AuthorTopic: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art  (Read 7252 times)

Offline vie_draws

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[WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

on: July 05, 2017, 02:28:19 pm


Hi guys!  I'm new to pixel art and have been working super hard to get more comfortable with it... I am more used to traditional painting and concept art with digital tools.  I am now working on a game called Swansong.  It is a 2d platformer with retro graphics.  I did a few tile sets and here you see a mock-up.  I mostly need critics on colors and overall harmony of the pieces.  I think I have difficulty with the hierarchy of the backgrounds  and it looks in overall blend to me.  Thanks for any constructive critics!  Here is the twitter of Swansong if you want to check it out: https://twitter.com/Vertex_Zero
« Last Edit: July 05, 2017, 02:44:33 pm by vie_draws »

Offline Gizmonicgamer

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #1 on: July 05, 2017, 06:10:25 pm
I really like the colors! It might be a stylistic choice, however, but I feel like there can be some minor issues of readability here between elements; increasing the contrast or boldening the dividing elements can help to change this. I like how it looks regardless, though.

Offline CFKaligula

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #2 on: July 05, 2017, 07:12:41 pm
Edit:
Did some colours edits. I think the plants could be much more plant-like to really give the piece some contrast. Same as Gizmon said readability is kind of an issue, its not very clear where you can stand and where not. What i tried to do is desaturate background (or what i assume is background) and saturate non-background, which i assumed were the ladders and the blocks on the ground.
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Offline vie_draws

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #3 on: July 05, 2017, 07:41:54 pm
Thanks Gizmonicgamer, I was feeling it had something to do with augmenting the contrast of certain layers.  Thanks also CFKaligula for the color edit.  it does help for the readability.  I'm just not sure about the intensity of the grass. 
Well anyways, thanks for your pointers! I really have to work on my colors to make it more clear.  Thing is, we want an overall dramatic ambiance to the game, so I was thinking of a more desaturated and darker palette, but I'm struggling with it!

Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #4 on: July 05, 2017, 11:10:55 pm
I think you might do well to study the pixelwork in Fez and cave story, they both have a similar vibe to what you've done here and may give you some better ideas on where to take the color cues to achieve what you're after.
Say what you will about the gameplay, Fez had some excellent tilework and is well-worth a study on some of the more dramatically lit levels
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline vie_draws

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #5 on: July 05, 2017, 11:39:39 pm
Good idea MysteryMeat!  I actually really enjoyed Fez (playing and looking at it).  I'll go back to studying it...for now I'm just getting a mess:


And just look at these "color ramps"...so full of grays and similar colors!

Offline vie_draws

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #6 on: July 07, 2017, 05:15:56 pm


Ok so this is a quick try at a different approach, I wanted to see what it looks like with a more blue atmosphere in the back and more saturation in front... I'm not convinced, but the readability is more present. 

Also I tried studying palettes from Owlboy to understand color ramps and such, but I'm still having so much difficulty.  I saw a lot of tutorials online but nothing seems to help!  I guess what I find most difficult is finding ways to harmonize all the colors for different materials.  I tried starting from one color and trying to build from there:


but that did not help either....what do you guys think, and how do you start your palettes for a whole environment like this?

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #7 on: July 07, 2017, 06:42:31 pm
Try having more meeting/overlap points, and have more hue-shifting within each ramp. For example, I try to have all of my palettes have all their ramps converge on the same "black", and sometimes the same 1-2 "whites" (1 for "limited" palettes, a cool and a warm "white" for more general palettes). With hue-shifting, what I'll often do is have my e.g. blue and green ramps share their dark part, and diverge only in the midtones and highlights.
Your palette looks dull and boring despite having so many colours, because all your ramps are just straight ramps getting darker. Your colours don't actually fade towards your shared colour at all, and they all have different black points. None have any appreciable hue-shifting. This palette will also be difficult to manage because it's so big, with many missed opportunities for colour-sharing. I find it especially nice to reduce the number of dark colours, because people don't distinguish dark colours as well as they distinguish midtones and light colours, and because it allows all the objects to have similar-ish looking shadows, which helps every object look like it's in the same space, lit by the same ambient colours.

As for actually developing palettes, I find it helpful to start with mockups featuring key objects and locations from the game, and go from there, reusing colours as appropriate. You can't really know how different colours will work for your specific project without using them. Working on a mockup also allows you to see how the different objects look together, where they might clash or blend.
When you find yourself using two or more similar colours and using one of the existing colours just doesn't look good, try replacing all of those colours with an entirely new one that has properties of them all. Sometimes this means slightly shifting other colours, and that's okay - if your palette's not gigantic and you're working on a few mockups instead of an entire asset library, replacing all instances of some colours already in use should be trivial.

I want to emphasise the usefulness of mockups because it's the content that determines what colours you'll need. I have one palette that has only two reds because the game doesn't need them, but has three different brown ramps (cool, warm, purple-brown) because different kinds of brown really help the setting look good.

