AuthorTopic: Some characters  (Read 5622 times)

Offline cels

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Some characters

on: April 25, 2021, 01:31:38 pm
Hai guys,
Could anyone help me out with these characters? I should be learning more anatomy and fundamentals before doing this stuff but I keep getting tempted to start new projects instead of practicing.

I'm particularly looking for crits in regards to anatomy and the robes but feel free to pick apart anything that looks ugly / wrong / in need of improvement. Don't worry about unnecessary colors, I'll deal with that later.



« Last Edit: April 26, 2021, 07:07:13 am by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #1 on: April 25, 2021, 09:30:49 pm
Nothing catches my eyes as "wrong"... very much the opposite. Cool designs!

Offline SeinRuhe

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Re: Some characters

Reply #2 on: April 26, 2021, 04:38:38 pm
Cels  :-* , as always your ideas are something to admire! Love the designs!

My only advice would be to in fact study anatomy, but even more important, study gesture. As I said, the designs are really great, you just loosen them up a bit, they all look as if they swallowed an umbrella :crazy:

Sadly I don't have much time for an edit so here's a pseudo sketch with no cleanup



Specifically, pay special attention to the spine and pelvis, those have a curvature like this:



(Taken from Imagine FX: How to draw and paint anatomy, page 33)
« Last Edit: April 26, 2021, 04:48:55 pm by SeinRuhe »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #3 on: April 26, 2021, 05:26:42 pm
@fskn: Thanks, dude!  ;D

@SeinRuhe: Oh man, thanks for that edit and the nice words! I definitely take your point and I feel more motivated to study gesture. I love the pose you did, it's more dynamic and interesting to look at than mine. Definitely makes me wonder what he's up to. Also it makes better use of the lighting and has better looking textiles.

I guess there's no quick way to insert more knowledge about gesture and anatomy into my piece but I appreciate the prod to go and study. When I'm more confident in my skills, I will try to do some loose and bold gestures. And I'll post a few simple pixel art practice pieces as I go along.

PS: At first I thought the X O X O was some kind of hidden Street Fighter 2 / Tekken combo. I'm such an old nerd.  :-[
« Last Edit: April 26, 2021, 05:28:13 pm by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #4 on: April 26, 2021, 08:39:06 pm
I decided to play around a little bit too, and I'm finding out that I'm quite fond of working on hands and faces...



The hands in particular are not the best thing ever, but I prefer giving them some definition rather than leaving as just blobs of paint. I mean, it's alright to leave them like that, but they're so expressive, it feels like a missed opportunity.

Mouths at this resolution are hard to do. I think I prefer leaving them more as an implied thing.

I love the guy's belt pouch by the way. Catching juuust a little bit of light.

---

Maybe darken this area to the right of the woman's arm?



---

One last quick edit for the woman's left hand, sorry:

« Last Edit: April 27, 2021, 08:28:02 am by fskn »

Offline SeinRuhe

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Re: Some characters

Reply #5 on: April 27, 2021, 03:06:56 am
Hahahaha @cels XOXO, Kisses and hugs <3 xD, By the way, there is a really fast way to learn gesture (30 something hours), or at least it worked like a charm for me, search at https://www.nma.art/ for a course called Dynamic Gesture Drawing by Glenn Vilppu, it's paid but worth every penny, you can find other great courses there, growth in drawing is directly translated as growth in pixel art!

If you are short on cash I recommend you to take the 15 days trial when you have time to finish the course I told you and cancel before they bill you, if you have spare money and time it is definitively a heck of investment.

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #6 on: April 27, 2021, 11:14:41 am
I decided to play around a little bit too, and I'm finding out that I'm quite fond of working on hands and faces...
The hands in particular are not the best thing ever, but I prefer giving them some definition rather than leaving as just blobs of paint. I mean, it's alright to leave them like that, but they're so expressive, it feels like a missed opportunity.
Mouths at this resolution are hard to do. I think I prefer leaving them more as an implied thing.
I love the guy's belt pouch by the way. Catching juuust a little bit of light.
Maybe darken this area to the right of the woman's arm?
One last quick edit for the woman's left hand, sorry:
Thanks a lot for taking the time and making me reconsider my choices. Ultimately I'm trying to find a style and a level of detail that finds the perfect balance between fidelity and economy, to the point where it becomes possible to animate without hiring a whole studio of animators. Of course, a professional pixel artist can work with a different speed than I can but I still have a vain hope that it'll be possible for me to make a small game some day. Just a little treat for me and my family to enjoy once in a while.

I also really enjoy the aesthetic of certain older pixel art games that left a lot to the imagination. Like the people in the game Flashback, who all have blank faces and rely on body language and dialogue to express emotion. Similarly with Prince of Persia and Another World. So I'm experimenting to see how much detail I can add before it becomes too much.

For example, the red peasant lady was supposed to look young but she looks old due to her dark eyes (which appear sunken), her clothes and the fact that highlighting her cheek bones makes her look like a crone / witch. How do you make a character look feminine and beautiful at this scale? Maybe you can't. Maybe I should do like Prince of Persia, where the princess is a blank face with long hair and a slender body. But then, what happens when you increase the size of the sprite to a height of 60 or 80 pixels? Is it better to do like Superbrothers or Narita Boy and take a 40 pixel tall abstract sprite and simply display it at 2X?

These are questions I'm playing around with right now. If a person is roughly eight heads tall, I guess I need to think about how many pixels I need to do different faces without making them cartoonish like Super Mario. At 80 pixels height, the head is roughly 10 pixels tall and the face is maybe 7-8 pixels.

I really liked what you did with the hands and the shadows and the man's face. For the woman's face, your version looks good but old. And I'm not sure if I can make her look young but I tried.



Hahahaha @cels XOXO, Kisses and hugs <3 xD, By the way, there is a really fast way to learn gesture (30 something hours), or at least it worked like a charm for me, search at https://www.nma.art/ for a course called Dynamic Gesture Drawing by Glenn Vilppu, it's paid but worth every penny, you can find other great courses there, growth in drawing is directly translated as growth in pixel art!
If you are short on cash I recommend you to take the 15 days trial when you have time to finish the course I told you and cancel before they bill you, if you have spare money and time it is definitively a heck of investment.
Yeah, I got the reference after a bit of thinking!  :crazy:

Thanks a lot for the suggestion! It's only 7 days trial now (I guess everyone finished their courses before they had to pay) but I will try it out and then hopefully become a paying member this summer when I have time to concentrate more fully on art. Or maybe I'll just stay a member after 7 days, if it's really working out.

And I agree that growth in drawing is directly translated as growth in pixel art. I find that stuff like landscapes and trees and clouds is easier to learn with pixel art than certain other mediums, because it's so easy to paint over and move stuff around and change the colors. But for drawing people, I think I need to practice more with pen and pencil again.

Btw I have uploaded this to the PJ gallery now. Over the next few weeks, I will concentrate on paper sketching and restrict myself to very small and simple pixel art that doesn't take up a lot of time.  8)

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #7 on: April 27, 2021, 03:02:50 pm
Oh, I didn't know she was meant to be young(er). But yeah, if that's the case, then you should (I THINK) try to make her face as soft and as simple as possible. The more detail you put in, the older she will look.

So, maybe something like one of these?



I know they're tiny little differences, but at this resolution, every pixel counts. xD
« Last Edit: April 27, 2021, 03:15:10 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #8 on: April 27, 2021, 04:06:29 pm
Great call! Why did I think giving her a huge honking nose would make her look young? I like all of those but I suppose I'm most partial to the 3rd and 4th. And I totally agree with you that each pixel counts at this scale. It makes me realize that you could actually have an adventure game with characters at this scale and be able to make fairly realistic yet different faces.

