AuthorTopic: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?  (Read 16041 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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Offline Helm

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

Reply #10 on: May 13, 2015, 12:40:02 pm
Right, sure that's an important distinction. I shouldn't really talk to the motivations of oil painting masters because I'm not one of them, anyway, on a more constructive note, here's why I still engage with pixel art although most of the principles of good art seem to me to be translatable in other media and/or methods of making pictures:

Clusters. It's very beautiful for me to make something harmonious out of interlocking squares where you have a good sense of 'atom' count, distances become clearer, bigger/smaller shape contrasts are more apparent than in a higher resolution medium.

On a secondary level, there is a traditional, archival quality to pixel art in gaming and whomever wants to make a pixel art game with an appreciation to it knows where they're trying to slot it, historically. Retro games reference eras, new-school purposefully is iconoclaustic and so on.

Talking to Auro in particular, game looks like this:



To me immediately there's four problems:

1. It looks like a typical Amiga-era incomprehensible UI, but the game looks Japanese-cute. Historically this is a mish-mash that I don't understand, which wouldn't be a problem on its own if

2. This looks like a hexy tactics game and it has no Final Fantasy Tactics/Ogre Battle isometric miniature world to marvel at. I'm not great at tactics games and I still gravitated towards them and wanted to play them to look at the little iso arenas, and pixel art *is the medium for iso cuteness* and the designer decided to opt for generic hexes that look so featureless they could just as well be vectors/hd art with sprites on top.

3 That makes it look like the game is mish-mashing pixel assets on top of non pixel-terrain. 

4. Clusters : the spites scream pixel art but the technique is not clean and bold, it doesn't look to me like a game that wants to be made of pixels and has thought about what to do with its pixelly self. Pixel art games that actually are seeing success (even casual ones) usually have an apparent identity at one glance (think of perhaps Sword and Sworcery). A constructive way to move forward with pixel art for this studio would be to actually *do more advanced pixel art*.

Offline Cyangmou

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

Reply #11 on: May 13, 2015, 12:56:54 pm
Not a problem for me: the quality of the character sprites - they have very nice forms, colors and portray a lot of character - I think this is the most outstanding artwork in the game
They could get polished on an ultra purist pixel level with clusters and stuff, but I think it won't make a big difference because there are points which are much worse and would change the impression on a whole different level:

to add up some problems I see with it:

1) very small visible gaming space - the characters seem to be to big to have a good overview over the overall action going on on the battlefield

2) Hud is not unified - the HUD duts in at all 4 corners and you have to look at weverything to get the information necessary to play the game

3) Same as your point - the background looks bland and doesn't live up to the characters. It makes the characters look much worse, because it feels like a different "world" - there is no consistency in aestethics between the chars and the environment

Facit: While the assets on their are very well crafted (purely from a technical perspective), the overall look is crowded, cluttered and there is nothing for me as user I would love to explore/investigate further if it comes to the game-world
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 12:58:54 pm by Cyangmou »
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Offline 32

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

Reply #12 on: May 13, 2015, 01:02:27 pm
I completely agree with that assessment. Having not seen the game much before, just bits and pieces of the pixel art, my impression after looking at it a bit is: It looks pixelated. What I mean is the characters should be high res, the style looks like it fits it already and mix and matching makes the pixelation of the characters very apparent. I also would say having not played the game that it doesn't intrigue me, the lack of backgrounds is almost certainly the reason, I don't want to spend my time in the world they're presenting.

It's nice pixel work but the game lacks an overall pixel art identity. I mean people love games like Minecraft/ Nidhogg/ Hotline Miami despite the subpar pixelling because they have still have a very strong visual identity. But more importantly they're damn fun games. If you measured their success by the reviews of their art you would see a very different picture. I can't imagine that any negative response to Auro has been significantly as a result of the art, people just aren't that perceptive and I think to most people this game looks more or less as good as any other high res phone game out there.

Edit: I wrote this under the impression that the UI and Tiles were actually high res, which looking at more screens obviously they are not. But it supports the point that it looks like it wants to be a high res game.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 01:30:46 pm by 32 »

Offline Helm

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

Reply #13 on: May 13, 2015, 01:07:26 pm
I concur that the character designs and sprite work are excellent, just that the technique is a bit too trad for my tastes and in trying newer methods perhaps new avenues for achieving a 'look' to this game would present themselves.

Offline Cure

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

Reply #14 on: May 13, 2015, 03:59:39 pm
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.

preach it

Offline ptoing

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

Reply #15 on: May 13, 2015, 07:24:14 pm
Fully agree with what has been said by Helm and others.

Purism is indeed a dead end. I enjoy working with limited amounts of colour, but all recent stuff I did with limitations was either working with actual old systems stuff and a face collection I started with made up ones because they can be fun (and you can also make something be coherent through limitations).

But I would agree that having a small palette for the same of a small palette is somewhat pointless.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline PixelPiledriver

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

Reply #16 on: May 13, 2015, 09:55:27 pm
Read the thing.
There's some decent info and examples here and there about... stuff.
But all together it's kind of confusing.

It really comes across as a guy being salty rather than informative about art and games.
I kind of wondered if a long dev time and low sales prompted writing this article.
So I looked up Auro on my phone.
$2.99, 1 thousand downloads.
Not the greatest return on 4 years of development.
I might be a bit salty as well.
The lack of a demo might attribute to the low sales.
But I'm not very familiar with the flow of the mobile market.
*shrugs*

The HUD is really weird for sure.
The numbers on the pink bubbles are very hard to read.
The overall composition of the screen is... creative... but weird.
The character animations are fun but completely unresponsive to the actions of the game.
A point that was amusingly illustrated with the street fighter example, say cheese, but disregarded in their own project.
The 15 minute video tutorial is somewhat hard to digest.
Etc.

Aside from talking about pixels and announcing that they won't use them anymore, this article basically just raised awareness of Auro.
Seems like a solid marketing move.
And it worked, on me at least.
Regardless of odd choices, I like weird puzzle games.
Countless hours of my life have been spent playing Builders Block and  One Piece Mansion.
A weird game was presented to me and now that I know it exists, I'll probly buy it.

There's definitely deep interesting conversations about pixel art, game art, graphics tech, etc to be had.
But I don't really think this one comes together all that well.
And knowing that it is, we seek what it is... ~ Aristotle, Posterior Analytics, Chapter 1

Offline Arne

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

Reply #17 on: May 16, 2015, 07:30:11 pm
Mm, for me, pixel art/optimization is fun and useful when resolution is a bit lower. If I were to guess, the guy was working so large that the medium lost much of it's usefulness, and the work turned into a vector-edge AA and gradient dither chore (e.g. the HUD/GUI).

Small-ish and consistent palettes are sometimes very useful for nudging the artist in good or surprising directions. Judging by a lot of the beginner pixel art I see, it is indeed easier to mess up by adding colors (or detail) than removing. And didn't this place use to have Bruce Lee in the banner? Remember what he said about hacking away - he was clearly talking about colors and pixels... right? I mean, look at him, he was a master at it and eventually turned into a tiny little two color widepixel figure.

Offline Conzeit

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

Reply #18 on: May 17, 2015, 01:28:42 am
I read some dijsointed comments about the worth of pixelart on twitter and didnt know what that was about....until I came here and saw this.

I agree with the general concensus. Good informed readings by the guy but ultimately the motive for the article is misguided, placing blame on medium rather than his focus when making the game's art.

I think there's still avenues to mix pixelart up with other mediums and see it in new ways. I still want to see a game with emulation of CRT artifacts, all sorts of glitch effects could be done with that.

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

Reply #19 on: May 17, 2015, 02:03:18 pm
Quote from: http://www.dinofarmgames.com/a-pixel-artist-renounces-pixel-art/
Itís not about what I like. It never is.
It is all about what I like. It always is.

Offline Daimoth

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

Reply #20 on: May 24, 2015, 05:54:25 pm
Seems like he feels pixel art is excruciating to produce relative to other mediums. Media? Whatever.

