AuthorTopic: Textures on Forms  (Read 2171 times)

Offline Ambivorous

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Textures on Forms

on: February 29, 2016, 08:00:23 pm
With the advent of the fox uprising and my recent dive into the world of planets (hur hur), not to mention the ever constant struggle of dealing with pixeling trees and character hair, I have decided that I'm going to put together a thread showing what I mean when I offer the critique of, "You need to define your forms more, because the texture looks like it's on a flat surface."

People often seem to be able to deal with forms when there is no texture, but as soon as we add the texture to our forms they lose all their previous shape. This is particularly noticeable with pretty much everyone's first pixel tree.
This is because they lose all shape of their forms when we use all the highlights and shadows of our object on each, individual piece of texture (each bang of hair, each bunch of leaves, each piece of fur, and indeed each feature on their planets gets the full range of value/brightness). Instead what we need to do is only use the amount of value available to us in any given region and just hint at texture, rather than draw out every single leaf.

So let's dissect this with a simple example.

Here I have a nice, round, beautifully orange ball (using Arne's 16 colour palette):



Beautiful. That is a ball and you can see it is a ball. This is a well defined form.
But we wish to add texture to our ball! In this case some fur (it is orange like a fox after all).



We begin by adding some edges between the light and dark colour. Here we heavily imply the shape of fur.
Notice how I am cutting into the dark area with the lighter colour. This changes our form slightly. It looks like it's being lit slightly differently than our initial ball, because there is now more average light going further around the ball.



We remedy this by adding some darker shade over some of the lighter area.
Again I've used obvious lines where there is fur. I put some shade on the first bits of fur texture we added to give that feeling of depth.
Notice we have changed our form again! We're striving to keep the average value of our transition area of light and dark the same as our original form.



We'll just scatter a little more darkness here and there to give more implied texture. We're not actually defining any more fur, and importantly we have left large, open areas entirely blank!
It doesn't matter though because on the edges between our light and dark we have heavily implied the existence of fur, so our brains will fill in the large areas with imaginary fur for us*.
More form changing.

Side note*: This is a very important part of pixel art. Hinting at details and letting our viewers' brains fill in the gaps rather than trying to use our very valuable, limited resources to draw every piece of fur (which often causes noise and confusion).

For a final step let's just add some fur around the edges for more implication of the textures.



And there you have it. With two simple colours I have created a readable, fur-covered ball.
Attentive readers will notice I have decreased the average value on the brighter side of our furball through all this, so honestly our ball is slightly less bright than it was originally, but we have kept our form and that is the important part.

A bonus byproduct of this process is that we were able to break up the solid, boring line between light and dark on the original ball using texture. This means we can, and should, use textures to add interesting details around edges when possible.



I shall continue to update this as I think of more things to add/change (or come up with better examples) and would like the opinions of other members with regards to the topic and this post.
* may contain misinformation

Offline kilenc

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Re: Textures on Forms

Reply #1 on: February 29, 2016, 08:46:27 pm
super helpful tutorial ambi, form v texture is one of biggest gripes with pixelling, and this process helps a lot with some of the harder textures :)

Offline DracoDragon42

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Re: Textures on Forms

Reply #2 on: February 29, 2016, 08:54:34 pm
Good job on making a mini tutorial for fur. You should try to continue this and do different texture balls, because this one helped a lot. Try doing like planet texture balls, and ice, fire, metal, and other things and explain it like you did with this one. Then whenever people are trying to do metal or whatever, they can refer to this to have a good explanation. I now understand the nature of leaves/fur a lot better now so, thanks! Also, like, how do you do those planets, they are amazing!

Offline Decroded

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Re: Textures on Forms

Reply #3 on: March 01, 2016, 01:19:58 am
fantastic thread and well needed  :y:
I think we should all contribute to this and make it a kind of recommend reading for newcomers if this isnt specifically covered elsewhere because ive beem irepeating the same thing too.
perhaps this could be a ramble thread and best ideas and examples can go in a condensed write-up.
once developed a bit a little video would be nice too :-)

Some ideas which may or may not belong in this thread:
- further emphasise the importance of a strong light source and how the angle of the light makes such a huge difference to describing form and texture.
- link that proko video about shading (sorry on my phone here) because that explains clearly the fundamental prerequisite imo.
- discuss how pixel real-estate restricts texture and being aware of this helps choose a scale and canvas size to work with.
- it is more important to defign form than texture. to quote cyangmou "major form > minor form"
- varying levels of texturing and when they apply to different scales.
- perhaps a thread with analysis of works to disuss how various artists handle textures in different styles (real, cartoon etc) and some studies where we apply their methods.
- we can link to a thread with exercises where there are say three silhouettes of a variety of things and everyone can have a go adding light sources and texturing.

more to say but gotta run now...

Offline Ambivorous

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Re: Textures on Forms

Reply #4 on: March 01, 2016, 08:32:40 am
Hi guys!
Thanks for the positive feedback. I am glad others were also feeling the need and very glad to have already helped a few of you (also glad to see Decroded already linking here!).

Draco, I was going to do trees next as it's a small jump from fur and adds the 'forms on forms' dynamic (as in the clumps of leaves) which will allow me to show the hierarchy of the overall form > complex forms > texture.
After that I will approach planets because that will involve adding new colours to our palette, and having 'textures on textures.'
Finally I'm thinking of ending with hair because that includes an extra depth to the process where some of our texture is large enough to be a form and will actually sometimes occlude other forms/textures.
Other materials are a different topic though I feel and I will not be covering them. I don't want to just show people how you make different textures without them doing any thinking for themselves, my goal is just to introduce a new way of viewing your forms and textures and their relationships in order to improve your art.

Decroded! Excellent suggestions!
I am reluctant to add the proko video fits in this topic. We're assuming people already understand forms and lighting, because combining the two into one post is going to be a crazy amount of information. I would totally be for a separate thread about forms which could be linked to at the beginning of this thread though.
Your last two points can probably be combined where we ask all our members to try their hand at pixeling up something that requires texture. For the more experienced guys this will give us examples to show the different styles and for the new guys it'll be a great practice.
Your other points I will begin working into my post as I make updates as they fit perfectly with this topic. I look forward to any more ideas you throw out here!
* may contain misinformation