Thanks for taking the time! This helps not only for this piece but also to pick my preferred style going forward.  ;D

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #9 on: April 27, 2021, 05:57:26 pm
Glad you liked it!

As for the adventure game, The Secret of Monkey Island had smaller characters... but about the same size for their faces as yours.
https://www.spriters-resource.com/fullview/26971/
https://www.spriters-resource.com/fullview/19837/

So, yeah, you could definitely make an adventure out of those characters and have them move their mouths if you wanted to. Probably by just changing the value of their mouths slightly, picking the next or the other darker color on your ramp.

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #10 on: April 29, 2021, 07:41:16 am
That's a good tip but I think most Sierra and Lucas Arts adventure games have a style that is too cartoony for what I'm going for. I suppose that's why Flashback has blank faces - to avoid something cartoony. I'm just trying to see how much detail I can add before it looks like Leisure Suit Larry or something.  ;D

I've started on some more characters to fill up my time between tasks. Sans umbrella this time. Cheeky bastards.





« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 09:36:54 am by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #11 on: April 29, 2021, 10:23:04 am
You've been killin' it with these characters. Nice job.

Offline SeinRuhe

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Re: Some characters

Reply #12 on: April 29, 2021, 04:00:00 pm
Hey those look really nice and you got rid of the umbrella diet which is good, next concept I want to introduce you is the center of balance.

Pretty much hang a pendulum from the chin of the characters to the ground, this will give you a visual cue of the current state of balance of a standing position, in this case I'll use the Poet (Bard who left his instrument at home?) to demonstrate. In this case the balance point seems to be leaning forward a bit too much, you can either move the torso a bit to the back to compensate or open the leg to our left a bit so it supports better the weight of the body (Or adjust the entire pose if you are feeling like it)



For dynamic poses this method won't work, in that case is a bit harder and less intuitive since you will have to calculate the weight, the counterweight and the point where those weights are supported, If you wanna dig into that I'd suggest making a ballerina, they do amazing poses to keep the body in balance!

I really dig the face of the male blacksmith, looks detailed yet simple, seems just like what you are aiming to! I did tried to put some extra effort on the face of the poet although not sure if it is an entire success. Also, you really should try to do hands, most of the time having all the fingers but the thumb merged works well as long as you draw at least 2 planes for the merged blob.

Again, hope this helps and this time I really want to see you implement the suggestions before submitting! *gun cocks slowly*
« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 04:07:53 pm by SeinRuhe »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #13 on: April 29, 2021, 05:10:28 pm
Great tips from SeinRuhe as usual.

As I can't help myself, I did something too. Sorry, I just love dabbing with these characters you come up with... :-[



Not really any corrections, I know they're just past the initial rough stage... But his head looked way too long for me. Could be a stylistic choice, though.

And you know what? I really like those dark, black areas on every character. Especially on the blacksmith and the girl with the hammer (also a blacksmith?)
Lovely detail with the hammer on the guy's chest.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 05:12:56 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #14 on: May 01, 2021, 10:41:18 am
Hey those look really nice and you got rid of the umbrella diet which is good, next concept I want to introduce you is the center of balance.

Pretty much hang a pendulum from the chin of the characters to the ground, this will give you a visual cue of the current state of balance of a standing position, in this case I'll use the Poet (Bard who left his instrument at home?) to demonstrate. In this case the balance point seems to be leaning forward a bit too much, you can either move the torso a bit to the back to compensate or open the leg to our left a bit so it supports better the weight of the body (Or adjust the entire pose if you are feeling like it)



For dynamic poses this method won't work, in that case is a bit harder and less intuitive since you will have to calculate the weight, the counterweight and the point where those weights are supported, If you wanna dig into that I'd suggest making a ballerina, they do amazing poses to keep the body in balance!

I really dig the face of the male blacksmith, looks detailed yet simple, seems just like what you are aiming to! I did tried to put some extra effort on the face of the poet although not sure if it is an entire success. Also, you really should try to do hands, most of the time having all the fingers but the thumb merged works well as long as you draw at least 2 planes for the merged blob.

Again, hope this helps and this time I really want to see you implement the suggestions before submitting! *gun cocks slowly*
First of all, that is super helpful! Thanks for taking the time to write a pedagogical explanation. It's useful to have those principles in mind when I'm imitating references, to make sure I'm accurately reproducing the stance / posture. Secondly, great edit! I like the changes you made to the face, I'm just playing around with that minimalistic balance. I don't want to add too much AA or isolated pixels that will be hard to keep track of if I ever try to animate these characters. I actually was planning to do hands this time (honest), I just hadn't got that far yet.

The two people on the left are supposed to be masons and the people on the right are supposed to be sailors... on airships (I don't know what kind of clothes they'd wear but I went for this). And I'm trying to emulate mostly 1100-1300 era continental European clothing, combined with a few other elements to keep it interesting. So the fur coat is inspired by late 16th century, but I'm still trying to avoid the balloon pants of the 16th century that you added (which look great, just a bit too modern for what I had in mind). It's weird to be so specific about a project that only half a dozen people will ever see, but there you go. Gotta get it right in case Netflix calls, you know?


Great tips from SeinRuhe as usual.

As I can't help myself, I did something too. Sorry, I just love dabbing with these characters you come up with... :-[



Not really any corrections, I know they're just past the initial rough stage... But his head looked way too long for me. Could be a stylistic choice, though.

And you know what? I really like those dark, black areas on every character. Especially on the blacksmith and the girl with the hammer (also a blacksmith?)
Lovely detail with the hammer on the guy's chest.
Thanks man! I appreciate you tinkering around with and improving my designs. Fair point about the head, it looked too cartoony. Yours looks good but I'm seeing if I can have many different types of faces as well. How does the new compromise look to you?

I'm very glad that you mentioned the black areas because I kind of like them too. It started out as a simple way to ensure I had enough contrast and I figured I'd replace black with other dark shades later but now I'm wondering if I should stick with it. If not pure black, then something very close. Because I do think it makes them pop and forces me to work with higher contrast than I usually do. It reminds me of certain types of comic books or games like Hades.

Me: I don't want to make the faces too cartoony. I want more realism.
Also me: Ah, this black shade looks great. Reminds me of comic boo.... fuck.



Here's the latest version, still WIP and many unfinished parts all over the place.



All kinds of feedback welcome. Does the chrome effect on the hammers work at all?

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #15 on: May 01, 2021, 02:28:51 pm
Hmm... I can tell the shape of the guy's hammer, being that's in a profile and easy to read, but the girl's is hard to tell what's going on, if it's head is turned away from us or...what.

Everything else looks pretty neat to my eyes. I would only think about changing the left arm of the blacksm... mason guy (xD) if that bucket isn't supposed to be empty. It would be cool to show some weight if it isn't.

The other day I ended up making more face options for your peasant woman, maybe some of it could be useful for you some day, not necessarily for her, of course.



---

EDIT: On the mason's right arm... shouldn't these colors be reversed? Brighter shade on top, darker on the bottom?

« Last Edit: May 01, 2021, 02:35:53 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #16 on: May 02, 2021, 10:26:58 am
Thanks, fskn!
- Not sure what to do about the hammer. I wonder if I should leave it like this. I mean, it's quite small and it's not at a right angle so I can't make it a perfect rectangle and make it look crisp. Maybe it's enough to let people see that it's a hammer and leave some room for imagination? Not sure. I'm open minded about this.

