AuthorTopic: Mental Image Crit.  (Read 8266 times)

Offline Conzeit

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Mental Image Crit.

on: October 02, 2005, 12:01:20 am
well, I remember I posted a fighter (roughly kof sized) Alucard sprite, here about a year ago...I looked at it recently, and I hated it, so I decided to redo it.

but u know, I didnt get much crits on that fighter sprite I belive sucked really hard.

So to make it diferent this time around I thought I'd start a discussion just about my idea of what alucard looks like BEFORE posting the sprite, I figure that if you already have an idea of what the sprite should look like before you see it, you'll crit it that much harder. hence the topic name

Mental Image Crit
please take this as an activity of sorts, hopefully this becomes less about me and my sprite, and more about translating a design into sprite form.

This is the first refference pic I'll post.

Alucard is the hero of Symphony of the night, the most popular game in Castlevania series.He was designed by Ayami Kojima, a self-didactic artist, who doesnt understand shit about videogame art. She has a lot of fashion elements to her designs, and uses a very limited set of face features to design her characters.

So, one of the reasons I keep trying to make a good sprite out of her most famous design Alucard, is that it is just not designed to be very easy to turn it into sprite, gotta love a challenge.

right out by just glancing at this picture, you should notice errors caused by her self didactic nature, the hands are quite horribly disproprtionate and very oddly shaped. I kind of put this into use in my sprite, by using odd shapes to imply the hands detail, rather than outline everything very clearly.

Another thing to note about this one, is that it was my main face feature/head shape refference, since it is the best drawn head shot of Alucard I've found (dont worry, I do know about that head shot pic). All the basic shades are very specifically displayed with the (relatively) harsh shadows in his face, and his expression is very solid. one of the things I tried to focus on was NOT fusing the eye an the eyebrow in my fighter sprite, since this is way overdone, and would kill a lot of al's character.

Al's standard proportion and costume reference piece, I used it pretty much for that. I also used it as refference for the reflectivity of his boots

Fashion
well, I tried to research Alucard's outfit as best as I could, since it's been made into sort of a superhero costume in Dawn of Sorrow (lastest Castlevania game) since alucard hast to wear it to use his powers. I saw a costume exactly like it but in another color used in a historic show once, so I know it is an actual piece of clothing used in the 18th century (time in which SOTN takes place).

best refference I could find on the net was this. http://www.fashion-era.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=259

seems like roughly all of the 18th century fashion reasembles his outfit.

Japanese Pasty Vampire Sterotype
I also notice, there are quite a few similar designs floating around, most notably Vampire hunter D, and Abel Nightrod the hero of Trinity Blood. both are from japan, and I think either D is the original that inspired the rest, or they all come from an earlier design. if any of you know which one came first, please let me know =)

The motion of Alucard's slash oddly reasembles D's.

so does his gliding stance

This is the best image I could find of abel =/ http://www.justplay.nl/media/285/20050405-trinity.JPG

« Last Edit: October 02, 2005, 11:36:37 pm by Camus »

Offline David

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #1 on: October 02, 2005, 12:17:20 am
My preconception go back to the NES days.

http://www.classicgaming.com/castlevania/Images/Scans/CV3/np18alucard.jpg

Aside from that I don't know what you really want us to say.

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #2 on: October 02, 2005, 12:30:10 am
I dont know...whatever you feel like saying?

I was just hoping that something along all the stuff I posted inspired you to say something..or you had an opinion about it :p.

heh. I remember that al. I do like the way they replaced him with a more complex version than the average Dracula clone, but it doesnt make sense plotwise because he was supposed to be buried in the 15th century with the clothes he has in SOTN, so the clothes should be more like 15th century period.

Offline AlexHW

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #3 on: October 02, 2005, 01:03:18 am
hm..
I'm not familiar with this character, so I apologize for any mis-understanding I may make.
But anyways..
The reference pic I would class more towards a promo piece rather than a strictly char design piece which would instead define exactly how things should look. If you were going to keep this understanding, then you would need a better reference which displays the whole character, perhaps front and back and side views.
For me, looking at this promo-ish looking picture, It would be difficult to determine how to translate how the character is depicted here into pixel-art.
Perhaps you only have promo pieces to work from.
In this case, you should determine whether things like the misfigureing/distortion of the character is intentional to the design, and what's its purpose, because at the moment, that is the biggest problem I see with the reference because I'm unsure whether it is suppose to be seen like this in the game (big collar, thick arms and body, long torso, wide cape, very long hair, small sword, small head, big hands), or whether it is the artist's personal tastes.
If there is no defined design, then you must decide how close you will translate her perspective on the character into your perspective.. which attributes she emphasises or not, and which ones you will..

perhaps it doesnt matter how the attributes are stylized, only that the attributes such as hands and sword and so forth are present?..
if everything that makes the character is there, then it should be easy to see that it is just an artist's rendition of the character regardless if it is accurate to whatever is suppose to be determined as so.

