AuthorTopic: The History of Pixel Art  (Read 43901 times)

Offline hapiel

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #60 on: June 18, 2016, 03:45:16 pm
It's insane to say eBoy didn't leave an impression on the popular perception of pixel art. It's like, a thousand times more influential than the cultural footprint of pixelation.

Speaking of eBoy:
Perhaps there should be a mention of the iso-era? A time when dozens of isometric pixel art tutorials popped up, such as the Rhys Davies complete guide? When deviantArt was flooded by isometric artwork and created subcategories for this.. When isocity, pixeldam, the joint and many more isometric collaboration projects opened. It seems to be in the early 00's to me.
I joined the pixel world thanks to the iso-era! (And playing Habbo Hotel)

Also, another popular culture thing which I haven't seen mentioned yet: The post-it wars, and all the other popular forms that people recreate old game sprites!

And how about software? Does the availability of ProMotion, GraphicsGale and MSpaint influence us and our history?
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Offline Cure

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #61 on: October 25, 2016, 12:05:31 am
I've added a lot of new images, and condensed some entries.

New additions to the timeline:
1964 George H. Heilmeier invents the LCD
-maybe it's better to use the year in which refined LCDs really took off as computer screens and affected change in pixel art? whenever that was...

1994 Hagenuk MT-2000

1989 Atari Lynx

1990 SEGA Game Gear

Vari-Vue is interesting, but I'm not sure that it's specific to pixel art. Either way, It's been difficult to find any precise information on the company and their products, and with lenticular images dating back to the 17th century, this technology might be tough to pin to a single date.
- - -

With that, a few questions for the community:

Does anyone have an early screen-grab from the early days of pixelation? Or any information on early graphing calculator games?

Is it worth mentioning early game developers for cellphones? Jamdat? Glu Mobile? Gameloft?

I will also take suggestions on what to remove from the list to make it more succinct or relevant.

Offline RAV

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #62 on: October 26, 2016, 04:29:27 am
I think you handled LCD well by foreshadowing its later importance. I'm not sure about mentioning dither in particular at the very end.
The rise and fall of dither in popularity had several factors, has a bit more to do with the processing than the display.

Don't you think the first IBM PC and Mac are worth mentioning though? Today, pixel art is most of all an indie PC phenomenon.
Their first popular 3d shooters like Wolfenstein employed pixel art textures, as a precursor to Minecraft. The Pixel moved on as Texel.
Also, the introduction of the voxel as "3d pixel" seems relevant to me. Both mark the move from the literal physical pixel to the virtual logical pixel.
Both of these are significant steps that all modern implementations of pixel art games today very much rely on, even as pure 2d games.

Then what's become as important today as hardware in the past, is software development frameworks and game engines. They are the new consoles. From RPG Maker / Game Maker to Unity, to the Internet web browser, that's how pixel art gained massive popularity again. That's what made all the new pixel smash hits possible. Hrrm, maybe even mention emulators and homebrew scene?

Good work by the way.


« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 04:37:41 am by RAV »

Offline Ai

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #63 on: October 26, 2016, 08:04:41 am
The mention of dithering makes more sense with the context of CRT being the previous technology. Dithering worked pretty well on a CRT. Although to be fair, increasing screen sizes may have contributed to the 'blatant' appearance of dithering on LCD screens.
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Offline RAV

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #64 on: October 26, 2016, 04:28:17 pm
I agree that there can be a preference of techniques based on display tech. But I think it's a mixed bag in what happened with dither, and other factors are more important. So I'm concerned if it may look like the display tech is the deciding reason for or against dither in particular.

The primary motivation for dither was getting around the limited colour depth for things that required more colour. Displays were capable of more colours long before the processing. Dither was already on the decline before the LCD, because of the higher colour depth in processing. And if we still would have had 8-bit by the time LCD became popular, people would still have dithered like hell. Dither often looked like crap on CRT too, because of the crappy preset palette of consoles. But the need for more colour was so strong people did it anyway.

Now as you mentioned, later on with LCDs, something interesting happened, because of the ever higher resolution, dither started to look good again on LCD. Or let's put it this way: pixels became so small, that they became the equivalent to the rgb components of real pixels in the old days. In that, dither colour could become literally indistinguishable from actual colour. But the problem then is, why bother? why complicating your work when you don't need it. We have all the colour in the world. That's what makes dither pixel art retro in the actual sense, because it has problems justifying itself in the modern world.

But that's only half true either. Because besides some subtleties in looks, I've seen people sometimes do interesting effects with dither in a way that obviously relies on being dither. That's the situation we have now. People are looking for ways to differentiate themselves on the market. They see most games don't use dither. So maybe let's try make something with dither. But just being different isn't enough. It must be different in an interesting and relevant way.

"Because I rely on dither, I can do feature xyz."
"Because I don't use dither, I can do feature xyz."

Which side has the better conclusion to that. That's what decides the fate of dither today.

The success of pixel style or technique is no longer about hardware. It's about the features a chosen style or technique can provide or support.



