AuthorTopic: Some noob questions about pixel art.  (Read 2917 times)

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Some noob questions about pixel art.

on: July 01, 2012, 09:22:44 pm
Some of these questions are for clarifying something for me, and some are simply to be answered and explained.  Thanks to anyone who can help.
(brace yourself for extreme noobiness :crazy:)

1.) When to AA or outline?  I understand what AA is now, I believe.  It is for smoothing lines, curves, and eliminating jagged edges.  What I don't understand fully is when do you want to AA and when do you want to instead go for naked lines, or even a dark outline such as what you see with sprites sometimes.  Does anyone ever combine outlines that define the line art with AA? 

2.)  What exactly is banding and how do you handle it? Banding is when pixels of similar value or so line up, right?  Which makes some pixels look larger in size, decreasing the resolution, right?  What is the right way to eliminate banding?

3.) Greyscale and conversion. I've decided to only pixel in greyscale to start the image.  Is this a big problem in the long run?  I know it's fine to start with greyscale and convert, especially since pixeling for me is only a hobby.  What I'd really like to understand is how do I go about devising a palette out of greyscale once I've drawn the image in greys?  Another way to ask is how do I match colors to greys, if that makes sense.

4.) What is sel out?  Is it when you have broken and different colored outlines, or is it when you outline a side and leave another side unoutlined, or is it both?  What are the purposes of both of those things, if both of those are types of sel out. 

5.) Tall and wide pixels?  Why and how? 

6.) What does color balance mean and how is it achieved?  I believe it is called color balance.  Someone I can't remember commented on one of my first pieces by saying that my colors weren't balanced. 
 

Offline ptoing

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Re: Some noob questions about pixel art.

Reply #1 on: July 01, 2012, 10:00:32 pm
Quote
1.) When to AA or outline?  I understand what AA is now, I believe.  It is for smoothing lines, curves, and eliminating jagged edges.  What I don't understand fully is when do you want to AA and when do you want to instead go for naked lines, or even a dark outline such as what you see with sprites sometimes.  Does anyone ever combine outlines that define the line art with AA?

There is no 100% rule for when to AA or when to outline. It is mainly a matter of style or preference really. It also depends on what you wanna do. For example if you want to make a nice titlescreen which is a still image you might want to go all out and polish it a lot, AA and all. But for ingame sprites which you want to animate you might not want to AA them a lot if at all simply because it is a workload issue. You have to find a middleground between polish and getting stuff done in this regard.

AA certainly is not necessary for nice art. A good example for this is miascugh's work, he hardly ever uses AA.

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2.)  What exactly is banding and how do you handle it? Banding is when pixels of similar value or so line up, right?  Which makes some pixels look larger in size, decreasing the resolution, right?  What is the right way to eliminate banding?

They do not need to be similar value. It is just when pixels form shapes which line up which in most cases looks not as nice as if it was otherwise. Helm details this in his the Ramblethread

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3.) Greyscale and conversion. I've decided to only pixel in greyscale to start the image.  Is this a big problem in the long run?  I know it's fine to start with greyscale and convert, especially since pixeling for me is only a hobby.  What I'd really like to understand is how do I go about devising a palette out of greyscale once I've drawn the image in greys?  Another way to ask is how do I match colors to greys, if that makes sense.

What do you mean with greyscale and conversion? Do you mean converting say a scanned pencil sketch and working over that? That is no problem at all and a lot of people do that I am sure. In some cases it can be a bit fiddley if you pixel something in greyscale with fewer colours than you want it in later on, simply because to show the form and details fewer greys suffice. Of course the colours you replace the greys with should have a similar percieved lightness if you want to maintain the contrast of the greyscale image in colour as well. A lot of this comes down to practise.

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4.) What is sel out?  Is it when you have broken and different colored outlines, or is it when you outline a side and leave another side unoutlined, or is it both?  What are the purposes of both of those things, if both of those are types of sel out.

Selout is a term coined by PK Mays who goes under blumunkee on Pixelation. In essence it is antialiasing against a darker background and then not actually having a background that dark behind the sprite all the time. Capcom did this a lot in the SF games and that is where PK got it from and focused on this as if it was some awesome technique. He is now ashamed of having contributed to this. Giving a sprite different outline colours or only outline some bits are nice ways to enhance the feeling of where the light is coming from or to suggest lineweight. Those have nothing to do with the original meaning of Selout.

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5.) Tall and wide pixels?  Why and how?
Pixels are not necessarily square. On a CRT the size of a pixel pretty much depends on how often the colourinformation can be changed while the beam of the electron gun inside it travels across a scanline. So you get a lot of systems where the pixels where not square. Mainly to save on memory. Memory saved on changing colours can be used to use more colours for example. This is not an issue today at all.
As to why work with widepixels nowadays, because it is fun and it makes you think about how you pixel differently. You will need slightly different approaches for how you AA and so on. As for the how, there are a few programs, such as Cosmigo Promotion, GrafX2, Photoshop and I am sure some others where you can set the pixel aspect ratio. This is the easiest way to work like this. Every other way is a bit of a pain.

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6.) What does color balance mean and how is it achieved?  I believe it is called color balance.  Someone I can't remember commented on one of my first pieces by saying that my colors weren't balanced.

