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=11299&PID=139322#139322

There's also quitea bit of pillow shading, for example the running animation, his arm looks completely flat.
I think you're pretty good at animation though, I see you even made his shorts move more like fabric, awesome :)

This might not be the style you're after, but I played around with it, practicing shading.
(http://share.cherrytree.at/showfile-9699/shortsguy.gif)

Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 28, 2013, 10:24:13 pm
Thanks Seiseki, I'll be sure to read that thread. It looks like a very good resource.

This is my first time doing character animation in about 8 years, and the first time doing it in this method, so it's kind of fun to get back into :)

It's interesting to see another take on the shading of the character, but I think I'm looking to keep things a little more flat/graphic than that.
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Jigsaw on April 28, 2013, 11:41:10 pm
FWIW I find the proportions in the running animation way more charming and pleasing to look at than in the idle or walking animations. The bulky arms help justify the disproportionately big upper body, and the shape and size of the torso looks much more balanced than in the idle animation. I would much rather see you adjust those animations to match the running one than the other way around.

On another note it looks very weird to me that the red - the darkest colour - has barely darker red outlines, while the much lighter whites, yellows and skintones all have solid black outlines.
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 29, 2013, 02:56:36 am
FWIW I find the proportions in the running animation way more charming and pleasing to look at than in the idle or walking animations. The bulky arms help justify the disproportionately big upper body, and the shape and size of the torso looks much more balanced than in the idle animation. I would much rather see you adjust those animations to match the running one than the other way around.

On another note it looks very weird to me that the red - the darkest colour - has barely darker red outlines, while the much lighter whites, yellows and skintones all have solid black outlines.

Ha, well, after a quick facebook poll, it seems like overwhelmingly my friends agrees with you. So, I'll keep the dude with big arms going forward.

I'm still not sure about the colors. The shirt is intentionally different since it's a part that we plan on palette swapping. We wanted the colors to stand out since they'll determine which team you're on.

(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_014.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_012.gif)(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_013.gif)

I'm personally partial toward having line colors determined by the object that they're outlining, while my partner seems to think that all black works... but we both agree that the middle one is a happy medium...
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Jigsaw on April 29, 2013, 11:59:32 am
The middle one is easily the worst in my opinion. All black outlines or coloured outlines is consistent, mixing the two just feels a bit confusing.
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Ymedron on April 29, 2013, 12:58:42 pm
Personally I think you could also try making the outlines lighter towards the light. I don't agree with Jigsaw, in the sense that I think making the outlines inside color areas (shirt, fist, face...) colored would help avoid choking the sprite.
The red area requires more contrast to make this work better. You could use the outline-color for the shadows and make a darker color for the outlines. :U

I'd also like to note that the character has practically no neck, and this necklessness makes him a bit... Goblin-like. Raising the head or even just drawing a line to show where the neck is would help connect the head better to the body.

Lastly, I think the colors you used here are a bit... Generic. They don't have an unified color sense to them, feeling more like you just grabbed colors from Paint's palette and adjusted their brightness a bit. Not sure what I'd tell you to do regarding that, maybe push them all toward a common color for unity?
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Allegro on April 29, 2013, 06:42:27 pm
Well I think that honestly I'd be happy with the fourth option in this image:

(http://www.sprixelsoft.com/HostedOnForums/Superhematoma_animation_male_thug_a_idle_016.gif)
1. All lines = black
2. Most lines = dark, but facial features = different
3. Just the red shirt is different (what we've been doing till now)
4. Just the -outline- is pure black, all other lines inside the body are colored
5. All lines coloured

I did the 1st one just to see, and absolutely don't like it. The again, I just don't like the weight it has. The dark colours in the interior feel too heavy and I just don't think I want it like that. I feel like 5 could work... but it's my partner's least favourite direction... so... it leaves me inclined to continue with the middle option.

I do however like version 4 there, which has a pure black outline which should proved a little contrast in all environments since I don't intend on having pure black in any of the bgs, and now the hands and such have coloured lines, like the shirt, so that it's a little more unified. Very similar to the original, but overall a little more consistent...

As for the color choice, the idea for our game is that people will be able to swap hair and eye pieces for different ones to allow for different looking characters. They will also be able to palette swap the hair colors, and skin colors to further customize their characters. This means there are going to be a variety of colors being used on screen at once to help make the characters look different. We haven't entirely decided yet if we're going to have the shirts themselves custom swappable or if we're going to control shirt colors to distinguish teams. If we don't use shirts to designate teams, we'll have to do something else, like adding a glow around the characters. I'm leaning toward the clothing color determining the team.

Either way, I'll probably be a little more concerned with refining those colors a little later
Title: Re: Just starting out on my first game!
Post by: Mr. Fahrenheit on April 29, 2013, 08:57:18 pm
Try to keep your outlining more consistent. On the lower side of the extended arm there are stray pixels in the outline and it has been bugging me to no end. Some areas are single pixel outlines, others are connected lines like on his shoulder. Personally I think the colored outline is the best (number 5).