..maybe I misunderstood what you wanted us to talk about?

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #4 on: October 02, 2005, 01:25:36 am
 Posted a more standard design type piece in responce to Kon's post...cant post much more right now
« Last Edit: October 02, 2005, 11:30:09 pm by Camus »

Offline AlexHW

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #5 on: October 02, 2005, 01:57:18 am
hm, yeah this new picture seems more understandable since the attention is placed solely on what the character looks like.
It's easier to begin to define what the character consists of now.
If one is to use this picture as reference and accurately represent it, they would need to determine the correct proportions/colors/etc of everything that would be translated into the end sprite before or as they work.

quickly glanceing at it, I can notice that the character can be divided vertically into 3 main parts (toes to knees, knees to belt, belt to neck) and the head ontop. The three I listed are of relatively the same length, but gradually shorter as you go up each level.
I also noticed that his shoulders are very broad, about 4 head widths wide (maybe 5?). His hair also reaches past his butt, and the sword is the same length as the arm (shoulder included).

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #6 on: October 03, 2005, 02:09:19 am
Aside from that I don't know what you really want us to say.
..maybe I misunderstood what you wanted us to talk about?
Guys...it's not like I really know exactly what kind of replies I want in this topic, I just thought I'd start a discussion about this and see what happened, I thought maybe this would be more fun than just posting the sprite.

So if you have anything to say about anything I've said, go right ahead :p this is an experiment, let's just go with it and see what happens.

So far,I dont know for everyone else but I think it is getting pretty interesting.

Kon, I really enjoyed both your replies. To give a reply  more worthy of your first one, I do understand that it is more logical to use  pieces strictly concerned with the design rather than promo pics, But I've always felt passionately about putting every-single-little-thing that has been shown in illustrations/concept art into my sprites, since far too often I find brilliant concept pieces, with downright awful in-game representations.

About the three sections you divided al in, that's prety clever heh. and I didnt really do that, but I do find it quite interesting that my sprite roughly matches up to the structure.

I'll be slowly posting her pieces, and saying what I used each one for....because otherwise I'd have to make an incredibly huge post to express all my thoughts.

Al's standard proportion and costume reference piece, I used it pretty much for that. I also used it as refference for the reflectivity of his boots and cape.

I payed a lot of attention to the way his cape is highlighted in this one, specifically the horizontal subtle highlights detailing the folds, in contrast to those vertical harsh highlights defining the figure's volume. and the way the folds are highlighted at the botton of the Silver side of the cape

This is the close up shot, it is supposed to be the best source for face detail, but I used the other one because this one's face has conflictive perspective.

I used the level of detail of this close up shot as refference for the ideal of reflectivity each of the elements in this pic except the cape should have. as you can see they are both the collar and hair are pretty reflective, and the highlights are surrounded by shadows to better state that reflectivity, I tried to duplicate that in my sprite.
The collar and the hair were some of the hardest parts to translate into a sprite, because as you can see they both hang very freely, and they dont have a definitive shape, which makes them hard to sprite because in sprites everything must come back to it's original position once the animation is over.

I also decided to use some purplish shadows for the skintones, since this pic has some pretty de-saturated skintones, specially in its shadows.

here you can also see that he has a pretty detailed vest of sorts under his jacket. Since this is a sprite and it's supposed to be animateable, I hid that little vest by closing a button of the jacket in such way that only the white collar of his shirt shows. I copied that from his SOTN  spriteset

if you zoom in close you'll notice how the yellow trimmed jacked is closed.

you might also notice how hard to animate the sprite would be, if I used all those horizontal lines that go troughout the jacket, to adress that I drew them as if they were thiner than the pixel, so I only show hints of them when I feel they're necesary to show the shape, or when they are heavily lit up

Offline AlexHW

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #7 on: October 08, 2005, 02:34:16 am

hm, looks pretty good I think, although there are some things which bother me with it.
The inside of the yellow trimmed jacket should be seen through his legs if you compare it to the reference pictures.
I also don't know why the cape is red..
He also looks like he has his head lowered some, in which case I feel the collar should be higher and larger/wider aswell.. That could probably allow the tie to be a bit larger as well since you only have like 2 pixels representing it but in the reference pictures its about the size of his face..

