Critique => Pixel Art => Topic started by: lagoonsmerging on August 08, 2020, 02:22:17 pm

Title: Clouds during a red sunset
Post by: lagoonsmerging on August 08, 2020, 02:22:17 pm
Hi everyone,

I started pixeling a few months ago and, after a few first attempts, am aiming to improve with some of your help.

I'm currently working on clouds during a red sunset with a rather dark sky. I got two versions and would like to know which style you prefer and how I could improve on it.

They're planned to be part of a small project for the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis, so the palette only consists of colors the hardware can display. They're also meant to be displayed in full size on a screen with a resolution of 320x224. I'd like to keep the palette rather simple, currently it consists of 6 colors and I might need a few more if I plan to add a sun or some other stuff (haven't decided on that yet).

1 The cloud looks a little 'empty' compared to 2, and I don't know how I could improve on the shapes of the different layers.

2 I added some more 'texture' to the cloud. I'm really undecided whether I should go for this style or rather the one in 1. It looks a bit more interesting, but there's also more noise. Again, how could I improve on the shapes, or is there perhaps something else I'm missing?

Both: the lighter-blue parts below the cloud should indicate that the background is a solid cloud layer with a few openings that reveal the blue sky behind it.

Any advice is greatly appreciated!
Title: Re: Clouds during a red sunset
Post by: SeDiceBisonte on August 11, 2020, 10:15:43 am
I prefer the first version since, as you say, it's less noisy. For the same reason, I'd remove all the little bits of dark cloud and focus on larger forms. Chonky Pixel has a really good post about drawing clouds here: https://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=48706.msg230771#msg230771
Wherever I've deviated from his advice is just due to my own inexperience and the image dimensions.

I've done a quick edit with what I hope is the correct palette (I'm not familiar with Sega systems but I got it from a Sega fansite).

There are plenty of images on Google but I particularly referenced these two:

There's a lot of detail in these images but, at the scale of your image, I think it's better to strip most of it out and apply the most general elements. It's also helpful for the background to be less cluttered so it doesn't make the foreground harder to read, and this is very important in a game since players need to know which elements they can interact with. At the full Mega Drive resolution, you could probably emulate the exact cloud forms much more closely without them becoming too busy.

You can see in the references that the top of the clouds aren't super dark (appearing more that way because of the contrast with the brightly lit parts). I made the top purple (based more on the first reference and other images I found), which also lets this particular cloud stand out against the dark blue of the rest of the cloud cover.

I struggled with the holes in the cloud. I don't think they're very easy to suggest at this size, but my intention was to have them appear in horizontal strips, with the tops being flatter (as they're also the bases of other clouds) and the top being filled in with the bubble shapes of the top of the clouds that are further away. On a larger scale, I think that would suggest dense cloud cover against the blue of the sky.
Title: Re: Clouds during a red sunset
Post by: lagoonsmerging on August 12, 2020, 09:15:50 pm
Thanks a lot for the feedback and the edit! It makes a lot of sense, especially stripping out lots of elements and sticking with the most prominent ones. I will integrate your feedback as soon as possible, might be a few days, though.
Title: Re: Clouds during a red sunset
Post by: lagoonsmerging on August 26, 2020, 07:56:36 pm
Hi again,

I tried my best to integrate your suggestions (and those from the linked thread) in my own way and sticking closer to my original palette (I did replace the second-brightest red with two other reds). For now I omitted the brighter blue parts, I might re-integrate them at a later point.


Hope I'm not too late for some more feedback, I did have a few things to take care of the past two weeks.
Title: Re: Clouds during a red sunset
Post by: SeDiceBisonte on September 01, 2020, 04:59:54 pm
That's looking good. It definitely feels more cloud-like now it's less busy. I didn't intend my edit to look like there was a brightly lit cloud hovering directly in front of a larger, darker, more distant one I can see it looks that way now but it was more a product of the canvas size, so that aspect of the newest version looks a little odd. I pictured a cover of dark cloud with a few breaks in it and individual clouds dotted around the sky.

I also reckon the bit on the bottom left could be less pointy, but that's a very minor point.

Have you done a full background version, out of interest? I'm curious to see what a full mockup looks like!
Title: Re: Clouds during a red sunset
Post by: bengo on September 05, 2020, 01:51:07 am
Hey there! Good effort on those clouds, they're looking pretty cozy. So, I agree with SeDiceBisonte, you should definitely google and reference some pictures of clouds at sunset, it'll give you an idea of what kind of colors you can expect to see. It's quite a pretty shift, going from blues and purples to pinks and even some peach oranges. Color pick and check it out! I feel in yours you don't have drastic enough shifts, I also think you should keep in mind saturation shifts (You don't want everything fully saturated, from a design standpoint you typically want areas of interest saturated and "rest" areas to be desaturated).

We also need to understand that, while clouds are quite fluffy and almost formless, they're still planar and will follow the laws of light. It might be good to treat them like cubes at first, maybe only using 2 or 3 colors (so one for shadow, one for light, one for bounce light which will be very subtle and not much brighter than the shadow) I think this will help simplify things. Then after you can round out the forms and add all the fun "cloudy" shapes. Worry about the big shape then the details, this is especially true for pixel art. Another thing to note would be there's a gradient in the sky, it goes from bright at the bottom to darker the higher up it goes.

I would recommend checking out this video on painting clouds, while you're doing pixel art the fundamentals of art still apply- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRBG9zJ5Alg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRBG9zJ5Alg)

Here's my edit of the picture trying to keep in mind the principles I stated above. Good luck and excited to see another update.  ;D
My edit:

P.S. I just remembered this was to be done with a specific palette I completely forgot while I was doing my edit. I would still recommend changing the colors used; if there are colors closer to what actual clouds' colors are in the MD/Genesis palette would be I say do it.
Title: Re: Clouds during a red sunset
Post by: lagoonsmerging on November 10, 2020, 08:48:29 pm
Thanks so much for your detailed feedback and suggestions. Things have turned out for me in a way that I won't be able to pursue this new hobby for a while, but I do want to get back to it in a couple months. Should have mentioned it a little sooner, and I definitely don't want to appear unthankful, I really do appreciate your help a lot and plan to implement your suggestions after a little break.