- I hope the stonemason's pose shows a little bit of weight already, I just didn't want it to look like he was struggling. After all, he's a burly blacksmith mason. By the way, I tried to improve the shading on the chest a little, as I noticed you had done in your edit. I just forgot to fix that before.  :-[ However, it's really difficult to add shadow to his pecs without resulting in banding.



- Thanks for the study of peasant woman faces! It's definitely useful. The question is, if the goal is to make her look like a young and attractive woman: which woman would you want to hook up with? I think maybe B (pouty lips ftw) or E. Not sure. The single pixel eyes are kind of scary, like a predator's eyes. Peasant woman C looks like the kind of woman who kills her lovers and eats them.

- Good point about the right arm!

Added a ginger inuit guy, exploring the frozen wastes with his torch. Really not sure about the shading on this one, I couldn't find good references. And maybe I picked a bad reference, I just wanted someone who didn't look like they were walking in the park.

« Last Edit: May 02, 2021, 12:01:55 pm by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #17 on: May 02, 2021, 12:57:38 pm
Haha! Aw, I'm a bit partial about C and D myself. But that could mean that I'm an easy target for women that eat their partners. xD

Anyways! The thing about the arm of the stone mason dude that's holding the bucket is that he may get tired (no pun intended) very quickly of holding it like that. The guy from your ref. photo is resting that tire against his butt/leg a bit and, well, he's posing for a photo...
That's a very nitpicky thing, though, and definitely not a complaint.

---

I did some experiments. See if you like any of them:





Your inuit guy looks noice!
I'm not sure, but maybe you could make the light of the flame go over his right leg and boot too (a little more over his boot than what you got there now).

EDIT: Whoops, forgot to add the blue "band" around the arm of the mason. But you get the idea. :P

---

EDIT2: Perhaps she "needs" to rest that big sledgehammer on her shoulder:



EDIT 3 (aka: getting too carried away)

I think the back of her hand that's resting on her hips should be lighter than the fingers:

« Last Edit: May 02, 2021, 02:44:46 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #18 on: May 03, 2021, 10:26:31 am
You're among friends here, fskn. Nobody minds your vorarephilia.  :angel:

Your version of the sledge definitely looks better and has more readability, thanks! The fist on her hips looks properly lighted, but I just can't imagine anyone placing a closed fist on their hips. Maybe my joints are simply too stiff. I made her put an open hand on her hip. Hopefully it looks ok. Also put the sledge down on her shoulders, finally!

I figured it would be kosher to do a burly photo session pose but I really like the way you pixelled that vertical arm and the bucket itself. Banding is a real issue at this scale, of course, and I'm not sure how to avoid it in cases like that. But more importantly, wouldn't the bucket be hitting the knee unless he twisted his torso or put one leg further back? I tried to have a go, let me know what you think.

Thanks again for the help!

I also keep adding new characters instead of finishing the first ones or actually studying anatomy, posture and gestures like I'm supposed to.  Because I'm a terrible person. :-[

« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 01:16:50 pm by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #19 on: May 03, 2021, 02:08:05 pm
The fist on her hips looks properly lighted, but I just can't imagine anyone placing a closed fist on their hips.

Umm... I'm not sure I follow you here. I didn't exactly mean to have her with a closed fist, more something like this (please excuse the half-assedness... and the stubby fingers. :p):



EDIT- But I guess you're right, the fingers shouldn't be too dark, as the light comes not from straight above, but a little bit from the front of her body. So at least the same amount of light as the forearm. And the forehead.

But more importantly, wouldn't the bucket be hitting the knee unless he twisted his torso or put one leg further back? I tried to have a go, let me know what you think.
Yeah... Maybe... I think it could be touching his knee.
Both look fine, though, to my eyes. I didn't want to put that leg back (or try to imply that) because I was afraid it might look like he could lose his balance.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 04:31:08 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #20 on: May 03, 2021, 05:28:35 pm
My bad, fskn. I had a preconception of how people hold their hands on their hips. When I googled it, I noticed people do it differently depending on the flexibility of their shoulders and wrists. And it makes perfect sense when I saw your visual explanation. I'll have a second look, it makes sense that the back of her hand catches more light.  :y:

EDIT: Also... can someone help me make sense of this character? Reference HERE.   :angel:

« Last Edit: May 05, 2021, 03:36:15 pm by cels »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #21 on: May 05, 2021, 04:47:11 pm
Is double posting ok or frowned upon? I don't mean to flout social convention, I just need some help getting these pixels in the right place.

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #22 on: May 05, 2021, 09:15:34 pm
Oops, sorry, I hadn't seen your edit.

I think the helmet looks fine as it is, but you *could* do something like this instead if you would want to put more holes in it:



Nothing fancy, really. And slightly asymmetrical.
Now, I think if you added more it would basically be just read as noise. Not to mention it would be a bitch to animate.

EDIT: And I do prefer pose #2.

---

EDIT 2: Wait, maybe something like this would help sell that crease in the middle:

« Last Edit: May 05, 2021, 10:00:08 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #23 on: May 05, 2021, 10:23:38 pm
Thanks for the help, fskn!

I'm afraid the single pixel holes trigger my trypophobia. Which is very useful in some contexts but not for this particular piece. However, you're probably right that I need to convey the shape of the helmet better. I'll keep playing around with this. As always, my workflow involves randomly going back and forth between characters over time.

If I can get a yay or nay to the pose and anatomy, or even crits, that would significantly reduce my anxiety.  ;D

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #24 on: May 05, 2021, 11:03:01 pm
A third try, with some... changes.



I wasn't sure what was going on with his sleeve, so I tried to make it follow the shape of the arm a little more.
And I'm still undecided about the torso... But I guess it looks better.
I can't tell you exactly what I did there, as I was experimenting placing pixels here and there, whilst trying to follow some sort of musculature.

Oh yeah, his right arm looked too thin to me, comparing with the left, so it's thicker now.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2021, 11:51:56 pm by fskn »

Offline SeinRuhe

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Re: Some characters

Reply #25 on: May 06, 2021, 02:25:06 am
I'm drained but I can't resist a good post. :ouch:

As always I will lick your designs in an erotic manner for a bit, nothing to pay attention to :P

This guy suffers from what my fairy suffered, the arm thats holding the sword doesn't seem to be making any effort to hold it, also the pose of the hand is a little feminine for this mountain. So close the arm a little bit and make sure to show to the camera the plane of the hand where you put the cocaine in to snort lol. Or just watch the reference I included.

Other minor stuff could be to close the leg on our right a bit, increase the size of the part of the helmet that rest on his shoulders by a bit (Just the part on our right). Adjust a bit the shoulder pad on our left to better convey that it's going around the shoulder and try to compress the color banding that's happening on the armor.

Reflective materials are hard as ****, think of them as mirrors, the plane that mirrors more light from the lightsource to the viewer is where you have to put the speculars, the darkest part of this kind of material is near the center, followed by some reflection in the shadow part, pay special attention to his left leg since is the part only that I tried to render properly.



That's all!

Edit: Look at the following image, as long as you have at least a Form Light, Highlight (Specular), Form Shadow, Core Shadow and Reflected Light you will have a great sense of form on your reflective materials.

http://drawing.wiki/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/all-modeling-factors-1024x576.jpg

The guy in the video down below (Dorian Iten) explains it like a charm, he has a course where he goes a bit more in depth with this theme but I do not recommend to invest on it, is a little too shallow for the price. Mail me if you want me to explain you every modeling factor *wink**wink*

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vapw6n6FyU

« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 02:43:28 am by SeinRuhe »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #26 on: May 06, 2021, 12:41:50 pm
Thanks a million, guys! I've tried to study your posts and find a good way forward.

