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Messages - felicitousArtisan
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Looks great!  What's a chipset?  Do you mean tileset or is there some other term I don't know?

Yeah it's a tilesheet pretty much.  I never understood why they used it in RPGMaker when I always knew chipset the same way DawnBringer just mentioned (probably cos I too had an Amiga) though I quickly dispensed with that term for it after finding Game Maker and leaving RPGMaker behind (kinda limiting product when you don't really like RPGs).

I don't get the logic behind the usage in RPGMaker though.  What are the chips?

Ah sorry! I meant tileset! I was kind of in the RPGmaker community for a long time and it was some of my earliest exposure to pixel art, so the term "chipset" is wired into my head as an interchangeable term with tileset! Apologies for confusion, I was just being a derp!
Man, I dunno why they call it a chipset though *shrug* the more I think about it, the less the term makes sense. It also explains why when looking for inspiration and tutorials "chipset" gave me just RPGmaker stuff!

Okay so to clarify in non-stupid wording, I think trying to make a thematically consistent tileset would probably be a good exercise?

Okay, I made some edits to the chipset:

I...I think I really need to...come up with a theme. Right now I'm kind of just making whatever I think "I wonder if I could make..." about haha!

The result is a bit eclectic.

Hard to make consistent looking areas with! But the colours are gradually getting better, though I am aware I'm still a bit of a wuss with my ramps. Need to work on that.
I should probably try to make a few different chipsets that are thematically consistent and have a distinctive palette like areas typically would in a game.

For animation, I think I need to kind of think the process from the bottom up, so I'm doing sketches and basic exercises:

Thanks for the advice, guys. I'll see what I can do. I've actually had the Animator's Survival Kit for years, but I think I got it when I was too young to really understand, also it was a lot harder to try and test out the exercises back in the 00s before we had things like graphics tablets and photoshop timelines! I'll have a go at building a walk/run cycle with some squash and stretch and see if I can then make that into a consistent sprite, I guess?

Thanks for the stuff on the chipset by the way, that's really helpful!

Pixel Art / Re: [C+C] RPG sprites [WIP]
« on: July 31, 2014, 09:01:01 am »
These are cute sprites and above my level of pixel art ability, but I can say one thing speaking as a games artist and designer about that first image, and that's that the character's palette is too close to that of his surroundings. The skintone, black hair, red scarf and white sword all look great, but his shirt and pants are vanishing into the scenery and I can't even see his sword hilt on the screencap there!

When you're working with a limited palette like Dawnbringer, you really need to decide when you start, which colours you're going to use for environments and which you'll use for characters. In fact, really this goes for games design in general, even in a modern game like say Final Fantasy XIII, you'll find that Lightning's red cape and white and brown clothes and pink hair are all colours that are (final dungeon being an exception) not prominently featured in most areas of the game (predominantly blue, green and grey palettes). To use an older and more relevant example to pixel art, in Metroid, Samus is orange or pink; very few other things in the game are orange or pink; the backgrounds are generally very dark, things you can stand on are colours like blue, green, brown, red and enemies tend to be green, blue, purple (let's not go into Metroid Fusion which threw all these smart visual design ideas out of the window huuurghhh).
If you're using outlines on your characters, there's a touch more leeway with readability, but they don't work for this kind of delicate Capy-esque style.

If I was art director on your game, I'd probably suggest making the shirt a brighter blue, like the ones under the greens on the palette, and the pants a warm brown or something and the sword hilt either bright blue or red. That way the player would always be able to clearly see and read the character sprite against the less saturated backgrounds. Muted colours like grey are pretty hard to work with on a character sprite when your palette is limited, unless you reversed everything and made the surroundings very bright, very dark or very saturated.

...That said, Sword and Sworcery didn't always do a great job of distinguishing the character from the environment. It was sometimes very easy to lose her. The bright and dark areas on the sprite helped, and the warm brown shield which was different from the cool browns elsewhere, but the rest of her was largely neutral toned, so I can see why you made this decision. I guess adding some dark or light details to the character could potentially help them stand out while keeping your intended sombre tone intact?

I'm sure some of the more pixel-orientated people here can probably give more specific advice!

Okay, so having a go at making a chipset. 16x tiles, Dawnbringer 32 palette

It's okay but...

Quickly throwing together a mockup reveals a few issues, primarily that the undersides of the rocks in the foreground merge into the highlights of the rocks in the background. Maybe highlighting underside of rocks, maybe with a colour like red, blue or green for some interesting mood lighting would help?
Maybe the top of the earth tiles isn't bright and obviously walkable enough? Hmm.

All right it's been a while. I got tied up working on games and stuff, but now I have a bit of a lull for development so I can do a bit more work on developing pixel art!

I've decided for the time being that I should refrain from making my own palettes until I've mastered using limited ones. Seems to be much better for speeding the learning process and encouraging creative ramping as well as efficient clusters. I'm a big fan of clusters and not big on dithering personally.

