AuthorTopic: Altered Beast - a cluster study  (Read 28218 times)

Offline Helm

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Altered Beast - a cluster study

on: November 29, 2012, 04:35:27 pm
So I've been looking at Altered Beast for the Mega Drive lately. It's one of the first games I played as a child on my brand new 16 bit console and it's stayed with me. It's a deeply flawed game that would be of little interest to anyone who doesn't study the history of videogames and/or has nostalgic ties to it. But the art in it is very interesting to us pixel artists. I won't go into a full commercial critique here because that's a bit too broad for what I want us to do in this thread. If you haven't played Altered Beast, you could do worse than watch this Chronsega episode to get a feel for it.

Now I want you to look at the isolated main character sprite.



This is a reduced version from the arcade game's sprite, made to work with Mega Drive bitlengths and limits. But don't look at the arcade original too much because here's what I want you (us) to do:

I want you to modify this sprite using what you know now about how pixels work together. Do not change the palette or the outline of the sprite too drastically, do not completely remake it in a different style or machine spec. Just take what is already there and polish it using current techniques. Feel free to edit the anatomy and design of the sprite within the limits of the original aesthetic, as you understand it.

This excercise is useful because it shows the fundamental qualities of pixel art. Your edit should be something that theoretically, were the original artist working on the game to think of it, could have implemented back in 1989.

My version is below. Do not look at it before you're done with your version. Then feel free to compare and contrast, justify your changes or challenge mine. We can look at a few more sprites from this era and/or game later on, perhaps.

Here is my edit

And my edit notes:

1. What I've understood of the game is that it wants to be beefcake, but not in an ironic way (if irony were even possible in 1989 in Japanese game design). Practicality is not a concern, strength is symbolized through muscles. Muscles ultimately lead to becoming beyond-human, in-human. The undertone is similar to that of bodybuilding. So I looked for reference in contemporary body building, especially after the Arnold revolution, which also is not concerned with people being practically fit or strong or athletes, but with the symbol of strength in-itself.

I sculpted the body further and especially the legs which I believe where a big missed opportunity for conveying beefcake by Sega's artists.

2. Besides those alterations, the rest is a thorough cluster study, most of which is best contrasted against other cluster studies you've hopefully made.

3. I did some reuse of the secondary colors in primary spaces, as I am wont to do. Not much more can be done (I think, feel free to prove me wrong) without altering the palette wholesale.

Feel free to post your versions below, as well as talk to any length about the topic.
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 01:49:36 pm by ptoing »

Offline Carnivac

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #1 on: November 29, 2012, 07:17:09 pm
Hm, I had a bit of free time while cooking foods and I saw this topic and thought I'd have a go as Altered Beast is a game I've always disliked and part of that was the graphics and thought I'd give editing the hero a go.   But after glancing at the topic again while spriting and comparing to the original sprite I think maybe I've misunderstood the topic.  I don't actually know what clusters are.  I tend to avoid the more 'arty' or technical sides of pixel art as I prefer finding my own way and comfortness in what I pixel.  So if this is wrong please ignore it.
 
I shall post it here anyways.  Is the one on the right.  Yeah it could be better and refined a bit more but I feel I did what I set out to do and make the sprite feel somewhat more 'solid' which is a problem I had with the Mega Drive/Genesis version of the game as I felt the characters just felt too 'paper-like' and two-dimensional flat in feel to find the combat satisfying enough.

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Offline Helm

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #2 on: November 29, 2012, 07:20:59 pm
Thank you for participating! I really like your sprite, and I share some of your concerns with the original's 'paper thin'-ness.

I don't think there's anything arty about clusters. I mean by it how pixels of different colors are arranged in shapes and how these shapes touch each other. If anything it's a very nitty-gritty technical concern, not abstract theory. It's interesting to me that although you've sidestepped that aspect of the thread, what you've produced is still prime material for what I'm trying to do here.

Would you care to critique my take and receive some critique for your take of the sprite?

Offline yaomon17

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #3 on: November 30, 2012, 04:34:29 am
:huh:

Offline Hideon

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #4 on: November 30, 2012, 06:25:39 am
I think I need the meme "I have no idea what I'm doing" right now.



Mhm... maybe with black background, my try gets a bit better... mhm... *checking*
Nop, still a shit, sorry. ::)

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #5 on: November 30, 2012, 08:03:32 am
« Last Edit: November 30, 2012, 08:38:57 am by PixelPiledriver »
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Helm

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #6 on: November 30, 2012, 01:00:12 pm
:huh:

That's a great call on the shiny oily beefcake. I am surprised the Genesis version didn't keep any highlight colors, given the arcade original was quite shinier. Still, no speculars even in the original.