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #8 on: October 08, 2005, 05:24:56 am
ack, my mistake heh, that's actually NOT my sprite, I'm not planing on posting that yet. I should've explained that instead of asuming it'd be clear because of the siprite's size =/

That is alucard's oficial sprite. it's from SOTN, but you are right. the makers did simplify the design and remove his inner vest, just like his gray collar was removed.

the cape is red because Alucard picks up a variety of diferently colored capes troughout the adventure.

um, I think this didnt turn out very well, I was planning on making an extensive posting of all of alucard's refference pics, as well as the official SOTN sheet, and some fighter sprites I used for inpsiration, all with the purpose of creating an envirmoent like that of the Comercial Crit threads, but this is barely getting any feedback at all,so I dont think the effort is worth it.

 you seem to be the only one interested in this topic at all anymore, so I think only your opinion matters now, what did you expect from this topic? should I do anything of what I had planned at all? would you feel betrayed if I didnt post the final sprite?

Offline AlexHW

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #9 on: October 08, 2005, 06:12:44 am
Oh, oops.. the way i read your post, I got the impression it was your sprite, sorry..

yeah.. not much participation happening unfortunately. Though, It has been read numerous times it seems, I'm wondering what can be done to motivate others to supply some feedback..
I'm thinking the way your initial post was kinda open ended made it difficult for some to focus a reply. I think maybe haveing some specific stages for the discussion defined would have helped. For example, one stage would open discussion on which details are pertinent to the character, another being possiblely what forms/shapes make up him, or the colors, or how the design was translated into the official sprites, or perhaps a specific area or item.. etc..
Basically just some clearly defined stages which would be done one after the other, instead of haveing it open ended and allowing anyone to say whatever they want.
Perhaps you were doing that.. I dunno, what do you think?

What did I expect intially? Mm.. some form of a discussion to emerge about the character to get a sense of it.
I think you should cut the process into specific sections which are defined for the members and carry them out one after the other, doing this allows people to focus on specific key points and formulate their feedback easier and faster when they know what they are looking for.
I wouldn't feel betrayed if you didnt post the sprite. It's up to you whether you want to post anything or continue this discussion..
I am kinda curious though of your final sprite.. I wouldn't doubt others are too..

Offline David

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #10 on: October 09, 2005, 03:38:12 am
I've been waiting to see it since your first post.

The reason I didn't take part very much aside from my first post is simply because I'm already up to my ears in Castlevania. I've already been influenced by the things you've posted, and have my idea of the character. When you posted your sprite (if you do) I was going to go over it by how it compares to the reference, and then at an "artistic level."

I think maybe just make the objective of the topic more clear and more prominent.

Offline Helm

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #11 on: October 10, 2005, 03:26:27 am
I haven't been posting here because I find this thread generally purposeless as much as it is uninteresting to me personally. Not an attack or anything. Just not seeing what you're trying to do, and not really caring about castlevania or their stylistics so much.

Offline crab2selout.png

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #12 on: October 11, 2005, 01:26:20 am
I wanna see the new alucard too, and I have a legitimate reason for not posting in this thread, that reason being that I'm a pixel artist(i.e. some guy who can do AA, but only apply that to chibi RPG people from lack of expertise in everything else. No offense meant to the true artists who like pixels.)

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #13 on: October 11, 2005, 01:56:06 am
I haven't been posting here because I find this thread generally purposeless as much as it is uninteresting to me personally. Not an attack or anything. Just not seeing what you're trying to do, and not really caring about castlevania or their stylistics so much.

heh, cool helm, you shouldnt post if you dont care for the thread :p I think that's generally the problem.This just wasnt a very interesting idea for anyone except me to begin with, I guess I'll give this kind of thread another stab later.

Though...just so you know, the idea was t show the thought process I go trough when translating a design into sprite, I dont think I did a very god job tho :p

David, that's the other problem I think I had, if anyone DOES feel related, I made it too hard to get involved.....I guess I'll keep that in mind the next time

I think it also was...that I didnt notice just how damned inactive this place is, I thought with BluMunkee,3trnBlu, helm, splat, lief, and a few of the new ones like garth and david in here this could be pretty active, but I was wrong, actually almost none of them is truly active :p.

