Critique => Pixel Art => Topic started by: weaselpa on March 12, 2008, 10:41:49 am

Title: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: weaselpa on March 12, 2008, 10:41:49 am
Hello to all pixel fans out there...

Few months ago i was infected by a severe pixel art virus, more specificaly the 'isometric' one... Eventually the infection has spread over time so i thought i should post the first results of it for examination...
Am i dying here...?

Title: Re: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: Conzeit on March 13, 2008, 04:41:42 am
That is great. well, it shows a great conscience of space, you arent drawing the typical boxy house in ISO, this is something with several angles and I can see what you really thrive on is drawing with a projection angle, great!.

Can I ask where the design for the robot came from? is it your own? are you doing a game?...if you're doing a game, you could use some learning some illustration and animation principles.

Robot guy there looks very cool and you've figured out all the shapes very well, but he kinda looks like he's dancing around and not switching from a stance to a shooting position. Have you ever tried shading...anything at all?
Title: Re: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: weaselpa on March 13, 2008, 10:24:47 am
Thank you very much, 'Conceit' for the time you took to reply and for those nice comments...
The design of the robot is indeed mine but is based on several anime robots i've seen in my life... I don't know if i did well but i pixelated it right away without having made a sketch of it before... Maybe that would help...
Yes, i'm doing similar graphics for a turn-based strategy game i'd like to see completed sometime in my life... The point is i'm very new to pixel art so i don't know a lot of things and also there's alot of work that needs to be done... In side-scrolling, you only have two directions while in isometric you have four...
I've taken some animation courses and have done some flash animations (you can watch them here http://www.mytoons.com/weaselpa). Most importantly though i'm an illustrator (with a 'deviantart' page here http://weaselpa.deviantart.com/). So while i admit lacking certain amount of knowledge on animation, i'd like you to please point out in this piece what are the illustration principles that are not visible... Do you mean it's design or the lack of shading...? Since you mentioned it, i thought i should first finish all the animations and then proceed to shading as i think the black outline helps when you animate... As for pixel shading in general, i've shaded some static characters and an iso building...
As for the robot guy looking like dancing, i deliberately wanted him to have robot-like moves in order to save some frames in animation... Maybe the fact that the animation plays forever makes you have the impression of him dancing... Anyway, that's the reason i posted it here, so that people comment on it and advise me...
Title: Re: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: Conzeit on March 13, 2008, 12:10:21 pm
Oh ok, that's good that you told me that. Honestly, I only said anything about illustration principles because it isnt shaded or anything...keep in mind you didnt say anything about it being WIP! But I still think there isnt much Animation principles there =)

I think what's making the whole thing look like some silly dance is the startin/ending action. He raises his his gun and his left leg and twists his ankle. 
That's a lot of unnecesary movement that does not lead into the next pose and doesnt serve any secondary purpose like establish weight or character of anything of any use.

I see no reason he should raise his gun, if I were to do anything with his arms is scroll them a little bit to the direction they're going to take in the next keyframe.
For the legs, I dont think you need to show so much detail of how the leg is raised, I doubt you even have to raise that left leg. I think you should simply make him lean forward as his back leg goes into an increasingly horizontal angle to lean towards the next keyframe.

try to give this whole action a sense of acceleration, think of it as an ease-in...you should be familiar with it if you do flash. in general I think you just lack a lot of ease-in and ease-out, maybe because of flash you're used to the computer doing it for you.

You're making a game, so remember that the player just might feel like shooting 45967556 times in a row and you should do your best to not make the character look stupid EVEN if the player wants him to look stupid.

hm, and a final thing, when you make his shoulders shake as a form of recoil of the machinegun...either give it ease-in ease-out or make the shaking a lot more erratic and in multiple directions.
Title: Re: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: weaselpa on March 13, 2008, 10:15:11 pm
Thank you again for the comments... Since i'm new to this i do not know what the term 'WIP' means but if i understand correctly it is perhaps an unshaded pixel creation...?
Since he lifts his left leg, i felt he should also lift his right arm as well like someone who prepares to run... I never thought of what you're proposing here (not lifting his left leg but instead lowering his right one) and to be honest i do not know if i would like it... I really want the mechs to take that first step in order to take shooting position... In my mind this shows power (maybe i'm wrong but that's how i understand it)...
I also do not understand the 'I think what's making the whole thing look like some silly dance... like establish weight or character of anything of any use. ' you're saying... This will be a turn-based strategy game, therefore the moves will be limited and every move the mech makes will be initiated from the standing position... The player will have to order the mech to move and\or attack and\or whatever once per turn and won't be able to go around the stage shooting and killing enemies... So the possible event of a player shooting 45967556 times in a row would be a mission impossible in this game...
The first idea i had concerning his arms was for them to shake in four directions but didn't try it eventually for fear it would be 'too much'... Like they would be ready to be pulled out of the rest of the torso...
Overally, i surely agree with (i've already admited it previously) you on the fact that i trully lack major animation principles... However, i never let any 'Flash' do the easing for me as i draw every frame by hand... No program can compete the human perception...
Trully i thank you again for the time you consume to reply to this poor post... I only wish i had more comments on the matter...
Title: Re: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: Conzeit on March 14, 2008, 07:15:38 am
Hey, no worries, your prompt response and breaking down of my posts are proof enough that you listen, I CAN tell you're trying to be as responsive as posible and this is a great back & forth.
WIP is for work in progress =) I'm pretty sure this term is widespread in any art C&C comunity...I'm pretty sure.

