Critique => Pixel Art => Pixel Art Feature Chest => Topic started by: Kashlavor on May 11, 2014, 05:56:46 am

Title: GR#185 - Minimalistic Orcs - Shading
Post by: Kashlavor on May 11, 2014, 05:56:46 am
New pixel artist, trying to work on some little animated sprites to add in to a Hammerwatch (http://"http://www.hammerwatch.com/") campaign.  I'm wondering why my orcs look sort of flat in comparison, I'm still new so I don't quite have down all the concepts of shading and form, so if someone could point out some specifics to work on it would help going forward.  Thanks!


The bottom sprite is one of the assets from Hammerwatch as a reference for their style.  I can see that theirs has a bit more volume, and I'm wondering how to achieve it.

PNG of the spritesheet.

Title: Re: Why are my orcs flat?
Post by: wolfenoctis on May 11, 2014, 07:15:10 am
Contrast is the primary reason your sprite doesn't look like the other one. The other reason is that you used too many colors on such a tiny sprite, which just reads as noise rather than shape detail.
Simplify the colors and shape of the sprite to make it more readable, clearly distinguish the different parts of the char by using bigger clusters of color. An edit to illustrate:
Title: Re: Why are my orcs flat?
Post by: Cyangmou on May 11, 2014, 11:28:29 am
Have the same opinion about all wolf said with his advice.

however I'd say that your many colors rather cause readability issues, since you soften shapes which shouldn't be softened and so you rather produce a gradient in a lot of spots there there than the form detail you intended to achieve.

Means if the contrast is to low colors are blurring together. Visually seen that's currently your biggest issue art wise.
If the contrast is to high, it gets to busy for the eye and you can't grasp the overall appaerance.
If the contrast is right as in wolf's edit colors will blend where they should (round helmet) and provide clear details were needed (face details)

To bring out form on such a tiny sprite you need a good seperation of planes and a good choice for colors, where they blend and where they contrast.

Wolf's orc looks really readable now but has 2 big things why it don't goes along well with what you want to achieve and still looks kinda "flat" if you put it on the background.

1)In terms of perspective it's pure sideview and therefore not in line with the game-world which has a 45 viewing angle.
Therefore wolf's sprite is not flat, but it's still not as 3d as it could be and it falls out of the world.
look at the perspectivical axis (chart, wolfs's orc, red lines).
If you look at original hammerwatch sprites you will see that they will use more colors, but more importantly you will see that every of the 8 directions has the same underlying raw base forms with cylinders where you can see the top and the front plane (check it out in the diagram - esp. the high res version for the knight).

2)Also on top of that Hammerwatch sprites tend to have quite small bodys and smaller heads.
If you want to capture the style effectively the head/body proportions should be somewhat similar.

side note: To ground the sprite you also can give the feet a sense of connection to the ground and a perspectivical appearance, which will anchor the sprite in the game world.

So I kept all changes Wolf made and just added these 3 thoughts on top of it which adress completely different points.

Title: Re: Why are my orcs flat?
Post by: Kashlavor on May 11, 2014, 04:14:39 pm
Thanks for the sweet feedback, I'll look over both of our stuff in detail.  I think I got pulled into a trap where I figured that one color looked flat, so therefore I must add more color.
Title: Re: Why are my orcs flat?
Post by: Kashlavor on May 11, 2014, 08:50:13 pm
Here is the next version.  Walking around, stabbing players.  Just 7 more directions to go...

Any hints for the process of doing each direction? I assume its just work but didn't know if anyone had any good techniques to keep it consistent.

Any other comments are welcome, I'm looking forward to putting it all together into something fun.

Title: Re: Why are my orcs flat?
Post by: Mr. Fahrenheit on May 11, 2014, 11:25:46 pm
Its probably a good thing you started with the horizontal ones, because a common trap I see people fall into is that they draw the north/south directions at 3/4s view then when they do the east/west they put it into sidescroller view. Just keep at it I'm sure you'll do fine.
Title: Re: Why are my orcs flat?
Post by: Kashlavor on May 12, 2014, 05:29:22 am
Definitely fell into that trap with the first version of the sprite I had going.  I started working on a few of the other directions, going pretty well so far.  I feel like there is something lacking with his "walking north" sprite though.


Thanks again for the feedback, this seems like a sweet forum.  Any way for newbies to get involved or give back a little bit?  I feel like you guys put a lot in looking at other people's pieces and teaching.  I mean, I could look at other people's art and go "...yup, looks like pixels, but I'm no expert."
Title: Re: Why are my orcs flat?
Post by: astraldata on May 15, 2014, 06:37:25 pm
Any way for newbies to get involved or give back a little bit?


The best way to give back is by doing exactly what you can, nothing more but nothing less either.

I've found the best way to get better is to help others get better.

Put yourself in the position of the teacher as often as possible. Whether you know nothing about pixel art or not, you always know something about something. On many pieces of pixel art, you may not be able to tell what's wrong with them because you're not familiar with better techniques, but as you frequent the board, and read others' threads where other experienced users are helping these new users, that effort by the experienced pixel artists of the community doesn't go to waste with you learning, whether or not the OP of that thread took their advice. Just learning the art through the mistakes of others' work being corrected is reward in itself, but applying that knowledge in an edit or working out what looks 'off' in a person's drawing/colors in your head and formulating that in words someone else can understand will help you immensely, not only in pixel art, but in art technique in general, and in the end, you'll receive more help than that OP could have ever gotten from even the most experienced pixel artist on this board.

After all, everyone has opinions on whether or not a piece of art looks good or bad -- but it helps a lot more when you can tell them "why" that art looks good or bad to you, and better yet, in what particular places. It just makes it more sweet if you can refer them to a simple technique or two that can help them fix their issues completely, making them more valuable to the community if they too decide to give back.

I came back here to give back to the community in the form of helping others to improve, since critiques by more experienced pixel-artists, as well as new users alike, in the past and present, have helped me to improve over the years.

We could always use more users who want to help, new or not.

Sometimes, all someone needs is an opinion, and an explanation of why that person feels that way, in order to improve.

Just food for thought. :)