AuthorTopic: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?  (Read 16038 times)

Offline neofotistou

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"A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

on: May 13, 2015, 08:22:25 am
So a person wrote an article with a super-clickbaity title.
http://www.dinofarmgames.com/a-pixel-artist-renounces-pixel-art/

Ok, so someone is wrong on the internet.
But it rubs me the wrong way.

Here's my half-formed thoughts:


* the author states that "Artists of any era tend to create with the best, most current tools available to them. " This is dogma, and conjecture. This is my biggest disagreement with this article. Artists don't have to conform, and they don't. Technology isn't what limits us, otherwise what the hell is Kandinsky? Why the fuck would Schiele say "to hell with your wildly popular and technically flawless academic crap" and draw dicks and vaginas in ink?

"Good" art, pretty art, show-off art can be made with any technology. But even if the author believes our tools have to move with the times, and therefore pixelart isn't a good tool, I want to remark that *he* isn't using the height of pixelart technology and technique. So his didactic tone is misplaced. His clusters need work, banding needs work, heavy dithering is very distracting to me. In fact I subscribe to Helm's theory that 50% dithering is banding. I'm turning into an ultra-purist, and I still don't mind its use at all. But if you're going to knock a tool, at least do it from a place of knowing it inside and out. I don't know pixelart inside and out yet, and even if I did, and had "matured past pixelart" (what an elitist stance by the way), I wouldn't attack it. As I'm not attacking alpha, mixed resolutions, banding, single pixel noise, etc, in people who want to use them. I don't like them myself, but I'm secure enough in my sexuality, sorry, I mean my love of pixels, to not care what people think.

I think what the author craves, and take it with a grain of salt because that's my interpretation of intention, is to make high rez illustration, and therefore is disappointed by the fact that his (beautiful) illustration is not well-received due to the pixels showing. Well guess what, if that's what you want, then you don't want to make pixelart. So I think it's disingenuous to use the defense "I want to make pixelart but I'm not getting through to the ungrateful and artistically illiterate audience". Because you don't want to make pixelart, and are blaming others for it. Nobody is forcing you to. If you think you should spoon-feed people what they're used to, do it. Myself, I'm an illustrator, NOT an artist by any standards, therefore I'm very well-attuned to what people (and magazines, and advertising agencies) like. I do it, and I get paid. When I make pixelart, I do it because *I* like it, and don't blame anyone else, because nobody's forcing me to. No, not even the recent success of hyperlight drifter and all that stuff.

It reminds me of DC in the 90ies. Marvel was always outselling DC, so DC tried to copy Marvel's comic book covers. More color?  Done. More speech bubbles? Done. Marvel, amusingly, changed the rules in direct response. They made covers with no speech bubbles at all, covers entirely in black and white, and whole comic books with no words in them. Marvel always managed to outsell DC, but it wasn't because of a recipe for success, it wasn't about using the latest in high-rez technology. It was about taking risks, and having heart. Also less misogyny, my god DC is, as a rule, terrible, why do I still read on? But I digress :D

* "Speak in a language people can understand so that they can actually see what makes your work great without a tax."

This sounds like "people don't appreciate my pixelart". Ok, why should they? And are you creating primarily "for the people"? If so good for you. Why generalize for all visual artists though?
Secondly, pixelart is absolute and eternal in the information it conveys, we all know it here. High def art, unless it's pure vectors (which are super beautiful as well) is always going to be imprecise, a never ending quest for perfection. But that's fine too. And the middle ground is fine too; older "high-res" games like World of Goo that know they can't compete with actual HD, so they embrace the limitation and deliver a mushy, dirty, blurry world, with film grain on top, that is VERY endearing. And actual super-high-rez games look pretty too. People find things to make anything look good.


* complains about android not displaying pixelart correctly. Idk, it always has for me. I don't know what their tools are. Construct 2 works fine. But it sure isn't a reason to "denounce pixelart". If you want to make a pixelart game, you're gonna make it. If you feel you're coerced into making a pixelart game, because other pixelart games have seen success, then you're not honest with yourself I guess.