So anyway...

I started messing around yesterday morning with the Dawnbringer 32 palette and did a little shovel knight, which went well, so then I made a little Samus. Then I tried making an original Samus-inspired character and a little portrait for them. I wanted to try working with a character not in a helmet and also to puzzle out making a character who was never designed with pixel art in mind into a sprite so I made a little Lightning.
I like the noodly proportions of the Lightning, but speaking to a fellow games dev friend who makes pixel games, I was told that the reason tall sprites are rare is because animations need more frames to not look choppy, and their hitboxes are a pain. I would soon find both of these things to be true with experience...

So next I decided to try making an original character with no helmet. Sure, why not.
So I made her a run cycle. I decided on 6 frames to start me off because it seems like the smallest really viable run cycle for a sprite of this size and proportion style.

The two last frames are too similar, leading to a choppy look, though obviously it was gonna be choppy anyway a 6 frame run on a sprite this size can't really come out silky smooth!

Not bad for my first complete run cycle on a finished sprite.

Since this time rather than like previous attempts where I tried to draw the full sprite from scratch every frame, I chose instead to go for the easier method of just changing the legs, it wasn't a big problem to make some variants:

Crosses show that errant frame and the frame after as a replacement.

Progress!  ;D

I tried implementing it in Construct 2 to test. It works (woo!) but as my friend warned me, this style of sprite doesn't have the easiest hitbox to work with or play with. Shame because I think these proportions look cool. Maybe best kept for things like adventure games, RPGs etc. But I'd like to aim to make something more actiony because most of the games I make are things like RPG, adventure and visual novels already!

Things to work on:
- I need to sort out those outlines; they look janky.
- Be more daring with values.
- Try a run cycle with more frames for a smoother finish.
- Try maybe including subtle details like head bobbing or hair flopping.
- Have another go at a tileset. Maybe try to make all the assets for a very basic platformer.

Maybe I should try to make something like a basic 16x tileset in DB32 with a simple character and background as a challenge? It seems like completing things teaches a lot more than doing bits.

Pixel Art / Re: Sky Factory Work in Progress TIPS and CRITIQUE
« on: February 12, 2014, 10:27:53 am »
Okay, well firstly, this is a definite big improvement on the first one. So don't get disheartened by the fact I'm about to criticise it, because the very fact that I am able to give clear, focused criticism now is a sign of the big improvement, because with the previous example, I wasn't even sure what you were going for, which made it impossible to give focused criticism. On this one, I can see what you are trying to do and give advice on how to improve it.

Alright, so I took the piece and I made some changes, I'll explain below my thought processes. Please bear in mind these were done quickly and are not necessarily neat or well done! Also be aware: I am not a pixel art specialist. I am a n00b at pixel art, so the pixel techniques here  will be not on the level of a lot of people here.

So the first thing I did was to remove those cloudy things from around the aparatus. I'm not sure what they're supposed to represent. If you want a foggy atmosphere or the equipment to be giving off steam or condensation, there are probably better ways to do it. If you've been trained in painting, you should understand the importance of observation of how things look. Pixel artists don't get a free pass to ignore that rule. Also, unless they're intended to be on a different sprite layer, do not ever ever ever use partial transparency while working with pixels! The whole point of pixel art is to use the limitations of the style to evoke nostalgia, but also to give a crisp, bold, vibrant look.  So think of it more like painting with oils rather than water colours. There is either paint or there is no paint. There is no in-between.

One thing to note is that I read the stuff at the bottom as water, and have treated it as such. If it wasn't supposed to be water and was actually cloud, then you need to go and study how to render cloud. If it was meant to be water, then okay, cool. So continuing with the assumption it is water, I flattened out the horison. If you look at the horison looking out to sea, if you can see as far as we can in this image, the horison will be pretty flat. This helps with the illusion that the chimneys are coming out of the water. I added some little crests to the small waves in the foreground to give a feeling of them lapping against the large chimney.

Something I have done with the colours and highlighting that is an absolute cornerstone of spriting is to limit the number of colours and bring everything closer together in hue. Some of the highlights I found to be randomly more orange in value than the things they were highlighting, which doesn't work in this case because the ambient light suggested by the background we're fading into seems to be white/yellow/. I noticed some of the highlights, like on the smoke and on the background water, were so pale as to be barely visible. If you're gonna put in a highlight that close to the colour it is highlighting, it may as well not be there, so be a bit more confident! Either be flat and proud OR give your highlights a bit more of a punch and a purpose by making them clearly lighter so that they pick out edges effectively.

Personally for future images like this, with a limited palette, I would strongly recommend coming up with a single limited colour ramp or two to work from. You'll find that using a more limited palette constrains you a bit and you'll learn to use your shadows and highlights more effectively. Even with the edits I made, this image was over 20 colours, which is really too many for such a simple image focused around a single theming colour.

