AuthorTopic: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)  (Read 2097 times)

Offline DTE462

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Based on feedback I've gotten I found I tend to use too many colors. Whenever I run into a problem I just add more colors till it looks like noise and then I pull back. So this portrait I was very aware of keeping colors limited. I'm already at 6 and I'm still not happy with the depth and detail I'm getting.

And his hair is boring too. But all I can think of is to add more colors.

And then whatever is going on with his clothes is a whole other problem. And also maybe his head is too big for his body? But that doesn't seem like the main problem. I just can't place exactly what the main problem is.

For backstory (whatever it's worth), this character is a cantankerous unhappy old man. But capable and reliable all the same.  I think the furrowed brow and shape of everything conveys that. But it just looks boring overall. Especially compared to my other portraits I've done.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Offline MysteryMeat

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Re: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)

Reply #1 on: January 25, 2018, 07:27:54 am
Try playing with wilder colors, like a more reddish hue for those facial shadows or a faded blueish tint for the clothes. In addition to looking neato in my opinion going wet and wacky hog wild with the colirs gets me through that kind of obstacle sometimes.

Another tip: focus on solid shading and reusung colors wherever possible. For example, try using the red of his shirt as the facial shading. It may not work but EXPERIMENTATION is key here!







(Also, i'd perhaps recommend redrawing the torso entirely. Use guidelines and shapes there too! And be careful about posing and facial features too, his tilted back head and small eyes give him a haughty, snooty, and perhaps untrustworthy impression. Try going for a slightly more square look to hus face, perhaps sinking his eyes into his brow a bit for a sturdier and more focused look!)
PSA: use imgur
http://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=19838.0 also go suggest on my quest, cmon
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Offline DTE462

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Re: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)

Reply #2 on: January 27, 2018, 11:41:49 pm


A little better. The apron is a clear improvement. I did make his eyes bigger and I am happy with that. But I cannot get his eye brows to look like anything other than one solid color, or a pixelated noisey mess. I went with the less obnoxious of the two options. But still not good.

Offline M-66

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Re: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)

Reply #3 on: January 28, 2018, 04:15:44 am


As an exercise, try limiting yourself to a 4-bit palette (15 colors plus transparent/bg).

In your image it looks like you've basically got 4 major materials.  That maps pretty nicely to a 16 entry palette, giving you 4 ramps of 3-4 colors each.

Once you've got that set up you'll often find you can borrow colors from other ramps to complete your shading, or do AA.  In this case the skin borrows some colors from the apron for dark or desaturated areas.

Offline DTE462

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Re: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)

Reply #4 on: January 28, 2018, 04:57:58 am
Wow. Thanks M-66. It's surreal to see how much better you made this drawing with such a limited palette. I'll tackle one of the other portraits I need re-visit with this limitation and see how it goes. Thanks for the inspiration.

Offline pistachio

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Re: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)

Reply #5 on: January 28, 2018, 01:55:42 pm
Tips on saving colors:

Instead of just picking colors between the piece, I'll take it further, and say you should try constructing a palette from the ground up in a branching way. (Better to just edit when you are this far in, but try this out on the next one)
Like that:


Actually most of the original thread is worth a read.

IMO it's better practice to build palettes this way. More coherent palettes, and contrast between entries is more balanced (people generally perceive more contrast in brighter colors than in darker ones for example. So if you have to isolate each entry as pixel art does, you want your focus there.)
In any element, some thought/simplification beforehand saves you from that much headache when working on something.
This goes for palettes as well. Start simple and work your way up.

Eventually you will probably start thinking about colors organically, in "branching" instead of "linear" ramps, cut down colors basically intrinsically, and still have a sexy piece.

Even works for traditional, pixels are just an extension of that, with differing limitations.

just some quick thoughts. HTH.

Offline DTE462

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Re: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)

Reply #6 on: January 29, 2018, 04:25:27 pm


Thanks for the pointers everyone. I took another stab at a previous portrait using a a limited color palette. (previously posted here https://pixelation.org/index.php?topic=24380.msg192479#msg192479 but I think it's now more relevant on this thread). I can't say I'm thrilled with it, but happier than previous attempts. Her nose was the hardest.

And hair in general I struggle with. Which is why she has 4 colors dedicated to it.

Offline M-66

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Re: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)

Reply #7 on: January 29, 2018, 05:03:34 pm
Are you by chance using Photoshop or some other full-color tool to do your painting, perhaps with a pencil tool with less than 100% opacity?



I ask because according to my count, you actually have 22 colors in your palette (compared to the 16 you added as an overlay), including many shades of almost-but-not-quite identical green. This might be part of where the comments about "too many colors" are coming from?  It's possible your paint program is making/allowing you to make some partial color blends you didn't expect?

Edit:
I should mention it's no crime to use 12, 22, or 32 or as many colors as you like.  However they should be colors that were chosen by you with purpose.  Posting your intended palette was quite helpful in this case as it's helping to track down that your intention isn't quite matching what's actually in the image, probably due to a tools/workflow issue.
« Last Edit: January 29, 2018, 05:08:38 pm by M-66 »

Offline M-66

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Re: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)

Reply #8 on: January 29, 2018, 08:10:05 pm


Reduced colors, tried to harmonize the color between the ramps so that the hair flows into the skin and the sweater flows into the collar.  This is the outcome of the "branching" technique that pistachio was talking about but skipping a lot of the steps (check the references in the threads he posted). Turns out I didn't need all 16 entries so there's spare for maybe a hair and a skin highlight if desired.  Minimal overpaints here - only some AA just to show that colors are not locked to being for one material only - and moved the eye position. 

As another poster mentioned in the other thread, you need to pay attention to your construction.  Specifically - you have a tendency to place eyes too high up the head.  They should appear on the equator of the head, not the top third.  Remember that the line of the equator on the front will appear lower if the character is looking down (seen from above) or higher if looking up (seen from below).  You will probably want to adjust the hairline to match.

Real talk: this eye placement thing is probably the single biggest issue holding you back.  The shape of the eyes is generally good; you've clearly thought about the personalities of the characters you're making... but the construction errors are sabotaging your work!  You would benefit immensely from checking some guides and taking the time to make construction lines for your next portrait.  Regular flipping/mirroring of the canvas is a must as well for highlighting issues with placement (even after my edit, this piece still has some bias issues).

The point is you're close.  You're really close!  Get references, keep practicing -not only with pixels - and you'll crush it.

Offline DTE462

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Re: Struggles with limiting color pallette (another portrait)

Reply #9 on: January 29, 2018, 11:33:59 pm
I'm using Aseprite. It was definitely a workflow issue. Wherever there was an isolated pixel it wouldn't get caught by the bucket fill when I was adjusting colors.

Thanks again for the feedback. Once you point it out, I see what you mean about the eyes. I'm feeling a lot more comfortable with color now though. I'll keep at it.