I think I need the meme "I have no idea what I'm doing" right now.



Mhm... maybe with black background, my try gets a bit better... mhm... *checking*
Nop, still a shit, sorry. ::)

I quite like it. What did you have in mind with the bandanna? Is it just for more badassery? I like the kind of gross leg muscles in yours, but I don't know about that selout, man :)




The head looks more like a Double Dragon head now! I think the idea with tinyhead is to accentuate the beefy muscles, especially when you get the third upgrade where the whole body bulks up but the head remains tiny. There's something to it that I think would be lost with a head of proportional size.

Likewise, I didn't touch the hugehands in the original too much, they're my favourite cluster (the foreground hand in particular) and one of the reasons I took the sprite and zoomed in on it to see what's up.

It's interesting in your process you took the background arm closer to the chest but you put it back out later, is it to keep the silluette readable?

Offline ptoing

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #7 on: November 30, 2012, 01:36:39 pm
I totally made him an 80s wrestler, mainly because he kinda seems to have a mullet and an some beard action going on. Also the pink top has a very 80s vibe.

Quite quick edit, good fun tho :)
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #8 on: November 30, 2012, 10:02:47 pm
I totally made him an 80s wrestler, mainly because he kinda seems to have a mullet and an some beard action going on. Also the pink top has a very 80s vibe.

Quite quick edit, good fun tho :)

My goodness that facial hair XD

Offline Ashbad

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #9 on: November 30, 2012, 11:52:38 pm
While I made many notes about the clusters, I didn't change any anatomy -- partially why I'm a bit underwhelmed with my edit :(



I noticed a few things:

- Foot on the right was very long and very pointed; looked unnatural.
- Arm on (our) right is very loosely defined, and while I didn't change much, adding just a bit more of the darker midtone helped a bit.
- Kneecaps and visible part of the shins were not really defined at all, did a quick touch up there.
- I had quite some trouble on the arm on (our) left -- I should have used references in order to better define some realistic-looking muscles, which the original did not really have.
- Belt blends into the arm colors too much, my edit doesn't fix it that much, but it's somewhat improved.
- After looking at Ptoing's edit, I realize that his crotch area isn't very defined in order to show male "assets" -- I didn't do much with that myself though, because I finished my edit before looking at the ones already posted in order to see what I could do on my own.
- While I was timid to fix this in my edit, the darkest color on the skin-colored ramp was very underused and could have been used to greatly defined muscle groups (which all of the edits previous to mine seemed to do.)
- Very many banding problems; not terribly noticeable however with the given skin-tone ramp colors, which didn't contrast much, at least not at 1x viewing.  At 2x it jumps out a bit.  Not much staircase banding, but a lot of fat pixel/long fat pixel banding groups.

Hopefully my written analysis will make up for my below-par edit :)  I think I'm going to do a better one sometime tomorrow having seen what many of you guys have done.  I think I'll challenge myself more on the next one, going for a more complete transformation.

Also, speaking of colors, I think many pixel-level decisions may be different for this sprite considering how close together some of the colors are -- I wonder what the edits would look like if the colors were like this:



Food for thought, perhaps.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 12:05:15 am by ptoing »

Offline API-Beast

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #10 on: December 01, 2012, 01:38:14 am
The main issue with it is the lighting. Modified the colors a bit, has less colors than the original now though ::)

Offline ptoing

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #11 on: December 01, 2012, 01:42:35 am
You strayed from the muscle physique quite a bit there Mr. Beast. Mainly by making his head so big, and also the positioning of the arm on the right does not read as strong. Also he looks quite alien in a way without a discernible nose and ears.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #12 on: December 01, 2012, 01:54:52 am
Well, the parts you mentioned looked very wrong to me on the original (anatomy wise) that's why I changed them. The head was kinda rushed so here is a version with slightly more work put into it.

Offline ptoing

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #13 on: December 01, 2012, 02:08:05 am
Don't you think they know that a tiny head and a physique of almost 9 heads tall is not realistic? It clearly is stylised to make him, as Helm stated above, look super human.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Jeremy

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #14 on: December 01, 2012, 05:13:35 am

Offline PixelPiledriver

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #15 on: December 01, 2012, 05:50:14 am


Quote
I think the idea with tinyhead is to accentuate the beefy muscles
I agree increasing the head size doesn't necessarily improve the sprite. (unless its huge!)
The tiny head is appealing in the same way I find PJack to be.

