AuthorTopic: [Discuss] So what's the big deal with people and "nonstandard" pixelart?  (Read 8515 times)

Offline MysteryMeat

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If your only metric for graphics is "visual pleasantness" then what does pixelart or anything else have to do with it?

It's about a specific subset of pixel art looking good. I don't rate it PURELY on that, of course, but in the end being visually appealing is what matters most to me when it comes to both my own art and the art in media I consume.

This has been a pretty good discussion so far, I'm learning a lot here!
1-pixel limbs [...] fell largely out of fashion as the graphical arms races began to build speed.
Nice pun.
haha, glad SOMEONE caught that :p

Anyhow, good discussion, ay
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http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline Gil

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Isn't this whole thing about how HLD and its ilk all look alike, so it's a problem of originality? I kinda get it, but I like the aesthetic, so whatever. I'm sure the authors of HLD don't claim it as being original.

Offline Ai

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UPDATE:
As for personal input, I think one of the most important pixel art strength is good detail simplification, stylization, clarity and coherency. That's why I dislike glow post-effects, stray pixel noise, overlay gradients and palettes with millions of colors. It's not playing to pixel art strength in my opinion. To my taste "1 pixel limbs" is mostly a fad for people who think that pixel art is "style", "cheap" and "easy". And I found Sword and Sworcery to be frustratingly boring and pretentious. But that's just me, I've met plenty of artists who think otherwise.
:y:
This issue is really about people who think that process can replace thought, ie that a 'style' can 'be' 'good'. It can't. It can only work well for your particular application because you designed it to work well for your particular application.

I would happily condemn 'artists' who think in such a way, because to me that is the essence of art : you may not always know *why* X works, but nonetheless, you need to arrive at X via thinking about what elements will give the right 'whole picture' (of your game, website, whatever). Preset choices can only ever be a starting point.

If a person can explain to me why they chose 1-pixel limbs and it fits in, there's no reason for me to give critique. Even if 1-pixel limbs are not to my taste. Ultimately all art is made to fit one purpose or other. If we know the purpose, it's coherent, and the art fits it, any crits must necessarily be of minor details. I don't know the purpose of HLD (especially since I haven't played it), so IMO I have no basis for criticising it -- I can only comment on whether it fits my taste, which is ultimately a fairly trivial issue.
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline MysteryMeat

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As sucky as it is to admit, I feel there's some pretty hard evidence style over substance can still work.
Just look at Avatar (the one about blue cat people), it didn't even need it's own plot

/rimshot

Nah though, I feel like 1 px limbs are just another example of artistic abstraction in most cases. I'm not saying it ALWAYS look good, per se, but in games like risk of rain or hyper light it is definitely a specific choice made in the presentation rather than a concession made due to lack of artistic ability.

Abstracting certain things like that is just another facet of cartoonistry to me.
You can see similar ideas at work in shows like adventure time or Powerpuff Girls, as long as the overall artistry is consistant you can make just about anything look good.

Almost.
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline Ai

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As sucky as it is to admit, I feel there's some pretty hard evidence style over substance can still work.
Just look at Avatar (the one about blue cat people), it didn't even need it's own plot
Not sure who you are replying to here, I can't see anyone suggesting that style over substance doesn't work. The closest I guess is me saying that your style has to fit the application, rather than be thoughtlessly adopted because it's already considered cool.
If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline MysteryMeat

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Was replying to you, though re-reading your post I may have misunderstood you just a LIL BIT

Any excuse to dump on problem solverz tho
any excuse
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline Glitchcraft

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This topic is kind of old but I feel strongly enough about it to bump it and possibly have a conversation.

I think the whole idea of authenticity is a pretentious, elitist mindset that holds pixel art (as well as most mediums) back. I don't know if anyone is into black metal, but there is this smug purist mentality that everything should emulate Burzum and utilize the 90's Norwegian church burning aesthetic or it isn't trVe."

