AuthorTopic: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly  (Read 15712 times)

Offline Ashbad

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[WIP] Twily and the Firefly

on: July 01, 2012, 03:22:20 pm
Well, I've been playing around in Grafx2 for many hours now, and I'm already moving faster than with MSP, especially because of the super simple keystrokes (using 'u' for undo and 'shift-u' for redo are a *lot* easier to use than C-z and C-y) and the awesome palette menu.  Even the spline tools are a lot more precise and easy to use than the ones in MSPaint.  Kind of unrelated, but I spent the past hour/two playing around with it and came out with this:



Might be something I want to continue working on -- I'd really appreciate no critique on it yet, as I have a lot more I want to do with it, I'm just posting it more as a testament of how fast I was able to get something drafted in Grafx2 compared to MSPaint.  Once it gets to a point where I feel I've done everything in my ability to make it look polished (which will require at least 6-7 more hours of work with what my idea is) I'll open it up to suggestions and make a thread about it. 

Still on the trackpad, but hoping to get that tablet really soon.

As for the Scootaloo pixel, I'm not willing to post it quite yet, as it's kind of in limbo with the edits I'm making on it.  The AA is mostly fixed now, and the colors are way off since I'm playing with more of a pink sky/clouds and a brighter ocean glare.  The only access to internet I have this weekend is at starbucks due to power lines and verizon's phone/internet lines down where I live, so I won't be able to post the edited version until tomorrow.

Offline Ai

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Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly

Reply #1 on: July 02, 2012, 02:08:13 pm
Well, I've been playing around in Grafx2 for many hours now, and I'm already moving faster than with MSP, especially because of the super simple keystrokes (using 'u' for undo and 'shift-u' for redo are a *lot* easier to use than C-z and C-y) and the awesome palette menu.
Oh, did you find the '[' and ']' keys to move through the palette yet? I use the heck out of that.. (it came to mind cause it's really handy when doing AAing like on the eyes in your pic below.. along with 'QShade'.)

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Looks pretty neat and thematic.. not everything has to be super polished.. something like this, with a little more polish, could be quite effective (and makes it easier to hold onto the original spirit that inspired you). Amounts of clean retro[1] pony are also good.... maybe it's just how tired I am, but I can't read the preceding sentence in a non-dirty way, ironically because of the presence of 'clean'.
 

[1] in particular your palette choices remind me of the Amstrad CPC master palette, which I find delicious.

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Might be something I want to continue working on -- I'd really appreciate no critique on it yet, as I have a lot more I want to do with it, I'm just posting it more as a testament of how fast I was able to get something drafted in Grafx2 compared to MSPaint.  Once it gets to a point where I feel I've done everything in my ability to make it look polished (which will require at least 6-7 more hours of work with what my idea is) I'll open it up to suggestions and make a thread about it. 

Still on the trackpad, but hoping to get that tablet really soon.

As for the Scootaloo pixel, I'm not willing to post it quite yet, as it's kind of in limbo with the edits I'm making on it.  The AA is mostly fixed now, and the colors are way off since I'm playing with more of a pink sky/clouds and a brighter ocean glare.  The only access to internet I have this weekend is at starbucks due to power lines and verizon's phone/internet lines down where I live, so I won't be able to post the edited version until tomorrow.
Looking forward to seeing it :)
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Offline Ashbad

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Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly

Reply #2 on: July 02, 2012, 02:33:26 pm
Yep, [ and ] are wonderful key bindings :) I've also been going at least 3x faster with pixeling with using other key bindings like `, del, d, f, u/S-u, etc.  The only qualm is that the 'Save' shortcut is set to S-F2, which is a bit awkward compared to C-s in MSPaint.  Also, some palette features like "Merge" and "Spread" are pretty useful at times.

