AuthorTopic: How to shade and color characters  (Read 312 times)

Offline Gypsy

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How to shade and color characters

on: April 16, 2020, 10:56:58 pm
This is a pretty basic question to ask, so I apologize for that, but coloring characters has always been the biggest hurdle for me (alongside trees, of course).

Basically, coloring the character, and especially shading them (and their hair) is something that I never comprehended. I seem to think of it in terms of normal art instead of pixel art, so I'm desperate for advice on how to see things better over here.

Here's an image of Ark

Ark" border="0
<a target='_blank' href='https://poetandpoem.com/Charles-Bukowski/it-was-just-a-little-while-ago'>a little while poem[/url]


Does an artist just mess around and experiment, hoping for the best? Especially with the hair, how does one even create that?

To be specific, I'm talking about video game characters, in both top down and 2d games in the region of 64x64 and below (mostly in the 32x32 size and below)

Any advice, guidance, or tutorials would be great!

Cheers everyone!
« Last Edit: April 16, 2020, 11:52:46 pm by Gypsy »

Offline heyguy

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Re: How to shade and color characters

Reply #1 on: April 16, 2020, 11:39:54 pm
Post the image inside the body of your post. Put the HTML code in your message and it'll show up on the forum.

Offline Gypsy

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Re: How to shade and color characters

Reply #2 on: April 16, 2020, 11:53:14 pm
Hopefully that fixes it

Offline heyguy

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Re: How to shade and color characters

Reply #3 on: April 17, 2020, 12:45:37 am
Well, practice makes perfect, as they say. Post your art here so people can help with colors and shading.

Also, you posted Ark from "Terranigma". "Terranigma" is considered to be one of the best looking pixel art games for the era. Another saying comes to mind and it's "You've got to learn to crawl before you can walk". The artist who created Ark - I'm sure their early work is different from their later work.

If you're new to pixel art, this tutorial is pretty useful.

http://pixeljoint.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=11299

If you want to make incredible animation, look into the 12 principles of animation.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2020, 03:56:53 am by heyguy »

Offline Chonky Pixel

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Re: How to shade and color characters

Reply #4 on: April 17, 2020, 07:28:59 am
I don't think it's quite right to put all of art in one bucket ("normal art") and pixel art in another. Pixel art is a kind of art, like oil painting is, or digital painting, or collage or mosaic.

For any style of art you'll have to learn the advantages and limitations of your medium, and learn a number of processes, techniques and tricks to get the results you want. And practice a lot.

Some techniques may transcend many different styles of art. How light and shadow work, for example. Colour theory. Anatomy.

Some relate more to the style. You don't get problems with jaggies in oil painting, but you can't undo easily either.

So colours and light don't change their cultural meaning and physical properties because we're using large pixels. Pleasing proportions are still pleasing proportions. Human and animal anatomy haven't changed. If you have insight into other forms of visual arts, I'm sure you can carry some knowledge across.

As far as where to start, line-work is probably a good place. With just black and white, how do you represent lines, curves, shapes? What makes a good line image, what makes it unappealing, messy or difficult-to-read? This is your most basic tool, so it's worthwhile spending time getting good at it and learning how it works in the medium.

Then on to shape. How to represent simple 3D objects, using light and shade and shading techniques to represent flat surfaces, spheres, cylinders, cones, shiny objects, matte objects, textures, etc. using light sources, ambient light, diffuse reflections, specular light and shadow. With knowledge and practise you can represent the shapes you want in the materials you want.

There's a wealth of learning material out there and a handy forum or two where you can get pointers on this stuff.

After that you can start building things out of simple shapes. Hair may be made of a bunch of cones for example. Or you might think of it like a section of sphere with some texture, or a collection of flat and curved panels, or deformed spheres, or... And so on.

I mean, that's one approach.

Once you have some techniques you can draw from it's not just a case of "messing around" until you get a result, it can be a much more directed process. (Although I guess there's often a bit of messing around involved in any novel creative process...)

I've seen so many different ways of approaching pixel art. Some people start in 3D and trace it (like the awesome-looking zombie game in this forum at the moment). Some people use visual references like photographs. Some may use mannequins, line drawings, sketches or other forms of art to create something as a reference, or trace from it. Some people just pile in with an idea.

As far as colour goes, it's complete pain in the ass for me. I can spend hours trying out different palettes. There are some techniques that help though. Colour theory can direct you towards a palette that's pleasing and not too confusing. If you take into account things like the distance from the viewer, where you want attention to be directed in a scene, primary and secondary light sources etc, you can get an insight into how to handle contrast, saturation and the like.

So I guess an open-ended question gets an open-ended answer... Good luck, and share your journey here if you like!
« Last Edit: April 17, 2020, 08:35:06 am by Chonky Pixel »

Offline Gypsy

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Re: How to shade and color characters

Reply #5 on: April 17, 2020, 08:45:09 am
@heyguy

I'm using Terranigma because its the game on my mind the most right now, having finally beat Chrono Trigger, Terranigma is the game I'm tackling next, but my issues can apply to almost any character I feel.

I've been drawing quite a few characters and objects frequently, but while walls and some objects are starting to make sense and I can see a pattern in, characters are a much slower process I feel, especially the hair.

To be honest tho, characters are like trees in the sense that there's more than one way to draw a leaf or an eye, hair, and so on. I get that the learning process is slower, but the shading process is the real pain in the ass. Gotta keep doing it then!

Btw, how would you recommend I keep practicing characters? Do I draw body proportions and then chisel inside and color everything, or stare at the reference and copy it pixel by pixel?

@Chonky Pixel
Will do, thanks for the advice as usual, hopefully there will be art worth sharing in the future. Currently mimicking other people's style as I learn my way around things, so I hope in the future there will be something unique to share.

« Last Edit: April 17, 2020, 09:35:49 am by Gypsy »

Offline EvilEye

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Re: How to shade and color characters

Reply #6 on: April 18, 2020, 08:53:52 am
Btw, how would you recommend I keep practicing characters? Do I draw body proportions and then chisel inside and color everything, or stare at the reference and copy it pixel by pixel?

If you want to make something like the character in Terranigma I would recommend just starting with shapes. Put the shape of the head on one layer. Then below that the shape of the body. All in one color. Look a that and make sure it's right. Once you're sure it looks right at that very basic shape level, then go ahead and fill in the details. Pixel art is 2 skills combined into one. Regular art + Puzzle solving. So it's not as easy as just copying details like you would with line art.