AuthorTopic: Windsong Sprite Revamp  (Read 14384 times)

Offline TrevoriuS

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #10 on: May 06, 2008, 09:48:39 pm
Well lets at least give the guy the comments he want instead of critisizing work methods he can't derive from because he has specifications from the Wesnoth game.

Have you ever asked yourself - "Do I need colours to see it?", well here goes.

Now we discover more easily, that the lightest/ligher robes lack a bit of contrast. Even when an object is white, it will have a darker shadow than that. It's a gif so you can notice the difference by the way. I roughly added some darkness to define more of the depth (not paying too much attention on volumes though). Therefore I personally do not make full use of AdamAtomics method (did do so) simply because you lose the structural function of colour - you only build on volumes and depth there, while colours can define alot as well, sometimes allowing you to 'cheat', necessary because of the small sizes you may be working on.

Of course you never need to be completely independant of colours, colours are a good thing, they add to your work, and you can build upon it as well. But when doubting quality of definition, it is a good way te see what's wrong in the shapes & shades to turn your image greyscale. Now the error in the new (lower colour counting) work is that you lost some important lines around the neck and chin in an attempt to shade with too high contrasting colours. Also the boots are more sloppily shaded and have less volume-guided highlights which make them lose their shape.

Good luck with this, I tried Wesnoth a while ago and am curious to see how this would play,
Trevor

License agreement note that these comments are created by personal opinions and people may completely disagree with me, though I derived my opinions from experience and explanations of people that are more experienced than me.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2008, 09:52:31 pm by TrevoriuS »

Offline megane

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #11 on: May 06, 2008, 10:12:48 pm

Tried AdamAtomic's method; right is just a recolor thereof.  Now it's time for sleep. -_-
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Offline Feron

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #12 on: May 06, 2008, 10:41:11 pm
that looks 100x better  :P

Offline AdamAtomic

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #13 on: May 06, 2008, 11:16:15 pm
Hey!  That looks way better :D  great job megane, keep at it!

Offline Helm

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #14 on: May 07, 2008, 08:02:35 am
Hello. Here's some critique.

- slow animation, be patient, or open in an animation program.

If you think my edit looks better, you might ask yourself what did I do? What I did was to apply principles of pixel art. There is going to be a large post coming up (need to restart), so grab some coffee and sacrifice a goat while I do that.

Offline robotacon

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #15 on: May 07, 2008, 08:22:00 am
Also, it turns out quite nice when you draw at 200% - 400% size and then shrink it to the desired boundaries.

I'd like to see an example of this where it works.

I have a couple of ideas of how it could be done using masking and what not but honestly I've yet to see anyone do shinking of pixelart that looks good.
If you rely on retouching shrunken pixel art then why not draw it small to begin with?

Offline Helm

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #16 on: May 07, 2008, 08:41:27 am
Alright, restart done, codecs work, I'm letting GENS renderer this avi and I'll give you the rundown in the meanwhile. First of all, welcome to pixelation! This isn't a place like other places, it's a place of magic!

Let's talk about what a video game sprite does. Before we discuss how it is as a collection of color, we need to discuss its quality in gameplay terms. The first and most important thing a sprite must do, aesthetic considerations aside, is read well. So the player knows what he's looking at and how it works, which is the business end of the pike, so on. In this term how does your current sprite above fare? Pretty well! I can tell it's a girl with an anime haircut, holding an elaborate weapon, that she is in her battle stance and that she's wearing bright purple armor. This is good, a lot of game art doesn't even arrive to this much. However there is much more you can do with this. Let's talk pose, is this a grounded stance? It looks a bit wobly to me, and she seems to be leaning forward also. I think if you try to hold this pose in real life, you'll fall down. It's mid-squat but the legs do not seem to suggest the needed curve so her center of gravity is supported. This is a common effect, she seems to be sitting on an invincible stool. I changed the pose to something more grounded. The upper body now, though how she holds the weapon is probably how you'd hold this weapon, is this a battle-worthy weild? When she thrusts forward with that thing, do her arms have the space to extend the thrust properly? Is her body going to move forward with it, giving it the necessary momentum to pierce? Furthermore, as in any martial arts school, she'd be in a sideways position relative to the enemy and will have her fore leg and fore arm in between them to maximise cover and minimise space she can get attacked in. Is that limp fore arm in a good position to deflect strikes? I pulled the hand up and coiled it, ready to both deflect and extend with the necessary force to pierce. The far arm was also tucked in and made a sensible length, as in your version the length suggested reaches far below the knee. I pulled the whole upper body 3 pixels to the northwest so she seems in balance and has the room to thrust forward if needed be.

That's it as far as stance critique goes. These are the issues that elevate a sprite from just being there, to feeling purposeful. The player will not appreciate these things consciously, but he will unconsciously. He will leave the game with an impression that the sprites and presentation was vivid, realistic and alive, though it's just a bunch of pixels, and the aesthetic is relatively safe-anime. That labouring in the fine aspects of the craft gives your art a level of class, regardless of what aesthetic you're going for.

