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Pixel Art / Re: Small humanoid alien walking animation (for a WIP game)
« on: August 22, 2012, 02:55:06 am »
First off, cool animation! It's very smooth and absolutely nothing seems wrong with it (which is saying one hell of a lot!)!

Second, do you have photoshop? There are some things you could see firsthand that graphics programs could help you see some generally good things you should be thinking about. Forgive me if you're not looking for any critique on your in-game screenshot, but it's there and you posted it and... well, I just can't help myself! If you'd like, here are a few things to think about

First off, values. In photoshop, there are a bunch of ways to look at this. One is to convert the whole image to greyscale so you're not getting confused by colours, and then to eyedropper your various darks and shadows and highlights to see what is actually the brightest. Values are extremely important, and while you can manipulate them to intentionally put very extreme values somewhere important, I don't get the feeling you're doing this! What I'm seeing is that your value ranges aren't consistent, and it's contributing to making everything look like they're under different lighting conditions or part of a different reality. Consistent values visually contribute to a consistent image! Need proof? Look around you! Failing that, do the same experiment on screenshots of your favorite games! There's a lot to learn in controlling values, and it's one of those things that actually takes forever to master... so you might as well start now!

(an easy "fix" that actually just lets you see more consistent values in action is to open the levels slider (default ctrl-L) in photoshop and slide the leftmost arrow about 1/3rd of the way to the right. It ends up looking like this: looks a little more consistent, right? For a literally 2 second edit, not a bad step in the right direction, no?)

Second, light sources. A simple criticism, but the light hitting the laser-emitting box seems to be coming from the bottom left, where the light on the wooden box is coming from above and left. The light on the rocks seems to be coming directly from above. Establishing a unified idea for your setting is important if you're making a bunch of things that are supposed to exist within it. Again, consistency is important, and that's one way to get there!

(also related to light sources and consistency: It's the same light hitting everything, right? Why is light interacting so differently with your character as it is with your boxes or the stone? It is definitely true that light interacts with different objects differently, but people have a subconscious visual understanding of how things should look, so if you're accidentally shading wood in a manner befitting of clay while having it look like wood, it will raise a visual conflict that people will feel as icky until they can redefine their understanding of the world to allow for this new world you're creating. This is why games like iji ( can have SUPER simple graphics that don't necessarily obey the real world as we know it, but still follow enough "real world rules" for it to be visually understandable and do it SO DAMN CONSISTENTLY that it honestly feels like you're experiencing a graphical wonderworld even though any one screenshot isn't all that pretty.)

I hope that makes some sense! Again, the animation and character itself are super awesome! As a stand-alone, I honestly wouldn't have any crits. How it fits into its world could use a little bit of work, but honestly you're so far along in the right directions that it very likely isn't as much work as you'd think it is.


General Discussion / Re: On getting critiqued and battling critique
« on: August 21, 2012, 12:41:13 am »
There's no audience in the sense that there isn't any specific person I could think of that would directly benefit from this advice NOW. That obviously doesn't mean it isn't good or thought provoking or won't benefit anyone ever, it just seems odd because it comes as something without obvious origin, which personally makes me uneasy :D

Also, as to why I'm reading this... honestly, on pixelation you'd be comparable to Morgan Freeman reading something. It doesn't matter what you're saying, I'd listen, because statistics show that more often than not it was a pleasant/useful/intriguing/informative read. To make this slightly less uncomfortable to hear, you're not the only one on this site that I'd attribute that quality to.

I struggle with the concept of fighting criticism being unambiguously bad based on a difference between internal monologue and external communication. In exactly the same way that no-one can know what your intentions were for any piece of art, it is impossible to tell exactly what someone was feeling/thinking in objecting to a criticism. What's important is the internal monologue, where someone will decide for themselves what their actual stance on a situation is... the external communication is more readily corrupted by silly things like emotions and thereby not necessarily communicating the truth of the thing. While there always is truth to what someone says, it might not be the truth they intend to communicate that comes through. Because of that, I say go for fighting criticism, because no matter what by communicating the truth in what you feel, and as long as your internal monologue is willing to accept presented changes it shouldn't matter what you're actually communicating(*).

