AuthorTopic: Just Some Space Western Spaceships— Critique and Help Wanted  (Read 435 times)

Offline Capuleten

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Hey guys! This is kind of scary because all the art here is so good, but I'm brand new to pixel art and this is the first thing I've made— just a little mockup of a space western ship design with retractable dragonfly wings, and some cool little variations on the design for different purposes. I made this using GIMP 2.10.10. The original background was a dark navyish-grey, but the tip here says to post with a 50% grey background, so I've subbed that in instead for critique purposes.

The thing is, I've just sort of rushed into this half-blindly with only a few youtube videos to go by, and I've never really done visual art at all before now, so I'm going in blind and figuring out stuff like shading as I go. What I need, in short, is a community of people who know what they're talking about to tell me what I'm doing "wrong," what I'm doing right, and some tips on how to improve. Shading, especially, was tricky to figure out for this, haha. I'm particularly proud of the two little side-profile scenes with characters, and working with very limited pixels to make the character designs was very fun!

It's great to meet everyone here, and I hope to be posting some more progress as time goes by!

EDIT: I'm not sure why the image attached twice... that must have been my bad! There's no difference between the two images, so don't worry about that. :)
« Last Edit: April 14, 2021, 07:48:08 am by Capuleten »

Offline cels

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No replies yet and it's probably because you set the bar a little high. Maybe no one wants to claim (or admit) that they know what they're talking about. And generally, the people who really know what they're talking about are too busy doing professional work to post in every thread over years and years. So I hope you're not discouraged by the lack of replies or the fact that the first reply is from someone who doesn't know what he's talking about. Take the following with a great deal of salt. ;D

The first thing I notice is that you're dealing with very unusual, small and intricate shapes. Those three things are hard to pull off together. If you want something small and intricate, it should be a shape people are familiar with (e.g. a chess piece or a portrait). If you want something unusual and small (like a house made from donuts), it should not be intricate, it should be simplified.

Looking at the top view, I think it's hard for me to wrap my head around what the shape of the ship is. It looks like an abstract geometrical pattern. I can't tell if it's shaped like a cone, a slice of pizza or a butterfly, unless I have the side profile to compare with. And again, the shape is small, unusual and intricate. It doesn't look like a typical rocket or X-wing or Raptor-esque fighter. I can't tell if the wings are flat or vertical surfaces or concave.

Finally, I should say that using more bulky and less intricate shapes allows you to add more detail (e.g. rivets, decals, plating, etc) which can be more visually interesting than a bunch of smooth shapes stuck together.

That being said, I really do applaud you for coming up with an unusual design. The side profiles are really nice. Look forward to seeing how you develop this.

PS: Imgur.com is good for hosting images and linking directly.  ;D



My edit may not be better but my eyes at least find it easier to understand the shape of my ship. It's kind of flat, sloping down on certain edges.

Final advice: 90% of new pixel artists (definitely including myself) try to add too much detail and try to experiment with dithering on small surfaces to add shade or texture. In the end it becomes too noisy, the dithering doesn't really do anything and the shape is lost. That is always something to watch out for.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2021, 10:57:13 am by cels »

Offline eliddell

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Okay, so my first question is, where's your light source?  Some of your ship appears to be lit from forward-right, some of it from behind, and there's some bits around the tail and wings that I can't make heads nor tails of.  That may be part of why it's difficult to make out the form of the ship.

If you're trying to depict two light sources (like a general light source plus a rocket flame), my advice would be . . . don't do it if you can avoid it, and if you absoutely must, make one light dimmer (so that it casts fewer highlights) and, if possible, of a different colour than the other, so the highlights can be differentiated.
If anything I've said here has been useful to you, please pay it forward by critting someone else.

Offline JayKnox

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Made a second edit of the edit that cels made, just separating more of the ships shape so it doesn't look like its all one unbroken piece. Definitely agree with the edits made to the jet flame. Engine fire should look more conical if you want it to look like a jet/rocket engine. Having the rear flame look like campfire-style fire makes everything look much slower-moving.

Offline Capuleten

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No replies yet and it's probably because you set the bar a little high... That is always something to watch out for.



Made a second edit of the edit that cels made..

Thanks for the advice and tips! This is really helpful and I'll try to keep this in mind going forward :)
Also, yeah, those "wings" are meant to be a sort of round-ish casing for the "dragonfly" extendable wings, the blue thing there, which is what actually gives it lift in-atmosphere, where wings are necessary.

Okay, so my first question is, where's your light source?

I'll be honest, light source is something I'm really struggling with. Just visualizing something like light source is hard for me, even with reference photos. I guess it's something that just takes practice? I'm trying to show the top view ship as lit from sort of above and to the front-right, but the fire complicates things. Any tips on stabilizing how to represent light on a reflective surface like a metal vehicle?

Offline cels

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Visualising light sources for complex objects, especially if you have multiple light sources, is really difficult. However, one easy way is to use a simple 3D program like Google Sketchup to make a very basic model and then adjust the light source. I mean, even professional animators use 3D models and physical models as references to animate. But I think it's good advice to start with a single light source, especially on a small sprite.

Another way is to practice on simple shapes, portraits, real life objects in your living room and eventually your brain will just rewire itself. But that takes time. On the other hand, making models takes time too.