Critique => Pixel Art => Topic started by: Baba on September 22, 2013, 06:35:23 am

Title: Help with palette
Post by: Baba on September 22, 2013, 06:35:23 am
Alright, so I feel like this is going to be one of those questions y'all have heard a lot, and probably have a rehearsed answer for. I've been all over the internet looking for some kind of help with picking palettes. I just can't wrap my head around it. I feel like a proper palette is the big thing holding me back from getting some decent work done. Sure, I could find drawings I like and steal the palettes, but that's not really what I'm about. Besides, I feel like picking your palette is part of that pesky "art" word in pixel art. I just cant seem to find colors that convey depth, or work well together. They look forced.

To summarize, how do y'all pick your palettes? Is there some kind of rule in adjusting HSL that I've not found? If not, is there a kind of beginner's rule of thumb that might help me limp along until I can get a little more familiar with what good color combinations look like?

I'm particularly interested in backgrounds at this point, by the way. I'm also floored by the stuff on this thread http://wayofthepixel.net/index.php?topic=15712.0 (http://wayofthepixel.net/index.php?topic=15712.0)
Title: Re: Help with palette
Post by: Decroded on September 22, 2013, 07:50:22 am
Ok this is way outside the scope of what your asking but I don't think most people can just start fresh and magically create a good palette for any occasion.
Either your lucky to be educated, talented, or like me you just try, fail, read, learn, try again...rinse and repeat.

I used to feel that way but just practicing and learning basic rules has helped alot on the never ending journey.
There are some very basic rules: Contrast, saturation, colour warmth and detail (as opposed to flatter blocks of colour) attract attention.
Knowing this, you should not fill your screen with noisy textures and full saturation.
Things further away get less saturation because of the atmosphere.

Colours, and combinations of colours can be used in so many ways to convey all sorts of moods and themes.
The overall colour theory in the stuff you refer to in that link is rudimentary really.
Its good to hear you find it appealing and it is supposed to be colourful and attractive but its far from unique or outstanding.

I'd advise to jump in and start something, then maybe do some reading about colour theory until you get bored, then go back and keep developing what you started.
I think its really important you ensure you start with a solid idea for your piece and work the colours when the time is right rather doing it backwards.

What do you want to make? A mockup or an art piece?

If its an art piece you really need to pick a workable size, nothing TOO large, limit your subject matter, think about mood of whats going on, think about perspective, do one or more rough draft by blocking things in (do NOT get caught up in detail and worrying about colours), consider how the elements in your composition balance and where the primary and secondary focal points are.

If your making a mockup, what perspective? whats the theme? what kind of environment? what kind of characters? pick a game-size resolution and start blocking in the elements of the scene. don't get caught up in individual tiles and sprites too early on. i've become a bit of a save whore, i save the file in increments as im working and keep a few previous versions just for comparison. later i usually delete the bulk of these files but maybe keep a few of the major steps for reference. especially if ur not confident what ur doing, at least u know if u really screw something up u can just revert.

During either of these processes, I'd advise against just building a palette and trying to work from it the whole time.
You should really consider your light source/s early on. Consider scenes where there different kinds of light source with different colours (e.g. hotel room with lamp, but there's neon sign out the window followed by moonlight).
Just pick some general colours you want and start drawing with the bare minimum number you need.
Once you've drawn some stuff you can start tweaking colours to suit your use.
I have a habit (good or bad?) of working in fairly low contrast and saturation then tweaking and tweaking colours as I progress for more contrast, play around with saturation and warm/cool etc.
Sometimes I just shortcut by using the software's colour adjustments like contrast slider (generally with a bit of manual tweaking to follow).
Here's an example where I decided to chuck in a dramatic increase in contrast and saturation at the end (draft sketching, not finished):
Don't start drawing things with heaps of colours, just block in the very basic shades (really, just follow this great advice - http://wayofthepixel.net/index.php?topic=15738.msg144324#msg144324).
Don't get too attached to particular colours, just keep tweaking.

So get cracking NOW and show us your rough drafts so you can start learning!  :lol:
Title: Re: Help with palette
Post by: Baba on September 22, 2013, 05:03:39 pm
That was a longer response than I expected, but I appreciate it. So you're basically saying not to focus on any one area more than another, if I'm reading that correctly? Just let it all kind of build together naturally?

Maybe this will help demonstrate what I mean. I've drawn this character (I'm thinking something like an old timey pilot), but I just cant get the color situation worked out with it. I feel like the form is what I'm looking for. His right arm could use a little work, and maybe some detailing on the bomber jacket too, but I don't think it looks TOO awful how it is.
Title: Re: Help with palette
Post by: Decroded on September 23, 2013, 01:25:26 am

Regardless of the colours there's some work to be done on the forms first of all.
Its hard to tell whats going on here.
At the moment he looks like he's doing a little dance or something.
Is it a random drawing for fun or do you like to imagine him as a character in a game?
What perspective are you going for?
A) SIDE: (http://cdn.scratch.mit.edu/static/site/projects/thumbnails/163/7346.png)
B) TOP-DOWN: (http://snes.in/ss-translations/seiken-densetsu-3-english/seiken-densetsu-3-english.03.png)

Title: Re: Help with palette
Post by: Baba on September 23, 2013, 04:08:04 am
I'm definitely thinking a potential game character. I'm coming at all of this stuff as a programmer, first of all. I'm shooting for something like a less intense (easier to draw might be more correct) FFVI, as far as the graphics go. Mostly I'm re-learning the programming side and need some graphics to work with, so I figured I'd start getting into that as well. That being said, the reason I want to get back into this stuff is to get started on putting a portfolio together, more to show off programming than the graphics. I just figure it never hurts to understand more of each piece. Makes it easier to understand the whole, y'know?

