AuthorTopic: Getting myself a hobby  (Read 1817 times)

Offline Boomy

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Getting myself a hobby

on: June 11, 2016, 12:42:32 pm
I used to be a very, very busy person. But recently and thankfully my schedule loosened up. So much in fact that I finally found myself bored. I decided it's time I do something for myself and started wondering what I could put my hands into. I grew up on GBA games and have hoarded art from all over the internet for quiet a while. I always loved detailed art from people like Foolstown, Cyangmou or Mark Ferrari, I also always loved fun and colorful things like character designs in the first Disgaea by Takehito Harada. So I decided, "Hey, let's do that. Two or three years and I'm gonna be decent at it". I decided to concentrate on the 3/4 viewpoint that most games I played used and go on from there. The past few months I've been going through guides and practicing as often as  I could. The progress is quiet decent. That is except a bunch of things I'm not really getting for some reason. So, I decided it's about time to stop being unreasonably ashamed of trying to get good at something and ask people for help.
I should probably note that i'm not a purist, whatever that means. I heard that a lot of people put attention into sprite sizes and color palettes used in the past due to technical limitations. I'm not bothering with it right now. I might want to try that out in the future but I just figured that making things harder for myself won't make them easier.

This post is going to be an art dump and probably have a lot of questions in it. There's nothing wrong if you don't feel like bothering with it, don't worry I won't blame you. Even if you have enough time to answer only a single question I'll post here, I'll be glad and thankful. I just figured there's no point in making a few topics with single questions if I'm feeling like I really want to ask about those things anyway. Now, to get started somewhere.

Colors
Quiet recently I wanted to practice some texturing so [I picked up some photos of rocks and fruits] and for a day tried to redraw them by eye. Some were more successful than others.

While I'm kinda satisfied with some of the rocks, I can't say the same for even one fruit or veggie. My problem while drawing those came from the fact that there's a lot of little bits of colors all over those things and I had absolutely no idea how to put them there. It always clashed with my interpretation, stood out or changed the whole shape of the item. I'm absolutely lost on how to put a little yellow-green bit on a red apple and have it look good.

To add to that I'm pretty bad at picking and finding proper colors. I'm using Pyxel, which helps me a lot though it feels a bit like cheating and I am not sure if it's all that healthy for learning how to art.

Texture, sprites and image size
A while ago I made the following piece(note that it has a layer of a see-though deep dark blue on top):

A week later (this week in fact) I also did this:

[For what I can show how I made it here]

While both of those pieces are the best ones I made so far, I had a huge problem with them. To both I wanted to add texture to the ground. In the first in the foreground and on the second one everywhere. I can somewhat do it when working with grass or trees but when it's stuff like cracks on the ground or dirt I just don't know how to go about it. It often ends up looking like a mess or being too detailed when compared with everything else, most often the characters.

Which brings me to my small issues with drawing characters. I guess there's not much critique I need here as much as direction. I tried to work on pieces around 200 pixels in size total. They aren't too big so I can finish them in no more than 10h. But I'm having a real hard time working on characters I put in those pieces

Aside my little knowledge on how to design them and a pretty poor imagination I don't really know how big to make them to fit a decent amount of details. The fact that most sprites I liked are from isometric games doesn't really help, given my attachment to 3/4. So to ask a bit of a weird question, how big should I make my pieces and sprites to be able to draw them with boobs? I'm absolutely serious here. I arrived at the conclusion that If I can get sprites at the size that lets me distinguish things like gender without putting something in a dress or painting it pink I should have an easier time making characters that look different. Since characters in 3/4 are less dynamic than in the isometric perspective it would be a huge help. I guess I could figure this one out on my own quiet easily, but it could as well end up taking me hours of experimentation, so a bit of an advice would be a nice thing.

Dither
Recently I was making myself a new facebook banner and decided to draw something for it. [I did it like this], leading to the following result:

There might be a little bit less of a point in asking for critique to this piece, as it was rushed by the end and can easily be called unfinished. There's a lot of problems with it that I see myself like the weird shading and the explosion being even more flat than I intended it to be, even with a comic-book approach.
There might even be people arguing it's not pixel art and I won't say it is if you think so, though I did work on it in a fine detail due to the usage of dither.
It was the first time I used dither and it was my experiment to understand what can be done with it. The fact that I used it on a piece five times too big for pixel art and ended up putting it down with a 2x2 square brush might have something to do with why I didn't understood it at all, but in the end I don't even get the theory behind it.

