AuthorTopic: Understanding the anatomy of a tree and leaves in pixel art + critiquing a tree  (Read 475 times)

Offline Chonky Pixel

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So a couple of quick points:

Be careful not to create that polka-dot or giraffe skin effect, by making sure all your leaves have nice neat borders around them. Leaves don't do that. They're messy. The overlap. Look at the original. Leaves are melding, lighter leaves are over darker leaves...

If you look at the original, the leaves have a direction to them. They more or less radiate out from a point. Similar to my example, where leaves emerging from a single point make the starting point for the whole thing, and set the direction for subsequent leaves. Don't just put in random leaves.

That radiating pattern isn't the only leaf direction you can use. The top row of the tutorial makes the leaves look almost combed in one direction, and another pattern is criss-cross (alternating diagonal leaves).

Offline Gypsy

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Get what you're saying. This was actually the third or fourth frame, so not the final version of that bush. Although to be fair, I'm struggling with having the outlines make sense on the final version still.

Here's the bush, and I tried making the tree in a simpler style to avoid my brain exploding.

tree-practice-coloring" border="0

This is clearly going to take some time to get good at.

Offline Chonky Pixel

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The tree is actually an improvement. You've got the suggestion of leaf shapes around your value boundaries, which can sometimes be enough. Some bits feel a bit unnatural though. (Dark inset area top-right springs to mind...)

I'd like to see some actual leaves though. :) Have a go. You will find that when you start putting leaves onto the tree you'll start to realise what makes a good placement, how many touching pixels you can get away with, what will make a tight bushy feel and what will make the leaves look loose. Only practice will get you there.

Your bush would be helped if you changed the outline of the whole bush more to have individual leaves poke out. Think about direction as well. Things in nature don't really do random. Not REALLY random. There's all kinds of patterns to leaves, and one thing that screams "this is a living, leafy object" to me is that combination of random and patterned. Make sure the majority of your leaves are aligned into a pattern that tells the story of your bush. I can't discern a pattern here. 

Once you've started to get a bit of confidence, a good thing to try might be this:

Find a great pixel art leaf pattern. (There are loads of free asset packs all over the internet, and Google Images can help too). Grab a random chunk of it and try to make it tile seamlessly. This will force you to read, understand and recreate what the artist is doing to create things like light, shadow, depth, shine, etc.

Offline Gypsy

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I'm blowing smoke out my bee-hind over here with the leaves approach, haha!

tree-with-new-outines" border="0

Ignore the awful shading, and lack of proper light source, I just ran out of juice. I think I'll read some more art books and practice other things and come back to this one with a fresh perspective.

Still a ways to go. This is not going to be an overnight progress.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2020, 06:00:41 pm by Gypsy »

Offline eishiya

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If you try to render every single leaf, of course you'll run out of juice! You only really need to draw the "hero" leaves and only suggest the rest. That both takes way less work and leads to more appealing results.

Offline Chonky Pixel

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I can see the shape of the module you were using to construct that! And it's bigger than a leaf! ;)

If you use a cut and paste approach you'll get a cut and paste finish. ;)

I guess it's a matter of taste and personality. I like the look of trees and bushes where the leaves have been individually placed and I can work placing leaves for hours. Hours.

Although I will agree that in general, if you can get away with just suggesting texture, you should. A lot of the time, if you fill large areas with texture things can look overworked, cramped or unprofessional. I don't know why leaves are different, but there's loads of really great pixel art with individually painted leaves.

Offline Gypsy

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@eishiya

Yeah, I get what you're saying, but I did use a tablet instead of a mouse, so it wasn't as taxing this one, but I've been redrawing the same tree for the past day and a half, so I'm just really fatigued. I understand that to get good at pixel art, this process needs to happen, so I'm in the thick of it now. Just need to lean in and take the small victories one at a time.

@Chonky

Nope! Believe it or not, that was drawn with a tablet, not a copy and paste job at all. Still awful tho, hehehe. Of course, in the middle of it I realized there wasn't a good enough flow to the leaves, not sure you can get flow by drawing at all, there has to be actual deliberate placement I think.

Offline Chonky Pixel

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@Chonky

Nope! Believe it or not, that was drawn with a tablet, not a copy and paste job at all. Still awful tho, hehehe. Of course, in the middle of it I realized there wasn't a good enough flow to the leaves, not sure you can get flow by drawing at all, there has to be actual deliberate placement I think.

I can see the same daisy-like pattern of leaves all over the tree and the bush. Either you filled in areas with some cut & paste or you drew the same pattern of leaves over and over.. :)

If you did do all this by leaf-by-leaf then it's a start. Next is working leaf direction and on those transitions from light to shade.

Offline Gypsy

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@chonky

Yeah it was leaf by leaf, but apparently doing it in pixel perfect mode leads to a lot of similarities. Next time I'll try to use it with pixel perfect turned off and clean it up one at a time, I imagine that'll make them look better simply because I'll be sure to make one leaf different than the one before.

I think the struggle is that some of the trees I look at for reference have leaves pointing in a different direction that what I'd assume. Or to be more precise, I'm not yet all that familiar with what shape looks like its pointing in what direction. Practice, practice, practice.