Oh, I thought because you had animated flash you DID have some animation principles. That is why I used the term "ease-in" =).

Ease-in Ease out/ or slow-in slow out
is one of the 12 "animation principles" put forth by the big wigs at Disney, you can make a search for "12 animation principles" on google if you want. They arent as much of an animator's commandment as they were made out to be by Disney, but they're common knowledge among animators so I thought I'd refference it.
As action starts, we have more drawings near the starting pose, one or two in the middle, and more drawings near the next pose. Fewer drawings make the action faster and more drawings make the action slower. Slow-ins and slow-outs soften the action, making it more life-like. For a gag action, we may omit some slow-out or slow-ins for shock appeal or the surprise element. This will give more snap to the scene.

This is what I think you miss the most in your animation, there is a lack of rythm to it and in an action this short it can only be because of lack of "ease-in". This is mostly the case with the beggining of the animation, not so much with the part where he's got his two hands on the machinegun.

I can understand that you want the attack motion to communicate force, but...think again of your favorite animes which inspired this sprite (or the way jack bauer or whoever goes into shooting stance), it's more important to make the character lean into the action with a good pose that follows an action line, than it is to make him arbitrarily raise his leg while he stands fully upright. Dont take out the part where he raises his leg if you want, but make his whole body language have more energy rather than focusing on strong actions in a single part of his body.

Oh, that's great that you're being aware of balancing your motions even from the get go......but, there are more ways than raising limbs to keep the balance line sensible...

There is one thing about the raising leg too, and it is that your "intro" to the shooting pose is reversed to be exactly the same as the "outro", and the raised leg makes a much less sense as he goes out of the shooting stance, than it does when he goes into the shooting stance.

This dillema is something that you encounter often in sprite animations (and pretty much anything pixelart, really), it is the eternal balancing act between uniqueness and recognizable patterns.

Everything must be artistic, unique and good looking; but at the same time it has got to be bland enough that it doesnt make you aware that there's a pattern involved and pretty much everything you see has it all has been repeaded over and over again.

The answer most of the time, is to take out the single elements that call too much attention to themselves, and instead try to work a harmony into the piece that makes the whole reflect whatever your intention was. In your case I suggest toning down that forcefullness in your beloved leg movement (I can see the <3 , the ankle movement is lovingly detailed....sorry! that's how it is sometimes) and try to suggest that forcefullness with a big load of ease-in/ease-out.

Llook at doppleganger's "excessively tiled fun fest"(I'm paraphrasing here) topic for some fine examples of this harmony over flamboyant features aproach in tiling :p

My bad about the turn based thing, I instantly asumed it was some kind of Beat-emup or ISO-Platformer (hopeful thinking from my part :p I love them).

I can tell you didnt really understand my point about scroll-to animate....I'll try
to show you what I mean with an edit soon.

PS: if you want to work on animation, here's a blog with some good excersises


EDIT: ok, I made a rough n dirty edit and it showed me a few things-

Is there some limitation in the enginge that forces you to absoluteley keep the character centred in the middle of the grid at all times? this seriously demerits the animation

(http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b340/baybaybom/crit1.gif) This is my edit.

(http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b340/baybaybom/crit2.gif) This is my edit with some proper anchoring
(geez timing looks horrible in the browser for me, please open it in a gif editing software lest you think I mean for it to look that bad O_o)

See the difference? much of that forcefullness could simply come from actually showing him stepping in, instead of making him go trough the motions in while fixed in position.

Having the robot step in to shoot is fine, what isnt is that you give so much focus to him just standing straight while he raises the knee, if you want to give importance to the fact that he raised his leg and make it forceful, then animate the moment where he stomps with force.

Regardless, to the whole animation the act of him stepping forward is much more important than him raising a leg I think you might have missed this because you're animating it as if he was in a fixed position so you didnt realize just how much this character was really moving. Do you absolutely MUST start by animating in ISO AND with such a detailed character AND with the character fixed in a position AND doing this puppet style of animation? it is a pretty bad way to go if you're not confident of your animation skills.....regardless of how obviously good a sense of space you have.

if I was you I'd start with a simple character in side view, and animate him by drawing almost every frame...maybe doing the ease-in/ease-outs by selectively scrolling some of his limbs. ISO because of the somewhat top-down tends to force you to draw confusing sillouethes if you are not too experienced.

I told you that there were other ways to balance when you raise a leg, I chose to do it by making him shift the weight of his upper body a little early in the animation, I think it works.

see how I made the robot STILL raise his gun but it doesnt look awkward? if I was making the animation on my own I probably wouldnt have done it, but knowing you'd be resistant to my advice if I just took out a bunch of your elements and just did my thing with your stuff, I decided to work it in. The important thing about the machine gun now is that the way it moves follows an action line, (which is a line that is traced by keeping track of the movement of a  single element troughout the animation...for example the tip of the machinegun) not only that, but I also went out of the way by putting a bunch of frames before he shot showing the machinegun rotating into place, almost drawing the line of action with the machinegun.

