AuthorTopic: [FEEDBACK][WIP] Background Landscape for a 'Hi Bit' Game  (Read 620 times)

Offline seriatum

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Hello, I'm new here and tentatively posting after reading the rules. I'm working on a game - most of it is done in pixel art, but it also utilises things not traditionally associated with pixel art such as smooth gradients, transparency effects, shaders etc. With all of these effects over the top, my deficiencies as a pixel artist aren't quite as obvious and I perhaps haven't been as diligent as I could have been with technique... But I would like to also give players the option of playing the game without such effects, and after peeling back the fancy effects I want the art to still look good - so I think I need to clean up my act a bit and become a better pixel artist.

Up until now, I've mainly been working on mechanics and tilesets but I've decided it would be nice to have some detailed backgrounds, kind of like establishing shots for the different areas. The resolution I'm working in is 640x360. Immediately, it has been harder to fill such a large area with interesting pixel art after working on smaller 32x32 or 64x64 sprites for so long!

If any of you pixel art gurus could take a look and offer any comments on what could be improved it would be much appreciated. Particularly if there are any areas that stand out as needing attention or techniques that I am perhaps misusing or should be practising more. Also any comments on anything from the colour scheme to the composition are appreciated. I've considered dropping the game resolution lower, but want to avoid this if possible due to the size of my character (32 x 64).

If anyone has any experience in drawing detailed game backgrounds and has some tips on workflow that would be cool too. I'm still finding my feet with this, and this piece was a bit of a frankenstein project, all over the place - it was started in Pyxel Edit, the clouds were done in Pro Motion (because I like the dither brush) and the rest done in Photoshop (because I'm most comfortable with the interface).

I should add that in motion, this background will have a smooth colour gradient, animated light rays, parralax scrolling clouds and overlay effects. I've stripped out any of that non pixel art related stuff for this image so that I can get feedback on what IS pixel art in the picture.  Thanks for any feedback :)



Offline Samaramon

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 19
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: [FEEDBACK][WIP] Background Landscape for a 'Hi Bit' Game

Reply #1 on: March 13, 2018, 01:26:52 pm
I personally think it's gorgeous :) The color palette is very soothing as well. You did a great job with the cloud dithering!

Offline seriatum

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: [FEEDBACK][WIP] Background Landscape for a 'Hi Bit' Game

Reply #2 on: March 13, 2018, 01:49:01 pm
Thank you very much! :) I found clouds very difficult for a long time, and still need to practise them more - but that dithering really seemed to flesh them out and started taking them in the right direction. If anyone on the board has some other good tips on realistic(ish) clouds I'd love to hear them as many of the tutorials I've looked at seem to focus on small stylised ones.

Offline eishiya

  • 0011
  • **
  • Posts: 957
  • Karma: +2/-0
    • DerpTree
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/28889.htm
    • eishiya
    • View Profile
    • Webcomic: Black Dram

Re: [FEEDBACK][WIP] Background Landscape for a 'Hi Bit' Game

Reply #3 on: March 13, 2018, 02:06:20 pm
You're off to a very strong start! I do have a pile of critique, but I hope it doesn't scare you! The bulk of this image is looking great.


I agree that the dithering looks nice, but depending on how the art will be displayed, it might be better to replace the dithering with a solid colour. Dithering looks good if you can't see the pixels making it up, but if the art is to be scaled up, then it's quite possible that the checkerboard pattern will become visible and look like texture rather than an additional colour. So, if this game is for PC where people will likely have it larger than 1x, dither's not a good idea. If it's for handhelds/mobile where it's likely to always be 1x, then it'll look fine, at least as long as it stays still on the screen (dithering has a tendency to flicker in motion due to how screens work).

Will there be a gradient in the sky eventually? The evenly bright sky doesn't fit the sunset look of the rest of the image.

The blue mountains could use a bit of AA where they have low-angle slopes against the yellow clouds.

The transition from blue mountains to midground feels rather sharp, I think perhaps the furthest areas of the midground (like those big brown rocks) should have some blue tint, or perhaps you could add another "layer" between the midground and the mountains to ease the transition.

The light-coloured fern in the foreground feels out of place, since the rest of the scene gets darker towards the foreground.
The dark plant in the very foreground looks good, but a bit disconnected from the scene. Consider adding some more elements in the foreground like this. Perhaps you could use them to frame the composition a bit more. Maybe you could have a more visible transition from midground to foreground (i.e. within the image and not just off-canvas) as well, so that the planes aren't so disconnected.

The bright highlights/rimlights in the foreground lack the volume of the rest of the image. Don't forget that rimlights/backlighting also follow the form and planes of the object, they don't just follow its edge. So, if your rimlight is consistantly a pixel thick, it looks unnatural, especially on flat planes like palm leaves and some of the rocks, where the light should either hit the entire plane or none of it.

The grass in the bottom left area feels rather scribbly and noisy. If you're struggling with actually rendering that sort of stuff, try working in layers of silhouettes, each a different colour.

The various 1px-thin highlights on the grass seem random and don't correspond to the lighting in the rest of the scene, especially the big horizontal one in the middle, which contributes to the scribbly look.

Probably the (literally) biggest problem: your various sharp rimlights suggest a well-defined, non-diffused light source in the middle of the image but there isn't one. At best, it's behind the clouds, which would diffuse the light and it would not create such bright, sharp rimlights. At worst, the sun looks low enough to be behind the mountains, where it can't cast its light directly on the midground/foreground scene at all. Moreover, the cloud shading suggests that the sun is either off-canvas to the right, or behind the viewer.

Lastly, there are a lot of orphan pixels and jaggies in the image. But, I think you should save pixel-polish until the end when you're satisfied with everything else. It'll be time-consuming for such a large image, but it's a perfect opportunity to put a movie or podcast on and just zone out fixing it :D

Offline yrizoud

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 296
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: [FEEDBACK][WIP] Background Landscape for a 'Hi Bit' Game

Reply #4 on: March 13, 2018, 03:37:11 pm
Dithering on parts that may move over the screen should be avoided because on computer screens with a low response time, the dither pattern will look different while it is moving (darker or brighter, and the hue itself may be different).

Offline seriatum

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 7
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: [FEEDBACK][WIP] Background Landscape for a 'Hi Bit' Game

Reply #5 on: March 14, 2018, 12:19:14 am
Thank you so much eishiya! That is a very in depth and well thought out critique and I really appreciate the time and detail you've put into it - the insight is absolutely invaluable!  :)

As I read it, every single point you've made hits home - it's exactly what I'm looking for to improve. The game is for PC so the art will definitely be scaled up in most cases, and any imperfections will probably be glaringly obvious. The point about the dithering is a really good one, and as yrizoud has also pointed out will probably cause problems in motion - as I planned on these clouds to be scrolling this will be a problem, so I guess it's back to the drawing board for those. :'(

The light source issue is also a good one, originally I did have a sun in the centre, and had done those highlights at that point, then I put the clouds in and it wasn't working. I moved the sun offscreen but had light beams coming down (Japanese starburst style), but thinking about it now, really the angle would still probably be wrong for that - so I will definitely give those highlights some attention!

And that grass, yes I agree it definitely does need some more love!  I will try to give it some serious attention. Have got my work cut out for me.

Thanks again so much for your feedback, you've got an excellent critical eye and every point you've made I think has been spot on. Will work on this over the next few days and post back.  :y: