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Messages - Cure
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General Discussion / Re: Pixelation 2.0
« on: August 29, 2018, 12:04:05 am »
Excited for this. No real feedback, this isn't a topic I've given much thought to, but I like your goals and the direction it's taking. Seems much more accessible, and the pixel-wiki is increasingly necessary for newbie engagement as pixel jargon accumulates (and because the jargon has always been a criticism). The portfolio also seems like a necessary step, a good way of having a personal, curated gallery without the competitive edge that the PJ common-gallery entails. Onward and upward.

General Discussion / Re: The History of Pixel Art
« on: March 20, 2018, 09:16:28 pm »
The aforementioned interview is now online over at PixelJoint.

Check it out!

Lauretta Jones began her career as a freelance digital illustrator, before going on to teach at the School of Visual Art in New York, where she also designed a computer art course. She continued to find new ways to help digital artists as a user interface researcher. She currently teaches botanical art at the New York Botanical Garden.

Lauretta also has a special insight into the world of pixel art during the 1980s, when 8-bit not only meant 8-bit, it also meant state-of-the-art. I was first introduced to Lauretta's work by a 1984 BBC program called "Micro Live," which had been uploaded to YouTube. She was kind enough to answer more than a few of my questions.

General Discussion / Re: The History of Pixel Art
« on: August 30, 2017, 04:06:46 am »
I found this while doing some research, so I'm dropping it in this thread for posterity. A cursory (yet intense) bullet-point history of computer art from the end of WWII to 1990

I stumbled upon this while researching an artist I'm interviewing who was a professional pixel artist throughout the 1980s, which I hope to share with y'all soon.

General Discussion / Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!
« on: August 01, 2017, 05:35:33 pm »
I think the "pixelart feel" also has a lot to do with a certain amount of colors on a certain level of size.

I think color count is pretty key as well. More precisely, how the palette affects the technique, and vice versa. With a low amount of colors, you'll probably be doing more dithering, which exposes the pixel grid. With a large palette, you're delving more into AA and gradients, which is a more subtle value shift, so the grid and pixel relationships are less apparent. Even a relatively small palette could elicit a "I can't believe it's pixel art!", if you've got 10-20 shades of the same color, because that one long ramp allows you to create such a smooth image.

IMO that falls into the same 'meaningful decisions' theme that some people like to use when talking about this. That is, a gradient just looks like a gradient, if each shade doesn't have 'individuality'.

I agree, the individual identity created by very blatant relationships between clusters is key to the "pixel art look." Because I tend to think the borders between clusters are more important than the total number of colors, I did a little test where I tried to maintain the general cluster identities while throwing in tons of colors via gradual gradients:

Or another definition of resource appeared: development resources. The ability to make indie development effectively possible.

This is an important limiting factor that often gets eclipsed by technical concerns. It not only leads to very pixelly, low-res, faux 8-bit art, it also leads to gradients and glows (which I'm fine with in moderation, so long as the cluster relationships beneath are still bold).

The middle has the greatest number of reasons for why you would do pixel art for most applications. Going to the left noise, the reasons get fewer for why you would do any art like that. It sure can look very fascinating as an effect, and there can still be a very good reason for why you do it in some case, but in the greater scheme of applications, it can only be a niche. At its best it is a gimmick, at its worst its useless.

In general, I agree that the sophistication and applications of the right end of the spectrum (blur) are much greater than the left end (noise). However, in regards to pixel art, I think there are reasons to choose a slightly looser approach, namely the expressionist/impressionist quality it allows for. I think this heightens the creepy factor in Uno Moralez's work.

Most cases of application for pixel art require the clarity of the middle. It's what works best for most people, it's the norm for good reasons. Pixel art has the strongest identity and greatest use in the narrow part. Most people that want to create pixel art, will want to know how to create that. The defining quality of that organically rises from these greater interests.

I agree. I think that the "no single pixels" pure-cluster art is the dead center of the spectrum, the sharpest point, neither noisy nor blurry. But I think there are also advantages to buttery-smooth AA and even random dither. Some think that smooth pixel art might as well be created in another medium, but as AI said earlier, it "fits" the resolution in a way that other approaches cannot.

Eastward and Superbrothers are both very much traditional pixel games, despite having non-pixel effects and lightning on top. Dan Fessler's squirrel mockup is a classic example as well, and should be somewhere in the middle I think (...) Index painting would certainly be on the far right side, borderline with digital painting.

By the way, where does this sample with red mountains and blue forest comes from?

Good point. I originally made the chart thinking about the types of pixel art allowed at PJ, which is more likely to include index-painting than hybrid stuff. But I think the examples I chose (along with the Slain! game you mention) don't belong on the chart in any linear way, since they combine approaches from different parts of the spectrum. Maybe this is better:

The image with red mountains is by an artist who goes by cutlaska or captain-carrion (often just "carrion", but that name is already taken!).

"why pixel art?"(...)for me it would be crispness or sharpness.
I agree, and building on that:

(...)it's really about whether the automated bits are unobtrusive. Things get messier for me when elements like glows, gradients, and shadows are integrated more deeply. I'm not a fan of detailed pixel work being disrupted, you often get muddy colours and unwarranted attention drawn to higher-resolution, unnaturally smooth elements.

These are all good points. I'm fine with the soft glows in the bar scene on the right side of the chart because they don't obscure the intentional pixel placement below. It's just a thin film, the core of the medium is still there. This might be complicated if the underlying pixel art is more smooth or complex, but the effects often mesh well with simpler styles.

