AuthorTopic: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)  (Read 899 times)

Offline SeDiceBisonte

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 25
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • https://pixeljoint.com/p/209146.htm
    • View Profile

Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

on: May 06, 2020, 03:37:08 pm
Hello,

New pixeler here, looking to become part of the community and learn what I can! I have always had an interest in art and it's something I did for school and for fun until I went to uni and stopped (some time ago, now). I've also had an interest in pixel art for a long time and have decided to use my lockdown time more productively by producing some art and learning how to improve.

Here's a portrait I did of Ripley from Alien. It's based on the source photo on the right. I'm not too worried about the fact I've stuck so closely to the reference as my main goals were learning how to work with a restricted palette and how to render and imply forms and details at the pixel level.



I will attempt to improve this based on any critique I receive. Here are a few notes regarding areas I struggled with and some (questionable?) decisions I made:

The palette has a big jump in it between the second darkest shade and the next one along. The 'elongated' dithering was intended to ease transitions between these colours while evoking scan lines for that retro sci-fi feel, but other areas feel slightly wrong where dithering wasn't possible. The lips seem a bit too full in my version, for example, but I feel I've removed as much of the darker shades as possible without the mouth not reading properly.

I feel like the watch is a complete mess, but I wasn't sure how to go about improving it after my third attempt. I can see that the section on the right doesn't match the angle from the photo, but what's more important to me is that it doesn't feel completely at home in my piece. It lacks harmony.

The wrist probably has too much dithering on it but the big jump in the palette left me feeling like there wasn't an alternative.

Thanks for looking at this. I look forward to any comments!
« Last Edit: May 07, 2020, 09:28:52 am by SeDiceBisonte »

Offline DTE462

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 70
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile

Re: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

Reply #1 on: May 08, 2020, 05:22:18 am
This is great. The teeth are really well done. After studying the piece that's the part I'm most impressed with (or rather jealous of). And the shadow on the neck throat area has some well done shading too.

The things that stand out as being problems:

1) Hair. But I definitely see the decision to use less detail. I still wonder what a bit of detail would do.
2) That bright highlight above her right eye stands out. It's easy for me to say simplify it, but maybe you've already tried that and you settled on what you did.
3) The watch was actually the first thing that stood out to me as not working, but then I looked at the original photo and I'd say you did a great job conveying whats there. In fact if you enlarge the photo it starts to pixelate anyway. So I'd say if you are trying to copy the photo exactly you did an excellent job, but if you want to take artistic license, I'd simplify that too so it reads better. It reads as a bracelet now instead of a watch.
4) I go back and forth on the dark shadow at her neck. I love the highlight and mid-tone colors meeting eachother, but then the dark tone is just a line with no dither. I think it works especially when you look at how the original photo shading is, but I think if there was a little bit more of a dither transition it may not stand out as being such a different color. But if that messed with how the left part and the middle part of her neck meet, then I'd leave it alone.

The eyes, nose and mouth look great (the parts that display her character/mood/personality). Other than the highlight above her right eye, the shading looks really natural to me. And this is a great example of how dither can work. I completely avoid dither because it always ends up looking like noise to me. This is a great lesson on how to use it effectively.

P.S I just noticed the necklace. Well done. It's got to be hard to convey subtlety with just 4 colors.

Offline Chonky Pixel

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 224
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • tequila_ben
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/187855.htm
    • https://www.facebook.com/chonkypixel/?modal=admin_todo_tour
    • View Profile
    • Chonky Pixel

Re: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

Reply #2 on: May 08, 2020, 11:52:47 am
This is a lovely piece. You've got some great detail In there, and done a really good job with the dithering using that limiting palette. I love the way it suggests scan-lines. Hats off!

Now I'm no great artist, far from it, but there are three things that immediately leap out at me.

1: Lips. You want to learn how to imply forms, but you're using a lot of outlining around the lips. When outlining isn't explicitly part of the style, it can look unprofessional to me when it's used to separate areas like this. I would try removing a few outline pixels and adding a few just at the edges of where your two difficult shades meet. For example:



My eye automatically fills in the shape, even though that mid-green bleeds into the rest of the face. YMMV. It's just an idea.

2: The way the original image is composed, you have the light skin, framed by dark hair and uniform, which itself is framed by light background. Honestly, I don't know if this follows any well-known conventions of composition or anything, but it does serve to make each element really easy to read and understand. By choosing a dark background, you've made the hair and uniform almost disappear. This seems like a shame to me, as you've got some great detail work in the uniform and the hair could be so much more! I'm sure you have your reasons though.

3: Jaggies! This is a bit of a personal bug-bear of mine, and some may think I'm being a bit too picky. But it's based on studying the artwork of pixel artists I admire, and jaggies are mentioned in the Pixel Joint pixel art primer so there's that. I just have to make lunch, but after that, I'll put a few examples together.

Offline Chonky Pixel

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 224
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • tequila_ben
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/187855.htm
    • https://www.facebook.com/chonkypixel/?modal=admin_todo_tour
    • View Profile
    • Chonky Pixel

Re: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

Reply #3 on: May 08, 2020, 01:18:28 pm
I've made a few subtle changes, mainly taking things that look a bit jagged, straight, line-like or harsh and trying to make them smoother or more curved. This is partly a taste thing, partly a technique, but these subtle changes can add up and give a lot more polish to a piece, if done sensitively of course.



Look under the eye, at the curl on the forehead, and the base of the nose.

On the right are some examples of the kinds of changes I'm making. Tapering the ends of staircases, smoothing out curves, turning little line segments into more satisfying shapes, and taking shapes made of right-angles and turning them into something softer.

Again, this is partly down to taste. Use too many hard angles, line segments, jaggies etc. in a piece that's all about curves (like this one) and it will start to look untidy. But how much time you spend removing them, that's up to you. If you go too far it can look a bit cartoony I guess. (Which is great for some styles.) And I have seen some great work that includes pretty obvious jaggies, so it's not like they can't ever be incorporated into a piece.

A while back I wrote a few "rules" about constructing curves in pixel art, which explains how to make things look curved without being jagged or untidy. If this interests you, I can dig it up.

Offline SeDiceBisonte

  • 0001
  • *
  • Posts: 25
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • https://pixeljoint.com/p/209146.htm
    • View Profile

Re: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

Reply #4 on: May 08, 2020, 03:15:27 pm
Thank you both for the excellent critiques!

Here's my current version, with the very important caveat that I haven't sorted out the jaggies or done anything with the hair yet (the nature of which is a bit different with the new background colour):


1) Hair. But I definitely see the decision to use less detail. I still wonder what a bit of detail would do.
2) That bright highlight above her right eye stands out. It's easy for me to say simplify it, but maybe you've already tried that and you settled on what you did.

I haven't ignored either of these points. For half of its life, the image actually had some scrawled details in the hair and it didn't feel quite right, but I never refined them. With the new background, I think adding detail into the hair might be overkill but I'm still considering it. What I will definitely do next is work more on the edges of the hair, which I didn't think was as important before. My original intention was to capture the frizzy curls with small sweeps done on my tablet and I barely refined them after that, but now they definitely need work to fit in with the lighter green. After that, I now feel like some subtle detailing around the outer edges of the hair might work very well.

As for the brow highlight, I have an idea why it may not be working. It's one of the areas where the shading goes against the scan line philosophy and the lines are vertical instead. That may be causing issues, or is the entire presence of that section of highlight problematic?

I've dramatically simplified the watch, having definitely chosen the artistic license route. It's still a bit rough but I think I've cracked the general way I need to go about it. I've tried to emphasize the screen and the octagonal shape to help it shout 'watch!' instead of 'bracelet!'

4) I go back and forth on the dark shadow at her neck. I love the highlight and mid-tone colors meeting each other, but then the dark tone is just a line with no dither.

That completely flew under my radar and I've hopefully addressed it. Thanks as well for the very kind comments.

1: Lips. You want to learn how to imply forms, but you're using a lot of outlining around the lips. When outlining isn't explicitly part of the style, it can look unprofessional to me when it's used to separate areas like this. I would try removing a few outline pixels and adding a few just at the edges of where your two difficult shades meet.

Thanks so much for the helpful edit. I agree about outlining and it's something I'd like to avoid with the style I'd like to develop. I'm worried I may have gone a little overboard in removing the outlines, but I do think it's improved the resemblance and still reads as a mouth. I suspect it's possible to get rid of more of the dark pixels on the left side of the mouth (for ease, I'm describing the sides of the image rather than the face) but my current attempts have suggested that they're all load-bearing as it currently stands. The new mouth also made me realize that the philtrum area was too long, so I've moved the face down above the mouth.

2: The way the original image is composed, you have the light skin, framed by dark hair and uniform, which itself is framed by light background. Honestly, I don't know if this follows any well-known conventions of composition or anything, but it does serve to make each element really easy to read and understand. By choosing a dark background, you've made the hair and uniform almost disappear. This seems like a shame to me, as you've got some great detail work in the uniform and the hair could be so much more! I'm sure you have your reasons though.

I think my reasons were subconscious and bad, and I should've tested out every colour in my arsenal as a backdrop just in case. Suggesting the lighter backdrop has really changed the whole piece and I agree that the jumpsuit and hair look much better now (although, as I mentioned earlier, I am now going to work extensively on the hair to make it fit with the new colour).

Regarding the jaggies, I am going to hunt them down but I wanted to post an update first in case I've broken anything in my new version. If the piece you wrote isn't too hard to find then I'd be very interested in reading it.

Thanks again!