* the author's style is pretty much demoscene-aspiring in my opinion, trying to hide the pixel grid instead of embracing it. I'm fine with it, I like the effort a lot. Still, that's not "all pixelart". It's in the weird and super-time consuming area of pixelart that we all know and love, huge, without a lot attention to pixel clusters, and dither-heavy.

« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 07:57:06 pm by neofotistou »

Offline Basketcase

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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #1 on: May 13, 2015, 09:05:43 am
I found this article on Hacker News. Thought there might be a thread over here about it, and here we are.

I found his title and premise a bit disheartening, as a lover of pixel art and a dabbler in the form. I read his article, and found his reasons for his decision very sound. Dinoform's games aren't vessels for his pixel art. His graphics are there to support the game. And the modern environment for games in the market they're targeting is: high res screens, multiple resolutions and aspect ratios. And given full economic and cultural considerations, pixel art isn't fit for purpose.

Edited to add the following~

Quote
This sounds like "people don't appreciate my pixelart". Ok, why should they?

Yeah, that's what he's saying. And he's also saying there's no reason they should.

Quote
And are you creating primarily "for the people"? If so good for you.

Indeed, Dinofarm's aspiration seems to be mass appeal. Or at least, wider appeal than dedicated pixel art aficionados.

Pixel art isn't for the masses any more. I'm happy to accept that it's a subculture. It doesn't need to be 'for the people' to be of value.

Quote
Why generalize for all visual artists though?

In what manner is he generalising? He's explaining his motivations for the creative direction of himself and his company. I don't see him calling his article 'Requiem for the pixel artists' or something.

Quote
Secondly, pixelart is absolute and eternal in the information it conveys, we all know it here.

I don't know what this means. There's always room for tweaks, refinement, expansion, in any art form.

Quote
High def art, unless it's pure vectors (which are super beautiful as well) is always going to be imprecise, a never ending quest for perfection.

Eh, compare with this: "All art is unfinished until abandoned" I'm pretty sure I read that around here.

Also he renounced, not denounced. Important distinction, I reckon.

[Edited again to fix link above]
« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 07:25:05 am by Basketcase »
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Offline Pix3M

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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #2 on: May 13, 2015, 09:45:04 am
I skimmed it, I had the impression that the artist mostly renounced pixel art because their artistic intentions is not compatible with pixel art. Suggesting that pixel art isn't bad, just that you still have to be aware of its strengths and weaknesses or we'll start to reach a point of dissonance

I will admit I had an incredibly naive phase of 'destroying the pixel', which I still do occasionally particularly with various studies. Most of my main "content" is done in a style that is more compatible with the medium, I.E. resolutions comparable of those used in the pixel art era

Offline Probo

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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #3 on: May 13, 2015, 10:32:59 am
That was an interesting read, he definitely made good some points about animation and the layman's perception of pixel art. I think its probably true that if you want to sell as many games as possible in this day and age, especially on mobile, pixel art isnt the way to go. But id rather sell less and stick with the medium i love, and you never know, theres always going to be the odd breakout pixel art game that does do really well. Maybe one of us will be lucky enough to make that

Offline 32

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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #4 on: May 13, 2015, 10:46:15 am
The overall point that people don't really care about about the craft is true. That they'll complain about it and miss the good points and ABSOLUTELY some of them will say it looks pixelated haha. But most people, the vocal ones especially, have never been able to tell good art from bad. I don't think that's on us, we just make good art and hope it resonates.

I don't think there's any quantifiable data around to suggest pixel art games are any less marketable. Sure they're often less visible but they also often have lower budgets. The people with the big marketing dollars are also working on the cutting edge cause they can afford it, hard to compare. I can't imagine people going for sloppy high res over neat pixels, at least not in a way that's statistically significant. I don't know about you guys but I don't see pixel art crashing and burning, who cares :lol:

Offline hawken

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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #5 on: May 13, 2015, 11:18:41 am
It's just a medium take it or leave it.
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Offline rikfuzz

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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #6 on: May 13, 2015, 11:34:08 am
In my opinion, and I say this as someone who's done pixel art 'professionally' for a decade, if it's not right for the project it's better to consider other options than be stuck being restrained to doing the same thing. 

KOF is great, but pixel(ish) art would have little use if it weren't for heritage.