From what I got reading tons of guides dither on a CRT would get blurred and make colors look better with each other. Obviously nobody has a CRT anymore so I'm unsure if the practice still works out or when to put it into use. The one thing I found it good for was texturing by people like Kiwinuptuo. It gives some very interesting results and I'm probably going to try that out myself at some point. The problem is what's the general use of it these days? I'd be glad to hear someone else give me an additional point of view into it.

Offline Atnas

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Re: Getting myself a hobby

Reply #1 on: June 11, 2016, 07:12:22 pm
If you want to get as good as the artists who worked on Disgaea, or the other artists you mentioned, and in a few years at that, you're going to need to do a few things

I think your approach is a bit wrong. You're grinding out pixel assets, but you also mention multiple times you don't care for why people do pixel art - the restrictions. Pixel art provides a lot of convenient ways to hide flaws. You don't need mark making, control, or a steady hand. Low color count etc helps pixel artists cover up their inefficiencies behind huge flat planes of color. People limit themselves for efficiency. You can control more when you have less to work with. It's one of the main draws of pixel art - and there isn't much point otherwise. So I would recommend enforcing some restrictions, it will naturally lead to some convenient choices being made for you. Such as how much detail, or contrast - if you only have a few colors to work with, a lot of these decisions are already made for you.

It also seems like you are trying to make pixel art that isn't stylized enough to hide gaps in your understanding, or small enough to create symbols for you out of pixels, and so those gaps are filled with symbols of your own that don't have much study behind them. When people create tiny 16x32 sprites where the eyes are 2 pixels, they're taking a huge shortcut and efficiently conveying their intention with much less effort because the medium is doing the work.

The way I read your question about boobs is: "I want [symbol:Boobs] on my [symbol:person], but the sprites aren't large enough to contain my [symbol:boobs]" I think they're plenty large enough. When humans parse some image of another person, we can glean a lot of information out of what we see in front of us. So maybe think about how you'd draw boobs outside of pixel art, and try translating that. Contour and lighting only need to hint at something for us to recognize it, similar to how you can read a word at a glance just seeing the shape of it with a few letters.

However, I do think, from your last image which is more of a drawing, that might not help because they are heavily symbolized as well.

It's tired advice, but I think the best thing you can do to get on the level of the artists you like is to just study art in general more than you are focusing on pixel art right now. Those artists can all draw well first, and pixel well as a result.

Offline Boomy

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Re: Getting myself a hobby

Reply #2 on: June 11, 2016, 09:51:31 pm
Man it's great I came here if my approach was wrong to being with. So in the end working on limitations is the smarter way to do it. I'm pretty sure pyxel edit has some classic palettes already in stock. I should probably take a look at them.

From what I get you would suggest sketching more first? To know what I'm trying to simplifying in the first place. I guess there's a lot of sense to that, thanks! Though I do admit I do tend to make things 'symbolized' because they look funnier rather than even trying to make them look realistic, mostly when it comes to characters. But that's also not a good approach, is it? Most artist can adapt and change their style to suit their needs. I should be able to do that as well if I want to be good.

Offline Atnas

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Re: Getting myself a hobby

Reply #3 on: June 11, 2016, 10:46:34 pm
You seem to have a heavily comic inspired style, and comics themselves aren't wholly about the art - they're often about the text accompanying the drawings. There are of course beautiful comics and manga that have artists who are in full control of the craft and have freedom to draw however they please, stylizing at will.. But then you have artists who draw using their collection of symbols. Check out most gag manga, or for a western equivalent on the extreme end, look at stuff like Dilbert that you'd find in the sunday morning newspaper. There's usually a sweet spot in the middle that many comic artists occupy, they use their symbols where necessary, but they also know how to invent new visual language as they need it.

It's worth mentioning that you can do very passable game art without being able to draw well - but you need to then rely on those things mentioned earlier - low palette, simplified and symbolized forms, etc. You'll run into trouble whenever you need to represent something that isn't in your mental library. That isn't to say that skilled artists don't use restrictions in pixel art, or depend on them. If you look at skillfully made pixel art, there's a lot going on that won't be immediately visible in the final result that shaped it, at least to a beginner. Especially as it's a medium obsessed with cleanliness, and usually completely opaque. In other mediums you can get glimpses of underpaintings - but not pixel art. This might be a little deceitful in nature, as beginners see the final result and think they can imitate it.

Offline lachrymose

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Re: Getting myself a hobby

Reply #4 on: June 12, 2016, 03:47:25 am
You can make boobs as small as a single pixel really. But I'll give you an example of the smallest detailed pixel boobs I can muster.