@fskn: He's supposed to have a short sleeve, exposing his underarm and hand. Thanks for helping me improve the shading. I ended up changing the position of his arm but yours looked much better.

@SeinRuhe: I think it's time to quit working as a chef, it's clearly getting in the way of your pixel art.

- I see what you're saying about the feminine posture. His elbows were a bit tucked while his hands were extended to the side, so he ended up looking a bit like MuuMuu. However, I don't want him to hold the sword quite the way you put it, because I want to show off the shape as a single edged sword (in case Netflix calls)
- I understand that polished metal is essentially a curved mirror, I just haven't put in the hours yet to make my brain capable of simulating it. However, I'm spending more time learning about the fundamentals so I will invest some time today to see that video and practice the concepts. Maybe I'll realize my own mistakes after. Why did I waste so much time not studying art theory when I was younger?

Below is my new edit. I think the issue with the helmet is that I really like the kind of V-shape it has when seen from the front. The reference is not simply a bulbous sphere with holes in, it's actually a medieval helmet that looks really sci-fi in its design. Reminds me of Bubblegum Crisis and Robocop, really. And it's not simply a sphere with a vertical edge either. Maybe it's too difficult to convey in 10x10 pixels.



Anyway, I've tried to study your edits and incorporate as much goodness as I could. I think it's moving along nicely although I still can't wrap my monkey brain around metal reflections and I'm not sure about the sword / sword arm.



EDIT: And now I see that the curvature of his shin is wrong. Fuck.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 12:53:29 pm by cels »

Offline SeinRuhe

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Re: Some characters

Reply #27 on: May 06, 2021, 04:41:45 pm
This is looking great! Love that you took the time to draw the bag, that's another level of commiting to a pun :lol:

I may need to update my PJ, I did quit my job as a chef to be a freelance pixel artist, I'm just a bit exhausted due overworking on some projects, a mild case of insomnia, two active cats and some repair work happening at my place. :ouch:

I know simulating reflective mats is really hard, no worries, it just take time.

And it's never too late to pay attention to the fundamentals, I started taking really seriously to learn the fundamentals and other media to improve my art in last year's October (29y at that moment), so we may be a bit behind of others but nothing hard work cannot compensate! You do start developing a keen eye for some stuff, now I'm trying to develop my explanations to better understand everything in a rational manner and not just with abstract thinking (You've been the perfect test subject btw)

Keep the great work Cels! You are a joy to the forums :P
« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 04:46:57 pm by SeinRuhe »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #28 on: May 06, 2021, 08:27:28 pm
Cels, how do you go about doing pixel art? Do you go straight to the pixels, probably with a mouse, or do you sketch it first on the side?
Because you could most likely get more expressive characters, lines, postures, etc. if you tried drawing it first on pen and paper or with a tablet.

Something I did here to illustrate:



Although I recognize it would stiffen up when translating that to pixel art, but your foundation drawing could help guide you to something with more flow.
Or maybe you do want it to be a very clear representation of this one guy for reference or a model sheet or...

Still, it could help you out with your pixellings.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 10:45:10 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #29 on: May 07, 2021, 05:56:36 am
Thanks, guys!  ;D

As of right now, I go straight to the pixels with a mouse. I do have a laptop with a touch screen and a pen but I don't feel like I know enough about anatomy and gestures to really freehand characters without references. However, it's possible that I would learn more and get better results for my characters if I added this extra step combined with references so maybe it's time to try this.

That's a great illustration, fskn. Definitely next level compared to what I'm doing now. Although I also tried to imitate THIS style of illustration in order to keep the task appropriate for my skill level. Not too much foreshortening or dramatic poses.

So far I've just been going by references and trying to translate that directly to sprites in Aseprite.



« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 06:03:17 am by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #30 on: May 07, 2021, 06:39:25 am
Gotcha.
You're doing a great job with the references. Nice, varied poses that have been translating very well into that style.

For your knight, I thought you were initially going for a "come at me, bro" type pose. Were you?

Not that I tried to do that with my drawing, of course. I was thinking about how to represent a big burly guy, and one way of doing that is finding a pose that shows more of his traps. :P
And chest muscles, broad heavy shoulders...

---

Here's something interesting to pay attention to:



In your reference, the mother is compensating for the weight of her child by leaning back.

Same as this other picture.

---

EDIT: Now that I see that a fifth time (:P), yours has a very short left arm.
Remember this for a shorthand (erhm... no pun intended), the upper arm goes from the shoulder to the bottom of the ribcage. Double that measure down for the wrist.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 08:00:17 am by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #31 on: May 07, 2021, 05:43:34 pm
Thanks! I'm happy you brought that up. I've been staring at that woman for a while and convincing myself that it was ok because her thick hanging sheepskin-jacket would hide her posture underneath. But I guess the head wasn't aligned and the details on the chest weren't aligned. I've tried to make it more clear. Also, thanks for the punny tip about arm length!



And yes, the knight was supposed to have a 'come at me bro', 'are you not entertained', kind of barbarian taunt (for Diablo 2 fans out there) pose. Or at least mildly evocative of that by exposing his chest and holding his shield behind him. But I was working with different references and different ideas so it all got diluted.

Interesting point about the traps by the way. It's something I hadn't considered. The idea was definitely to turn him into something like the Mountain from GoT and I hadn't considered finding a way to illustrate that beyond simply making him... bigger. I guess showing him slightly from the side tends to hide the width of his shoulders too. This operational way of thinking in art is so new to me.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 05:45:12 pm by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #32 on: May 07, 2021, 09:55:59 pm
So I tried something and... It ended up virtually identical! :lol:



And mind you, I started from scratch.

---

Alright, maybe something like this might look just a tiny little bit better:



Or not, I don't know.
I tried to emphasize her bust and hips.
And in this last one I added a shadow of her kid's head onto her chest.

---



Maybe giving the kid more of a cheek?
And mouths for everybody?

---



More wind!
EDIT: Oof, just realized the light brown on her chest was meant to be a highlight. I'm such a dummy. :facepalm:
« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 11:12:26 pm by fskn »

Offline SeinRuhe

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Re: Some characters

Reply #33 on: May 08, 2021, 12:27:52 am
Hi Guys, It's finally friday praise the lord!

Fskn have a really good point when telling you to sketch first on pen and paper, it's really a great exercise.

If you can, always use a tablet, it's better than a mouse in a couple aspects: It does feel a little more natural and it helps to avoid tendinitis and carpian. Save the mouse for pixel level cleanup, nothing can beat the mouse in that step! (You don't need to freehand characters without reference, even better, never work without references)

We do have preconceived ideas about poses and anatomy that often play against us. If your poses often end up a bit stiff, you can exaggerate said poses a lot to avoid this, your brain will compensate and end up with something in the middle. (This works for me, in my case my bane are torsos, the 1st draw I do on a day ends up having a torso that's half the length of what it should be so I try to draw what my brain interprets as really long torsos that just end up looking normal)

Other technique that can be useful is to measure angles, this is really personal, I measure with my fingers on the screen lol. Better techniques are to measure with 2 pencils or two crochet needles or even drawing some angles in the reference.

Here's a little edit on the character drinking from the canteen (Not sure if this is the correct word), the trick to exaggerate this pose was to imagine something delicious on the canteen, please be aware that on this edit I drifted a bit from your style and in doing so I'm certain I massacred any historical accuracy of the outfit:



Seems like your workflow is to do a silhouette and then fill it in, in my opinion this is the best method to pixel something. Pay a bit more attention to said silhouette, If you can feel personality on it, the final render will be loose and dynamic!

I do dig something in the original a lot, it looks a lot like a hieroglyphic!