Quote
the parts you mentioned looked very wrong to me on the original
While this might be an educated observation, don't let it be your sole guide for designing characters.
Anatomy is an important topic.
But exaggeration of proportions injects tons of character, and in a lot of ways emulates what "real" people look like.

Quote
It's interesting in your process you took the background arm closer to the chest but you put it back out later, is it to keep the silluette readable?
Yes, exactly.
While i like the fist pulled in tight I felt showing the space between the upper and lower arm was also good.
With animation both positions could work.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 08:19:09 am by PixelPiledriver »
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline pistachio

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #16 on: December 01, 2012, 06:40:39 am
I totally made him an 80s wrestler,

EDIT, BROTHER



Worked on making the musculature less "ball-and-joint" like, specifically the delts and biceps.
Avoided defining everything with 1px lines. Both to moderate success.
The stance is also a bit forward-leaning now.

That third level of shading (or the musculature it suggests) on the left leg seems misplaced/overexposed.
Boots refined, but their suggested construction seems wonky up close.
Left forearm too curved. Right forearm should be longer.
Cranium squashed by 1px, but the head's a gag anyway.

To be edited...
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 06:52:02 am by pistachio »

Offline Lóng

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #17 on: December 01, 2012, 10:17:49 am
My humble attempt:
« Last Edit: January 03, 2013, 01:17:31 pm by Lóng »

Offline Reo

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #18 on: December 01, 2012, 12:16:48 pm

a quick attempt by me. Tried making the head a bit more masculine and well defined. The legs are quite plain (partially because of my inexperience in leg anatomy) but I think it works with the rest of the sprite.

Offline Helm

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #19 on: December 01, 2012, 01:22:59 pm
While I made many notes about the clusters, I didn't change any anatomy -- partially why I'm a bit underwhelmed with my edit :(



I noticed a few things:

- Foot on the right was very long and very pointed; looked unnatural.
- Arm on (our) right is very loosely defined, and while I didn't change much, adding just a bit more of the darker midtone helped a bit.
- Kneecaps and visible part of the shins were not really defined at all, did a quick touch up there.
- I had quite some trouble on the arm on (our) left -- I should have used references in order to better define some realistic-looking muscles, which the original did not really have.
- Belt blends into the arm colors too much, my edit doesn't fix it that much, but it's somewhat improved.
- After looking at Ptoing's edit, I realize that his crotch area isn't very defined in order to show male "assets" -- I didn't do much with that myself though, because I finished my edit before looking at the ones already posted in order to see what I could do on my own.
- While I was timid to fix this in my edit, the darkest color on the skin-colored ramp was very underused and could have been used to greatly defined muscle groups (which all of the edits previous to mine seemed to do.)
- Very many banding problems; not terribly noticeable however with the given skin-tone ramp colors, which didn't contrast much, at least not at 1x viewing.  At 2x it jumps out a bit.  Not much staircase banding, but a lot of fat pixel/long fat pixel banding groups.

Hopefully my written analysis will make up for my below-par edit :)  I think I'm going to do a better one sometime tomorrow having seen what many of you guys have done.  I think I'll challenge myself more on the next one, going for a more complete transformation.

Also, speaking of colors, I think many pixel-level decisions may be different for this sprite considering how close together some of the colors are -- I wonder what the edits would look like if the colors were like this:



Food for thought, perhaps.

All your observations were also my own. On arms, I used this reference which is era-specific



Check my sprite again to see how I tried to negotiate these shapes of the upper left arm in that cramped space.



Also, haha, you gave him aerobic workout legwarmers? Hahah


Jeremy, check out this area in particular in your edit



pistachio, the arms in your edit are close to the best in the thread I think, you'd need to fix that curved left forearm, though.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 01:31:27 pm by Helm »

Offline Carnivac

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #20 on: December 01, 2012, 02:39:33 pm

Would you care to critique my take and receive some critique for your take of the sprite?

If you want but after reading some of your comments on other people's edits I think there's a lot of personal preference in all of this.   There's certainly things I do not agree with on some of the edits that you do it seems.
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Offline Helm

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #21 on: December 01, 2012, 04:03:20 pm
Well, sure, it's all preference. I'm just interested in whether some things have been brought up to your attention. I'm not interested in changing your methods. For example



Is it a matter of preference you are omitting a very characteristic muscle (check Arnold reference) when you draw arms? In this way the arm you drew looks insectoid, somehow. Of course that muscle could be more or less developed from steroid abuser to steroid abuser, we know body building is not a natural process of muscle growth, but it's just something to keep in mind :)

Offline Carnivac

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #22 on: December 01, 2012, 07:20:44 pm
Yeah, I tend to leave that middle muscle out a lot to the point I do sometimes forget it completely even when I shouldn't.  I don't often consider it that important myself (and I assume other people feel the same as I've seen it ignored on many large pictures and as you say on some men it's not even that well developed when the rest of the arm is).  For this sprite though I just flat out ignored it for space reasons and to define the arm using just the main bicep and tricep for the shape and the bicep itself as a sorta focal point to show his supposed strength, particularly with the arm bent like that to make it look a lil swollen and ready to beat up some... weird... monster things...  in a really clumsy manner...