EDIT: hey...crab, just read your post....if you had something to say, then say it...I dont care :p wether you are a pixelartist or not is irrelevant, that's why I tried to give people who might just be into fashion, or people intop japanese culture phenomenoms......it obviously didnt work:p if you didnt have anything to say to begin with, then you dont have anything to be excusing yourself for.

ok, I'll just post the damn thing for Dave and Kon now...and anyone who might be lurking around :p

the idea was to be faithful to his spriteset, and I chose  his punch anim to extract a frame from it
which I thought would make the most sense as a Figther sprite.

then I grabbed a style I thought would fit since it had the simplicity, and the right style to make alucard animateable AND correct to his details. in making him simple, I utterly failed, I got too caught up in making him precise

that's what I came up with


the idea was
(+) x = But...I dont think I made it at all. this was supposed to be animateable, and I dont think the final product is. I actually redrew it about a couple times until I came to this, I am...fairly happy with the details in this one and his face, but not the overdone detail

I...kinda redrew it again, following ayami's aestehics a bit less, and I'm liking that version a bit more, it's still not nearly done..just a bunch of shapeless blobs :p

« Last Edit: October 11, 2005, 02:09:32 am by Camus »

Offline Helm

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #14 on: October 11, 2005, 06:34:49 am
I posted just because you were 'why aren't people replying to this?' Just to answer that question from my point of view, because it felt you were calling people out. I've been busy as HELL lately but I'm still around, and i do cc as I will now. Dunno about the others. If your favourite people aren't hanging currently, then I guess you better just do what pixelation is about and critique random people, no?

now, after all this, about the sprite. I will not discuss matters partaining to your thought process or if you're close to your reference material or whatever. All this, while interesting ( to some ) are beyond the scope of the meager pixel art critique I have for you. So I'll leave the theosophical debates to those caring, and i'll discuss antialias and crap.

As you said, this is not animatable by anyone sane ( or not severily korean ). At least it's not buffered to hell and antialiased, but you've used so many shades and shapes it's more like painting than sprite art so yeah, I'll treat it like static piece.

first of all, awesome job on the pose and the characterization. the colours are mostly nifty too, although the palette is not unified or balanced. But the strengths by far outweigh the cons when it comes to the palette theme.

few points though. It's too dark, and you're wasting an awesome amount of shades here. 30 colours for something that could be 16 when unified a bit. For animation work especially, 16 should be highest for these sizes. I'd do it in 12-4 personally and lose all the gray shades and merge hair, skin and orange tints. You know what I'm talking about. Even have 3 duplicate colours.

about shapes:

random stuff bad. lines, blotches and small randomish vectors. Volumetrics should make sense. Maybe as part of an animation stream, random shapes bring more vividness in a few cases, but I'm discussing this as static.

scribbly line had me stumped. If it's the whip, it's not done.

the whole of the cape is done very badly. a cape drapes from shoulder to shoulder, creating realistic folds and ripples.

about colour:

shiny shiny stuff and helm likes shiny but a lot of the highlights make zero sense. On the thumb for example. Boot finishes too. He's wearing leather I guess but still, overkill. That you don't mellow out the speculars by AAing them doesn't help.

which brings me to lack of AA. I know you thought animation, but it's unanimatable anyway. Might as well AA it. Looks fine at 1x zoom due to so many shades, but from an anal retentive ( aren't we all pixel artists? ) point of view, this suffers a lot there. You buffer generally fine, like SNK stuff, but at places even your buffering is nonexistent. Mainly at highlights again.


Just thoughts and stuff.

Offline Conzeit

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #15 on: October 11, 2005, 10:42:44 pm
Sigh, then I guess that just means that the scope of this board is falling short for me. And I dont mean that pixelart is too last week for me, I'll continue to do pixelart, but there is more to any pic than AA, or it's pallete, there are things far more important to consider when making a picture, be it pixeled or not.

I dont understand why the staff refuses to grow up and expand pixelatio-opolis's mindset, because if we keep this a niche little board obsessed about details nobody understand.....the board will only deteriorate, and exclude the good artists further and further.

Quote
I posted just because you were 'why aren't people replying to this?' Just to answer that question from my point of view
Yeah, I see that, I know I did that, and I apreciated your feedback, that was exactly what I wanted to hear at that moment, maybe I was un-necesarily whiny at my reply to you because I was paranoic about people starting to pull excuses, I did not mean to say "if you're gonna post that, dont post at all", I just meant to say that I agreed with you in your reasoning to not reply.

BTW, kon, I am sorry I didnt mention you as one of the interesting oldbies, I guess that was because you were the one interesting oldby that did reply, I do apreaciate your feedback very much here, and that's why I made the questions directed to you only. but a one on one talk isnt enough to keep up a topic like this, thanks a lot for your input though, your input would have been a great apport to the topic, had it been more than two sides *thumbs up*

eh, Helm, I understand it's not animateable, but it's still the focus.