To answer your questions more directly, I'm imagining this guy (and future drawings) as characters for a game. I believe the term for what I'm shooting for is 3/4 perspective for this particular drawing, but as I'm freshly getting into all this, I may be off base with that. I'm not as sure what you mean when you say it's hard to tell what's going on and what kind of work you'd like to see on the form. I don't mean I disagree, just that I'm not seeing what you're getting at. Do you possibly have an example closer to the form you'd use in this case? I don't really want somebody to do the work FOR me, just maybe a point in the right direction.
Title: Re: Help with palette
Post by: Decroded on September 24, 2013, 12:42:17 pm
Well your guy is just kinda bulgy and puffy, there's no definition in the shapes.
He has balls for hands.
Your better off just using flat clusters of colour than trying to render the hands like that.
Remember, not everything HAS to be rendered.
I dunno if you read through threads like this but I recommend practicing follow what they do here - (Helm's Ramblethread) (http://www.wayofthepixel.net/index.php?topic=15566.0)
I didn't participate yet but I been doing all these edits instead to help myself learn (selfish! :o) and hopefully help others in the process.

Had some fun with your sprite without dramatically changing your colours.
Perspective is still weird if you look at his feet and not even close to the RPG perspective you wanted coz I got distracted going for a Metal Slug vibe.
I used this as a reference (YES USE REFERENCES!) - http://www.southafrica.to/transport/Airlines/Cheap-flights/images/2013/biggles-pilot.jpg (http://www.southafrica.to/transport/Airlines/Cheap-flights/images/2013/biggles-pilot.jpg)

Its not great compared to what other ppl here can probably do in 5 minutes but hopefully this progress helps a bit:
1) centre sprite and fill with mid-grey to check the values of the colours.
2) increase contrast from software's tool. blocked in the lighting on major forms like torso and leg.
3) Lose some weight. Try to balance him as he looked a bit uncomfortable leaning forward a bit and hunched.
4) Rough idea of where stuff is gonna go, try for more interesting pose.
5) Skipped a bit here sorry but basically just a bunch of pixel pushing.
6) Dunno why I added outline but its just a habit I'm in right now  :yell:
7) Bit more pixel pushing too "finish" off.

Things to point out:
Face is primary focal point so its fairly bright compared to torso.
Likewise with the thumbs up which is kinda where your spozed to look next.
Dunno if you can tell its a kind of badge on his shoulder but I kept it subtle as I didn't want your eye goin all over the place.

*Fixed link
Title: Re: Help with palette
Post by: Baba on September 24, 2013, 10:24:41 pm
Alright, I see what you're getting at. I had just taken the sprite for Sabin from FFVI and kept the shape and everything, thinking that he'd keep that muscular look. In that case, the coat WOULD look puffy on him. But now that I'm thinking about it, who thinks of a pilot as a muscular dude? Lol basically I'm trying to say that your edit looks a million times closer to what I would like to see than what mine looked like.

A couple questions for you:
I'm assuming you kept the 64x64 resolution?
Everything I've been reading about talks a lot about the light source. I guess you did yours here as like directly in front and above?
The brightness of the face that you're talking about - did you use pure white for the teeth and eyes to get that?

Alright, I'm going to take what you've told me here and put some effort into another character. See if I'm learning anything.
Again, many thanks.
Title: Re: Help with palette
Post by: Decroded on September 24, 2013, 10:37:31 pm
Pretty much overhead light source with illimunated face.
the rest u can just open ur graphics software and check ;-)
Title: Re: Help with palette
Post by: Baba on September 25, 2013, 12:26:02 am
Yeah, that's true. I'm just at work right now, so I don't have my preference of programs at my disposal, and I'm impatient lol
Title: Re: Help with palette
Post by: Decroded on September 26, 2013, 08:15:13 am
...I had just taken the sprite for Sabin from FFVI and kept the shape and everything...
I'd advise against doing this because its not really going to get you anywhere and its often harder and takes longer than just drawing from scratch.
I would advise getting involved in this forum though, reading other peoples posts and helping out where you can because I feel like I'm learning alot doing this.

To answer your question, I tried pure white for teeth and eyes but it was too intense so I dropped down the brightness a touch.

I think you might find it a bit more forgiving to draw your next guy a little bit larger, maybe a 96px canvas.
Don't be afraid to post early/shitty sketch.
For example some artists just do a page full of quick silhouettes (working fast and loose to get some more creative designs), then pick their favourite to develop a bit further, then pick whatever is working best and polish that off to finished product.

I personally still use Photoshop (not very popular for pixel art though), and I frequently duplicate the layer and keep screwing around with the next layer.
This means I can freely and safely move on without having 50 files to save, easily compare as I'm progressing, revert steps where I do something stupid, and finally create a progress GIF.

In case this helps, here's a couple of other posts where I draw the sprite from scratch or from a rough sketch:

As in that other post, I usually work in H mode in the Color Picker since it gives me full control over a particular Hue, and is still easy enough to slide the Hue bar up and down (I like scroll wheel for all the text boxes and bars).