This be one of those games where it sounds cool in concept but just didn't work for me.  Can't be the age of it though cos Final Fight only came out the next year and I still love playing that, especially on PSN (almost always a second player to play it with online).  It's a torturous game as I was reminded when I received the Mega Drive version again as a freebie on PS+ and tried to get some trophies.   Actually it's the kind of game I feel deserves a good remake to fulfil the idea's true potential.  I remember Konami's Metamorphic Force was like a cross between this and their Turtles/X-Men/Simpsons games and was a lot more enjoyable.  Sega must have been really short of choice when it came to picking the game that would be supplied in the first release of the Mega Drive as a 'showcase' game that would wow all the 8-bit console owners and convince them to 'upgrade'.  Though my Mega Drive ended up being pretty much a Streets of Rage 2 machine.  I enjoyed some other games but overall I was more into the SNES's seemingly greater variety.

Anyways I'd never say I was an expert with anatomy though and I have been meaning to do some more sketch practices.  I did use to have a dynamic figure anatomy book but that went up with flames with a lot of my other posessions at the time several years ago.  :(   It is something that has been on my mind though with my frustration with a lot of modern cartoons that in my opinion over-simplify character design and form and have me missing the greater detail of older cartoons, particularly those of the 1980's (ok so the animation often wasn't great but I still prefer a lot of the actual character design work on stuff like ThunderCats and Visionaries to most of the stuff in the last 15 years or so... I let the Bruce Timm DC cartoons from Batman TAS to JLU off the hook cos I loves them).  But yeah that's probably just my own tastes.


Man, I'm terrible at explaining stuffs.  I tend to do what I feel rather than what I think.   ???
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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #23 on: December 01, 2012, 07:29:27 pm
First thing I thought of when I considered doing this, was a modern  far more beefcakian sprite, that isnt even garish at all.

Leo From Warzards


Regardless of how ridiculously beefcake it is we dont mind at all, I think because it's more succesful at imitating what a barbarian beefcake game ought to imitate

Frank Frazetta

There's something undoubtably Frazetta that works regardless of color limitation, strong undiffused lightrource on top and good action lines in posing. So I set out to imitate frazetta with Altered Beast limitations.

my hi-Contrast Altered...Barbarian

Nothing here related to pixels, just hi contrast and a tweaked pose, but I think it already makes for good Barbarian Beefcake gameart. The pose tweak was minor, I think it would work without it but I would've been frustrated working with that horrid pose without tweaking it even a little insignificant bit.

This is the way I pixeled it.

I did the best I could pixelwise, but I'm out of shape so it might not be the best.

EDIT: higher contrast sprite

I wanted to make the shading more Frazetta-ish...and I also tried to make his face more AncientGreek/Roman than Amerigan/English...


He ended up looking a bit like a Charlton Heston in a purple dyed Liono getup...right?
« Last Edit: December 01, 2012, 10:39:44 pm by Conceit »

Offline Redshrike

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #24 on: December 02, 2012, 02:22:05 am

Nothing terribly profound here.  I kind of liked a bit of the softness of the original sprite, since it made me think of him as having a solid layer of fat over the muscle (sort of a trucker physique?).  I tried to emphasize that some with mine, to rather mixed success.  I wish I had more time to work on it, but finals are coming up...  :(

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #25 on: December 02, 2012, 04:26:38 am
hahaha that is awesome Redshrike. it reminds me of something I saw in a documentary which said that in the time of Vikings you could eventually have some time of hunger, so having no fat would seem like a weakness, so most likely Vikings champions would be fat and they would imagine Thor and other gods as fat hahahah. Your sprite would seem to fit right in with that :p dunno if it applied to romans or barbarians tho :p

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #26 on: December 02, 2012, 05:37:34 am

Offline Geti

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #27 on: December 02, 2012, 07:09:44 am

Here's as far as I got in 30min, not happy with the front shoulder or the far leg, really. could probably shave a pixel off the eye. Didn't like the brown pointy shoes, or how dickless his crotch was in the original.

@Conceit: good inspiration, but I think your final sprite is godawful  :( Your intermediate one is much better.