As for where I'm taking that little sketch:



This is definitely not what I have right now, but it's the latest version I have hosted online.  I've gone *much* further since then, but I'm at work and since both the pixel is on my laptop, and I cannot connect my laptop to the base's wifi, this is the most I can post for now.  Since then I've improved dithering a lot, worked on shading more, and added a little firefly.  Also as you might notice in some places (like the AA ramp below her jaw and merging into her neck) that I've been playing with trying a stylistic little dithered AA, which seems like it's add a nice little effect on long AA ramps (doesn't work on short ones, in fact ruins AA altogether on them)

As for the palette, I played around for a while to get really interesting colors that contrast well, but not too well.  A main thing you might notice is that they all can use each other for AA ramps (except for the pink), which I made sure of so I could keep the color count really low (that version has 9 colors, it's increased to 12 now, but only because the firefly uses colors with green hues and I current have nothing even close in the palette.  However, Twily herself should remain static at 8 shades, and I can use her darker colors for a distant background with trees, stars, and possibly the moon covered by clouds.  Just my idea of what I'm going to do with it though)


Well, perhaps I should just start the thread for this new one tonight (once I can post the coolest newest version), so I don't derail my own topic, which I historically have tendancies to do :P
« Last Edit: July 02, 2012, 02:37:57 pm by Ashbad »

Offline Ai

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Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly

Reply #3 on: July 03, 2012, 06:52:08 am
Looking forward to it. If you chose the green I think you did, you'll have a really solid palette here :)

In the overall help ('?' button, IIRC), you can access a list of all the keyboard bindings, so if you want to check if ctrl+s is already used, or rebind whatever's currently using it so that it can be used for Save, it's pretty easy :)
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Offline Grimsane

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Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly

Reply #4 on: July 03, 2012, 07:25:58 am
you really are quite into all this brony stuff huh :blind:  :lol:



the horn is completely illogically placed in my opinion it is counter to the forms you establish with your hair and your profile view, and it doesn't seem it'd attach in the center of the unicorn pony thingy's cranium

rough suggestion, which looks off too but hopefully pushes my point and shows you a possible solution, application of pixel principles and curves are pretty decent, experimenting with dither is all well and good not entirely sure it'll work well here considering the subject matter is meant to be soft and smooth but if you are limiting your palette that much it's not a bad dither approach especially on the eye, but it's probably best viewed at 1x and you make that difficult  :mean:



Offline blumunkee

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Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly

Reply #5 on: July 03, 2012, 07:48:54 am
See, what did I tell you. :P

Looks like you need another shade to buffer between the pink flesh and the purple shadow.

Also, posting pixel art and asking for no critique rarely works in the Pixel Art section. There's a Random Pixel Art Encounters thread for just dumping stuff. ;)
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 07:51:01 am by blumunkee »

Offline yrizoud

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Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly

Reply #6 on: July 03, 2012, 10:22:44 am
Quote
the 'Save' shortcut is set to S-F2, which is a bit awkward compared to C-s in MSPaint
Don't hesitate to replace it then : Place the the mouse over the Save button, press F1, click the shortcut.
For a while I wanted the program to warn the user of shortcuts that are used, but after all, if you want Control-S to save, it means the key wasn't doing anything useful or intuitive for you.

Offline Ai

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Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly

Reply #7 on: July 03, 2012, 12:11:52 pm
per http://code.google.com/p/grafx2/wiki/KeyboardShortcuts , Ctrl+S isn't bound to anything by default anyway.. I thought it could be 'spline mode cycle', but no .. 'i' and 'shift+i' for spline and spline-mode-cycle, 's' and 'shift+s' for stretching and distorting the brush. I've learnt something useful today  ;D

Grimsane: You will do well to keep in mind .. "there is no such thing as too much pony" ;) :lol:
(second largest fandom ever, BTW... losing out only to Star Trek. Also quickest growing ever. Brony World Domination GO!  :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:  :hehe: )
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Offline Ashbad

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Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly

Reply #8 on: July 03, 2012, 12:40:47 pm
Grimsane: Decent insight; normally in the show the horn comes out right from under Twilight's Highlights (yay a rhyme), but since this is more realistic than in the show with it's cartoony oversights I think you're absolutely right.  I think perhaps I'd fix the horn to come out of the hair a bit lower, between where I had it and you had it, and it'd probably look a lot better than how I have it now :)  