Look at the way he makes the step, the foot is changed if only so slightly in the first frame where he's actually made the step, I did this by dragging sections of the foot either backwards or upwards, this  is a good looking example of what I meant when I suggested you scrolled things partially. I did this to the torso and the legs too but I left the evidence of it there, so you had an idea of how I did it.

I just went a little wacky with the firing part, much of what I did is incorrect but if you look at the movement it isnt strange, I just meant to show you that being a little erratic and scrolling things selectively doesnt look as bad in pixelart as it would in other medium because of the very pixelly nature of the medium.

EDIT: this is obviously a rough edit, and seeing it with far slower timing made me realize the frames dont really show very well the concept of ease-in/ease out...I had to re-edit the one with modified anchoring just to make this be barely related to the concept of ease-in/ease-out at all, but hopefully the message gets trough.
Title: Re: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: weaselpa on March 14, 2008, 11:41:01 pm
I just can't believe you put time and effort in order to edit my piece... My guesses are three: a) either you didn't have anything better to occupy yourself with, b) you love me very much or c) you're desperately try to find a mistake in this masterpiece out of jealous... Whatever the reason, i must thank you once more... I feel greatly indebted to you...
What i see in your edit however, is exactly the thing i wanted to avoid... What i see here is a quite dexterous mech that even takes a jump in order to take a shooting position... This animation would be just perfect for an organic character but surely not a mech... If this was a human character in an armored suit, then i'd animate him the same way... But this is a mech and i want it to look and behave like a souless object... I have the impression that all this easing-in\out you keep mentioning is based on the fact that i animated that mech 'not human-like'... I don't know if i'm correct by saying this but i know you'll clear it out...
I can say i like his upper half and the way you have lowerd the gun only at the last frame before shooting...
iPersonally i'm not very fond of strategy games myself but there are a couple of reasons i'm trying to make one... First of all, my love for miniature board games is great... In my mind the isometric tiles are board game tiles and the characters are the playing minis... Another reason for the iso in general is that i can create unlimited scenery where sprites can actually move inside it... Another reason for the turn-based strategy theme is the limited moving freedom it offers to the player... A unit moves in predetermined places and makes an attack once per turn... This is useful to me since i have to create and animate all units by myself... Lastly, i chose the mech theme for exactly the same reason... This way i won't have to animate complicated Disney-like moves but rather a strict machine-like move ('puppet' as you've already mentioned) with no emotion in it...
About the stomping on the ground you're mentioning, my idea is to create smoke lifting but for the heavier type mechs in order to emphasize the difference in sizes... However, as i said before, either light-weight or heavy-weight, they're all mechs and have this 'puppet-like' motion...
As for the character being stuck in the center of the tile, it is made on purpose... I have divided the tile in smaller ones as you can easily see in order to use it as a grid for movement and be able to put where goes what... As for the engine you refer to, i should tell you some things... I have no engine in my hands, i do not know how an engine works, i have no programming knowledge and i do not plan to get some in the near future... I know a person though who is a programmer and could help me but he knows nothing about my idea so far... I've got the idea almost right after my pixel infection back in October so i loosely started creating the graphics hoping that some day people will get to entertain themselves with my creation... I cannot know however when the time will come for i also want to improve my digital painting skills...
It may started sounding annoying but i feel i should thank you once more for the time you took to edit my piece and for the comments you make on it...
Title: Re: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: Hyrule_SwordsMan on March 15, 2008, 01:44:10 am
hi there!
you forgot 4) you are a really nice person

lol awesome for being your first pixel art!!

i like it very much, but i recommend you adding some animation frames
i also like the edit, but i understand what do you mean by "robotic movements" if you think its ok, you can start shading it :)

remember that we here don't have any reason to help each other but having a big heart lol or trying to help others the way we like them to help us :)
Title: Re: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: Conzeit on March 15, 2008, 05:28:24 am
heheheh, going into lengths about things to the point of making edits sort of good ettiquette here in Pixelation =). it's what makes this place special, and I thought someone as dedicated and apreciative of C&C should see the good side of Pixelation.

I'll reply more extensively when I actually read all of your post LOL.
Title: Re: New to pixel art genre...
Post by: Helm on March 15, 2008, 10:15:59 am
I also wanted to step in and say Conceit, that's pretty amazing critique and we're really happy to have you around. Weaselpa is a fellow greek that talked to me on gtalk and whom I directed here for help with his pixel art. I'm really gald to see him getting the full Pixelation treatment :) Thanks to Conceit again.

About robotic/human movement, I have no problem with your argument, weaselpa. If there's one thing I would suggest is that when the foot is lifted, the 'paw' part doesn't bend down. That's unnecessary movement for the robot if you think about it, it'll just land as it started so why bend the tip downwards while it's mid-air?