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #28 on: December 02, 2012, 12:33:05 pm
I actually really like the original sprite despite it's flaws   :lol:  I really like large areas of flat colours in sprites, it was a shame to lose some of that with my typical pixel placement rules. Nothing super unusual here, as I kept the silhouette mostly in-tact, but I guess you can see a bit more definition:


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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #29 on: December 02, 2012, 08:06:49 pm
Looked interesting, so I gave it a try too. That low contrast palette is really hard to work with.


Helm: I like the way you sculpted the legs. Great volumes. I think I will study it a bit longer.
Nice. Now do the whole thing with the EGA palette!

Offline ptoing

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #30 on: December 02, 2012, 08:15:08 pm
Adam, that face looks totally like Chuck Norris. Uncanny!
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Geti

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #31 on: December 02, 2012, 11:41:12 pm
@rikfuzz: nice  ;D though the thighs are a bit undefined for their size compared to the arms, especially the front one which comes off as quite fatty up top, intentional? Using the pink as a buffer in there is a very good move I think.

Offline Facet

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #32 on: December 03, 2012, 12:14:01 am
I wasn't familiar with the game so I followed the link and poked around a bit: Roman solider resurrected by Greek god-sire to rescue god of war & strategy...by turning into a wolfman. got it :lol:.

I tried to stick to simply clarifying what was shapeless/odd but ended up changing quite a bit by increment. I gather he powers up via extra beef so I thought he ought to be given space for contrast in that sense. Major changes: more of a face in the jaw-heavy circus strongman mould, far limb placement.

I'll have a proper look round later (we need a line-up!) but just browsing other contributions: a couple things I noticed most people kept was the further arm shape & position. I thought the upper arm looked pretty small, but I regret moving it down into a sort of defensive stance; it looked more engaged as was, similarly turning the head round I think lost vitality. Really interesting to see a variety of, and more elegant, solutions for things. 

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #33 on: December 03, 2012, 03:06:23 am
OK here's some real quick lunchbreak-action from me.
Here's a list of what I did, as I found the whole thing more interesting than I anticipated:
  • increased the shoulders and bulked up the neck and thorax in general
  • moved the head forward to beefen up the body language
  • rotated the torso somewhat so I can make the chest nicer. now that I look at it I don't think I made it that much nicer at all
  • spread the legs, added a crotch and shortened that foot
  • added one colour (darkest) cause I felt the sprite could benefit from stronger shadows. by doing this I failed to keep the sprite at 8 col (7+transparency)
  • moved the knees up to compensate for those thighs
  • resisted the urge to oil the guy up
  • afraid I didn't have the time to pay attention to all the clusters, but at least when I there were conflicts (as there always are with pixel art), I opted to go for the nicer cluster rather than nicer something else


Now I can finally take a look at what Helm did :D
i

Offline Helm

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #34 on: December 03, 2012, 05:28:47 am
That's a pretty great left arm. Very very good sculpting. But the right now seems tiny in comparison.

I love the aggresive roid rage head forward thing, it makes the tip-toeing right leg make more sense. But on the other hand something is lost from the poise of the original, which was completely non-threathening. Remember, body builders. He's not fighting. He's posing. All his attacks and stances are poses, check a full sprite sheet out sometime. Nothing forceful or threatening about him.

Also whereas it makes sense to give him a crotch, on another level it makes sense that he *doesn't* have a crotch.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on mine as well!

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #35 on: December 03, 2012, 06:03:55 am
My contribution to the thread:



Limited anatomical knowledge probably weaken this quite a bit, I also feel like that critique you (Helm) just gave on ilkke's can apply a bit to mine too. (About the pose/arm)

Just wanted to give it a try though.  :yell:
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 09:41:52 am by Dr D »

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #36 on: December 03, 2012, 09:20:03 am
Must resist... overworking.

He reminds me of the idealized Soviet worker seen in statuary. Same number of colors, although I adjusted the original shades to give him more contrast.

« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 09:31:46 am by big brother »

Offline rikfuzz

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #37 on: December 03, 2012, 09:56:22 am
Must resist... overworking.

He reminds me of the idealized Soviet worker seen in statuary. Same number of colors, although I adjusted the original shades to give him more contrast.



Wow, this is my favourite by far - I had trouble with the hands, you've totally nailed it.  Not 100% convinced about his nose, but over all looking great.   ;D

@rikfuzz: nice  ;D though the thighs are a bit undefined for their size compared to the arms, especially the front one which comes off as quite fatty up top, intentional? Using the pink as a buffer in there is a very good move I think.