I would say colour balance means that the overall colour scheme of an image is pleasant and harmonic. I think you get good colourbalance by not using too many colours when you pixel (same goes for digital painting and real painting, in those cases you choose some good base colours and mix from those, instead of colourpicking a totally new colour all the time or instead of using 30 different colours straight from the tube) and make sure that every colour counts. This is good practise, but is not always necessary, depending what you want. It also helps a lot to read up about colour theory, things like warm/cold contrast, complementary contrast, dark/light contrast and so on. On monitors you can get the effect of colours biting each other, more so than on paper (it still happens there as well, just not so pronounced).

This is a harsh example of biting colours. There are way more subtle occurances of this, though I think they should be more or less obvious to most people, and will become more obvious with practise.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline blumunkee

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Re: Some noob questions about pixel art.

Reply #2 on: July 01, 2012, 10:04:49 pm
I can answer a couple of these.

1.) When to AA or outline?  I understand what AA is now, I believe.  It is for smoothing lines, curves, and eliminating jagged edges.  What I don't understand fully is when do you want to AA and when do you want to instead go for naked lines, or even a dark outline such as what you see with sprites sometimes.  Does anyone ever combine outlines that define the line art with AA?  

4.) What is sel out?  Is it when you have broken and different colored outlines, or is it when you outline a side and leave another side unoutlined, or is it both?  What are the purposes of both of those things, if both of those are types of sel out.  

Selout is a stupid and confusing term created by myself a decade ago(!).

It is actually just a combination of AA & outlining.

You can have lines without any AA, or no lines with lots of AA, or a combination of both. Sometimes you can AA a line, which breaks its unbroken lineness, but can, when applied with restraint, make stuff look smoother.

Don't break the lines too much, or you will end up with lots of ugly dark pixels around the silhouette of your sprite.

It works best for larger sprites, like stuff you find in fighting games. At smaller sizes it usually does more damage than good.

It's considered intermediate to advanced on the skills scale. You should practice and understand how to make good looking AA and good looking outlines in isolation before attempting it.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2012, 10:07:31 pm by blumunkee »

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Re: Some noob questions about pixel art.

Reply #3 on: July 01, 2012, 11:30:24 pm
Quote
3.) Greyscale and conversion. I've decided to only pixel in greyscale to start the image.  Is this a big problem in the long run?  I know it's fine to start with greyscale and convert, especially since pixeling for me is only a hobby.  What I'd really like to understand is how do I go about devising a palette out of greyscale once I've drawn the image in greys?  Another way to ask is how do I match colors to greys, if that makes sense.

What do you mean with greyscale and conversion? Do you mean converting say a scanned pencil sketch and working over that? That is no problem at all and a lot of people do that I am sure. In some cases it can be a bit fiddley if you pixel something in greyscale with fewer colours than you want it in later on, simply because to show the form and details fewer greys suffice. Of course the colours you replace the greys with should have a similar percieved lightness if you want to maintain the contrast of the greyscale image in colour as well. A lot of this comes down to practise.

What I mean is say I PIXEL an image in greyscale. Then I want to color it. How do I choose colors that are equivalent to the greys used?  Say for instance I have a medium grey for a base color of an object that is supposed to be red.  How would I choose a red to replace that grey to be colored?  I hope this clarifies what I meant.  



« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 01:09:58 am by ptoing »

Offline Rosse

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Re: Some noob questions about pixel art.

Reply #4 on: July 02, 2012, 02:05:03 pm
Maybe I can answer your grayscale problem, but only if you have Adobe Photoshop.

Photoshop allows you to use different "Layer Modes", one which is called "Color". When you have a grayscale layer underneath and a blank layer with "color-mode" on top, you can paint on that with whatever color you like and the perceived value from the layer below stays constant. The interesting thing is, as long as the values are correct, you can go pretty wild with the colors and the image still reads okay.

Another method could be choosing colors in LAB mode. Choosing colors in LAB is not very intuitive, because A means Red vs. Green, B Blue vs. Yellow and L equals Lightness, but if you keep the lightness constant, you can play around with A and B and the color has the same value.

I hope I got everything correct, please correct me if I'm wrong. Maybe you can't get around getting a feeling for colors through experience. To check if it works value-wise, convert your colored image into grayscale (but don't use desaturate. Even though it also gives a grayscale image, the values are perceived differently!)

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Re: Some noob questions about pixel art.

Reply #5 on: July 03, 2012, 12:34:16 am
Hey Rosse, thanks for answering the question to the best of your ability.  I only use Gimp.  I'll look into the LAB mode, though I am unsure if that is a feature Gimp has.  I suppose just trying to choose colors on perceived 'grey value' to a color is something just to trust my eye with and experiment. 

Thanks ptoing and blumunkee for the detailed answers as well  :yay:

Offline Grimsane

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Re: Some noob questions about pixel art.

Reply #6 on: July 03, 2012, 04:45:28 am
you can create a new layer in gimp and set the layer blend mode to "Color" or "Hue" and draw a colour onto that layer and it will change the saturation and colour hint while retaining the value of the greys, it's sometimes a good start, I used to use that method alot years ago but not any more, but as a quick step to colorizing before tweaking it further, it can be effective.