Blumukee: Fair enough, those mockups should've gone in the "doodles" thread then ;) I'm still hesitant to give this its own thread, so I'll post the next "idea" or two for the direction of this here, and then once I finish polishing Twily's face and then actually start pushing with the hair, I'll start a thread for more C+C and then ask for ideas for a background.  Hopefully I'll start that thread tonighy (though, I guess I said those exact words *yesterday*... so we'll see) As for the buffer, I decided to instead just "widen" the dither buffer and give it multiple patterns instead of just 50/50, so that it's a lot smoother looking (at least to me)

per http://code.google.com/p/grafx2/wiki/KeyboardShortcuts , Ctrl+S isn't bound to anything by default anyway.. I thought it could be 'spline mode cycle', but no .. 'i' and 'shift+i' for spline and spline-mode-cycle, 's' and 'shift+s' for stretching and distorting the brush. I've learnt something useful today  ;D

Sounds like I should go bind it right away, then :D

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Grimsane: You will do well to keep in mind .. "there is no such thing as too much pony" ;) :lol:
(second largest fandom ever, BTW... losing out only to Star Trek. Also quickest growing ever. Brony World Domination GO!  :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:  :hehe: )

But you still have yet to do some pony pixels :(  As for you "cannot have too much pony", by extension you cannot have too much Twilight Sparkle.


Oh, and finally, somewhat of a lastest update.  Sorry for the zoom, again.  Another hardware/software tech forums I frequent keep egging me to scale things 2x when I post it for them, and for some reason I keep on posting my pixels there before here still, even though their suggestions are pretty crap (or, they just say, "yay ponies", "ew ponies", or "wow that looks like it's made of pixels")  I'm on a device now where I have no way of scaling it down... so I'll have to post it 2x :( (don't hit me) I *can* make the promise however that I'll only post 1x scale after this one, since I'm lately realizing (yeah, silly me, I should've realized this immediately, I know) I should bring everything here for starters since you guys give amazing tips... and the tech site doesn't.  This isn't quite where I'm at right now, but it's what I had as of last night:



I've changed the green colors since then (to be a bit more saturated and therefore look like a glowing light source more), and the purple+blue dither has been removed again (the area in the outer layer of the pupil; dithering it was ugly I realize now and both made the eye look flat and messy no matter the magnification.)  In addition, I've improved some of the dithering pattern since then, and started using the purple highlight color as the "darkest" shadow shade in some areas that still need some depth and detail (like the area between her ear and the lighter shades in the face, which is pretty much just a single, boring color right now.  And, of course, still need to fix the horn.  Based on the C+C I get today I'll update this tonight with what I have now (sorry again I can't upload/show it) and start a thread for it.

EDIT: I just realized that this step of the edit made it more detailed and "polished", but I guess also takes away that "clean" feel Ai mentioned.  I'll admit I may have gone a little overboard with some of the dithering... but what do you think of the direction I'm going with this, style-wise?  I already know that "dither it more!" is not going to be a suggestion, but I'm wondering if you think I should go more with the super-clean version I had before, the one in the middle with a slight dither, or the one I have latest (with a little bit of dither taken away here or there)?

EDIT2: I noticed that most of the crappy dithering that's making this look like I went overboard is actually in the eye,sso I'm considering reverting to the old one again and just adding a lsight bi tmore dither as opposed to what I have now.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 01:39:03 pm by Ashbad »

Offline Ai

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Re: [WIP] Twily and the Firefly