One of the reasons it took me so long to get into doing pixel art was because of that mentality. I accepted for quite a long time this false pretense that pixel art is a style, rather than a medium. I wouldn't have started doing pixel art if I didn't want to push the boundaries of it and modernize it. I just don't enjoy adhering to a strict template. Maybe it's a narcissistic part of me that needs to stand out and have a distinct style, or maybe I just don't like boring tired art that peaked 20 years ago.

Offline ptoing

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Disclaimer: If any of this sounds a bit rambly or convoluted, it's because it is 7:24 in the morning here and I have not slept well in the last few days. Read at your own risk.

I think the whole idea of authenticity is a pretentious, elitist mindset that holds pixel art (as well as most mediums) back.

The idea of authenticity has validity if you have some base level or standard to compare to. For example using a brush that looks kinda like pencil in Photoshop is not authentic pencil art, for what that's worth. As far as pixelart goes you can IMO only really go as established rulesets, which stem from hardware restriction. So you could do things like art that is authentic in the constraints regarding different machines, such as NES, C64, Amiga, and so on. All of this is totally value free IMO and everyone should be doing what they enjoy, without telling others what they are doing wrong, esp. when it comes to things like style.

There are things where people can be helped with getting better, such as art fundamentals, anatomy, lighting, colour, as well as more pixel art specific things such as aa, dither, clusters (in the sense that clusters are important in helping what you are trying to communicate, whatever that may be, for example, more noise might be something you want, so you choose smaller more noisy clusters.), colour conservation, etc. That is what this forum is for. I don't think that any of the moderators on here are part of the crowd that would advocate "pixel purism" as the one true path, unless I missed something.

I, personally, as an artist who has worked in the game industry for over a decade now, mainly doing pixelart, I do not give a fuck about purity in my work, I care about getting stuff done. What matters is that the client is happy, and if the client wants a more "pure", or a better term would be "oldschool" look, then that is what I do.

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One of the reasons it took me so long to get into doing pixel art was because of that mentality. I accepted for quite a long time this false pretense that pixel art is a style, rather than a medium.

I don't think that pixelart is even a medium as such. It is a somewhat of a medium-style mix.
To say it is a medium you would have to specify what makes pixelart pixelart, and then you are at square one once again. I guess the smallest common denominator you could boil it to is "you can see the pixels"

To make the style/medium thing a bit clearer.

Digital art is a medium, in digital art you get a bunch of different approaches; 3D polygonal, 3D voxel, 2D raster, 2D vector are the ones that come to mind. Those I guess could be called actual mediums.

And at one point in time what we now call "pixelart" was the cutting edge, or the only game in town until things like early prerenders and realtime 3D, and then also higher resolutions came onto the market.

So what I am saying is that both pixelart and high definition digital illustration would fall under 2D raster art (or actually mixed medium of the 4 above, I have used 3D as guides to make pixelart before, and I am certainly not the first person to do so). Or lowpoly stuff like Quake, or even earlier games that are way more primitive, and modern stuff like Doom 2016, both utilise polygonal 3D art (which also uses 2D raster art to a huge amount for textures), but lowpoly is nowadays seeing a comeback in the indiescene and is seen as somewhat of a style. But pretty much everyone doing 3D nowadays would tell you that being able do to good lowpoly models is something that is useful, because it trains you in things like economy and developing things with strong silhouettes (which is very important for good character design).

What I am getting at ultimately is that the wordsauce and semantics do not really matter, what matters is what people do with what they are given, or what they choose to use. If that makes them, and maybe even others happy, and even better, enables people to make a living, and hopefully make their ideas come to fruition, then great, that's awesome. I am all for that.

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I wouldn't have started doing pixel art if I didn't want to push the boundaries of it and modernize it.


To me the idea of modernising pixelart sounds a bit like modernising pencil drawing, or oil painting. You can of course take clues from things that were not possible 20 years ago (which is again, largely due to hardware constraints.) And if modernising means just branching out into different styles that people have not generally used much or at all in pixelart then you are not doing anything groundbreaking either, you are just applying your own artistic vision. There is a lot of aping styles going on in pixelart (art in general), and it can be very tiring, there I totally agree. But I doubt you will reinvent the wheel in terms of pixelart.