Here's a useful site!
Use it to make something like this:

Then make your image using ONLY colours from that ramp! You will learn loads from doing this, and it will improve not only your pixel skills, but your general painting skills too.

I also would recommend a really excellent book on painting and colour called "Colour and Light - A Guide for the Realist Painter" by James Gurney.

Pixel Art Feature Chest / GR#201 - Pixel Gameart
« on: January 24, 2014, 11:29:19 pm »
So I've been trying to teach myself pixel art for a while. I'm gonna dump stuff in order of development with some notes:

Early attempt at a sci-fi horror chipset, the style is inspired by Capybara because at the time I'd been playing Sword & Sworcery. The colours are very moody and probably a bit low contrast. I'm pleased that I managed to make a functional set of different walls that can be arranged into a variety of shapes.

I then sort of went on a platform tileset kick. I looked at Cave Story, impressed by the efficiency of its simple assets, and produced some assets in a style inspired by that game:

These are made using Dawnbringer's 32 colour palette (you guys can probably tell by looking).

I then decided to have a go at making a comprehensive palette for my own use. It's about 90 colours (92? I can't quite remember) It was probably a terrible idea. It took hours to make and I'm still not 100% happy with it. It was based on Arne's 64 colour palette that was sloshing around the internet but it's been modified heavily:

The palette isn't perfect. It's a little bright for RPGs, but it does produce quite nice, vibrant looking ramps for platformers. Feel free to try it out.
Using this palette, I made some basic platform game tiles, 32x32 in a style of my own:

I also made a sprite base to go with it, with basic animations:

I used these to make a mockup as a piece of album art for the Homestuck Fan Album, 'Land of Fans and Music 3':

I did a bit more work on platformer chipsets, trying to refine further. This is a yellow themed set with a kind of sandy cave feel:

(I'm really happy with those leaves).

Recently I decided it'd be fun to make a retro RPG tileset with 16x16 tiles using Dawnbringer's 16 colour palette. Here is progress on that thus far:

This is proving pretty challenging. I'm not a big dithering fan personally and I'd rather use elegant clusters and shapes where possible, but the limited palette makes that tricky sometimes due to the high contrast. I'm very much open to advice on this!

If there are any things you can advise me on, particularly like consistent errors I'm making, of if you have chipsets or artists you think I should look at because their work is in a similar direction and I could learn from them, drop some comments!

Pixel Art / Re: Sky Factory Work in Progress TIPS and CRITIQUE
« on: January 24, 2014, 01:34:41 pm »
I'm actually pretty new to pixel art myself, but I have some experience in general illustration and games creation so maybe I can help get the ball rolling and then some experts can chime in...

Okay, I think before I can really offer any really good advice, I need to know, or at least you need to think about some things:

-Is the thing in the foreground something you can stand on? If it's not, it may help to see what the actual stuff the character stands on looks like. It looks like a thing I ought to be able to stand on because it's so much more defined than everything else in the scene as well as being a lot more strongly and darkly coloured. If it's not something I can stand on, it may be a bit high contrast with the rest of the background.

-What is the intended mood of this area and the game in general? Right now, the pastel hues and warm, soft peachy pinks evoke a serene, light sort of mood.  Now, it's possible that this is not your intention, but rather that the only means you have been taught of rendering depth is to get lighter and lighter with distance, or maybe you do want it to feel like a peaceful, gentle sort of place (but I'd be quite surprised since a smoggy factory isn't generally a nice place to be). Be aware that you don't necessarily need to just get lighter to create the illustion of atmospheric scattering with your background scenery, you just have to get closer to the colour of your sky as you go further away.

-Do you have particular specifications or enforced restrictions in mind for things like colour palette and tile size? background size and resolution?

I think one piece of advice I can definitely give without knowing anything is that those soft straight gradients need to go, especially if you want this background to be pixel art.

General Discussion / Re: Read the Rules, then introduce yourself here.
« on: January 23, 2014, 02:38:52 pm »
Hi guys, thought I may as well make an account since I regularly trawl these forums for ideas and inspiration to improve my pixel art!

I'm felicitousArtisan, sometimes known as Darth Mongoose, but just Kate is fine. I'm an indie games dev making largely visual assets for Project BC but I have an MA in Games Design too, so I do things like 3D and mechanic design as well when the situation calls for it.

I've been interested in pixel art for years and dabbled a little, usually modifying existing bits for RPG maker games, but only seriously started trying to learn and make things from scratch recently. I'm amazed by the depth of what on the surface seems like such a simple style! I came across these forums when trying to learn everything I could about pixel art palette construction. I'm hoping to keep improving my work and maybe make a cute little side game with pixel art sometime in the future.

Nice to meet you all!  ;D

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