(*) Obviously this only applies to someone's PERSONAL benefit. In the interest of maintaining a positive community, obviously it matters what you're actually communicating. The only person that comes to mind on the subject of this subject is Xelados Nafshir, who was an extremely verbose individual and was eventually banned for something, despite from what I remember not coming across as an expressly unchanging or terrible person. I don't mean to say he shouldn't have been banned (I have no idea what he was even banned for, specifically!) I just remember him as someone who quite frequently opposed criticism outwardly, but was inwardly changing or accepting the criticism or improving or whatever. It would take some convincing for me to believe that his conduct was untrue to himself.

The ultimate answer is probably that my personal philosophies on this subject are just different. I guess that's also part of why it seems odd.

General Discussion / Re: On getting critiqued and battling critique
« on: August 20, 2012, 03:38:18 am »
It seems odd for the information to appear unprovoked and without a specific audience, though!

General Discussion / Re: Official Off-Topic Thread
« on: August 17, 2012, 02:51:03 am »

Drawing in itself is never bad. I'm certainly no expert, but I'm someone who is perpetually stuck in thought, and this is a subject I've put some thought in to. Forgive what might turn out to be a massive vomiting of information (and mind that these are only my thoughts, so don't let me corrupt you with any mistakes I've made!)!

Drawing is a form of communication. This shouldn't be a hard concept to grasp; just as people speak or write or wave their arms frantically to convey some information or message, drawing is equally used to record and convey information that can be used at a later time. Often the message is less direct in intention than more formal methods of communication, but the beauty of art or drawing is that the message almost always has a certain ambiguity about it. The viewer of your message and information will almost always apply their own breadth of visual understandings to your message. While drawing has a lot in common with formal/literal communication, it

There are two aspects to any communication, your physical/mechanical ability to perform, and the mental message you wish to convey. In speaking or writing, your vocabulary is the primary physical restrictor on how accurately you can communicate your message. In drawing, your physical ability to produce the strokes/lines/marks you intend to is the primary restrictor on your ability to communicate your message. Someone could have a crystal-clear image of what they hoped to produce, but if they lack the mechanical ability to produce the lines or pick the colours or otherwise manipulate their tools, it is quite possible that they'll end up with a message that isn't quite what they intended. The beauty of art, again, is that this is totally okay. It isn't nearly as easy for the viewer to pick out where you've minorly mussed up your message, as there will typically be such a wealth of information that picking through it for the nitty gritty would be too imposing and uninteresting a task for the casual communicatee. But I digress! While I'd hope this is at least thought-provoking, it isn't necessarily useful or relevant information, so let's carry on!

Where this starts to take relevance to your practice is in the considerations of what you hope to communicate, and what aspect of your communication you hope to improve. A point I skipped over earlier is that from what I understand, people will understand visual information as symbols, and that if your symbols aren't true or understandable your message will start to fall apart. What I mean by this is simple; if you're drawing a leg that doesn't look like a leg and doesn't show an understanding of the leg people will automatically and instinctively "feel" that it is wrong. Any non-artist won't likely be able to point to a specific error, but an observant artist or critic would be able to point to the specific element or elements that make it inconsistent with the symbol of "leg". As with any message, context becomes important, but at the risk of bursting forth on yet another tangent, I'll try bring this back to what it means to anyone practicing drawing:

Learn to draw TRUTH, then deviate from that. Anime is a perfect example of an art-form that heavily relies on symbols to communicate its message. Could any physical person actually look like an anime character? Barring certain case instances, I'd venture to say no... but it still doesn't look wrong, right? A temptation of starting artists is to draw superheroes/anime characters or other already bastardized instances of truth... and while I would definitely and obviously say that that isn't unforgivably bad (We ALL started that way, didn't we?), it certainly isn't something conducive to efficient learning. What you're doing by learning from cartoons is learning someone else's set of symbols that they created from their own understanding and deviation from reality. It will teach you things that the original artist would have recognized as conscious untruths with intent (Compare: Exaggerated important facial features for purpose of impactful expression OR Exaggerated important facial features because anime.)... and won't tell you that they're conscious untruths, nor their intent. Sure, you can puzzle out the purpose of these deviations and still learn without permanently damaging yourself, but by doing so you'd be adding a layer of complexity to your learning AND still not endeavoring to learn truth, but rather someone else's deviation from it. So draw from life, draw from reality, learn from what IS so you can make up what COULD BE.