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I just don't enjoy adhering to a strict template.
That is fine, and no one here will tell you to do that (unless you wanna take part in some activity that has restrictions, like the hex corpse ones). Do whatever you feel will help you grow as an artist, and if you think people on here can help you with this and you can help others in this regard as well, awesome.

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Maybe it's a narcissistic part of me that needs to stand out and have a distinct style, or maybe I just don't like boring tired art that peaked 20 years ago.

That last statement is just as narrow-minded as the idea of "pixel purism". The past is here to learn from, in all regards. And there is a lot of that "boring tired art that peaked 20 years ago" that many of us will never reach, as far as level of craftsmanship goes. Ignore the past and what you can learn from it at your own peril.
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline RAV

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When I look at this game, I feel very excited about it. It looks clever and fresh.

Of course someone can look at it and say, "I see nothing innovative and impressive here".
"It's just another side-scroller made on a game jam with the usual techniques. I could do better!"

And when they show examples of other projects they admire instead, often I look at that and see nothing intriguing.
Very standard and uninspired art and code, that both may be more accomplished technically, yet are somehow boring me.

Well, there certainly is an ocean of pixel art games that are simple, but bad. So that's not really the point.
But it goes to show, the aspects you are stressing in judging a work are not necessarily the most important.

The old can feel new, it can have productive merit, it can work and be successful. It depends on what you can do.
But you didn't make it. You didn't envision this. Because you're a different person with different interests.

People like to stress an aspect they are good in, maybe even original in,
and like to judge another work in this special light to its disadvantage,
while conveniently ignoring all the other weak points in the own.

The truth is, being innovative and original is very exhausting, even if you want it, you can't do it in everything,
at best you pick your battle according to your biggest interest, mix other things up, recombine stuff, switch around,
and hope that altogether this sculpture made of weathered stone and rusty junk appears roughly unique enough.

Creative aspects are very much connected, a good game is a very tight experience, built on a variety of subjects.
Maybe you could replace all the pixel art with something else, now that you know it. It could be just as good and successful.
But would this game have been made like that in the first place? in all the creatively connected aspects that made it cool?

I tend to have a more holistic view on pixel art and its role in development, and I look more for the little things and their connections.
I'm more interested in the feats of cleverness in pixel art, than the same kind of revolution that's been done to death in every other art.

So that has me appreciate the classics and people concentrated on pushing that.
And the more I tinker, the more I find properties that have immortal quality.

A horse doesn't need to be a cow; it needs a life as a horse.

I think most important is that you feel excited and passionate about your work,
whatever that is, that will eventually show and validate its existence.

At the same time I am at a stage of my life I not so much look at what would hold me back,
but what opportunities the world around me offers for furthering my own goals.
Seeing this needs training too, it's on what I want to spend more effort.


« Last Edit: May 15, 2016, 07:00:46 pm by RAV »

Offline Glitchcraft

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Perhaps I wasn't descriptive enough with my post. I didn't mean that authenticity wasn't important. I meant that "authenticity" as in "you used non pixel art overlays in your game so you are a fraud."

And yes, fundamentals are important, on a much bigger level than with just pixel art alone. The artists that make this so called inauthentic art have fundamentals though.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with being into the aesthetic of retro pixel art. Secret of Mana is a beautiful game with beautiful art. I just believe that, if anything, the artists that push the envelope should be praised.

About the whole modernizing pixel art thing. I didn't mean for that to sound nearly as grandiose as it was interpreted. When I say modernizing pixel art, I'm referring to games like Hyper Light Drifter, Super Brothers, Fez (even though it's pixel art painted on 3D models), Carrion (awesome pixel artist on newgrounds).

I know I sounded like a hypocrite by countering elitism with anti-elitist elitism haha.

So let me sum up what I should have said to begin with in a TL:DR format:

Criticising modern pixel art for not adhering to the aesthetic perfected by the golden age of pixel art is grounds for stagnation.
« Last Edit: May 15, 2016, 08:30:32 pm by ptoing »