Pixel art is a workhorse art form; intrinsically functional. That's the reason I don't generally like mockups that aren't tile-based. Are you really going to hand-draw entire stages? No, tiling is the first thing you'll resort to. In other words, I don't think it's valid to use a splash screen as an example of why pixel art isn't worth the trouble; that's not what most pixel art is. That's a gallery piece. In truth, PA has a ton of built-in ways to safely cut corners. To use Demon's Crest as an example again:



The entire game is thin shells of detail surrounded by the 16-bit equivalent of spot black. It mitigates the burden on the artist and establishes a dramatic, almost silhouetted aesthetic, effectively spinning a limitation into something attractive. This is the sort of built-in efficiency available to us, we need only discover and take advantage of it. I think the herculean effort required to produce a game is a bigger problem than anything concerning rendering and animation. I'd rather go in with too little and address the bare spots later than shoot for the moon and end up in an inescapable productivity rabbit hole because the aesthetic I established is too rich to produce efficiently.

As pixel art became unfettered by hardware limitations, the ceiling on detail and animation frames lifted. The Neo Geo era happened, and the art form entered a state of permanent zenith. But too many artists  now shoot for the moon, expecting their animations to rival that of Studio Ghibli or something from Gobelins academy. Achieving "more with less" is imperative. Even if you can work at that level, it's useless if you produce it so slowly you'll never finish anything. I think this dynamic explains Paul Robertson's success; his work is attractive enough while also being utterly utilitarian. Doesn't hurt that he absolutely revels in nostalgia.

Thaaaat said, more power to the guy. Guacamelee sold me on vector-based graphics, maybe they could try that next.

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

Reply #21 on: September 29, 2015, 01:04:20 pm
Sorry I'm late to this party, the guy probably even left the planet and is somewhere in a Mandalorian motel, for all I know. There's just one thing that bothers me about this guy quitting pixel art, having got a general idea of the circumstances:

Does he know about HD Index Painting? Because I wonder how much time of all those 4 years he could've saved if he knew.

Then again, I haven't tried HD Index Painting long enough to know, so I can only otherwise assume those 4 years are spent manually putting in all those pixels one-by-one, click-by-click.
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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #22 on: September 29, 2015, 01:17:53 pm
HD index painting is not particularly better or faster than normal indexpainting in a program like GrafX2 or ProMotion; it's just different.
Of course, if he wasn't even using a program capable of indexpainting, then there's no excuse for that.
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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #23 on: September 29, 2015, 01:25:39 pm
Do those applications do HD Index Painting the same way Photoshop did, like how Dan Fessler showed it? That's more what I was referring to.
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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #24 on: September 29, 2015, 05:29:18 pm
I think most of the points he makes are valid..

But he's making mobile games, so that puts things in a completely different perspective..
The large masses might have a HD-fetisch and the casual mobile crowd doesn't understand pixelart unless it's flappy bird..

But core gamers, indie gamers, retro gamers, that's a different audience. They might not truly understand pixel art either, not in the same way as an artist would, but they see pixels and they associate it with something positive.
The large masses associate pixel art with something negative, because they can't see past the pixels, it's like not being able to see the forest for all the trees.

If you're making mobile games, you can't thread the line between HD and Pixel Art. Either you go fully retro chunky pixels that make people go "ooh retro!", or you go smooth HD painting or Vector graphics.
Anything in between will just be seen as less than HD and therefor pointless.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 06:48:47 am by Seiseki »

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

Reply #25 on: September 29, 2015, 07:29:11 pm
If you're making mobile games, you can't thread the line between HD and Pixel Art. Either you go fully retro chunky pixels that make people go "ooh retro!", or you go smooth HD painting or Vector graphics.
Anything in between will just be seen as less than HD and therefor pointless.

It's pretty interesting what you brought up here, especially since we talked a bit about it in the last streams Seiseki.

Sometimes I question myself if there is place for "modern" pixelart or if it's just obscure to people that this exists.

