AuthorTopic: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?  (Read 3537 times)

Offline jcongerkallas1

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What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

on: February 20, 2017, 01:49:25 am
I'm fairly new to pixel art, and one of the things I'm really struggling with is deciding how many pixels I should aim for in a design.  It seems like if I use too many pixels, some of the blocky minimalist charm seems to be lost, whereas not using enough pixels omits a lot of detail, especially around the face.

Are there any guides or tips to sizing sprites in context of pixel video games?



This is a basic sprite I made where I don't know if it would work better at around 32 x 32 px for a game, or if the resolution I am using is about right.  To me it seems like way too many pixels for a small squat character.  If I made human-sized characters or anything taller the amount of pixels needed would increase exponentially.


Offline Aniki

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Re: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

Reply #1 on: February 20, 2017, 02:07:30 am
You're coming at this problem from the wrong angle. Any size is fine as long as the scale is consistent.

If you're making a game I would suggest deciding how big your player character is. It's true that the bigger a size you pick for your character, the more detail you can give them. What you are balancing against though, is the size of the player's vision on the screen. If you've ever played the old donkey kong games for GBC, their sprites took up 10% of the screen which made it hard to know what was coming when moving around.

Then that's your reference, and everything from there is scaled based on your reference. The size of your initial reference is mostly a style thing. You can have lots of detail or simplicity in both large and small sprites.

As for your sprite, you could definitely make that smaller and still show all the detail you currently have. There is however, nothing wrong with it's size as it is, unless your player is going to be 5 or 6 times as tall and you don't want your player to be half as tall as the screen. Then again that size could work if your game is a side-scroller with not much vertical movement. (back and forth all day, the world is your oyster)

EDIT:

I made a 32x32 based on your sprite. Looks a bit different but what can you do?

« Last Edit: February 20, 2017, 03:06:07 am by Aniki »

Offline jcongerkallas1

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Re: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

Reply #2 on: February 20, 2017, 03:10:33 am
Thanks Aniki.  I guess that scaling things proportional to the smallest known component makes sense. 

In this case, I'm trying to find a stylistic compromise between the level of detail I can manage without making the scenes and character artwork so complicated that it would take 50 years to finish. 

The obvious solution would be to just use lower resolution 8/16-bit sprites.  A lot of other people on this site seem to have a knack for showing a lot with very little pixel information.  I guess it's just hard for me to design sprites where a few pixel squares define all the facial features.  I'm more used to animation styles where a lot of character expression is conveyed in the face.

Offline jcongerkallas1

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Re: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

Reply #3 on: February 21, 2017, 10:35:29 pm


I conducted some more research and tried experimenting with lower-resolution sprites.  Here's a new mini-imp.  I guess he turned out alright, despite losing all his back spots.

Offline Cyangmou

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Re: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

Reply #4 on: February 21, 2017, 10:59:58 pm
The main sizes you could choose for basic elements (let's say a basic tile) are 16x16, 24x24 and 32x32 if you want to stay feasible from a development standpoint.

For this particular sprite and style i would go for 32width 24height, but won't necessarily go a lot smaller.

I don't have any idea how big that monster is but basically human (main character) sprite size also depends a lot on resolution. And resolution depends a lot on the device you are developing for.

A 16:9 sceen has different requirements than a 4:3 screens. Gameplay can play in to a big deal. Research similar games as what you have in mind.



P.S: your original has 332 colors and a lot of transparency. My example here uses about 10 colors and i removed the (I guess unwanted) transparency you had in your initial sprite.
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Offline jcongerkallas1

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Re: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

Reply #5 on: February 22, 2017, 02:18:45 pm
Thanks.  These are some very useful tips.

I evidently need to work on cleaning up details and reducing my color palettes. When I scaled down my original png image in GIMP, there was a lot of extra noise caused by bad anti-aliasing. 

The imp was supposed to be slightly above knee height.  Based on my pixel tests and everyoneís feedback, I guess if 32 px is estimated to be an acceptable height, a mid-detail human character should be roughly three times as tall.  So 96 px.

I have been experimenting with two sample human characters to test different scales.   One is 52 px tall.  The other is 140 px tall and has barely enough resolution to allow for a generic face with mouth, eyes, nose, and eyebrows.  Unfortunately, I would still need a much higher resolution to get any kind of nuanced facial expression.

The style Iím currently aiming for would be some kind of side-scrolling RPG or narrative adventure game.

I donít think it would be feasible for me to attempt producing an entire game at the higher level of detail. I guess what I will have to do is settle for middle-resolution sprites.  If I want more detailed faces for close ups or dialogue, I could maybe try adding character portraits.

Offline eishiya

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Re: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

Reply #6 on: February 22, 2017, 02:56:51 pm
Older JRPGs often use chibi characters with heads almost as large as their bodies because it allows faces to be fairly readable while keeping the sprite small (often 16x24), maybe that's an option for you? Some of those games manage to be very expressive through body language and through manipulating the eyes and occasionally giving the characters mouths (usually for yelling/screaming).
Some games combine these proportions with larger sprites to have a lot of room for subtle expressions that even larger sprites couldn't have with realistic proportions.

Do not underestimate the power of body language! A sprite with no face at all can still be very expressive, including in subtle ways.

Another method games employ (often in addition to body language) is having larger portraits in the dialogue boxes, instead of having the main sprites be expressive.

Lastly, if your goal is to have nuanced facial expressions on the in-world character sprites in your game and you don't seem concerned for the on-screen size of the characters, maybe pixel art isn't the best solution? High-res pixel art is difficult and time-consuming to animate, and you'd probably have a much easier (and shorter!) time animating some high-res 2D art, since that can be scaled and rotated in-engine without looking janky. You could use skeletal animation instead of drawing and pixel-polishing every frame by hand.

Offline jcongerkallas1

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Re: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

Reply #7 on: February 22, 2017, 10:47:11 pm

Here's a new scale comparison for imp designs.

 

These are the rough human character mock-ups I made.  They are supposed to be relatively proportional to the smallest and largest imp designs.

Enlarging the head seems to be the best compromise for getting more detail without having to drastically increase the size and complexity of the character model.  I looked at some chibi and portrait references, and it would appear that using the eyes as reference points makes it easier to build things up from there.  I'd previously been trying the subtractive method of scaling everything relative to an arbitrary estimated height, which works for regular drawing but apparently it's not the recommended approach for creating pixel art.

Iíll keep playing around with the style and study more game art.  Maybe one day I'll figure out how sprite shading and proportions work.  I appreciate all the tips from everyone.

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Re: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

Reply #8 on: February 23, 2017, 10:53:43 am
For a game, I'd recommend not worrying terribly about it until the engine is ready. Bit out of place perhaps but it's a common pitfall to overfocus on art assets.

If it gets to bugging you, run it by a normal person. If they don't see any flaws it's passable to the general public and can be left alone for the next asset that needs doing until you're learned enough for a passover phase to tweak anything notably janky.
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Offline Jehannum

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Re: What is an ideal height for more-detailed sprites?

Reply #9 on: February 24, 2017, 09:25:55 am
When I scaled down my original png image in GIMP, there was a lot of extra noise caused by bad anti-aliasing.
probably a silly question, but when you say scale down do you mean using a resize tool?

"pixel resize" is the best option when resizing pixel art as it doesn't destroy the image with anti-aliasing
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