Reply #9 on: July 03, 2012, 02:02:01 pm
Blumukee: Fair enough, those mockups should've gone in the "doodles" thread then ;) I'm still hesitant to give this its own thread, so I'll post the next "idea" or two for the direction of this here, and then once I finish polishing Twily's face and then actually start pushing with the hair, I'll start a thread for more C+C and then ask for ideas for a background.  Hopefully I'll start that thread tonighy (though, I guess I said those exact words *yesterday*... so we'll see) As for the buffer, I decided to instead just "widen" the dither buffer and give it multiple patterns instead of just 50/50, so that it's a lot smoother looking (at least to me)

per http://code.google.com/p/grafx2/wiki/KeyboardShortcuts , Ctrl+S isn't bound to anything by default anyway.. I thought it could be 'spline mode cycle', but no .. 'i' and 'shift+i' for spline and spline-mode-cycle, 's' and 'shift+s' for stretching and distorting the brush. I've learnt something useful today  ;D

Sounds like I should go bind it right away, then :D

Quote
Grimsane: You will do well to keep in mind .. "there is no such thing as too much pony" ;) :lol:
(second largest fandom ever, BTW... losing out only to Star Trek. Also quickest growing ever. Brony World Domination GO!  :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:  :hehe: )

But you still have yet to do some pony pixels :(
True dat. Once I'm back to settled status rather than 'computer usually inaccessible, moving stuff at every available opportunity', I'll do some Pinkie stuff that I've been planning
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I've changed the green colors since then (to be a bit more saturated and therefore look like a glowing light source more), and the purple+blue dither has been removed again (the area in the outer layer of the pupil; dithering it was ugly I realize now and both made the eye look flat and messy no matter the magnification.)  In addition, I've improved some of the dithering pattern since then, and started using the purple highlight color as the "darkest" shadow shade in some areas that still need some depth and detail (like the area between her ear and the lighter shades in the face, which is pretty much just a single, boring color right now.  And, of course, still need to fix the horn.  Based on the C+C I get today I'll update this tonight with what I have now (sorry again I can't upload/show it) and start a thread for it.
Okay, you want crits now?

The ditherAA generally works.

OTOH the firefly is the dither monster from hell ;) You want a glowy effect, right? One of the most important issues found there is, given three shades ABC (ascending in brightness), you sometimes place A and C pixels adjacent to each other (I count 4 noticable instances). This creates contrast, which visually suggests an edge.

BTW I like the sparkly effect created on the outer edge of the firefly halo.As you step through the layers, the shapes are like 'sparkly,sparkly,sun-ish, sun'. Intentional? Maybe the sun parts could have a more coherent shape? Implied shaping generally looks very pleasing IME.

What about a reflection of the firefly in Twilight's eye? doing a vague reflection would make an excuse to augment the AA for that area with more shades (I'm guessing that your updated colors might still work in that role)


Also some nitpick: bad cluster (purple L) towards the middle-upper-right of the mid blue band. This is immediately adjacent to a 3-pixel diagonal run of mid blue, which stands out vs the rest of that band cause of the aforementioned creation of contrast. You could modify, possibly stretch, the dither pattern there to avoid this.
Towards the bottom left of the eye, rough AA. If you mean to increase focus there, it's correct. Otherwise I suggest more mid-blue pixels as this should improve the conformance to a flowing pattern of AA. Edit forthcoming after I reboot and access GIMP.
Finally, rotated T cluster near bottom-right of same band.

EDIT: Killing the dithering also works. While I personally value the cleanness, that's merely my preference. More objectively, I do feel the eye is overdithered.. You can do 'cleaner' stuff while still dithering.. look at 'Friend' 's work (that's his username here and.. on PJ? A bit of his game work can be found here, IIRC, and looking up 'orchard-lafayette' should find the actual games (w/ screenshots).. he uses strictly three dither patterns only: 25%, 50%, 75%. These are the ones you can implement with a 2x2 pattern, which is suitable for low res. High res pics can make use of more levels effectively (4x4 matrix, so 15 levels of dither); IMO this pic only needs 2x2-based dither anyway. hope that helps :)

Flowing AA writeup/diagram also forthcoming, after a while longer/normal computer access. Short version: try to have all the 'layers' (overall shapes created by shades) flow alongside each other smoothly like a wood engraving.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2012, 02:21:50 pm by Ai »
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.