I am not particularly talking about modern aestethics, which stick out because they have an unseen style.

I am talking about detailled, yet super clean pixelart which goes along with modern tech, but which is fairly simple to animate. with tile/screen resolutions of 32x32 pixels, but clearly pixelart and taking advantage of the medium

Mainstream Audience at this point definitely seems to be oversaturated if it comes to 8-bit pixelart.
16-bit art is compared to 8 bit a lot more expensive/time-intensive to produce, but still a possibility.

8-Bit got taken up because it was feasible on an economic scale and doesn't need great artistsd (as the wave of 8-bit indie games clearly showed - seen on the overall percentage), not necessarily because it looks awesome.

The thing is that a lot of pixelart which is established has a style which is kinda "iconic", which means it's established because so many games already used it and it evokes memory.

In my eyes most pixelart looks on todays hardware terrible (most 16-Bit era games), because it was made for much blurrier screens. It would definitely need modern cluster technique and things to make them goo looking.

But then people tend to not really see a difference between that gritty (let's call it "unpolished") style of pixelart which doesn't really use cluster techniques or careful placed AA. In a lot of cases they call visual noise "details"
IMO visual noise is the reason why 90% of all pixel art sucks. And in a medium whihc should be really tightly controlled, like pixel art is there is from a reasonability standpoint very little space for "unwanted brushstrokes"

Most old games just look bad in terms of graphics (seen on the overall percentage of games released) and there weren't many game asset artists which stuck out. Most of old graphics also seem to be rather "programmer art" not done by artists, rathwer by people who just drew a bit.


Honestly I don't give much about "HD". I think that modern pixelart keeps a 16:9 ratio on screens is much more important on the first hand, because that's visible right away.
Most "HD-Worshippers" don't play 2D games anyways.

My own opinion about modern pixel-art styles should look:
-need to be easily editible (because that's a clear strength uniquely to pixelart)
-easy to animate (another clear strength of pixel-art)
-no to barely none visual noise (because of flatscreen tech)
-and of course strong underlying drawing techniques

I think the biggest thing pixelart brings to the table to be still considered as visual medium is that one doesn't get a "visual clash" of background and foreground objects, as it is the case with vector characters and painted backgrounds or painted characters which get animated by cutting them in parts - which evokes always an uncanny/uneasy effect on the viewer - similar to the uncanny valley if you look at hyperrealistic robots.

Also this regarding HD:

HD article, good read:

http://www.fortressofdoors.com/doing-an-hd-remake-the-right-way/
« Last Edit: September 29, 2015, 07:30:51 pm by Cyangmou »
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Offline Indigo

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

Reply #26 on: September 29, 2015, 09:52:49 pm
HD index painting is not particularly better or faster than normal indexpainting in a program like GrafX2 or ProMotion; it's just different.
Of course, if he wasn't even using a program capable of indexpainting, then there's no excuse for that.

I'd actually argue that it is better, and potentially faster (at reaching a desired result) than standard index painting due to it's flexible non-committal nature. But that's primarily in the first 50% of a painting.  The last 50% is largely the same as any other method (manual pixel polishing).  This point isn't fairly relevant to the discussion, just throwing it out there :P

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

Reply #27 on: September 30, 2015, 04:56:09 am
HD index painting is not particularly better or faster than normal indexpainting in a program like GrafX2 or ProMotion; it's just different.
Of course, if he wasn't even using a program capable of indexpainting, then there's no excuse for that.

I'd actually argue that it is better, and potentially faster (at reaching a desired result) than standard index painting due to it's flexible non-committal nature. But that's primarily in the first 50% of a painting.  The last 50% is largely the same as any other method (manual pixel polishing).  This point isn't fairly relevant to the discussion, just throwing it out there :P
The way you described it it could be (with a program optimized for it), but isn't (because you tediously poke photoshop to get it to do what you want; I read that and I thought 'no way in hell am I putting myself through that').

