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Messages - Ambivorous
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Pixel Art / Re: [Feedback] [C+C] Characters for a NES-style platformer
« on: December 27, 2018, 11:36:24 pm »
You have made some splendid progress.

I felt like they needed just a little more unification, so I made a little edit:

Following the simplifying process loni used, I made our male protagonist a little easier to work with.
I pushed some of the nice shapes on the characters. The flow of the girl and her jacket, and gave the guy some overall shape.
I added shoulder thingies to the girl's jacket and changed the guy's outfit a bit.

So, I wanted to define some narrative here:
They're wearing two halves of one pirate captain's outfit. The girl is wearing the hat and jacket while the guy is wearing everything that he'd wear under that.
To me this says that either the guy was a pirate captain and gave his sister the hat and jacket because she needed clothes (maybe she was rescued from kidnapped or something), or that their father/uncle/godfather was a pirate captain and left them the gear because he died saving their mother or some sappy thing. Either way, the two of them are incomplete versions of a pirate captain. They obviously belong together and there is some backstory as to why just in what they're wearing.

Do you have an actual story as to what's happening to them and why? This might help us with guiding you to a fitting art direction, especially if this is the basis for all future art.

Pixel Art / Re: [Feedback] [C+C] Characters for a NES-style platformer
« on: December 24, 2018, 11:52:38 am »
I actually like the girl as she is. Especially the first one.
I think your guy could use a more expressive pose though. It also looked like her was wearing a pirate hat.

I changed the pose, gave him a pirate hat, changed the clothes a little and matched the colours to the girl more.

Pixel Art / Re: 8-Bit Werewolf [WIP]
« on: December 14, 2018, 03:32:34 pm »
If it were me I'd try to draw this wolf again from scratch trying to employ the advice you learned. It's a nice reference.
A different style could be cool, but it's up to you.

I would like to see you try to use the advice, because then I can change the way I give you advice going forward.

Pixel Art / Re: [C+C] [Feedback] 1-Bit Pixelart
« on: December 12, 2018, 08:52:33 pm »
Apologies for the lazy edits.

For water I though of using that overly sized cell-wall looking thing everyone does:

I think if you angle it slightly more it'll look pretty good on your tileset.

Your walls/tower/trees you try too hard on:

Just remove chunks of black from the highlighted areas to make large areas of white and remove white from the shadows. Ez.

If you wanna make trees what eishiya said is right, you start with a shaded simple shape and just add texture to the edges. Also shown here.

Pixel Art / Re: 8-Bit Werewolf [WIP]
« on: December 12, 2018, 06:18:00 pm »
Hi there,

I took to making a more "artistic," less spritey approach to show some things.

The first thing to visit is always the general forms:

I tried to over-exaggerate the shapes I saw.
I blocked out the main components, but I wasn't trying to be exact, just to get some sweet shapes to work with.
For the head in particular I changed some angles to give me shapes that work well with pixel art (the mouth in particular requires too much noise to get right at the original angle).
With hands and feet (and any difficult parts) I generally just plop down some pixels and see what cool shapes naturally form and then refine them.

Then I just yolo copied the reference:

This is a case of draw the rest of the owl, but there are some key points to note:
I chose bold colours. No pussy-footing about with a couple of similar greys here. Don't get me wrong, this went poorly at first and went through a few iterations, but you can't be afraid of trying lots of contrast and saturation.
I didn't use outlines to break up my forms, I used key dark areas. This is a lot to ask, but you need to always try think of ways to imply form without giving it away. Again this is often just me making the whole thing dark and then drawing cool shapes where I want them to be and then toning things down at the end.

Finally the silhouette (in grey):

This is where the feeling really lies. You want your silhouettes to look good. The rest is also important of course, but if your silhouette doesn't move you, you're not going to go anywhere fast.

