AuthorTopic: Feedback on a boardgame-based pixel art  (Read 549 times)

Offline squares_and_lines

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Feedback on a boardgame-based pixel art

on: May 27, 2020, 11:07:55 am
Hi, I started pixel art this month. How can I improve the piece?
I'm still working on the floor and skys. Are the buildings clear enough? Should I use outlines?



Also, if you liked it and/or want to check my progress, check this out

Offline Chonky Pixel

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Re: Feedback on a boardgame-based pixel art

Reply #1 on: May 31, 2020, 10:04:34 am
I like this, there's a cleanness to the lines.

Can you tell me what the theory is behind the diagonal bands of darkness?

Offline squares_and_lines

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Re: Feedback on a boardgame-based pixel art

Reply #2 on: May 31, 2020, 08:53:27 pm
None... it was supposed to make the left side brighter and the right side darker only. Because I wasn't sure how to shade it properly

Offline Chonky Pixel

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Re: Feedback on a boardgame-based pixel art

Reply #3 on: June 01, 2020, 06:37:46 am
I thought so.

It's a valid technique. If I were going to use this kind of thing, I would apply it only to the layer with foreground elements and avoid the sky. Depending on your package, you can do things like:

 - use the wand tool in non-contiguous mode to select the sky, move to the gradient layer and delete.
Or
 - after selecting the sky you could invert the selection, create a new layer and create the gradient.

(The first will delete parts of the gradient you don't want, the second will only allow the gradient to be applied to the areas you want.)

I would avoid the sky because the bands of dark blue look unnatural.

All that said, and to quote Eishiya on a nearby thread, "You will almost always get better results by manually choosing your colours instead of trying to blend a particular colour over them."

The main trouble with your image here is that the diagonal bands cut across your flat surfaces. Having two shades together like this gives the impression either of a corner, a shadow, or something recessed (like the stairways you added deliberately.) And they're all in wrong places.

I might experiment with some simple rules like:

 - Start on the left using the brightest shades for each building.
 - As I move right, check: is there a building to the left of the building I'm shading? If so, use a set of shades one value(*) lower than the building on the left.

* By value, I mean a value in the chosen colour palette, not a point on the HSV value slider.

This process may give an effect close to what you want. Or it may have to be adapted to give an overall pleasing colour balance, like by using similar shades for some middle buildings for example. You will have to feel your way around.

If it does end up giving a result you like, you could think about shadows. As the light is coming from the top-left, shadows will follow diagonal lines from the top-left to the bottom-right. Another problem I see with the gradient technique is that it creates things that look like shadows, but make no sense according to the light source. They're going the wrong way. If you carefully apply shadows by hand you can use them to give a lot more depth to the image.

I suppose there's a half-way-house technique where you apply the gradient, then go through image and fix issues. So, if a gradient cuts through a building wall, choose a shade and make the wall a solid colour. Use the tool to give a head-start, then tidy up.

A couple of reasons not to use a gradient in my opinion:

 - It can give a flat-looking palette. If you choose your colours by hand you can, for example, tint your brighter colours towards yellow/orange and your darker colours towards blue/purple. This 'hue shifting' can really bring an image to life if done sensitively. Or blatantly depending on the style of the image. I mean, sometimes you want the palette to be flat, depends on the image.

 - The computer is choosing the HSV of your pixels and the number of shades in your palette. Some people consider this to be breaking the aesthetic of pixel art, a style which could be characterised as "the artist having conscious control over the contents of each pixel."

The Pixel Joint pixel art primer describes this second point well. https://pixeljoint.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=11299

In fact, if you submitted this image to the Pixel Joint gallery it would probably be rejected because of obvious use of a gradient tool. (I've had that happen to me.)

Why is this important? Well, depending on the situation it probably isn't. In a game nobody will care if you've used a gradient tool. On the other hand, people tend to strive for a reduced colour count in pixel art. Using too many shades can lead to a messy image, and using fewer shades deliberately can, in my opinion, make things look more like pixel art. And also "better". Either way, I believe it's a very useful skill to be able to shade using a limited palette, so I think it's worth practising and experimenting with.

I hope you find something useful in there, and, if you do try shading by hand, that you find a process that works for you. Let me know if you're interested in me putting my money where my mouth is and trying an edit. :)
« Last Edit: June 01, 2020, 06:40:21 am by Chonky Pixel »

Offline squares_and_lines

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Re: Feedback on a boardgame-based pixel art

Reply #4 on: June 01, 2020, 07:26:30 pm
Thank you for the reply, I'll try to shade every wall. But I have a question, the walls are all in a 45 angle, should all of them be the same color?

Also, the stairs weren't random, they represent the piece of the board game, you can check it here.
Here is where they lead to:

Offline SeinRuhe

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Re: Feedback on a boardgame-based pixel art

Reply #5 on: June 02, 2020, 02:45:30 am
Hey, this look quite good, what little I can contribute with my limited knowledge is:

  • You are not using outlines or dithering on the buildings, keep it that way with the blue domes
  • Use less saturated colors on the blue roofs, they'll match better with the white on the walls

Of course this is a personal prefference, feel free to leave it or take it <3

Here's a little edit of the roof:

Offline Chonky Pixel

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Re: Feedback on a boardgame-based pixel art

Reply #6 on: June 02, 2020, 09:56:28 am
"Also, the stairs weren't random, they represent the piece of the board game, you can check it here."

I didn't think they were. I believe I said they were added deliberately.

"But I have a question, the walls are all in a 45 angle, should all of them be the same color?"

If you ignore the kind of gradient effect you originally applied and you ignore shadows, then all walls pointing in the same direction should be the same colour I guess.

"they represent the piece of the board game, you can check it here."

This puts things in a different light. As it were.

What do you want the final work to be or do? Is it a piece of art based on the game, or is it going to be sprites for a game? If the former, then deliberately shading your pieces will work. If it's for the latter then shading by hand will make things really tricky when you want to move pieces around. In that case you could look at the game engine to see if there's a way to get the effect you want. Some will allow lighting effects of different types. Or possibly you could code up similar kind of shading process to the one I described in an earlier comment. That's not my really area though, I haven't had much experience with lighting in game engines.

I echo SeinRuhe's comments about the domes. The originals don't really gel with the image and the edit is a lot better. The palette works better with the walls IMO. What material do you imagine they should be made of? This will help determine the type of shading and texture you need to apply to them.

Offline squares_and_lines

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Re: Feedback on a boardgame-based pixel art

Reply #7 on: June 02, 2020, 12:54:38 pm
Hey, this look quite good, what little I can contribute with my limited knowledge is:

  • You are not using outlines or dithering on the buildings, keep it that way with the blue domes
  • Use less saturated colors on the blue roofs, they'll match better with the white on the walls

Of course this is a personal prefference, feel free to leave it or take it <3

Here's a little edit of the roof:



Thank you! I loved the roof!