Anyway that post was mainly made because digital_dust seemed to be thinking of HD Index Painting as some magic bullet, without the context that it's just an extension of an existing technology that works well. Use a technique if it actually fits your needs, not because it's impressive. Use the least-complicated tool you can get away with to do the job, because complicated tools are bad for speed.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 05:10:02 am by Ai »
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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #28 on: September 30, 2015, 09:17:54 am
The way you described it it could be (with a program optimized for it), but isn't (because you tediously poke photoshop to get it to do what you want; I read that and I thought 'no way in hell am I putting myself through that').
He doesn't tediously poke PS. He creates a tedious template once and after that it's smooth sailing for any index painting he makes, which you would've realized had you tried it? Dunno. Anyway, I use similar templates, that do certain advanced things, all the time and it's a question of making sure that all the unfun layer wizardry is upfront, so you can focus on the art after that.

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

Reply #29 on: September 30, 2015, 11:35:41 am
The way you described it it could be (with a program optimized for it), but isn't (because you tediously poke photoshop to get it to do what you want; I read that and I thought 'no way in hell am I putting myself through that').
He doesn't tediously poke PS. He creates a tedious template once and after that it's smooth sailing for any index painting he makes, which you would've realized had you tried it? Dunno.
Quite possibly. But I'm unlikely to pirate PS, install it in a VM, and then spend time getting it working just to try a technique that by the author's own account is fiddly ('cons' section pretty much says it all).

Quote
Anyway, I use similar templates, that do certain advanced things, all the time and it's a question of making sure that all the unfun layer wizardry is upfront, so you can focus on the art after that.
Well, maybe I'm just approaching this from too programmer-y a perspective. Anything more than one layer to achieve a single effect is fiddly. Having to handle each ramp in its own layer substack is substantially fiddly, although I grant that this trades off somewhat by making global curves adjustments of the pixels using that ramp easy.
Editing gradients at all is somewhat justifiably fiddly.

On rereading the post I link above, it seems that Indigo essentially makes the same points I'm trying to make here (ie. at a small scale, like most sprites, 'HD indexpainting' technique is not necessarily a beneficial technique to use, because it imposes additional constraints without granting proportional advantage.). I dunno, I'm not trying to say that it's not necessarily better or faster for larger scale stuff. It's just.. most pixel stuff, is not larger scale stuff, and Auro was no exception to that AFAICS, regardless of its stylistic aspirations.

It seems like Indigo's opinion may have changed since then, if we're not misunderstanding each other, though..
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 11:46:31 am by Ai »
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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #30 on: September 30, 2015, 12:25:47 pm
I would argue that:

1) I can't even remember the last time I opened Photoshop, if it was not specifically for combining and recombining different layers to achieve a single effect (last project I did had 65 layers for just the background). Photoshop is optimized for a workflow with high layer count.
2) As a programmer, combining and recombining pieces of code to get a singular effect is my job, so I don't get your programmer analogy either
3) I disagree that most pixel art is not larger stuff? Sprites are too small for index painting, but tiles are already big enough to reap the benefits and then there's a significant part of pixel art that just deals with single scenes, in which case, a decent index strategy is vital
4) The most time intensive part of Aura was probably the portraits and the splash screen, both of which would benefit from an index painting strategy?

« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 12:27:24 pm by Gil »

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

Reply #31 on: September 30, 2015, 12:41:35 pm
Quote
I'm unlikely to pirate PS, install it in a VM

It's worth mentioning this is possible in Krita now. Haven't tried it yet but I'm glad it's an option for us Linux users.

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

Reply #32 on: September 30, 2015, 12:58:29 pm
1) I'm certainly not arguing that. I think people are not optimized for working with a high layer (or anything) count ;)
2) Dunno what you mean there. It's a factoring problem as far as I can see. Maybe you view it as unimportant. It looks like the kind of problem I generally get annoyed enough at to script away.
3) Yes and no? I don't really see why you would use HD indexpainting in preference to plain indexpainting for non-huge tiles, since PS lacks real tile autocompletion.
4) portraits and splash screen are fair points.