BTW gratz on that Comments & Fav award on PJ!
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 01:51:48 am by SeinRuhe »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #34 on: May 08, 2021, 08:52:07 am
Ok, I think I have to get to the roots of the problem, which again seem to be anatomy and gesture.

I really appreciate the edits, they are really helpful for me to rewire my brain. And I think before I spend any time thinking about how to improve the clothing, the belt or the hair on these two examples (and those were some really nice details), I have to get a better understanding of the skeleton and how to read these references.



Example 1: The mother and baby.
Leaving aside the fact that your version is superior in a number of ways on account of fabric shading, hair, baby head, arm volume, etc, there is definitely a discrepancy of how we're reading the reference. Or perhaps we're deviating from the reference in different ways on account of preference, I don't know. But I read the reference as having hips faced squarely towards the camera. Her feet may be slightly to the left or the right, but she's essentially facing towards us and turning her head and torso. I'm not reading fskn's version the same way. I admit my version isn't doing that either, my version seems to be turning away from the baby. To be honest, that's only because I couldn't figure out how to make the feet look good while pointing directly towards us.  :-[

But am I reading the reference wrong or is something else going on? I realize that one shouldn't necessarily imitate the reference 100%, it's more about making the viewer feel the movements as we perceive them (senpai, I'm quoting Glenn Vilppu) but I actually like the static pose of the reference picture. She looks like a statue, she's not going anywhere.

Example 2:
I had two references for this, just to be on the safe side. The lady with the sunglasses looks more feminine to me in the way her hips are pivoted and putting weight on one leg. Is that what one would call a contrapposto? However, I'm not seeing much contrapposto in the lady in white. As I read that picture, she's standing in a more masculine way. One leg is vertical, so she probably has more weight there but she still reads as very stable and grounded, not twisting her shoulders or hips to compensate. I don't see much contrapposto when I'm looking at her hips or stomach. She's solid, she's in balance. I don't mean to be vulgar, but she stands almost the way I stand when I'm taking a leak in the woods.



I see that my own version has some flaws in the angle of the feet (and knees), the size and position of the arms and shoulders, but I can't figure out how to fix the shoulders and hips without exaggerating or changing the original gesture in the reference. In this case, I want her to be more of a scary Amazon (and I don't mean Gal Gadot) rather than a pin-up girl. I do take your point about exaggerating poses, and I think it compensates for preconceived ideas in addition to improving readability and making the characters more interesting. So I'm not opposed to exaggerating poses, despite my umbrella fetish. And I do see that the silhouette of my hieroglyph is kind of uninspiring.

I hope I don't come across as too obstinate or obtuse, I'm just trying to maintain my artistic integrity and get my idea across.

By the way, how's life treating you as a professional, SeinRuhe? Is it how you thought it would be? Clients with no artistic appreciation telling you to make lo-res Clint Eastwood games? Do you have some assignments that you love with your heart and soul as well?

PS: Will definitely move on to using pen and paper and/or tablet. Thanks to you guys, I'm more motivated to take these tiny pixel people seriously.
PPS: It seems to be called a waterskin, wineskin or bota bag. The outfit is from Rey in Star Wars episode 7, so I think we can take some liberties without ruining historical accuracy.  ;D

« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 08:55:40 am by cels »

Offline SeDiceBisonte

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Re: Some characters

Reply #35 on: May 08, 2021, 10:53:41 am
Thought I'd throw my hat into the ring.



I think the two main things I noticed were that some areas were very low contrast compared to the jacket, which goes all the way to pure black. I darkened the back of her neck to separate it more from the hair, and I used the dark brown of the jacket on the gold strip of the skirt to emphasize the flow of it.

The other main change (that's different from what anyone else has done) is the angle of the sword. I thought hard about that because there are plenty of reasons it could either hang down or go at an angle, but I ultimately like that it follows the angle of her leg and looks dynamic.

Aside from that, I also added more of a backwards lean (as is de rigueur in edits of this character) and altered the arm holding the baby so that it's further from her body, as in the reference. The baby looks a bit less constricted that way.

I read the angle of the reference the same way you do, by the way. I suspect the fact we can't see her feet is what's leading to the ambiguity. Her right leg (our left) appears to be going vertically straight down (with a slight bend forwards), angled towards us.

Edit: I also narrowed her shoulders slightly. I can see why they ended up the width they did based on the reference and the costume, but I thought it looked more feminine to narrow them at this scale.

I've also just realized that wasn't the latest version of the character. D'oh!
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 01:51:51 pm by SeDiceBisonte »

Offline SeinRuhe

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Re: Some characters

Reply #36 on: May 08, 2021, 03:54:32 pm
Cels, first of all, I get it why you stand your ground and it's not stubborn, obstinate, obtuse or nothing like that, all brains work different and the best way to internalize information is to question it! Pretty much like in Plato's allegory of the cave, we make our reality based on in our senses and understanding.

Let's revisit the reference a bit, this time a little more in depth, without even touching the pixel side.

If you want to measure the shoulder angle, measure the following, from top to top of each shoulder, and from the top of the sternum manubrium to top of each shoulder, the angle matches your measurements but it's a little more of a reliable method in complex poses.

Try to avoid measuring the torso with a line, this flattens the figure a lot, torsos have quite a curvature. I haven't found yet a method that works for me so please, if you develop your own let me know so I can steal it. For now I will leave you with the indicators I often put in but that doesn't quite capture what I want. (One indicator is the sternum and the other is the spine)

Pelvis is a nightmare to measure, I did my best. Basically, the pelvis is tilted forward and it's angle shifts a lot more than I thought when initially started to study it. There's a tell (Poker tell) to measure it, remember when I told you to re enact whatever pose you choose? If you leave one of your legs perfectly perpendicular while stretching the other back (Ground all of your foot btw) and put your hands on your pelvis, you will feel the tilt I'm talking about.

Legs, well, the femur is a bit counter intuitive (At least to me) since it leans towards the middle of the body a lot more than I thought it would.

Here are the two references you attached with this process in mind. Of course I'm far from perfect in my analisis and in my way to teach, so if you find flaws please let me know where so I can improve!



Life as a freelance is what I thought, some kind of living the dream (Except the dream you are having is a nightmare lol). Some requests you recieve makes no sense, some other clients have zero artistic appreciation. But some others are great and understand art is a process and are really great to work with (Curious enough, big studios and programmers treat artists way better than regular people that have a game idea in mind). But well, besides that, I live in Colombia where I was earning 500 bucks (about two minimum salaries) on a good month working on a really good restaurant... Now I do earn a lot more, so my situation has improved substantially! (Not enough to live elsewhere though :( )

I do have to say, the only work you really love is the one you do for yourself, others are either a toxic relationship or a summer vacation love.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 06:43:30 pm by SeinRuhe »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #37 on: May 08, 2021, 11:34:44 pm
Oh, I was going for the "mother" as a very loose reference. I was following much more your pixel drawing, @cels.

But this is how I see the her body structure:
(Note: take it a big grain of salt... I may have exaggerated her hips. :P)

https://i.imgur.com/KtOxWjy.png

https://i.imgur.com/maGBi1V.png

https://i.imgur.com/E3EnMkY.png


And what would be her musculature (maybe?)

https://i.imgur.com/8CS0PSK.png


https://i.imgur.com/d1fFKFN.gif


Her right foot seems to be pointing to her right based on the position of her leg and what could be an indication of her shin bone. But I'm not sure.

