AuthorTopic: Portrait: Ewout Genemans  (Read 7037 times)

Offline Erik Leppen

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Portrait: Ewout Genemans

on: January 08, 2013, 09:12:34 am
Hi all,

As you can see I am new to this forum. I am actually more of a game designer than a pixel artist, but when I needed portraits for a game idea two years ago, I noticed I quite enjoyed "just" drawing portraits with no particular purpose, and later on I started doing existing people to see if I liked that too.

I have drawn several portraits since and I have certainly improved (I find my first drawings very bad, and that's a good sign). However I haven't seen improvement lately, and I thought, well, that's the moment to ask others for their opinions, suggestions, etc. So I'd like to hear anything you notice you think could be improved, be it lighting, anatomy, coloring, proportions, expression, method, etc. etc. on the pixel piece below:

This is the distribution of colors:
Color counts
Here's how I did it:
Progress image

Reference
Here's the two pictures I used for reference (yes, I am mixing pictures. I'm trying to depict a specific person, not recreate a specific picture :) ):
Reference image for face
I used this picture for the face, because it had good lighting, has a full frontal view and shows the right emotion.
Reference image for hair
I used this picture for the hair because I liked it better.
I used a third picture for the shirt, but I couldn't find it anymore.

So...what do you think?



EDIT 9 March: please refer to reply #17 for an up-to-date sprite and accompanying reference picture.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 04:37:15 pm by Erik Leppen »

Offline DtFM

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Re: Portrait: Ewout Genemans

Reply #1 on: January 08, 2013, 09:56:13 am
Don't dither the skin. You have enough colours that it is unnecessary, and it adds a fuzzy texture to what should be a smooth surface.

Offline Terley

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Re: Portrait: Ewout Genemans

Reply #2 on: January 08, 2013, 01:00:34 pm
Don't dither the skin. You have enough colours that it is unnecessary, and it adds a fuzzy texture to what should be a smooth surface.

I don't think 'do or don't dither' is the way to look at it, you should use dithering as a blending tool 'where needed' but I agree that over doing it can result in unwanted texture. There are other ways to make colour transitions smoother by ensuring you have good values in your palette, consider un-dithering the face and then see if your at a point were any subtle uses of the technique can improve the smoothness or adds a texture.

But adding texture can improve an image, if a face was left un-dithered it could result in looking very plastic or cartoony; which is why I suggest judging where and when to use it. For instance crinkles, stubble, blemishes etc.
I've not got anything interesting to type here..

Offline Erik Leppen

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Re: Portrait: Ewout Genemans

Reply #3 on: January 09, 2013, 10:59:33 pm
Thanks for the replies so far, unfortunately I have not yet found time to try it out. I'm not sure about taking out the dithering because I'd figure that would introduce color banding. But I'll try it out, put it here and see what happens.

Offline Terley

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Re: Portrait: Ewout Genemans

Reply #4 on: January 10, 2013, 02:22:16 pm
I had a quick 5 minute attempt at minimising random dithering and clean edges, I've not completely got rid of the dithering, but do you see how having better control can help.

I've not got anything interesting to type here..

Offline Erik Leppen

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Re: Portrait: Ewout Genemans

Reply #5 on: January 12, 2013, 12:01:41 am
Thanks for the edit Terley!


Anyhow, what I did was first remove all dither, per the tip by DTfM, but you get noticable color banding and I don't like that. Also skin is not so smooth. Then I looked at Terley's picture to see what (s)he did and tried doing similarly. I noticed you're using checkered dither, where I used random dither. The reason I did that was to try to have a smooth transition of color, where with checkered dither one can only have 50% between colors. However after seeing the effect of your edit I think my random dither also creates more of a mess.
However I still clearly see the color transitions (forehead mainly), and I'm still not sure I like them...