Quote
I'm unlikely to pirate PS, install it in a VM

It's worth mentioning this is possible in Krita now. Haven't tried it yet but I'm glad it's an option for us Linux users.
Yeah, actually I remember somebody mentioning that before. Think I tried it out at that time, unless they've changed it they need an option to banish or otherwise control the dithering.
Actually am currently working on rebuilding Krita  -- starting with KDE Framework 5, which is now a prerequisite and requires 50 or so packages to be compiled and installed.
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 01:08:24 pm by Ai »
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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #33 on: September 30, 2015, 11:05:45 pm
It seems like Indigo's opinion may have changed since then, if we're not misunderstanding each other, though..

My opinion hasn't changed.  You were just positing that it wasn't better than traditional index painting - you weren't comparing it with standard manual pixeling.
Quote
HD index painting is not particularly better or faster than normal indexpainting in a program like GrafX2 or ProMotion; it's just different.
Traditional index painting has a lot of the same drawbacks as the HD method (not good for smaller sprites, etc), but without the added flexibility.  When comparing apples to apples, the HD way is generally better and faster. You can do a heck of a lot more with it.  Despite the complexity of the layer setup (and it's not bad to work with once it's set up), I only use it because it saves time.  The moment it doesn't have that potential, I choose another technique.

With that said, I'm a strong believer in the right tool for the job.  There is no *right* answer.  I'm sure there are instances where traditional index painting in ProMotion might be the better option, or even not index painting at all.  I switch between tools all the time.  I also agree that a dedicated program with the HD method built-in would be much better!  Unfortunately i wouldn't consider it financially viable to make one.  It would take re-implementing a huge foundation of work that photoshop already does amazingly well before you could make it a useful tool on it's own.  So the trade-off here is a bit of added complexity in exchange for using a well-developed fleshed out and proven tool
« Last Edit: September 30, 2015, 11:11:23 pm by Indigo »

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

Reply #34 on: September 30, 2015, 11:32:14 pm
It seems like Indigo's opinion may have changed since then, if we're not misunderstanding each other, though..

My opinion hasn't changed.  You were just positing that it wasn't better than traditional index painting - you weren't comparing it with standard manual pixeling.  Traditional index painting has a lot of the same drawbacks as the HD method (not good for smaller sprites, etc), but without the added flexibility. 
Are we talking about the same stuff here? cause things like QShade work fine for sprites and are generally classified as index painting.

Quote
I also agree that a dedicated program with the HD method built-in would be much better!  Unfortunately i wouldn't consider it financially viable to make one.  It would take re-implementing a huge foundation of work that photoshop already does amazingly well before you could make it a useful tool on it's own.
Eh, I don't see why you have to go that far. For example, implementing it as a GMIC filter would allow it to be used in Krita as a layer effect.
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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #35 on: October 01, 2015, 01:15:43 am
Are we talking about the same stuff here? cause things like QShade work fine for sprites and are generally classified as index painting.
You simply don't understand the added benefits, of which there are plenty (yes, that QShade doesn't provide).  Things like multi-layer compositing, FX animation, blend modes, re-indexing a painting with more or less colors dynamically (auto-distributes the colors), better brush support (full photoshop brush options), adjustments support.  The list goes on.  Most of the extreme benefits come in the form of tools which allow you to control/manage/tune the composition as a whole.  The closer you get to the pixel-level polish stage, the less benefits it retains.  If you'd like to know more about the benefits in detail, bring it up in the HD-index thread.

Eh, I don't see why you have to go that far. For example, implementing it as a GMIC filter would allow it to be used in Krita as a layer effect.
and that's exactly what people have done.  I prefer working in photoshop, though, and I wasn't a fan of their implementation.  If it works for you though, right on.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 01:18:32 am by Indigo »

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

Reply #36 on: October 01, 2015, 01:38:12 am
Are we talking about the same stuff here? cause things like QShade work fine for sprites and are generally classified as index painting.
You simply don't understand the added benefits, of which there are plenty (yes, that QShade doesn't provide).  Things like multi-layer compositing, FX animation, blend modes, re-indexing a painting with more or less colors dynamically (auto-distributes the colors), better brush support (full photoshop brush options), adjustments support. 
On the contrary, this is an area of image processing that I've extensively explored, and I've reread your post several times also; you may be mistaking obtuseness or bad communication for ignorance.
The separation of content for different color ramps is just sufficiently frustrating that I don't really care about those benefits, especially since many of those benefits are available without any special actions in other software.