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR YOU SPECIFICALLY MR LACHIE DAZDARIAN is that my only concerns for you drawing the human form on a tablet in pixel art is that it's convoluted practice. It's somewhat comparable to learning to play the piano while learning to ride a unicycle, but less obviously and pointlessly difficult. If you want to learn about the human form, isolate that as the purpose of your practice, and make EVERYTHING ELSE AS EASY AS POSSIBLE. Trying to exercise your mechanical ability to communicate while refining the message you'd hope to communicate WHILE restricting yourself to pixel art is a lot and diminishes your ability to actually absorb the lessons you could be learning. You'll learn stuff about all three, yes, but I'm inclined to believe that you'd learn them slower than if you'd spent time focusing specifically on specific aspects.

But as I said, drawing in itself is never bad. You'll always be improving something, and if you're careful about considering whether or not what you're learning is TRUTH, then you should be a-shootin' for the stars.

That was a lot of words. I like taking time to figure out what the heck I think about things. GOGO OFF TOPIC THREAD.

Pixel Art Feature Chest / Re: Aurora poster
« on: August 16, 2012, 11:18:52 pm »

Is it possible that anime tends to intentionally force/break/exaggerate proportions in a specific way that you've become accustomed to, so a female anime character with normal proportions seems out of place because of it? I mean, anime is practically made on the fact that it pushes everything beyond reality to form some sort of pleasant aesthetic... it stands to reason that anime actually has some superhuman degree of "anime normal" proportion that most anime followers will recognize.

General Discussion / Re: Official Off-Topic Thread
« on: August 12, 2012, 10:35:34 pm »
I got so frustrated with some part of that book that I actually tracked down and emailed the author to try figure out why the exercise results were differing so much from "what was supposed to happen".

I guess the turmoil/frustration is good! Maybe it signifies your own struggle to understand the stuff put in front of you, and re-design the way you see things?

General Discussion / Re: Looking for a game
« on: August 08, 2012, 03:21:38 am »
Card Saga Wars?

I'm reasonably confident. Certainly eye-catching, art wise... plus it's awesome to see some of your favorite video game characters smash some of your -other- favorite video game characters ^^

2D & 3D / Re: Official Anatomy Thread
« on: August 07, 2012, 02:33:26 am »


General Discussion / Re: Sub Pixels
« on: August 07, 2012, 01:52:27 am »
So, basically, there's "real" sub-pixel animation that abuses the orientation of the 3 coloured diodes that actually make up each pixel in order to literally break a single pixel down to thirds, visually...

...And there's another "real" sub-pixel animation that abuses peoples' natural visual understanding of the world to make the viewer believe that an object or part of an object is occupying a space between the pixels, rather than occupying two separate pixels themselves.

I'd imagine the RGB-abuse technically-sub-pixel animation would be practically impossible to use practically, unless the many different types of visual displays are reasonably consistent in their methods of displaying. Abusing people's visual understandings, on the other hand, should be fairly universal and result in more reliable results. Reliably.

Pixel Art / Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly
« on: July 27, 2012, 04:29:36 am »

Everything beyond this rendition doesn't look like progress. This reads as a very soft pink pony staring with fascination at a firefly, outside and on a respectably light nighttime sky. Obviously it doesn't read as something real (there's no physical interaction (light and shadow!) between the firefly and the pony) but I don't feel that should. It's a rainbow coloured unicorn staring at a ball of light... fairly safe to say that realism doesn't need to be the goal.

Compositionally, the quoted version also works cleaner than the later renditions. The bands of colour in the hair direct you toward the eye where the visual tension between the firefly and its (her?) eye is set up. The only thing that irks me is the ear standing straight up and right on the edge of the frame. It creates tension that draws your eye to the ear, shows that the ear doesn't have a function in the composition (it points to nothing, says little and leads you nowhere!), and competes with the focal point for eye attention while not... yeah. It breaks things a little bit. I would greatly greatly greatly prefer it if the ear was lying flat back and breaking the edge of the image. If it were doing that, it could "point" to the eye and lead your eye inward from the edge of the scene towards where you're supposed to be looking anyways. It would also emotionally project an image of uneasiness or uncertainty at the strange thing in front of them WHICH feels consistent with the theme, to me.

As for the horn, I'd agree that it looks strange, but honestly a quick google search reveals that it looks strange on the "real thing", too. It only looks strange if you look at it, it isn't visually disruptive, so I'd say it can stay where it is and how it is without the world imploding.

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