Oh thanks!  Legs aren't intentional really, I'm a little ignorant with muscles' anatomy (especially legs), probably should have used a reference!
« Last Edit: December 03, 2012, 10:00:31 am by rikfuzz »

Offline Helm

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #38 on: December 03, 2012, 10:10:34 am
I'm very happy with the thread's turnout. Do you think we should move on to a new sprite in the same vein, expand or alter the parameters of the edit or what?

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #39 on: December 04, 2012, 10:53:26 pm


Had a lot of fun doing this, good break from doing work on finals.

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #40 on: December 05, 2012, 08:18:10 am
 mine, eh amigo?
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 11:47:42 pm by ui »

Offline NaCl

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #41 on: December 05, 2012, 11:14:10 am


Bully! Kind of gave up on the lower legs.

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #42 on: December 05, 2012, 12:42:32 pm
Viewers discretion: Version 3 and 4 might contain bad clusters!



Critique is always welcome :)

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #43 on: December 05, 2012, 04:28:48 pm
Didn't spend a whole lot of time on this, but pretty happy with how it came out.



This was a lot of fun! Would love to see the community tackle remaking more sprites like this.

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #44 on: December 05, 2012, 09:39:06 pm
Geti: absolutley right. The first version is still closest to what I wanted to do. I often want to do things that are either highly challenging for me or not much suited to the format. So when I go halfway it looks kind of ok, but when I really try it looks real fucked up. I also shaded it very badly with nonsensical outlines it's very obvious when you compare it to everything else. I always see something different as I draw it O_o
EDIT: this one is between the second one and the last I posted, but I think it's the best version I made. I think I didnt post it cause the pose is a lil less interesting and he looks like right out of a hollywood action movie.

Yours looks incredibly fitting to the era, I feel like it was ripped right out of some canceled Double Dragon game that we never knew about or something.

I keep wanting someone to win...but that's not gonna happen so I'lll just list my favs :p

Dex's  Jigsaw's  Pistachio's  Adam's

Dex's has great use of the pallete and just the best contrast and definition. Looks like it might be the lead on a modern pixel game. (if there even is such a thing anymore)
Jigsaw's has less steep contrast but I like the definition of the muscles in the key places, it details just what it has to....some of us tend to detail everything to a cluttered mess :p
Pistachio's just looks menacing...love that face. What 80's wrestler is like that? I know zip about wrestling.
Adam's I just like because it goes almost to complete darkness in the background, I like the sense of depth in that. it also has some sparse details like Jigsaw's but personally I just like the extra contrast more. that's totally personal tho and it might not work in an actual game.

PxPiledriver and Redshrike are funny :p

Helm: I think now we should edit the sprite to be the best possible result with the limitations, change pose change pallete but try to communicate the same thing with the same limitations. I mean it's not like we're doing better here just because we know pixels better, but because we're a group of people obsessed with pixels focusing on making the best piece, while the original artist might've not been comfortable with the medium and might have rushed it.  So why not go all the way and make it the best we can imagine?

I wanna see somebody make him look like he came out of a Frazetta painting :p Hell let's change it into a mockup thread and have Frazetta in 16bit :p

Ok I know that's not what you want but I dont have any nostalgy for this cause I didnt have a Genesis, I just want to see some mad good pixels, everyone can make it their ideal for this sorta game, mine would be imitating Frazetta...I hope someone else too :p
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 11:05:44 pm by Conceit »

Offline Photocopier

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #45 on: December 06, 2012, 02:41:11 am
I don't think I quite have the skillset to add anything to such a great thread, but here's my take on this guy:

I tried not to change much from the original silhouette at all, Just wanted to make him feel a little more solid.

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #46 on: December 06, 2012, 01:57:39 pm
Since thaere are that many posts I chose a different direction to tackle the problem. We have lots of strong sprites and each of them have their strengths in different areas.
For my study I looked more closer at:

Helm's (because he made clear what's to do)
Carnivacs (it's the first different edit with a very different approach)
Yaomons (highlights)
Ptoings (character)
Jeremy (this one is the first one who has those yellow red boots which is nice in terms of color differentiation and looks better to me than the  more detailled boots of other edits)
Pistachio (has a very strong pose)
Conceit (started with a different contrast approach)
Adam (Yellow backlight and depth)
Ilkke, (beefed up version with bulky shoulders and neck)
Big Brother (great sculpturing and forms)
Dex (changed the overall contrast by adding black)

Also some parts of different sprites are more readable as others. In my first edit I started with Pistachios pose edit and added ptoings head to achieve more character. I also chose the body parts which looked most interesting and readable for me (Jeremy's boots, Big Brother's lower arms and hands and his right leg, Dex's left leg, Illkes upper arms, and some small other pieces)

In the second step of the edit I started with altering some clusters and added some of my own ideas to the sprite and polished some parts which looked strange from copy-pasting.