As far as shaping goes now. In this sprite, how big do you think a pixel is? Since an arm is made of 5x5 pixels, let's go with 5 cm per pixel or so. That's a big ratio, and suddenly a single pixel has great strength to alter a shape by being or not being there, being a pixel lower or higher, so on. Groups of pixels have even more power, and their shapes do most of the work to suggest volume, contour and texture. Speaking of texture on this size, you did well to simply forget about straight-ahead rendering it and instead implying it. There's no sense to try this for such a small size. Instead we have simple planes, lit and rendered according to their volumetric qualities. How do you fare on this respect? Passably good, but it needs a bit of work.  Let's talk about banana-legs. Is that a shape you want for a leg? Does it suggest the firm stance of a warrior? An abstraction of course is necessary at this size, you can't very well go in and pixel toes and veins, but you can certainly imply a heel in there. The heel is the most powerful part of the lower leg, and all you will do as a pikeman will be to plant them down and thrust from them straight to your upper body. Likewise, this whole sprite is too 'round', too 'soft'. Not a warrior, but an anime plush toy. You shade everything equally, almost a bit pilloshaded, so the gal seems flat. There is a severe lack of contrast and depth to this piece, and this is amended by not treating an 'arm' in your brain as 'flat color, then outline it, then put an even highlight on it' but as a collection of blobs of color, shaped with intent, where pieces of them will cast shadows on other pieces and where your biggest strength is implying volume by going from dark, to light. You do this wonderfully on the skirt for examle, where the body and spear cast a shadow, but the arms are a bit messy, and the legs are not volumetrically considered well enough. You'll see in my edit that both far leg and far arm are darker than the fore ones, and that I tightened up all the shading. Your shading is noisy, you haven't spent enough time with your pixels, you don't know yet what they can do. There is no shortcut to this, you have to do what you are doing for a few years, and then you'll look back on your pixel art today and you'll go 'jesus christ, that's some careless pixel placement'. Again, careful a single pixel placement means nothing to the consciousness, but it's a cumulative effort and eventually the subconsciousness knows it is looking at something robust, intentful and real. Not real as in 'realistic', real as in achieved, reached an end, serviced an end. Final.

And a few words about pixel art tricks. Look at your palette entries next to the art and look at mine. Do you see waste of resources? Do you see lack of control? Do you see lack of intention? These things are the bane of the medium. It must not only look like pixel art. It must be pixel art. Otherwise it's just wastefully 'retro' "omg it looks like snes art, my nostalgia, I can feel it swelling up!". That is meaningless and best left to the intellectually bankrupt. What matters is that it has the grace of what almost a decade of continued research and application of the modern form of pixel art has to lend it. We don't need to do this, in the era of millions of colors and 3d, yet we do. Why is that? To make the art real, to make it reach its desired end. Tighten up your color usage. Travel the whole range of contrast available to you, from black to white. Later on you'll say 'you know what helm, fuck that, this piece needs an etherial quality so I won't use pure black, and my top shade will be a bright gray' and more power to you. This piece here doesn't need an etherial quality, nor was such intended. Right now the colors you're using confuse the forms, though not too much. Close one eye and defocus the other and look at your piece and mine (might have to zoom them back a bit to do so) and think about which of the two reads best. You don't need too many hues to work with for game art, what you need is strong contrast to portray depth and shape. NES art is in some ways so much more Final than the blurry snes art that followed. If you cannot do it with 3 colors, you will not be able to do it with 16 or 256 when it comes to small sprites. The smallest the more difficult.

Think about the power of the outline in these sizes. Look how I am separating the spear from the body behind it. That might be for you a useful effect, yet you don't want full outlnies all around the sprite, and you definitely don't want that selout madness that capcom does because it kills puppy souls, so what do you do? I use light-dependent outlines. This means that since the implied lightsource here is above, the darker parts of the outlines are below. On the top outlines tend to almost dissolve into the bodies of color they're contouring, but not completely. If you check my piece against any background color you want, from the pleasingly vague pure black to the warshest pure white you'll see all the parts still read and there are no annoying jaggies. This is kinda difficult to get a hold of, but it's worthwhile.

Offline megane

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #17 on: May 07, 2008, 08:02:35 pm
New: Old: Helm's:
I tried to edit mine and sort of imitate the stance you created, but I ended up having her stand even more upright, and I'm not sure I accomplished all the things you suggested.  However, this one makes the old one look like she's falling asleep, so I guess that's good.

I'm still not sure I get the palette bit.  I'm pretty much unable to see any rhyme or reason in Helm's selections... :sry:  Oh, and the purple's obnoxious, I know, but there's a very specific set of colors required by the recoloring engine, so there's not much to be done about it.
Edit: looking at it now, maybe I should knock the second- and/or third-darkest blue-greys down a bit? Hmm.
Edit again: maybe my screen is too dark?  Hmmmmm. :-\
Edit plus plus: fixed the skirt.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2008, 09:30:34 pm by megane »
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Offline Helm

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #18 on: May 07, 2008, 09:23:08 pm
The new one is much better in my opinion. I like the lower legs you did more than mine. I object to the selout pixels on the hair and I still think the contrast could be pushed a bit on flesh shades and lower outlines, but it's a matter of taste from a point onwards. Be careful of how the dress drapes over the right (ours) leg, it's not following the rounded shape of the thigh and like that, displaces the leg and suggests an untrue angle.

Coming along. Search the forum for 'color theory' for some interesting posts on colors.

Offline Serendor

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Re: Windsong Sprite Revamp

Reply #19 on: May 07, 2008, 10:08:53 pm
That was really interesting to read Helm. I couldn't imagine it was so many "errors"

megane, the newest one is really cool! and by far better than the previous.

/Albin