If you want to try and learn more about anatomy, I'd recommend, well, first Proko videos on how to draw the human figure, but also searching for 3D models that you can spin around and see from every angle. Proko has an app for that, but I have never used it. Instead, I've used on iPad the L'ecorché app, and stuff on Sketchfab, like this skeleton and... Well, there's a bunch of stuff there. I usually prefer both body scans and simplified views like this planar model or something simpler if you can find it.

Here's a bunch of anatomy refs from Sketchfab.

@Sein Great technique to find the angle of the shoulders!

---

May 9th edit:
Wow, looking at that with fresh eyes, I did screw up.
I'll fix that in a moment. :P

---

There. Does it look like I know what I'm talking about now?
I don't, but does it look like I know? :P

« Last Edit: May 09, 2021, 02:56:21 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #38 on: May 10, 2021, 10:17:09 am
Phew! Ok, here we go! First of all, thanks to all three of you for continuing to educate me. Frankly, I feel more and more like I just need to go do my homework. In short, I'm very humbled, motivated, encouraged and happy with your replies. As always, I hope I can return the favour in the near future, somehow.

@fskn: How do you recommend I go on learning more about anatomy after watching some videos? Should I just devote x hours every week to drawing skeletons and muscles from those 3D models and trying to copy? Thanks for the links, btw, those are extremely valuable to me.

@SeinRuhe: I'm not surprised to hear that big studios and programmers treat artists better than regular people as customers. It's the same thing with construction workers, carpenters, etc, I believe. Professionals know what to expect, regular people have unrealistic expectations. Great to hear that you've improved your life with pixel art, that sounds amazing! Although to be fair, it's thanks to people like you that I'll never be able to be a pixel artist.  >:( I live in Norway, there's no way I can compete with your prices or skills. I do have some family in Venezuela though, so I could move there and become a professional pixel artist. And emigrate to Colombia if things don't work out.  :-\ So what is your long term goal of doing what you love for yourself? Patreon? Making your own games? Muumuu on Onlyfans? Kickstarter?

@SeDiceBisonte: Thanks for the feedback and suggestions! I won't go into detail about every decision but I do like the look of her knife as a diagonal. If I put on my pretentious artsy thinking cap, I would say that her left side (seen from our view) demonstrates stability, being rooted and building a home, while her right side now looks more dynamic, with a diagonal dagger at the ready, a flowing skirt and flowing hair. A turbulent, violent past. Definitely some interesting symbolism going on, I think. :lol:



Note that nothing is final and please explain if something is wrong due to me missing an important point (as opposed to choosing a deliberate direction)

Let me see if I can comment on all the changes:
- Tried to fix the hand of the sledgehammer lady now that I finally understood your point, fskn. I can be a bit slow sometimes.
- Tried to make my own version of the stonemason with a bucket, although I'm not sure I succeeded. I didn't want to simply copy-paste so I tried to do it a different way and I may have introduced some new problems in the process.
- Tried to improve the drinking redhead a bit. Which is to say, I tried to improve her a lot but I didn't know where to go. I do want to keep her heroic proportions (keeping the head small) and keep her fairly straight rather than leaning back and taking huge chugs. Maybe I'm just rationalising my umbrella-tendencies, I don't know. I'll make up for that by trying some more dynamic poses in the future. I understand that the reference's hips may be positioned slightly different to how I pictured them but I'm not sure if that has a big impact that I'm missing, unless I choose to exaggerate that.
- Tried to make the mother a super saiyan with shiny blonde hair although I'm not sure the color or reflections really accomplished that.
- Changed the baby's shape.
- Kept the plain face on the baby and the mother because I'm still trying to be minimalistic and avoid my personal uncanny valley of pixel art. I do admit that your details on nose and mouth look good tho.
- Made changes to the brown coat and dress. Tried to find a good compromise for the legs based on fskn's visual explanations (thank you x 1000!!) and Bisonte's version.

In regards to the mother and baby and our different interpretations, I definitely see where you're coming from and at this point it's kind of like the visual illusions where I can see different things. I wonder if practicing more anatomy, gesture and fabrics will make this easier for me in the future. When I copied the silhouette of your sketches, fksn, and shrunk them down, it also gave me a better understanding of what I'm doing with all these characters. I seem to be making all my people wider and chunkier than intended. Their limbs are too thick, their shoulders too wide, their hips too wide, heads too big, etc. Not sure if this is a personal misperception or just a common consequence of working at a really small scale. After all, a lot of miniatures and pixel art sprites tend to have the same problem. It's just annoying that I started out wanting to emulate Flashback and I'm moving more towards Super Mario.

Again, thanks a million and a special thanks to you for the really comprehensive visual explanations, fskn! Very motivating and insightful, even if my amended versions rarely seem to reflect that.

Also, next project. This archer dude who is inexplicably wearing a helmet that obscures vision simply because it looks cool. I may change the helmet, reluctantly.


Trying to use more dynamic poses. You may recognize the statue by Zsigmond Kisfaludi Strobl
« Last Edit: May 10, 2021, 02:27:30 pm by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #39 on: May 10, 2021, 05:00:12 pm
Thanks, man. While I was writing (and drawing) that I had the passing thought that I was sounding too pedantic and, I mean, I want to help and learn a bit too as I try to do that.

As for learning anatomy... For me yours seem pretty good already (and I don't claim to be a know-it-all, it's just what I know best), but if you want to dive deeper, I'd say to follow Proko's figure drawing course. The free version has a lot already, but the paid version has some extra stuff which seems useful.
A couple books that have helped me in different ways are Michael Hampton's "Figure Drawing: Design and Invention" and Frederic Delavier's "Strength Training Anatomy." The first one helps you in simplifying the human form to understand the dimensionality of ...everything and how to draw it without a model. The second one is aimed at bodybuilders, but it's a good reference for the anatomy of the muscles and bones. Especially if you like to draw buff dudes. :P
The 3D models will help you where the 2D drawings inside of those books won't.

I would recommend dedicating some time every day or every week to study anatomy, yes. The more you do, the more you'll improve, but it does take time. It *may* be tough in the beginning too, but if you have a good foundation in drawing simple shapes (boxes, balls, cylinders, pyramids, cones), once you learn about landmarks, the overall shapes of the muscles and their origins and insertions it gets much easier. Less guesswork, and things starts making sense. I don't know how much of it is applicable to pixel art, but it does help guide my drawings...

Alright, so, let's see what you brought today, shall we?

First off, you seem to put a lot of time and dedication on it, which is great!

Not sure if I said this before, but just in case I didn't: I like that you're getting references for the poses of your characters, which give them a certain diversity of stances and attitudes. They all seem very distinct from one another.

As for the more specific stuff...
- Girl with the hammer: Nice. Nothing to add.
- On the stonemason guy, the arm that's holding the bucket seems a little bit too thick at the bottom, near the middle. I guess the highlight should be closer to the top of the lower arm, kind of like what you did with the biceps.
- The girl drinking from the leather bag looks great. She's got a bit more in terms of hips now, which isn't neither good nor bad, but she looks more feminine. Which isn't also neither good nor bad. But it looks cool.
I love the way you did her face, by the way. The highlights give her a good amount of volume there, and the straight line from her nose to her chin work incredibly well IMHO. I just think her ankles look too thin, especially in comparison to her wrists. That part between the wrappings on her shin and her foot/shoes... I don't know, it may look different if you paint in some shoes. Still, I changed it a little bit.
Also, I tried simplifying her hair, unifying some patches of color. See if you like it:

or

Oh, and I made some changes to her right arm too, making it a bit thinner, but still trying to keep it toned.
(edit: quick under arm/armpit/chest muscle pixel massage.)