In the third step I added highlights and dark shadows.

I wasn't sure if it's a good idea to add a highlight at the face too.

Here you can see the outcome:



After all it's a summary of all the ideas I liked pretty much.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 02:00:15 pm by Cyangmou »
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Offline Joe

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #47 on: December 07, 2012, 07:33:36 pm
Awesome thread.  Here's my attempt:



I tried to emphasize readability in mine.  Also kept the original palette.  Probably the most challenging thing was the lack of contrast in the palette and the two mid and dark tones being so close in value.  But it was very fun, and I think we should move on to the wolf/bear/tiger/dragon forms now.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2012, 07:58:22 pm by Joe »

Offline dylan

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #48 on: December 09, 2012, 05:01:02 am
I had a crack at it, used the original palette. ;D

Offline Sollers

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #49 on: December 19, 2012, 10:01:09 am
Still a novice at this, made using original palette.



Done in paint so tried to make background match the forum :)

Offline st0ven

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #50 on: December 31, 2012, 11:34:50 pm
my edit original
cleaned up edit

@Helm

You know that im not exactly up to date on pixel cluster theory, you frequently have a field day with my work editing for cluster clarity. After seeing your edit i was inspired to create one of my own to perhaps supply an alternative view on cluster simplification.

Of course readability should not fall second to cluster theory. The original sprite palette offered little contrast making distinction between 'groups' rather difficult in certain situations particularly in the legs and right arm.

I refused to alter the palette and didnt bother much changing much of the proportions, though admittedly the feet length is ridiculously long and the boot aesthetic is originally inconsistent from one leg to the other.

This is the solution that i came up with.
« Last Edit: January 01, 2013, 03:43:41 pm by st0ven »

Offline Helm

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #51 on: January 01, 2013, 05:19:15 pm
Seems to me your pixel tech is as current as it can be! I don't think some of these single pixel speculars should definitely HAVE to align (on the chest and leg) but otherwise this is one of the cleanest and strongest cluster-edits in the thread. Here's some extra solutions to a few areas, at this stage of your development I am sure you'll understand where I'm coming from with them.



These aren't the only solutions. There's some aesthetic choice in this that doesn't have to do with pixels lining up, but not too much. I avoid single pixels where I can and I err on the side of a bigger buffer cluster than a smaller buffer cluster at some areas than you do which isn't necessary, but you catch my drift.

It's very refreshing to see one of the best pixel artists of the old guard tackle the cluster idea and capture it so intuitively.

The next cluster study is where you - and others - can get your revenge! We can test whether better clusters and new pixel art tech still matter or not under CRT emulation like in the old Capcom arcade games. You know, where 'sel out' was born and everything was bandy as hell. We'll see if it matters or not to avoid these things and if the end result is pleasing under circumstances that no longer exist for pixel art, but which are increasingly emulated.

Offline st0ven

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #52 on: January 01, 2013, 06:55:03 pm
@Helm - I approve of all your edits. Theyre good in their subtlety, and i like the choice placement of some of the edits. The highlight adjustments are subtle but feel better, and i like the stronger cuts on the right shoulder and bicep (i actually darkened the same bicep region on my cleanup in a nearly identical manner you did) I was hoping that you would spend a few moments to do this, because i was hoping to gain some insight on your intuition on pixel placement with specific cluster regions i wasnt quite sure about.

I had fun doing this and im glad you posted another one - im going to go check out that thread right now to give it a shot. One thing that capcom seemed to have learned along the years was a concept similar to clusters when they came around to re-rendering their CVS sprites - but im quite sure this was largely a forced adaptation from the already superior SNK pixel technique.

Also for what its worth, Ive tried to really take to heart some of those edits youve given me over the past year or more involving clusters, and re-read your tutorial several times, to help me adapt to a cleaner pixel style. i feel its crucial for readability on small sprites and tiles, and allowed me to advance from the heavily AA'ed work that i had clung to in the past. Sometimes its hard to admit there are better ways to do things other than the way one is currently doing them and its natural to resist change. but i think these types of studies are doing their part to advance pixel art as an art in the same spirit that this forum was blessed with when it was first conceptualized.