Quote
first of all, awesome job on the pose and the characterization. the colours are mostly nifty too, although the palette is not unified or balanced. But the strengths by far outweigh the cons when it comes to the palette theme.
I completly agree, the pallete does lack a bit more refining, even though I am happy with each separate color ramp, the whole pallete feels far too blue at the moment. And thank you for the comment on characterization, I did try :p

One of the reasons I made use of so many colors is that the cape is supposed to be recolorable, and I wanted to keep that since it's almost a character trait, if you notice all the colors for the cape are unique even though several are exactly the same as many others in the piece in many places.The other reason, is that I dont belive in sticking to a bit-size, the only reason I limit my colors at all is to asure it's animateable. Though I do accept there is certain excess of colors here.

About shapes:
Ok, several points to make here. this is one of the reasons I did this topic, the draping was done the way it was done to reflect Ayami's work. she does an excessive amount of folds, and she does them in a very stilized way, I still did not make them completly irrational like she does, but I did a certain level of exageration to mimic her.

Quote
the whole of the cape is done very badly. a cape drapes from shoulder to shoulder, creating realistic folds and ripples.
You refuse to consider there's an art direction when making critique. first of all, alucard is subtly holding one side of the cape with his fingers, so actually it should drape from shoulder to hand, secondly, the cape's draping was done according to the example in the cape right above it.
The scribbly line...it'd have made more sense if you had seen what I had planned for other frames, it was my way of implying it was a reflective surface whitout using the highlights. the idea is that on reflective surfaces you often get highligts that dont quite follow the  way the light is spread in the midtones/shadows, and the scribbly line was meant to represent that.

The overkill highlights were my way of saying it was leather. have a better idea? tell me.

I understand that from a static point of view, I should want to AA it, but it's just not gonna happen, this is simply a failure, if I ever work on this again it will be to make it more animateable.

Your critique encompasses why I felt the need to do this, there's always more to a sprite than what one person can critique whitout any knowledge of it's purpose, regardless of how skilled that person is. We have to make this place adapt to that or it will become stagant, sine this place IS mainly about gameart, and gameart is always tied to a project, and consequently an artistic direction. It's too bad because I remade this sprite specifically to prove that point, but it seems pixelation refuses to grow up.

So, for the first time let me say I'm not looking for C&C, the point of this piece was for it to be C&C'd according to a discussion preceeding the piece, the discussion didnt happen so there's no point in C&Cing it, I only showed it for those who might still want to see the sprite.

I replied to helm's since it was such good C&C anyway, and I hadnt said anything, but please dont C&C.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2005, 10:57:46 pm by Camus »

Offline Darien

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #16 on: October 11, 2005, 11:11:31 pm
I hadn't posted earlier because I wasn't sure about how to go discussing it.  Or, rather, I didn't think anything I'd have to say would contribute too much, as you and Kon said more than I would think to say, anyway.  But I will still do what you say here:

So to make it diferent this time around I thought I'd start a discussion just about my idea of what alucard looks like BEFORE posting the sprite, I figure that if you already have an idea of what the sprite should look like before you see it, you'll crit it that much harder. hence the topic name

This pose is awkward for the character.  Alucard, at least as he seems to me, is a steadfast, confident character.  Your pose has him wobbly; his arms bend awkwardly, his waist juts out, and he's standing on his toes.  He should act as if he was the shit, and he knows it.  He lacks that deadly hypnotic vampire style.  His face looks too angry, he should be nonchalant and cool.  If this were animated, I wouldn't think that whatever action he made would look like it was easy for him.  Alucard should be one to do some amazing stunt, and then brush it off as if he just bought some groceries. 

I know you say don't critique, but I did find this interesting, and I just think your expectations of what would come of this were a bit too high.

Offline Akira

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Re: Mental Image Crit.

Reply #17 on: October 12, 2005, 08:27:29 am
Is this pretty much a sprite vs. promo type thing?
If so then the reason that the sprite doesn't share the same details as the promo is because its impossible. Because its a game sprite it had to fit certain criteria.
Your representation is like four times the original just to fit in the details. Doing animations this big would be uneconomical murder. Not just for your sprite but for all the backgrounds, enemies, items, etc. that would have to be bigger to compensate.

Your sprite is pretty killer as a stand alone piece. I agree with helm on the cape though. The promo is much slicker then yours. With yours the material seems to be puffy and too dark. Looking at the sprite and promos the inside of the cape is much brighter.

I know you've said no C&C and all so perhaps you should offer this up as a commercial critique or something instead?
thanks Dogmeat!