Think of your palette not in terms of distinct ramps, but loops and/or branches. Where can your ramps overlap and blend together? If you hue-shift consistently, pretty much all of them will overlap, which will help tie the palette and everything coloured with it together, as well as help keep your colour count small and manageable.

Try thinking in terms of "key light" and "ambient light" when you hue-shift. Have your colours shift towards the ambient light hue in the shadow/dark parts of the ramps, and towards the key light hue in the lighter parts. These hues can be similar (giving a slightly more subdued look - not monochrome, because the midtones still maintain their own hue identity), or they can be different (giving a more colourful look).
Remember that this is shifting towards a hue, not shifting by some fixed amount. So, if you have a blue ambient light, your dark reds will shift dramatically towards blue (becoming purple), the dark greens will probably shift just slightly towards blue-green, and your dark blues will probably barely shift at all.
« Last Edit: July 07, 2017, 10:47:30 pm by eishiya »

Offline vie_draws

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #8 on: July 07, 2017, 10:22:32 pm
wow, Eishiya,  Thanks so much for the thorough analyses.  That means a lot!  it has helped me to understand better where to start.

I think I'm getting something a little more consistent.  I did a smaller piece to test things out.



I won't give up!  I'll keep on learning!

Offline vie_draws

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #9 on: July 26, 2017, 05:39:33 pm
ok so I did a few more tries.  I'm studying a lot of great pixel artists to understand more on lighting and hue shifting.



And also this one, but the tilesets are really rushed just to try the color palette.



Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #10 on: July 26, 2017, 08:21:43 pm
I quite like the top one! Nice use of warm and cool greys. The characters are difficult to read against the background in both - that's a design issue rather than a palette one.

Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #11 on: July 27, 2017, 01:29:43 am
The top one has a way more somber aesthetic to it than the bottom one, but depending on the tone you're going for either work!
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline hexcode

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #12 on: July 28, 2017, 02:25:08 am
I love the first one (first post) the best! Really nice colors and blends :)
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Offline vie_draws

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #13 on: July 28, 2017, 07:49:17 pm
Thanks for your input guys!  Well we are going for a more somber aesthetic indeed, so I'll be pursuing on the same theme as the grayish one.  Ya it's really a challenge the make to characters stand out! I'd really rather work on the background though for the changes, because the characters animations are already advanced.  This will prove to be a challenge.  So I'll keep on going on that same type of idea.  I also liked the first on, Hexcode, but it just seems too lively to me for what we want...

Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #14 on: July 28, 2017, 08:14:24 pm
It looks like most of the characters are dark, at least around the edges. This means the parts of the backgrounds that they'll overlap should probably be kept light. If readability continues to be an issue, you could always tweak the colours on the characters without having to redo any of the animations - that's one of the great benefits of pixel art after all.

Offline vie_draws

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #15 on: July 31, 2017, 06:56:00 pm
Thanks Eishiya!
Your message really made us rethink the colors of the characters.  We had not realized how big of an issue it was.  So I'm working on many iterations of the characters and also practicing my color ramping.

I tried a few effects to add dept to the image and augment the readability.

Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #16 on: July 31, 2017, 09:13:34 pm
They're still pretty hard to read. Something that may help with that is putting an outline around them, usually I go for a dark brown/purple but simple black or white can work too.
It's a bit of a cheaty solution but it'll fix the problem and most of art is, in fact, cheating like a motherfuck.
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline vie_draws

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #17 on: July 31, 2017, 09:27:17 pm
Thanks MysteryMeat, but we are trying to avoid going for the contour.  I have not mentioned that the sprites are going to be scale up x 2 in engine and the smaller character has hands of one pixel, so we cannot really use a contour. 

Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #18 on: July 31, 2017, 11:58:52 pm
contour..?
I'm not sure what you mean by that!
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline eishiya

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Re: [WIP] mock up for 2d platformer, new to pixel art

Reply #19 on: August 01, 2017, 12:10:30 am
@MysteryMeat: Contour = outline.


Try keeping the lower portions of the walls and other background elements flatter in colour, so that the characters are usually against solid colours rather than a bunch of detail. That will help them stand out even if their values aren't very different from those of the background. Currently, most of your examples concentrate the background detail in the same areas where the characters are, which hurts clarity. Your "rushed" tileset from July 26 was actually the best example in that the wall behind the characters had very low-contrast details and was mostly a solid colour, and the higher-contrast details were all high up, where the characters didn't overlap them.

It would probably also help to make it so that the sky and such are closer in value to the walls in the areas where characters overlap those elements, so that the boundaries between different objects don't form very high-contrast areas. This is currently an issue with your dark walls and light sky. Try having some darker foreground clouds, perhaps?
« Last Edit: August 01, 2017, 12:13:46 am by eishiya »