Offline Carnivac

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #53 on: January 01, 2013, 07:16:49 pm
Even after all these edits, I still don't get what this cluster thing is all about.  And from the ones Helm says shows it best they don't look that appealing to me at all, sorry.  I found the ones by Illke, Big Brother and Dex to be the most visually interesting and well defined (though I don't care for the latter two's usage of the costume's pink in the skintone as it makes the overall sprite look a bit overwhelmed with that one color and seemingly much more 'mono' than Illke's).  But whatever, I clearly lack the the ability to understand all this pixel technique stuff. 
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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #54 on: January 01, 2013, 10:46:35 pm
It's the same idea as a N-Gon.

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

Offline Carnivac

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #55 on: January 01, 2013, 10:55:37 pm
Was that aimed at me?  Cos I have absolutely no idea what the heck that image is meant to explaining here.
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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #56 on: January 01, 2013, 11:03:47 pm
Was that aimed at me?  Cos I have absolutely no idea what the heck that image is meant to explaining here.

I think that PPD misunderstood what you meant with the "I still don't get what this cluster thing is all about," thinking you were saying something like "I don't know what clusters are," instead of (what I assume is more like) an intended "I don't understand all of the fuss over these cluster edits."

Offline Carnivac

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #57 on: January 01, 2013, 11:07:30 pm
I think that PPD misunderstood what you meant with the "I still don't get what this cluster thing is all about," thinking you were saying something like "I don't know what clusters are," instead of (what I assume is more like) an intended "I don't understand all of the fuss over these cluster edits."

Actually it's both.   :blind:  I think I'm better just leaving all this stuff to the experts.  I prefer just pixelling the hell out of something til I'm happy with it.  The time I take to tweak a sprite of mine seems to be even longer than creating it in the first place.  Every single pixel counts to me.   Ah well, I had a go.  I didn't like it.  Moving on.
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Offline Helm

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #58 on: January 02, 2013, 12:10:50 am
You're well on the record on your opinion on clusters, Carnivac :P If you want to have a conversation about it you should be willing to do the work to understand the opposite point of view. If not, that's fine, your opinion counts because you're a wonderful artist, but you've stated it enough times. I don't expect all pixel artists around the world to care or agree with me in my theories on pixel art, but if some feel their art has been bettered by it - like st0ven - that makes me as happy as a munchkin cat with a piece of short string.

St0ven: thank you. I do not think heavily AA'ed pieces of pixel art are intrinsically worse. It's very much to do with the cultural climate. If you're making a game that wants to look like a 16bit golden era snes rpg, I would expect lush rendering and AA over sharpness and clean pixels and so would that game's audience. Pixel art will more than partly survive as a method because of nostalgia and fond memories so it pays to know how to emulate the past.

But there also might be the case that learning good cluster theory helps *any* sort of digital artist control their art, so it's a valuable theory to look at. I'm certain people in the future will integrate the pixel-specific thoughts I've had over the years (as expressed in the ramblethread) back into the larger theoretical framework for how to do art fast, precisely and beautifully. Cluster theory isn't very different from some grandmaster painter's approach 300 years ago, I'm willing to bet (even though what the master painted and what I pixelled are nowhere in the same league). We'll see the correlations eventually.

Offline Arne

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #59 on: January 02, 2013, 03:43:07 am
Not sure if this has been mentioned:

Check out Red Heat for the Amiga for some musclemen fights. I think I got it bundled with my machine back in the day. What a terrible thing to do to a child.

Also, I've been keeping an eye on arcade games and their ports, and it seems like arcade games were played on monitors which were calibrated differently, so when the games are played on Mame now, or when they were sloppily ported, they inherited a very light palette (almost as if behind a foggy window).

Hard to tell from videos (of arcade games played on original systems, not LCD+Mame setups), but check out a couple of games (Space Harrier, Contra, Quartet, Alien Syndrome) and I think you'll see the effect I'm talking about.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPXLe-oazCA
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCZrt_H7GxE

To view the gfx as the artist intended, you need to fiddle around with curves. Simply setting gamma seems to give bad results. You might remember me ranting about this earlier, during my Probotector project.


...I see "The Scream" in the FG parallax
« Last Edit: January 02, 2013, 04:11:20 am by Arne »

Offline Arne

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #60 on: January 02, 2013, 04:51:13 am
And of course, Altered Bragas

Offline API-Beast

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #61 on: January 02, 2013, 06:13:34 pm
proof how absolutely important highlights are.

Offline st0ven

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #62 on: January 02, 2013, 06:37:33 pm
mmm. lowlegs :D

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #63 on: January 08, 2013, 07:02:38 pm
This is good fun :D
« Last Edit: January 09, 2013, 06:27:16 pm by Chris2balls »
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Offline Arachne

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Re: Altered Beast - a cluster study

Reply #64 on: January 11, 2013, 10:09:30 pm

Here's my take on it. :)