The main thing I'm trying to say is overdo it rather than play it safe.
You'll learn more by trying more things, and messing up is part of the process. You can't get too serious, or hung up on perfection; just have fun. ^^

Challenges & Activities / Re: The Daily Sketch
« on: August 29, 2017, 07:56:16 pm »
Doing some Studio Ghibli studies.

And then testing things.

Pixel Art / Re: Robot Girl
« on: August 22, 2017, 08:20:12 pm »
I just had fun with this.
Tried to make that reference in a similar style. Hopefully this is useful.

Challenges & Activities / Re: The Daily Sketch
« on: August 16, 2017, 06:51:52 pm »


Challenges & Activities / Re: The Daily Sketch
« on: August 15, 2017, 03:29:32 pm »
Just a quick sketch today to practice faces. #noreference

2D & 3D / Value Studies
« on: August 12, 2017, 11:19:02 am »

When I first started doing pixel art I thought that it wouldnít require much artistic skill. This was obviously horribly incorrect.

The logic being that I can just use someone elseís palette and since Iím placing all the pixels individually it will be easier. And this was partially true.
Thing is, the workflow involved when youíre trying to make pixel art without any artistic knowledge is constant refinement. You draw one thing (and it sucks), then you go over every single detail in it again and again until it looks satisfying. Youíre basically trying to brute force an image.
The end result of this is that it was taking me hours; days to finish a single, tiny piece. Now, over time I got better, but the fact of the matter remains I was doing a lot of unnecessary work, and reworking, which was wasting time and still the end results were not as great as I wanted them to be. On top of that if I wanted to change anything about a piece I was extremely reluctant, because of the amount of effort I had already put in. So my pieces were stale and static and sometimes just a massive waste of time. You can also imagine it was basically impossible to animate anything decent in this manner.
Then there comes the palette. Letís face facts: if you canít make your own palette (or at least modify someone elseís) you will never get the mood you quite want and you will have to settle.

Luckily for me I was a curious soul and I spotted one of the other pixel artists doing a thumbnail study over in the daily sketch.
I asked what they were doing and the response was that they were taking an image, making it rather small and then trying to copy it - more or less - while essentially blurring their vision so as not to distract themselves with the details. Well, this sounded like fun and I decided to try my hand at it.
Enter the worst thumbnail study in history:

Alright honestly it's not even that bad, and I put a lot of effort into this and even tried out a new brush!
But realistically I now know that I could not see value in any way, shape, or form while doing this image. This is when I was introduced to value studies!

A quick side note on the word 'value':
Basically value means how light or dark something is. Another word for this is brightness. But when I use the word value here in this context I am taking into account one final thing: saturation.
In your digital painting program of choice you will likely come across a transformation to greyscale which will include the word 'perceptual'. What this word means to you is that not only did they take into account the brightness (which is actually called value in your HSV (hue saturation value) colour picker), but also how saturation effects the apparent brightness to the human eye.
You can have yourself a quick google of the differences between all these terms, but the tl;dr of it is that I use value incorrectly, so just bear with me.

Some Theory Work

Alright, so what is a value study?
It's quite simple, all we're going to do is take an image, make it greyscale, and then try to copy it.
The idea here is that colour is distracting and we're only interested in value for now, so we're going to remove any and all distractions as best as possible to focus on what we want to.

But just doing this isn't going to be terribly useful if we don't set some nice rules for ourselves to learn what we intend to learn.

Spoilers: we want to learn how to see value. The entire point of value studies is to teach our brain to see value.
If you don't catch yourself staring at a cup of coffee in the morning looking at how dark the shadow underneath the mug is, and how brightly the light is shining off the top rim, then you're no where near ready to move on from value studies. We need to make your brain obsessed with value and see it all the time in everything we see, even when we're practically unconscious.

So to force ourselves to see value we need these rules:
  • Do not trace: Open up your reference (now greyscaled) image in one program (preferably on a separate screen entirely), and your art program of choice with a blank canvas alongside it.
  • Never use the eyedropper tool: This just defeats the entire purpose of your value study. This actually only applies to using the eyedropper tool on your reference. Using the eyedropper tool on colours you've already used on your study will save you time, but for bonus points selecting each colour (shade of grey) manually every single time you need it will give your art an amazing feel later on and you'll be able to transition to physical media much easier. Also you'll make amazing palettes.
  • Timebox yourself: Stick to an hour a day, per study. Having the time limit open ended will have negative effects like focusing too much on one detail, loss of inspiration, feeling like you're wasting your time, and eventually stopping doing these exercises at all, so make sure you only do this a little bit a day, so it remains fun and never becomes a burden.
  • Don't try too hard: You're going to suck at this at first, that's the whole point. Don't put in too much effort. The  idea here is to teach your brain to do this automatically, so the less conscious effort you put in the better. If you're struggling with something that means your brain isn't quite used to it yet. This is purely an indicator that you need more practice at that specific task, so look forward to things you struggle with because this will give you room to grow!
  • (Optional) Stick to a handful of shades at first: This is what I was told to do, but I don't know what value (hue hue) it actually added, so do it if you want, but I'm not evangelising it. Please do tell me if this is actually a useful step if you try it, so I can update this.
Alright, so now that we know what to do, what not to do and what our intention is, we need our first reference image.
Now this part has sapped a lot of my inspiration in the past. It's hard to find good reference images that ease you into things gently, and indeed finding good reference images is something you want to practice, so it's part of your value studies! If you find yourself exhausted after searching for a good reference image this means you've made your brain work already, so don't feel bad if you're hard pressed to now do your value study.
To take away this daunting task you can separate these two actions. These days I'm always on the lookout for good reference images, so every day I log into deviant art and check the top images of the day and if there are any amazing photo references I can steal. If I find myself google image searching something and a good reference image pops up I stash that away in my references folder. Always be on the lookout for good reference images even if they don't satisfy your current needs, because later on you might need them.

And now we're ready to begin our very first value study.

Your First Value Study

Here is my very first value study:

Honestly, not all that bad! Once I'd removed all this colour nonsense it was pretty easy to see that there are blacks and whites and a bunch of greys.
So let me go over a few of the things I did in this and then explain how useful or useless I think they were.

I made the canvas the exact same size as my reference image.
This was useful because I could judge the exact distances that things were from the edges of the image. But perhaps I should not have as this is another layer of distraction. If I had not cared about exact sizes and shapes and differences I may have absorbed the value knowledge sooner.
It would probably have been best to first do a composition study to get my alignments and sizes correct and then do value studies, but that is for another time.

I used only a handful of shades of grey.
This may have removed some of the distractions. I didn't have to worry about blending yet, so that was nice.
Again, perhaps blending should be moved to a separate study, or added later (as I did) once you're more comfortable with values.

I only used a round brush.
This was probably a mistake in hindsight.
Again again, removed a layer of distraction since I always used the same brush. I should probably have diversified my brush usage later on once I had everything else waxed, because now I can still only use one brush!

A side note on tools:
As I just mentioned, I still only use a round brush, with 100% hardness. Even once I'd started blending (I use opacity to blend).
What I did learn out of this is that the tools you choose to use are entirely irrelevant to your learning or your eventual ability! Pick the tool you want to use, because eventually you will become good enough with anything to achieve any end result you want.
This means use any program and brush and settings and method you want. Draw outlines, blobs, use photoshop, krita, round brushes, square brushes, draw with a trackpad, mouse, tablet; use microsoft paint if you want. And change what you're using at any point you want! Yes, your art will take a hit at first if you're changing, but that's part of it.
Don't become like me and be reliant on the same brush every time though (or do, I'm pretty cool).

So now I think you're ready to start doing your own value studies, equipped with the knowledge you'll need to become an amazing artist.
As a bonus, I redid the same image just eight value studies later and look at the progress I'd already made:

Now go and become the next [insert famous artist of your choice]!

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