(By the way I like what you did to
  • the lighting at the left, so I changed that
  • the lips (coloring) so I darkened the color there. Not sure why you removed a color though
  • the tiny "anti-alias" between jaw and background. I did a little change there but I might want to recolor the background so I used an aliased way)
I do have to say though that looking at your edit I feel like "copying" even though I do not "literally" copy. But that might just be me.

Anyhow. Any advice is welcome! (right image in this post is latest)

Offline Facet

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Re: Portrait: Ewout Genemans

Reply #6 on: January 12, 2013, 01:12:53 am
Hey Erik, this is a good likeness :y: Looks much better with the more subtle dither.

There's a few things you could do about the banding effect; the first is just to lower the contrast and increase the shades for less harshness. That's not the usual way in pixels though :lol:. You can be a lot more particular in weighting your values ie, not evenly spacing them throughout the ramp. I usually minimise range in the darks, group midtones to the light side and leave space in the high end for highlights to stand out; try experimenting a little on the forehead.

Elsewhere I think the hair is a bit distractingly over-rendered; you could simplify and abstract there more in order to lessen competition for attention with the face. More detail is not necessarily more realistic; you almost certainly wouldn't notice individual strands either from life or a photo at this size and hair can be a lot of fun treated more loosely.

Colour-wise you're pretty uniformly saturated for the most part. A good range of saturation in the mix will only make your colours pop more where you want them to via the contrast.

Finally, and kinda personal preference, I much prefer the plaid in the second ref. to those stripes, maybe it's the colours again though :P.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2013, 01:15:01 am by Facet »

Offline Erik Leppen

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Re: Portrait: Ewout Genemans

Reply #7 on: January 18, 2013, 10:26:17 pm

Better? Worse?

Anyhow, I tried to do somethingwith most of the remarks by Facet (so, thanks!). First I changed some colors. Face is a tiny bit brighter, not sure I like it but tried to do things with the colors there. Still not sure what you think was wrong with the colors though.
Shirt is now a pale blue which is more neutral, to try to break the high-saturation throughout. Also I changed the background to neutral light-gray, to not distract too much. Both might change to any other color any moment though :P

Also and most importantly, I completely redid the hair, in an attempt to try something different. Not sure what you mean by "abstract" but it's less detailed this way. Not sure I like it better than the original, but I like it better than I thought I would like it. I'd like to hear comments on the new haircut :D

Offline Facet

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Re: Portrait: Ewout Genemans

Reply #8 on: January 19, 2013, 08:11:01 pm
Better! Much more pleasing palette, It's still a tiny bit over-orange in the face imo; the first ref. looks to by taken by a warm source or else has been manipulated so it might be misleading. I made an example of some of the other stuff I mentioned for comparison, not actually the palette though:



The hair is pretty fun but I think in regular lighting he's a sandy blonde and all those dark lines are making it a little hard to tell. Treating the hairs as strands with full tonal range is also flattening; they all appear to be aligned to the same plane and it's hard to relate them to the forms of the face, I made mine curlier too. The face I dialled back in the low end too which I think helps with the gradation and I made some smaller changes for the sake of the likeness.

It's a bit messy still, but I don't think you've problems with detail work. The eyes in particular are good which is a common sticking point; just try and resist the urge to detail where it doesn't need it :P.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2013, 10:57:37 pm by Facet »

Offline Erik Leppen

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Re: Portrait: Ewout Genemans

Reply #9 on: January 20, 2013, 09:00:16 pm
That's an interesting edit Facet! Thanks! Interesting in the sense that I need to see closely what you did with the hair and see if I understand why.

I like what you did with the darker colors by the way. It makes me think...why did I have so many dark colors? No matter what the result of that thought will be; it's always good if people make me think :P


There's another interesting thing going on with your edit. Because, to be honest, my first thoughts when I saw it were "this is pretty nice....but it looks like it's someone else" (even when I put my hair on your face). Which is interesting as you said you made some changes for likeness's sake. That gets me wondering....why do I find it less recognizable? That's not a question for you to answer, just something I'm wondering myself.

Anyhow, I'll experiment more with the hair. Thanks ;D