- The thing with the mother is that she looks a bit stockier in comparison with the reference. And her clothes conceal some of her femininity. If you want her to be taller and more feminine (doesn't seem to be the case, but...) you could give her a different set of clothes.
The highlights on her hair are a bit strong and tough to work with... I struggled with them for a bit and don't know if I got something better than what it was before. I brought some of the darker shades of her hair to the front to compensate and try to give it some more form.
The medallion kind of gets lost in her under..shirt? (same dark blue), so I added some black to give it a bit of a separation.



EDIT: Or...



In regards to making people chunkier than what you wanted, it may be part because of the resolution, the medium itself (?) or just style/taste. It's okay, though.

Yeah, the archer with such a helmet is weird. haha!
I'm not telling you to give him a Robin Hood kind of hat, though, buuut... It's something to consider (not that hat specifically, just some other type of head gear). Still, it's cool that you wanted to try a different angle for the helmet.

I like the quiver, but initially (zoomed out) I read that as if it were a sash blowing in the wind. Tilting that and making it look convincing may be tough, but you can try either that or lower it a tad more, so it's over his butt/leg more, and maybe tie it to the bigger belt with a smaller, thinner one. I don't know, just a thought.
I think his hand that holds the longbow looks a little weird. He should (?) be gripping it in a slighly different way, the thumb going in front of the bow. The arrow, IIRC stays rested on top of the back of the thumb before it gets shot. (in modern archery it stays on top of the bow itself, but the bow itself is shaped differently.)
Some people make the bow string with interrupted lines, which I find cool. Not just a straight "<" shape, but broken in some spots, which change as it gets animated. I don't have any references at hand, though, unfortunately.
His posture looks cool, maybe I'd change his right hand too, the one that just released the arrow, making it a bit longer. It looks short in comparison to his other one.
The foot that's resting on top of that block of masonry (or whatever it's called) looks reeeally cool. Don't get too attached to it because you may need to change it, but right now that shape looks super nice. *chef's kiss*

EDIT: Oh, you changed the color of the quiver and added a strap. That definitely helps!
Nice work with the arm reflecting on the shoulder pad.

EDIT 2: The thing with the thumb on the longbow is that you don't try to hold the bow with it, as it's veeeeery heavy.

EDIT 3: Tried to do the thing with the bowstring that I was talking about:

« Last Edit: May 10, 2021, 07:01:31 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #40 on: May 10, 2021, 11:27:12 pm
Definitely not pedantic, I'm just happy for all the CC and wary of turning down good advice, because I know the feeling of investing time in CC and then being ignored. And also, I tried to start this project of pixel art world building in 2015 and I quickly gave up because I realized I didn't have the skills yet, so I'm really thankful for the help to continue.



In 2015, I burned out and lost interesting PA for a while. Partially because of my own issues and partially because I felt like there was too much apathy in the community (being more apathetic myself probably contributed). Started pixelling again during the pandemic and now I can continue the project in 2021. I think I'd have been fairly pleased with my latest work if I could see it in 2015. And I'm only just getting started, hopefully. But there's no way I'd get to this level without heaps of CC and many edits.


(Some of these skirts / dresses don't make any physical sense at the moment, in terms of how the fabric folds, but I'm already on the case.)

Thanks for the tips, recommendations and edits. I like many of the things you did and tomorrow I'll get back to work and update some of my designs.

EDIT: Will work on improvements later. Just posting the character I did this morning while having coffee. Hoping to crank out one per day and I'll stop at 120 characters. Reference HERE.



EDIT2:



Thanks for the crits, fskn!
- Tried to improve the lower arm of the mason.
- Tried to find a compromise with the ginger lady's hair, also worked on her clothes and her arm. I don't want her hair to look like tentacles or thick braids but I think I do like something in between.
- I bit the bullet and added another colour for the hair. Maybe it's a bit too yellow. After looking at your improved versions, I looked at a bunch of references (should have started there) of shiny blonde hair and I feel like I have a better grip on it. When it's super shiny, hair looks almost like metal (which is also shiny, so why didn't I think of that?) and tends to reflect most light at its most concave rather than its convex parts. But I don't know if I managed to get that across. Maybe there aren't enough pixels to get it 100% right.
- Your edit of the archer's hand was absolutely Michelangelo's Adam level pixel art. Really amazing and I tried to recreate it without copying it. Good point about holding the longbow, I realize that I should have been looking at how archers in real life fire their bows instead of simply looking at that statue. And I do like the look of the partially transparent bow string but I'm not sure it fits with the style. On the other hand, maybe it looks daft to have no string. I'll have to think about this. I also looked at a lot of slow motion video of longbows (and recurve bows) and I didn't see any examples of super dynamic bow strings upon release. I think your version looks good and intuitive but I'm not sure I want to exaggerate that much. Choices, choices. I also updated the bow quiver. Nice detail of having one grounded arrow not totally vertical.
« Last Edit: May 11, 2021, 06:38:20 pm by cels »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #41 on: May 11, 2021, 11:17:37 pm
Thanks for the crits, fskn!
Glad to be of help.

- Your edit of the archer's hand was absolutely Michelangelo's Adam level pixel art. Really amazing and I tried to recreate it without copying it.
Damn, son, that's one hell of a compliment.  :-[
Thanks.

Good point about holding the longbow, I realize that I should have been looking at how archers in real life fire their bows instead of simply looking at that statue. And I do like the look of the partially transparent bow string but I'm not sure it fits with the style. On the other hand, maybe it looks daft to have no string. I'll have to think about this. I also looked at a lot of slow motion video of longbows (and recurve bows) and I didn't see any examples of super dynamic bow strings upon release. I think your version looks good and intuitive but I'm not sure I want to exaggerate that much. Choices, choices. I also updated the bow quiver. Nice detail of having one grounded arrow not totally vertical.
Yeah, maybe the string doesn't work as well as I thought. But it's cool to give it some action. You could try adding a smear there, perhaps. Like, blurring the bow string, maybe the bow itself too... I don't know.

By the way I have to correct myself now that I took a couple seconds more to think about how arrows are shot (recalling when I did that some years ago). In modern days, the arrow goes on the opposite side of the bow, sitting on top of the bone of the hand that comes before (and connects to) the index finger.
In the middle ages that may have been different... There are medieval illustrations that show the arrow going over the thumb. But medieval artists aren't exactly known for accuracy, so...

Anyways, I worked on the buff dude mason some more because of his left arm.

I thought it looked a bit too patchy with the dark/reddish brown at the bottom of the biceps and especially in the lower arm, so I tried to connect the clusters, and ended up rotating his arm a little. I also felt that that soft part of the thumb should receive some highlighting...
The grey you introduced as part of the shading on the skin helped soften some parts, though I may have gone overboard again...



Doing that debuffed him a bit, so I gave him more definition here and there...

(I should be working on my stuff, but working on yours is so damn fun. :P )

---

Hm, maybe that biceps could be a bit thicker like you did before...



Eh. Now I think at least your shoulders look better. :shrugs:

---

Final edit, I promise*


(* for now, anyway.)
« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 08:02:48 pm by fskn »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #42 on: May 15, 2021, 03:17:09 am
Great thread! Great Characters! Great Style!

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Re: Some characters

Reply #43 on: May 16, 2021, 02:25:54 pm
@dpixel: Thanks! Hope to keep this rolling!

@fskn: Really great edits and I spent a lot of time looking at all the changes you made. Shoulders, chest, arms, etc, all very nice details and very helpful! Ultimately, it's very challenging to pull back from adding more detail because it often looks better when it's more realistic. But I still want to maintain some level of abstraction and stylistic choices (e.g. big black clusters) going forward, so it'll be interesting to juggle this.