QShade is what is generally relevant for sprites, though I'll grant that FX animation and certain complex light effects are exceptions.
Quote
Eh, I don't see why you have to go that far. For example, implementing it as a GMIC filter would allow it to be used in Krita as a layer effect.
and that's exactly what people have done.
Eh, no. I mean, that sort of achieves it, but it's crappy -- I don't consider it a real implementation. A proper implementation is needed, one that does everything with a single layer (colormap layer, with associated ramp info, and proper dither control).

I'm working on that.

EDIT: anyway, I'm probably getting too annoyed at what to others seems to be a minor workflow wart. Sorry for any offense caused.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2015, 04:30:00 am by Ai »
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Re: "A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art" - thoughts?

Reply #37 on: October 01, 2015, 12:53:00 pm
anyway, I'm probably getting too annoyed at what to others seems to be a minor workflow wart. Sorry for any offense caused.
In general, I highly disagree with stuff like "everyone is entitled to their own opinion", but in the very specific case of workflows, there is a bottom layer of discussion you can hit where it's futile to discuss. When someone claims MSPaint just fits their workflow better, that's probably just a matter of the person never having properly tried to change to a proper tool and thus an area of discussion. In this case though, we are nearing that bottom layer where what you perceive as a workflow wart isn't even on the radar for the people using HD index painting, as it saves them like 30% of time working on something. Your feeling that, for you, it IS a problem, is valid though.

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

Reply #38 on: October 07, 2015, 04:23:58 am
anyway, I'm probably getting too annoyed at what to others seems to be a minor workflow wart. Sorry for any offense caused.
In general, I highly disagree with stuff like "everyone is entitled to their own opinion", but in the very specific case of workflows, there is a bottom layer of discussion you can hit where it's futile to discuss. When someone claims MSPaint just fits their workflow better, that's probably just a matter of the person never having properly tried to change to a proper tool and thus an area of discussion. In this case though, we are nearing that bottom layer where what you perceive as a workflow wart isn't even on the radar for the people using HD index painting, as it saves them like 30% of time working on something. Your feeling that, for you, it IS a problem, is valid though.

Yeah, I'm not saying 'my concerns are invalid because nobody agrees with me'. My sentiment is more like "We have sufficiently different priorities that we're gonna keep talking past each other, so let's just not go there."

And also a little of this, ie. I may really not have my priorities straight:

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

Reply #39 on: October 07, 2015, 07:43:34 am
And also a little of this, ie. I may really not have my priorities straight:

The best fix for avoiding that pitfall is writing compositional software, aka small, combinable parts. When you start writing those and throw them in PS or Krita or whatever, what do you get? Lots of layers :p. Best practices have been moving towards composition for ages now. Remember, Randall from XKCD is a terrible programmer, from what we've seen.

What we need in PS is more akin to Ableton style macro's. You group a bunch of layers and are then given the option to expose certain controls to macro knobs. That way, I can create a highly complex layer situation, group it, and hide everything except for two or three sliders. To the user, it looks like just another adjustment layer.

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

Reply #40 on: October 07, 2015, 11:26:51 am
Sure. The Unix philosophy is generally the way to go (although it doesn't quite save you from being ambushed with unexpected complexity, since modularization usually has to be balanced against efficiency and memorability).  I guess the major block there is the complexity involved in mapping an existing complex system onto a few variables. In my experience you would really want to start with the few variables and design around that rather than the reverse.
Ultimately my bet would be on something like GMIC filters or GEGL xml stacks, where you basically have a complete language to code the relationships as text. A GUI model is probably possible but very far from trivial.
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