AuthorTopic: Castles and clouds  (Read 677 times)

Offline cels

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Castles and clouds

on: February 03, 2021, 03:34:45 pm
Hi, I'm CELS. You may remember me from threads like this one and this one. Or not. I haven't posted here in a long time. I hope some familiar faces are still here.  ;D

Anyway, I'm starting to pixel again and I'd really appreciate a critique of this latest work.



The animal is still just a crude sketch, but I'd appreciate feedback on other elements. Especially texture / rendering and colors.

References here:



Thanks!

Offline eliddell

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Re: Castles and clouds

Reply #1 on: February 04, 2021, 01:47:11 am
It's been kind of quiet around here lately.  I've been posting a lot of crits (after an absence of years) in the hope that it will inspire other people to do the same, if only to tell me I'm an incompetent idiot and they can do a far better job of critiquing a piece. ;)

The first thing I notice about this artwork is the lack of any strong darks anywhere except in the frame.  Maybe the washed-out look is intentional, I don't know.  If it isn't, the foreground items (ox and cart) should have stronger shadows.

The other thing I notice is the clouds.  They're not awful or anything, but the rounded shapes you've used to depict them don't really reflect the wispy quality of the cirrus (?I think those are cirrus) clouds in your reference.  Not sure how to go about fixing that, if it even matters to you.

(The third thing I notice is that your ox is hovering above the ground, although that might be an artefact of his "rough sketch" state.  Poor thing needs hooves, unless you want to add in grass or dust or something to hide his feet.)

Other than that, I can't find any other nits to pick.  It's a pretty darned good picture.
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Offline cels

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Re: Castles and clouds

Reply #2 on: February 05, 2021, 02:38:33 am
It's been kind of quiet around here lately.  I've been posting a lot of crits (after an absence of years) in the hope that it will inspire other people to do the same, if only to tell me I'm an incompetent idiot and they can do a far better job of critiquing a piece. ;)

Hah, I can appreciate that. I took a break from the pixel art scene a while back for similar reasons. I'll try to help keep the ball rolling.

The first thing I notice about this artwork is the lack of any strong darks anywhere except in the frame.  Maybe the washed-out look is intentional, I don't know.  If it isn't, the foreground items (ox and cart) should have stronger shadows.
The other thing I notice is the clouds.  They're not awful or anything, but the rounded shapes you've used to depict them don't really reflect the wispy quality of the cirrus (?I think those are cirrus) clouds in your reference.  Not sure how to go about fixing that, if it even matters to you.
Thanks a lot, that really helps!  ;D

I definitely agree about the lack of strong darks in the foreground. That is not intentional, it's just a silly mistake I keep making.

I'm also not in love with how I've textured the clouds. It's surprisingly hard to find good references for how to pixel this using a small space (if I had a 500 x 500 canvas it would be easier), but I'll try to get rid of the rounded shapes and see if I can make it resemble the reference. It definitely does matter, because I'm trying to experiment with new styles of pixelling clouds. I didn't want to do the usual cartoon ones.


(The third thing I notice is that your ox is hovering above the ground, although that might be an artefact of his "rough sketch" state.  Poor thing needs hooves, unless you want to add in grass or dust or something to hide his feet.)
Other than that, I can't find any other nits to pick.  It's a pretty darned good picture.
Thanks! I guess it's possible that those animals have hooves, even though they're not shown in the reference picture. I will have to look into that.   :P

Offline cels

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Re: Castles and clouds

Reply #3 on: February 07, 2021, 02:26:48 pm
Quick update. Have confirmed that wisents have hooves. Not sure where to go from here. The reference picture is actually a combination of cirrus clouds and altocumulus / cirrocumulus, I think. So both the whispy, stretched, elegant clouds and the dotted tiny cotton balls.

I'm finding it tricky to translate this to pixel art, but I'm still working on it.

« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 02:29:19 pm by cels »

Offline eishiya

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Re: Castles and clouds

Reply #4 on: February 08, 2021, 12:24:58 am
For the clouds, I think it might help to have a bit more space with the solid blue sky visible between the waves/rows of clouds. As it is, the sky reads more like water or some other continuous textured surface, rather than white clouds against a blue background of sky.

Of the three versions you posted, I think the middle one looks most like clouds,  because they're less regular.

I also wonder if perhaps making the sky lighter overall might help, with whiter clouds and a less dark blue for the sky. The sky doesn't quite match the rest of the scene right now because it's so high-contrast. When using photo reference, you need to be critical about the colours, as they're often edited in a way that helps the photo's composition, but may work against your goals. Since you're going for a hazy look for the distant parts of the scene, the sky should also be affected by that.


The highlights on the flat sides of the wagon wheels feel a bit out of place, being so well-defined and sharp, when the rest of the image has such subtle and soft rendering. They draw a lot of attention to themselves as a result, which doesn't seem intentional.

Offline eliddell

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Re: Castles and clouds

Reply #5 on: February 08, 2021, 05:26:17 pm
That one purple in the shadows is maybe a little more vivid than I would have chosen (feels too red, especially, given that the next-lighter colour in the ramp is a blue-grey), but then I suck at choosing hue/saturation for those kinds of applications.  One of the reasons I'll never be more than mediocre at art.  The wisent and cart have improved overall, in my not-so-humble opinion.

I think eishiya's right about the sky being too regular.  Again, back to your reference:  the clouds in the photo come in wide and narrow strips, and some of the strips curve and branch.  They show varying amounts and intensities of sky between them.  You have mostly-straight cloud strips of about the same width and with about the same gap between them, all radiating from a common center without any branching or much curving (leftmost version shows a little curve, but has the same problems of uniformity otherwise).
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Offline bengo

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Re: Castles and clouds

Reply #6 on: February 20, 2021, 12:44:53 am



This edit took me a bit longer than expected, so I hope it helps! For environments like this it's important to group everything into their own value groups, you also want to think about where the most contrast should be (most contrast should ideally be where the focal point is). So places of less interest give less value contrast (like the clouds or mountains) and areas of interest give more contrast. I have always been a big proponent of strong, immediate reads and it's something a lot of environment artists do so I think you want to be able to tell what the big shapes are.

Your clouds and elements should not be randomly placed or sized the same they should be placed with purpose and size varied to give the illusion of depth. They should also be repeated. Don't just put one statue, put multiple and use it as a way to point to the focal point/destination in this case it can also help give depth because it's size reference. As for the clouds, you also want the clouds to point towards the focal point, not randomly placed about. You're directing a scene here, a composition, you're trying to guide the viewer on where to look.

I didn't do it too much here since it's simply an edit but typically you want more detail for what's closer to the viewer and less/simplified detail for things further away. You want to think about the narrative as well- the snow element could be pushed why is it only in one area? These are travellers that have been on the road for awhile correct? So they'd like encounter snow they're obviously cold. You can use the cold exterior to contrast with the warm exterior of the wagon. Where would snow fall? Where would it stay? Etc. You're telling a story though this image so utilize that. Having multiple statues is also a way to show what kind of city this is, maybe the statues are purposely used to advertise which way to go for these sellers.

Something else I didn't do here too much but you can keep in mind is where you put your saturation. You usually want more saturation for focal points and less for areas that aren't focal points. The sky in yours right now is super saturated and has some varied values same with the mountains. Don't forget atmospheric perspective is here too!

I hope this helps, excited to see the next update!

PS Thinking about it, you could add breath fog to the animal and make sure it has snow on there as well. I would've added it but didn't want to spend forever on it.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2021, 01:30:00 am by bengo »