I'm considering the current set of characters done now and moving on to the next batch. Set 3 of 8 for a total of 120 characters.

http://pixeljoint.com/pixelart/139682.htm

Here's 10 of the next 15. As you can see, only a few of them are near completion so I am very happy for any feedback towards any of these characters. Gestures, anatomy, shading, whatever can be improved.



But most especially, I need help with the birdman! He's inspired by THIS reference and I don't feel like the foreshortening is working in my version. Head might also be a bit big, really. But I am hoping someone can help me with the perspective and gesture.

All kinds of feedback very welcome, as always. And thanks for the help so far!

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Re: Some characters

Reply #44 on: May 16, 2021, 03:22:51 pm
I'd push his shoulders back a bit, emphasizing the posture:





And a few other little thingies, like raising his lantern arm/elbow just a touch.
Not sure about what I did with the leg, though.

---

EDIT: Oh yeah, the head isn't necessarily a problem, as long as it is about the same size as the other character's heads.

(I think I'm going to start calling this kind of thing "oomphasizing". :P)

---

EDIT 2: Actually, I think I would tilt that hat back too. Just to make it a bit more natural.



« Last Edit: May 17, 2021, 02:01:35 am by fskn »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #45 on: May 17, 2021, 06:43:11 am
Thanks for the edit! I really like the change to the pose, it definitely looks more dramatic and natural. I've moved towards that direction, although I'm not sure I've taken it far enough. I will play around with this. Also good point about the arm length and hat tilt.

I'm not sure what to do with the leg yet. By keeping the shin more vertical, I think he looks more grounded. But I could be wrong.



EDIT:

Adding my viking-mongolian-novgorodian ginger-Conan conqueror king (I might change his title later)

 

My umbrella fetish has been replaced by people standing on things to assert dominance.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2021, 03:17:44 pm by cels »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #46 on: May 18, 2021, 11:00:42 pm
Since fskn mentioned Fazetta, I'm just stealing his poses now.  >:D

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Re: Some characters

Reply #47 on: May 18, 2021, 11:21:40 pm
Haha, that's very nice!
I think her middle finger sort of gets confused with the index finger, though... Have you tried painting it with a darker color?

---

Oh, I hadn't seen the king in the post above. That's super cool!

---

EDIT:

Maybe something like this..?



Also, when in doubt, pinky out.

---

EDIT 2:



Left arm raised, legs further apart, stronger shadow under her chin... right elbow closer to her body in an attempt to make her seem more feminine...

---

One last edit.

« Last Edit: May 19, 2021, 06:24:13 am by fskn »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #48 on: May 19, 2021, 03:36:41 pm
So by now you guys should know that when I say "one last edit" what I'm actually saying is that I will keep on editing indefinitely.

No, I'm kidding, but I did find a couple more "solutions" for that hand (not that anybody asked for it in the first place, but still):



---

And the right hand...



Man, this palette has been really fun to work with.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2021, 04:10:34 pm by fskn »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #49 on: May 21, 2021, 09:11:09 am
Wow, thanks, fskn! I realize now that I should provide a minimum of context for each character to indicate what I had in mind. Your version looks like an bad-ass sorceror lady ready to open a can of fireballs. Unfortunately, I was trying to pixel a trophy wife fantasy queen with no real abilities other than pointing at people to have them killed, so it seems more appropriate to have her feet together and her fist angrily clinched. But I am in awe of your ability to draw realistic hands at this tiny scale and I appreciate those different edits that I can use as references as I finish the other 75 characters I'm doing in the future.  :y: ;D

I did use your way of rendering fabric across the boobs and belly though. Very nice! Also gave her some defined shoulders, being a hard working trophy wife.



I'm now in the process of creating a mini-diorama with 4 fantasy infantry dudes.





My plan is to animate the wind blowing in both trees, also some of the clothes and the pennant. I will try to animate the characters to make them come a live a little bit, turning their heads, heaving breath, maybe turning a torso. The weird, unchanging texture on the trees is as I want it to be.

Their poses are quite stiff but this time it's actually intentional. I will come back to more dynamic poses in the future.



If anyone can give me some feedback and crits regarding the 4 idle dudes or the background, that'd be much appreciated!

EDIT:

This is getting out of hand. Now I have to learn how to animate water.  :yell:

« Last Edit: May 21, 2021, 11:47:04 am by cels »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #50 on: May 21, 2021, 02:44:54 pm
Oh, I totally thought that was a sorceress! :lol:
But yeah, like Sein says, you take what you like and discard what you dislike (or what is inappropriate according to your context). As I did those hands I was thinking exactly that: "Well, even if he doesn't use it here, he could use it in some other character in the future... or I could use it! :lol:)

As for your new characters, they all have super cool designs, and I like the way you've been rendering the different materials.

The trees could probably have subler animation, and just more frames. Making the leaves in the silhouette move ever so slightly as in the beginning. Also, making them move in different moments, and sometimes more, sometimes less...
Kind of like:


And if there's wind, then the clouds could be moving slowly to the left... Maybe?

That perfectly straight horizontal line just behind the trees seems odd, I kind of want it to be more sinuous like the hills in the far background, though not as much. Is there a reason for it to be so straight? It's almost like there's a painted wall there, or a big piece of fabric or canvas (if that's the case, by the way, it would be really cool if you could make it move with the wind too, but damn it would be tough to animate).

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Re: Some characters

Reply #51 on: May 21, 2021, 11:21:18 pm
Thanks!

Hm, yeah, I see what you mean by subtle animation on the trees. Right now they do look quite cartoonish. I will fix this when I add more frames, I just wanted a decent 18 frame cycle to build on before I go to 36 or 72 frames. It's my first big(ish) animation ever and I don't want to throw in dragons and fireworks until I have a good base. If I get to 72 frames, maybe I have enough frames for an overlapping cloud cycle.




Nice point about different speeds on the leaves. I will see if I can figure that out in Asesprite. Still figuring out this program.

The perfectly straight horizontal line is part of this image's silly hidden reference, which is only obvious to the most blessed of the 80's kids out there. (Spoiler HERE, HERE and HERE). But thinking about it now, the reference also works with a slightly more dynamic horizon.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2021, 11:23:15 pm by cels »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #52 on: May 22, 2021, 03:20:07 am
Nice point about different speeds on the leaves. I will see if I can figure that out in Asesprite. Still figuring out this program.
Hm, yeah, I don't know how to do that in Aseprite... I turned your GIF into a video of sorts inside of Photoshop and edited it, which is way faster than trying to rearrange individual frames.

Cool animation you did there, by the way!

EDIT: Also, in Photoshop you could animate individual layers independently from one another, so you could, for instance, make loops for each of your knights, trees, and the clouds, arrange them in the animation timeline however you liked, then exported that video as a GIF. And yes, that would be pixel perfect.
I think you can do something similar in Aseprite, as it's very similar, as I recall, to Adobe Flash. But every program has its perks, so...

(Spoiler HERE, HERE and HERE).
OOooOOOooh! Very niiice! I wasn't one of those kids so I would've never guessed. :lol:
« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 03:32:16 am by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #53 on: May 22, 2021, 04:40:31 pm
I can animate different layers independently in Asesprite, but I think I'm stuck with manually adding or removing frames from the animation of individual layers in order to make them speed up or slow down.

On the top of my list right now is:
- Make the trees move more smoothly in the wind, less boxy / cartoonish animation.
- Improve the halberd pennant flowing in the wind, try to make it smoother.
- Maybe add an animation of wind blowing across the grass. Fuck it. Ain't nobody got time for dat.
- Maybe add some tiny ripples to the water. Done. