AuthorTopic: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!  (Read 6608 times)

Offline jams0988

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So, yeah. Haven't worked on these in awhile, but I figured I should start again. Started making two new enemies, the fox-face, and the mole thing. The problem that I'm having with them, and to a lesser extent, the rest of my artwork, is that none of them look very...pixel-arty. They look more like random MS-Paint drawings to me, and a lot of them don't really seem to go well together, like they're ripped from different games or something:

...the mole guy isn't finished, which partly explains his MS-Paint look, but I cleaned him up as best I could, and he still looks terrible. The fox is "done," meaning I've cleaned him up as well as I know how, and he still doesn't seem to fit in, nor does he look very pixel-artish. The stone sprite, and the mud surrounding the water also look too plain to be considered pixel art to me, but I have no idea how to add detail to them. Tried adding moss and stuff to the rock for texture, but it all looked awful.
Basically, I'm looking for advice on how to make my sprites and tiles match each other better. Right now, they all look like they're from different sources to me. = \
Also looking for advice on how to make the mole and fox better. They both look pretty bad to me right now.

Also, did an animation of the chicken jumping, and starting working on the fox's snake-crawling animation. Is there any way to slow down .gif files? Right now, they're both way too fast. (Using Graphics Gale right now!)

Thanks!

Edit: Thought one of the main reasons my art might look bad is because I'm drawing everything too large...tried doing a lower-res version of the fox, and came up with this:
He seems really choppy to me now, though. Any obvious flaws?
Edit 2: Removed some...don't know what it's called...banding, staircasing, in the tail. Actually, I think I replaced the banding with staircasing, hahah. I don't know what to do with his forehead, though. Looks a little weird to me with that straight 45 degree angle, but if I try making it rounder when he's that small, it gets really jaggy looking. = \

Edit 3: Tried to make his face and tail rounder and less choppy looking with some internal AA:
Edit 4: Added colored outlines...

...And that's all I can do to clean him up.
So what do you guys think? Are my original sprites too big? How can I make this fox better? Why is my mole so awful looking?
My whole day is free tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to working on these sprites all day long. Please help, so I'm not just digging myself further into a bad pixel art hole for eight hours tomorrow!
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 03:12:39 pm by jams0988 »

Offline slym

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Re: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!

Reply #1 on: June 25, 2012, 03:31:31 pm
The way I see it, is that right now all you are lacking is a consistent style. As soon as your style is locked in, the sprites will lock in. I'd like to see more texture in this, especially because of the texture you've created in the fence itself. Maybe give the fox head some fur texture? I'll try to do an edit if I have time.

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!

Reply #2 on: June 25, 2012, 03:37:57 pm
I don't know if you are working on a game, but if you do so, you should definitely stick with the smaller resolution, not at least because the higher res really shows how inexperienced you seem to be at drawing. There isn't any problem with drawing things with pixels larger as long as you know what you are doing. The lower resolution also saves a bunch  of time, saving time means more context in less time, which is pretty good for any game.
It's pretty hard to imagine how the stuff works as long as you don't have a charakter. Your purple blur of color seems to be a start, but it's not really outworked.
Why do you start with the fox? Is the fox more important than your hero?

And yeah, your art looks like random ms paint drawing, that's because you try to redraw the Zelda stuff in a higher resolution, neither understanding how the style works, nor how to achieve a similar sense of depth.
A style comes from experience, and also a very simple style has it's own rules.

Just to give you some examples why it's not looking like the same:
-the fence has more details than the other stuff
-the fence has a brown dark ouline, the stone a soft gray outline, all the sprites a black one, the other tiles none
-the flowers use AA, most of the other things not
-most of the things has a derk green shadow, the sma÷÷ stones not
-your cluster technique isn't controlled, which gives all a very WIPish and sloppy appeareance
...

or to bring it down to some important points
-light source isn't consistent
-perspective isn't consistent
-amount of details isn't consistent
-technique isn't consistent

But hey, that's no problem, you recognized that it don't fits together and that's a very important thing to start with some enhancements.
First choose your resolution wisely. I already wrote some important things together in a WIP perspective tut thread here, which should help you with some of your problems.
http://www.wayofthepixel.net/pixelation/index.php?topic=14148.0
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Offline jams0988

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Re: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!

Reply #3 on: June 25, 2012, 04:36:19 pm
Quote
The way I see it, is that right now all you are lacking is a consistent style. As soon as your style is locked in, the sprites will lock in. I'd like to see more texture in this, especially because of the texture you've created in the fence itself. Maybe give the fox head some fur texture? I'll try to do an edit if I have time.
Thanks, Slym. If you could do a quick edit, I'd really appreciate it. Can I even fit a fur texture onto the smaller fox sprite, or just the larger one?
Quote
I don't know if you are working on a game, but if you do so, you should definitely stick with the smaller resolution, not at least because the higher res really shows how inexperienced you seem to be at drawing. There isn't any problem with drawing things with pixels larger as long as you know what you are doing. The lower resolution also saves a bunch  of time, saving time means more context in less time, which is pretty good for any game.
Just passed my ten year drawing anniversary, actually. I'm ashamed to say I don't practice nearly enough, so I'm pretty bad considering when I started drawing, but I'm not completely awful with pencils and paint (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/11/glasscroppedb.png/). I'm pretty much brand new to pixel art though, and will definitely admit I don't have a single f***ing clue about what I'm doing here, hahah!
Quote
And yeah, your art looks like random ms paint drawing, that's because you try to redraw the Zelda stuff in a higher resolution, neither understanding how the style works, nor how to achieve a similar sense of depth.
A style comes from experience, and also a very simple style has it's own rules.
That makes it sound like I picked a simple Zelda-esque style because I thought it'd be easier to pull off, which isn't the case at all. I have a ridiculous amount of respect for the artists who created Link to the Past; the game is amazing looking, and I realize that this style is just as hard (well, probably harder actually) to make look good as something like Seiken Densetsu 3; Since everything is so bare, bad technique is going to shine right on through. My sad attempts at aping the style are proof enough, I think. I saw this coming, but I figured if I became good enough at pixel work to pull off a simple style like this, it might be faster to work with, since there is less detail work involved. That's where my motivation comes from! =)
Quote
the fence has more details than the other stuff
Yet is looks fine next to the chicken, I think, where the fox looks bad next to it. I'm a little confused by that!
Quote
-the fence has a brown dark ouline, the stone a soft gray outline, all the sprites a black one, the other tiles none
Well, the idea with that would be that moving sprites, ie, the player, enemies, animals, etc, would have solid black outlines. Non-moving sprites (things the player can walk behind/cover, but not move: stones, fences, etc) would have dark colored outlines. Flat objects, such as the paths, flowers, and borders around the water would have no outlines. I figured it'd be a nice way to easily establish priority for the player. "These move, or you can use them. These you can't walk through. This is walkable ground." It doesn't look like it was going to look good in the end, but maybe it would've looked better once the tile set became larger? I'm not sure, yet.
Quote
-your cluster technique isn't controlled, which gives all a very WIPish and sloppy appeareance
I think this might be the biggest thing, right?
Quote
or to bring it down to some important points
-light source isn't consistent
-perspective isn't consistent
-amount of details isn't consistent
-technique isn't consistent
Light sources being wrong is a stupid mistake by me, for sure. Don't know what I was thinking...
Do you have any tips for easily keeping everything in a 3/4th perspective? It's definitely a problem. (Oh, you have a full tutorial on it. Time to read it!)
Detailing small areas like the fence post is easy for me, but detailing larger areas like the fox fur or chicken confuses the hell out of me. Whenever I try adding texture, it just looks like noise.

I'd like to work in the larger texture, but it might be beyond my pixeling skills right now. It'll probably be a huge time saver working in a lower resolution, anyway, and I imagine it'll help my pixel technique more than working in a larger resolution, too...I think I'm going to downgrade to 16x16 tiles...
Thanks for the brutally honest review, Cyan. It's nice to hear "what the f*** were you thinking?! You did absolutely everything wrong!" once in awhile. I'll have to work doubly hard tomorrow, keeping the things you and Slym said in mind. :lol:

Do either of you have any specific advice for improving either the large fox or the small one?
The large one I have absolutely no idea what to do with.
The small one represents the pinnacle of my pixeling skills (it's an undersea mountain, lol). It doesn't feel too bad, but I don't think it looks especially good, either. But there's not a lot of space to work with, so I'd like to know how a better artist would tackle it.

Thanks again for the help, guys. I'm feeling motivated now!
« Last Edit: June 25, 2012, 04:46:34 pm by jams0988 »

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!

Reply #4 on: June 25, 2012, 08:29:39 pm
Most of the LoZ graphics are very awesome. The style looks simple, but this don't mean that it's simple to make. They got all their bascs right and as I showed in the tutorial with the box, there is no difference between a simple style and a detailed style, if it comes to some of the very basics. Just to underline it: the LoZ basics are done right (except stuff which looks better for their style, but that's about breaking and banding rules)
If you prefer SD3 or LoZ is also just personal taste, both games are done pretty professional. 

I don't think it's very productive if you start working on enemies you will only see in one particular level in the game. It's more important to work on proportions and the general impression of size first. One of the most important things are proportions. Not only the proportions for one thing, but also the proportions from one thing to another (e.g. your molerat is kinda big compared to the chicken) and if you can name me something which is better fitting for the base scale as the main hero? The HUD and the main heros are the 2 most important things of every game - simple because they are displayed during the whole game. If the HUD or the char looks like crap, the game will look like crap. All the other stuff can be the most beautiful stuff ever, but it won't count.
Because of that I ask you once more. Why don't you want to start with the charakters? (Yeah of course drawing humans can be scary, but I think you can learn also a lot from it ... and RPG chars are really far away from humans and don't scary after all. You'll have to face this problem in some time).

I also won't concentrate on fancy stuff like "cleaning" lines first. It's just a huge waste of time as long as the basics arent right. If you ask me I won't be able to make out any difference between your fox 1 and 4 (1:1, just by glaring over it, I had to read and look at it longer).
Final details are just giving your art a polished look or a different style. You can Avoid banding, use AA and dither as well as every other pixel technique on a obvious wrong base, this won't improve the drawing.

Using these techniques on a base which is alright, let it look even better. (I don't say that it isn't possible to hide your poor drawing skills behind pixel work, because it is (!), but everybody who knows the basics or thinks 3 dimensional will see your mistakes within the first glare.

The good thing about 3/4 charakters is that they also don't need to be exactly in this perspective. This would also be a pretty bad idea, because it looks odd (ceased by the not very natural viewing angle) but it doesn't mean that you should avoid depth of space everywhere it's possible. Drawing is about form control, pixel-art is about pixel-control. This can get really challenging.

If you take a look of my edit, I removed all the stuff you don't need necessarily. I simple used 6 colors and the outline is black. I worked at the perspective and the forms and tried to add depth. BTW I really love the design of the creature. Now it would be time for AA and co.
If you look at both sprites you can see the differences at the first glare.
It also don't hurt to add eyes, or turning the whole sprite a bit. This just emphasizes the impression.
And keep in mind that enemies are animated, the movement is even more important than the quality of the sprite.

comparison:


sprite:
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Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!

Reply #5 on: June 26, 2012, 10:19:36 am




And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline jams0988

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Re: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!

Reply #6 on: June 26, 2012, 11:24:16 am
Quote
Most of the LoZ graphics are very awesome. The style looks simple, but this don't mean that it's simple to make. They got all their bascs right and as I showed in the tutorial with the box, there is no difference between a simple style and a detailed style, if it comes to some of the very basics. Just to underline it: the LoZ basics are done right (except stuff which looks better for their style, but that's about breaking and banding rules)
If you prefer SD3 or LoZ is also just personal taste, both games are done pretty professional.
Indeed, both games are fantastic looking. Nintendo and Square both stabled amazing artists (and still do)!
Quote
I don't think it's very productive if you start working on enemies you will only see in one particular level in the game. It's more important to work on proportions and the general impression of size first. One of the most important things are proportions. Not only the proportions for one thing, but also the proportions from one thing to another (e.g. your molerat is kinda big compared to the chicken) and if you can name me something which is better fitting for the base scale as the main hero? The HUD and the main heros are the 2 most important things of every game - simple because they are displayed during the whole game. If the HUD or the char looks like crap, the game will look like crap. All the other stuff can be the most beautiful stuff ever, but it won't count.
Because of that I ask you once more. Why don't you want to start with the charakters? (Yeah of course drawing humans can be scary, but I think you can learn also a lot from it ... and RPG chars are really far away from humans and don't scary after all. You'll have to face this problem in some time).
Aye, I agree that the HUD and hero are the two most important things for a game, which is exactly why I haven't started them yet. I figured since I just started pixeling, it'd be better to get some tiles under my belt before trying such important sprites. Then again, you're probably right. The hero is the most important part of the game, and I can always redo him later if I think I can do a better job with him down the road. I've been drawing people all day today...I'm going to try this fox one more time tonight, and the hero will be tomorrow, since I'm almost out of time for the day.
Quote
I also won't concentrate on fancy stuff like "cleaning" lines first. It's just a huge waste of time as long as the basics arent right. If you ask me I won't be able to make out any difference between your fox 1 and 4 (1:1, just by glaring over it, I had to read and look at it longer).
Final details are just giving your art a polished look or a different style. You can Avoid banding, use AA and dither as well as every other pixel technique on a obvious wrong base, this won't improve the drawing.

Using these techniques on a base which is alright, let it look even better. (I don't say that it isn't possible to hide your poor drawing skills behind pixel work, because it is (!), but everybody who knows the basics or thinks 3 dimensional will see your mistakes within the first glare.
Yeah, thanks for showing me that with your edit. I was worried my art looked bad because I didn't know my pixel techniques well enough, but my art looked bad just because it looked bad, hahah! =D
Quote
If you take a look of my edit, I removed all the stuff you don't need necessarily. I simple used 6 colors and the outline is black. I worked at the perspective and the forms and tried to add depth. BTW I really love the design of the creature. Now it would be time for AA and co.
If you look at both sprites you can see the differences at the first glare.
It also don't hurt to add eyes, or turning the whole sprite a bit. This just emphasizes the impression.
And keep in mind that enemies are animated, the movement is even more important than the quality of the sprite.
Yes, awesome edit, thank you! =)
It shows that the base drawing really is much more important than the pixel work on top. I've been practicing all day today after seeing it, so thanks! And I'm glad you like the fox's design. I'm hoping to really make him shine with his animations.

So, thanks again for all the good advice and a great edit, Cyanmou. I think my pixel art is going to improve a bit because of your help!


PixelPiledriver, thanks for the edit. I like what you did with the sprites, and I appreciate the WIP-gif. The grid-picture is especially interesting. Thanks for pointing out that they match each other much better when they share common dimensions like that. =D

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!

Reply #7 on: June 26, 2012, 12:49:36 pm
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The grid-picture is especially interesting.
Here's how that works in GG:


I use this quite a bit.
Even on sprites and compositions not meant to fit tiles.

Create a grid size. <---- usually your tile size but could be anything.
What size sprite do you want to draw?
1x1, 2x1, 1x2, 2x2, 3x3 etc?
I like to write the size next to the character to remind myself.

Relative dimensions help the process of design and create a simple basis of scale across all sprites:



Personally I don't count small bits that go over the line, just the main masses. <--- usually based on where the sprite contacts the ground.
But fitting to the grid exactly can also be a good thing.
Depends on what you want.
Of course this works great for tiles too.

Also use Snap with the Select tool to move things around quickly.
Works great with other tools as well, such as Filled Rectangle:


Try it!
« Last Edit: June 26, 2012, 03:40:45 pm by PixelPiledriver »
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline jams0988

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Re: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!

Reply #8 on: July 19, 2012, 07:36:54 am
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« Last Edit: June 27, 2016, 02:47:15 am by jams0988 »

Offline BowTieDaddy

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Re: Still working on Zelda-esque tiles/enemies...need help!

Reply #9 on: July 19, 2012, 11:31:43 am
Honestly, I don't think the stretch is the issue - it's just jarring how he goes from extremely stretched out to completely normal, without any squash in between.  I suggest you either add a much more dramatic squash with him hitting the ground, or else pull back a bit on the stretch.