Offline Chonky Pixel

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 224
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • tequila_ben
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/187855.htm
    • https://www.facebook.com/chonkypixel/?modal=admin_todo_tour
    • View Profile
    • Chonky Pixel

Re: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

Reply #5 on: May 08, 2020, 07:42:46 pm
Just a quick response. My opinion is that your instincts are right: you've perhaps gone a bit overboard on the lips. I liked it when the left and right extremes of the top lip were in shadow. (And you could probably get away with that as a deliberate lighting choice, as they curve down away from the light.) And while I can't stress enough that I'm no expert or great artist, I feel that the lips need something on either side to start off the suggestion of the form.

Currently, from a distance, the lips look to me like they're being pulled to the right.

Offline Chonky Pixel

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 224
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • tequila_ben
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/187855.htm
    • https://www.facebook.com/chonkypixel/?modal=admin_todo_tour
    • View Profile
    • Chonky Pixel

Re: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

Reply #6 on: May 08, 2020, 07:49:16 pm
How to do smooth curves. A lot of this applies to edges as well. Obviously if you need hard corners, a lot of these rules cease to apply. Since making this I have softened my opinion on point 4 (staircasing.) Sometimes it looks OK, sometimes it looks awful. Use judgement, and try to soften it if you can.

And remember these are just my opinions! :)



In the image above, the lines marked "A" are good. Each "step" in the line is the same length, so they look smooth and consistent.

The lines marked "B" have jaggies. By alternating between step sizes (for example sizes of 1 and 2) a rough impression is created. Of course, many line angles require this kind of jaggedness to work, so try to avoid those angles if you can. Or use some subtle antialiasing, but that's another subject entirely.

The shapes marked "1" show straight lines at angles to each other. So if you want a smooth curve, avoid breaking off your straight line at 45 degrees. (Unless you're doing really tight turns, see below.)

The curve marked "2" is good. There are no alternating steps, and we've kicked off from the straight line at less than 45 degrees. After that (and this is a new rule for curves) the step size never changes length by more than one pixel. In this case, the steps are "straight -> 2 -> 1 -> 1 -> 1 -> 2 -> straight."

The curve marked "3" has a few errors. You've got an angle at the top, a step change of 1 to 3, and even a 90-degree angle.

"4" shows staircasing, where a double thickness line creates an obvious staircase pattern. Try and avoid doing this as it really looks like you intend to emphasise the step shapes, rather than show a thick line at an angle or making a curve.

"5" shows multiple errors, which are fixed in "6" based on the rules above.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2020, 07:52:21 pm by Chonky Pixel »

Offline Chonky Pixel

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 224
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • tequila_ben
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/187855.htm
    • https://www.facebook.com/chonkypixel/?modal=admin_todo_tour
    • View Profile
    • Chonky Pixel

Re: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

Reply #7 on: May 08, 2020, 07:58:32 pm
Other quick thoughts:

I would experiment with using the horizontal style dither everywhere you need dither. I think it would help fix the bright patch on the forehead, and being consistent with your dithering is probably something to aim for?

I think you could carry that dither on the neck through into more of the dark shade. To me, it still looks like you're using two different styles of shading there. (Although I have been primed to see it by the other comments, so I may be over-sensitive to it now.)

Offline dpixel

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 289
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/20306.htm
    • View Profile

Re: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

Reply #8 on: May 09, 2020, 03:36:28 am
To my eyes, the nose is too wide and long and too low.  The mouth a bit to wide.
It's hard to get the exact likeness on these.  Nice work overall.

Edit:

Offline Chonky Pixel

  • 0010
  • *
  • Posts: 224
  • Karma: +1/-0
    • tequila_ben
    • http://pixeljoint.com/p/187855.htm
    • https://www.facebook.com/chonkypixel/?modal=admin_todo_tour
    • View Profile
    • Chonky Pixel

Re: Ellen Ripley (Gameboy Palette)

Reply #9 on: May 09, 2020, 08:55:23 am
Back to the lips briefly.

Here are a few examples of phantom shapes being defined by occasional dark shapes. I can definitely "see" the squares, triangles, stars and wireframe cubes, even though they're "white on white" and they don't actually exist. They're just implied by other shapes on the page.

https://hinessight.blogs.com/.a/6a00d83451c0aa69e201b7c6dc5caa970b-popup
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/483714816199553390/
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/295548794269272541/

I believe this is the visual effect we're playing with when we're trying to suggest lip shapes with a low colour palette. If so, we need to highlight and suggest the shape at its extremities, and at places where the shape might do something we don't expect. For lips, we're very familiar with how they work, so we only probably need to work at the edges.

But again, this is just an idea. :)

When you're applying these ideas, make sure you're actually improving your image (and check at different scales.) I can often find myself happily applying techniques, then suddenly realising my image looks overall much worse for it.