I'm making a 'HD' game, and it's fun, in that it's a lot less explored, open to experimentation ...Sometimes it's kind of a drag that the niche that pixel art especially appeals to is full of self appointed arbiters of RealPixelArtTM if you don't FOLLOW THE RULES.  :lol:

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #7 on: May 13, 2015, 11:51:05 am
agree to everything 32 says.

The whole thing is about a matter of preferences and perspectives

some people like pixel art, some people don't.
people who like pixel art:
Some people like ultra clean purist pixel art (think of Zelda),
Some people like impressionistic spagetthi-leg pixel art (think of sword & sworcery),
Some people like detailled high-color pixel art (think of metal slug)

People who like or craft pixel art will be drawn more or less to one of those substyles or to some other.
People who don't like pixel art in first place, will have the same arguments against all of those styles - namely that it's pixelly


It's true that a lot of non-educated artists can't see the quality differences in the art.
But all people who play a game usually want to have a good time with the game.
But People value different things to have a good time - some people value the visual stuff and they will appreciate the art, other people have a good time just with hardcore gameplay and others have only a good time with casual games, others just value new ideas and there are a lot more ways - but all of them are fine.

There are so many things an individium can appreciate.
Imo the whole article is about that someone realized that other people have different perspectives and ratings if it comes to the same subject.
That's an omnipresent problem in communication - not only visual communication or art.

Fact is that if you make something you will have people who like it and dislike it..
The question is why you "need" people who like the stuff you make (for personal confirmation? for profit reasons maybe - one of the most common reasons if it comes to the games industry)
and if you can keep people who like your approaches amazed and thrilled for your next project(s).
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 11:55:51 am by Cyangmou »
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Offline Helm

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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #8 on: May 13, 2015, 11:52:25 am
There's a few problems I see with his line of thinking that can be captured by the mixture of emotions of this tagline:

"A million billion hours, only 45 colors!"

This artist came to the pixel art scene at a point where purism was propagated (by us, by pixeljoint) and he kept with that mindset for the wrong (as far as I'm concerned) reasons. Purism is a dead-end. You shouldn't try to have a small palette to have a small palette and nobody should care or commend you for your small palette. You should have a controlled palette (of whatever size, as long as you can control it) if that leads to more coherent art. Oil painting masters and famous illustrators also have small palettes for the same reason good pixel artists do.

To expect people to recognise and give you points for keeping to a code only works within a subculture that puts a premium on that code, as in, pixel art scenesters. The wider culture at large will care about the end result of the code of conduct if it's interesting and skillful and at the right place/time.

The big problem with Auro isn't the pixel art, it's a UI that's incomprehensible at first (second, third) glance, and that the game pushes you to youtube tutorials and requires you to read a manual before you can engage with it meaningfully : problems of game design and UI design. Perhaps Auro would have grabbed more people if it was in shiny HD graphics, but I wouldn't expect it to be a huge hit until the design problems were adressed.

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #9 on: May 13, 2015, 12:14:24 pm
snip

I also think that the games overall problem isn't the art.
Much more likely it's the design, but I haven't looked into that.


However one important note if it comes to color because I feel a lot of people confronted with pixel-art take the low-color-palette as a dogma and by far too serious:
Not meant specifically for you Helm, but as general pointer for others who might read this in future)

It's impossible to compare the general standards of how masters oil palettes are crafted and how "common" pixel art palettes are crafted.

Illustrators who use small palettes use those palettes to set up the space of the colors they use - they keep those colors they chose as cornerstones to limit their color space and won't use colors outside their cornerstones (e.g. you exclude all blues and try to use greens instead to get a similar effect)
While the colors inside the color space still blend together very smoothly.
the feeling of the color space stays the same - despite using just the base colors of the palette or making inbetweens -
if you count the colors used in those artowrks if you digitalize them it's still a shitload just by numbers.

A limited pixel art palette who has reds, greens, blues, purples, yellows, oranges, black, gray and whatever else in it is limited by the "amount of shades", but not limited by the "color space" and therefore it can't be compared to the palettes described above.

the limited amount of overall colors (shades) used and a limited color-space are two vastly different things one mustn't confuse.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 12:42:19 pm by Cyangmou »
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