« Last Edit: October 26, 2016, 04:35:11 pm by RAV »

Offline yrizoud

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #65 on: October 27, 2016, 02:24:59 pm
Somewhere around 2005-2010, CRT technology got abandoned. I think it's important to note that LCDs got standardized to display square pixels, no matter their resolution, while games of the previous generation used a VGA screen mode,  where pixels are 20%taller than they are wide. A lot of websites don't bother with the difference , and the screenshots of these games are not corrected for display, they appear "flatter" than they should.

Offline RAV

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #66 on: October 27, 2016, 08:27:27 pm
You might have heard of that super cheap tinker computer Raspberry Pi.
It's a great success story. And it has the RetroPie project, which is to load it choke full with emulators and roms.
People make even little handhelds out of it, ala Gameboy. Or full blown Arcade stations.
And I keep meeting folks with a RetroPie, at home or in the bag.
It too has a homebrew scene for original pixel art games, either native to the Raspberry or for the emulators.



« Last Edit: October 27, 2016, 08:32:26 pm by RAV »

Offline Cure

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #67 on: October 28, 2016, 07:15:25 pm
Quote from: RAV
Dither was already on the decline before the LCD, because of the higher colour depth in processing.
Quote from: yrizoud
I think it's important to note that LCDs got standardized to display square pixels, no matter their resolution, while games of the previous generation used a VGA screen mode,  where pixels are 20%taller than they are wide.
Seems like this is a more complex issue than I assumed. Maybe it's best to remove the bit about dithering? And add the bit about square pixels? I tried looking into the whole VGA/CGA/EGA etc. shit but quickly found myself in over my head.

Quote from: RAV
Don't you think the first IBM PC and Mac are worth mentioning though?
The Apple II probably deserves a mention. Is the IBM 5150 significant enough to warrant a mention? And in mentioning the Apple II, is it worth mentioning the Commodore PET and TRS-80 as the other 2/3rds of the "1977 Trinity" of home computing? Apple II was the first to have a GUI afaik, so maybe it is the only one of this bunch worthy of a spot on the timeline.

Quote from: RAV
Their first popular 3d shooters like Wolfenstein employed pixel art textures, as a precursor to Minecraft. The Pixel moved on as Texel.
I honestly hadn't thought about texels outside of Minecraft. Is Wolfenstein the first game to use pixel textures? I'd like to hear what others think about the importance of texels in the history of our medium, but it might be worth a mention. That's how Junkboy is making billions of dollars with Notch, right?  I feel voxels and legos are a bit of a stretch, getting this far into the third dimension seems to expand the focus quite a bit.

Quote from: RAV
what's become as important today as hardware in the past, is software development frameworks and game engines.
To me it feels the hardward of the past is more important to the timeline because it heavily influenced the form of the pixel art produced on those machines, and established in the public consciousness what "pixel art", "video game art", and "retro graphics" look like. I can certainly see the argument that game engines are the new consoles, but nowadays its just a given that pixel art can be displayed on all sorts of computers without any significant limitations to the style of art produced, with all ports being vitually identical.

Offline RAV

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #68 on: October 29, 2016, 04:53:32 am
Quote from: Cure
Maybe it's best to remove the bit about dithering? And add the bit about square pixels?
Agreed. We'll have to think some more about the role of dither and techniques another day.



The logical progression for the technical underpinning of pixel art is this: Pixel -> Texel -> Voxel.

Almost every pixel art today and of the last couple years is based on textures in 3d APIs. This had all the creative effects you see with modern pixel art. The fact that 2d is technically just a logical subset of 3d, will keep driving the development. It's interesting to note, Minecraft is both: Pixel art as Texel and as Voxel. Both concepts with the most significant creative influence on pixel art today. Both concepts that each started their mass market break-through with pixel art as driving force once again. For being so "retro", pixel art has a surprising lineage of influence in the digital arts market to this day.

Wolfenstein is probably the most reknown example of pixel art taking first advantage of the 3d virtualization everything relies on today. And that's a PC thing. The IBM/Apple marks the end of all other platforms, it all converged to this, and the PC is the more important of the two. The revival and innovation of pixel art today rely on the decades of technical progression by these dominating platforms.

I'd say, mention IBM and Wolfenstein, as foundation and milestone of how the development of 3d tech started to affect pixel art, and pixel art started 3d for mass market. The other hardware you can skip, like you don't mention every game, just a select few to make your point for what important change happened to the art.


Note: I'm just rambling some thoughts on the matter. Other views here are welcome.



« Last Edit: October 29, 2016, 05:08:04 am by RAV »

Offline Cure

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Re: The History of Pixel Art

Reply #69 on: August 30, 2017, 04:06:46 am
I found this while doing some research, so I'm dropping it in this thread for posterity. A cursory (yet intense) bullet-point history of computer art from the end of WWII to 1990

I stumbled upon this while researching an artist I'm interviewing who was a professional pixel artist throughout the 1980s, which I hope to share with y'all soon.