As for me, I have to ask myself "What distinguishes pixel art from other forms of digital art?" I think the answer is pixel-pushing, the act of moving individual pixels. The amount of pixel-pushing required for a work to be considered "pixel art" is debatable, but I think everyone agrees that evidence of pixel-pushing should form the basis of the work's aesthetic if it is to be called pixel art. The introduction of "NPA" techniques complicates our definition, but I think it's too dogmatic to say that every instance of these techniques disqualifies a work from being pixel art.

I think the pixel art aesthetic is maintained if:
transparent lighting or atmospheric effects are used over visibly pushed-pixels
stray pixels are used as an expressive or impressionistic dither

And lessened if:
the borders of pixel clusters become blurred and obscured
Individual pixel placement is largely incidental

General Discussion / Re: Ramblethread! A brainstorm approaches!
« on: July 03, 2017, 03:17:43 am »
Thought about making a new thread for this but I think it fits here. I've been thinking about how we define pixel art, what exactly the parameters are that separate it from regular ol' digital painting on one end and "oekaki" on the other. The images don't correlate to the x-axis perfectly.

The narrow definition basically correlates to the pixel purist ideology. If the pixel placement gets too noisy or too blurry, it ceases to feel like pixel art, but exactly when it has strayed too far varies according to the individual.

So what do you guys think? Where do you personally place the borders, and what are the essential elements that define pixel art?

General Discussion / Re: The History of Pixel Art
« on: October 28, 2016, 07:15:25 pm »
Quote from: RAV
Dither was already on the decline before the LCD, because of the higher colour depth in processing.
Quote from: yrizoud
I think it's important to note that LCDs got standardized to display square pixels, no matter their resolution, while games of the previous generation used a VGA screen mode,  where pixels are 20%taller than they are wide.
Seems like this is a more complex issue than I assumed. Maybe it's best to remove the bit about dithering? And add the bit about square pixels? I tried looking into the whole VGA/CGA/EGA etc. shit but quickly found myself in over my head.

Quote from: RAV
Don't you think the first IBM PC and Mac are worth mentioning though?
The Apple II probably deserves a mention. Is the IBM 5150 significant enough to warrant a mention? And in mentioning the Apple II, is it worth mentioning the Commodore PET and TRS-80 as the other 2/3rds of the "1977 Trinity" of home computing? Apple II was the first to have a GUI afaik, so maybe it is the only one of this bunch worthy of a spot on the timeline.

Quote from: RAV
Their first popular 3d shooters like Wolfenstein employed pixel art textures, as a precursor to Minecraft. The Pixel moved on as Texel.
I honestly hadn't thought about texels outside of Minecraft. Is Wolfenstein the first game to use pixel textures? I'd like to hear what others think about the importance of texels in the history of our medium, but it might be worth a mention. That's how Junkboy is making billions of dollars with Notch, right?  I feel voxels and legos are a bit of a stretch, getting this far into the third dimension seems to expand the focus quite a bit.

Quote from: RAV
what's become as important today as hardware in the past, is software development frameworks and game engines.
To me it feels the hardward of the past is more important to the timeline because it heavily influenced the form of the pixel art produced on those machines, and established in the public consciousness what "pixel art", "video game art", and "retro graphics" look like. I can certainly see the argument that game engines are the new consoles, but nowadays its just a given that pixel art can be displayed on all sorts of computers without any significant limitations to the style of art produced, with all ports being vitually identical.

General Discussion / Re: The History of Pixel Art
« on: October 25, 2016, 12:05:31 am »
I've added a lot of new images, and condensed some entries.

New additions to the timeline:
1964 George H. Heilmeier invents the LCD
-maybe it's better to use the year in which refined LCDs really took off as computer screens and affected change in pixel art? whenever that was...

1994 Hagenuk MT-2000

1989 Atari Lynx

1990 SEGA Game Gear

Vari-Vue is interesting, but I'm not sure that it's specific to pixel art. Either way, It's been difficult to find any precise information on the company and their products, and with lenticular images dating back to the 17th century, this technology might be tough to pin to a single date.
- - -

With that, a few questions for the community:

Does anyone have an early screen-grab from the early days of pixelation? Or any information on early graphing calculator games?

Is it worth mentioning early game developers for cellphones? Jamdat? Glu Mobile? Gameloft?

I will also take suggestions on what to remove from the list to make it more succinct or relevant.

General Discussion / Re: The History of Pixel Art
« on: February 24, 2016, 12:31:51 am »
Thanks for the featured tag on the front page. I'll update this list soon, I've been bogged down with commissions the past couple of weeks. Thanks to all for the contributions. In addition to the suggestions y'all brought up, I also considered calculator games... anyone know about 'em?

Resources / Re: [WIP/brainstorm] - Pixels And Art Glossary
« on: February 13, 2016, 08:12:57 pm »
warm yellow- cadmium yellow
cool yellow- lemon yellow

it's relative. one has a bias toward green, the other toward red. some painters advise getting a warm and cool version of each color for your palette.

Resources / Re: [WIP/brainstorm] - Pixels And Art Glossary
« on: February 13, 2016, 05:13:11 pm »
about color-
warm and cool aren't quite so black and white. there are warm and cool yellows, warm and cool purples, it's all relative really. yellow might be associated with sunlight, but not light generally, the light could be any color (you see blue secondary light sources overused a lot, for instance). I don't understand the "red/yellow are the basis of all colors bit", the additive primaries are red, green, and blue. subtractive primaries are red, yellow, blue (or cyan, magenta, yellow).

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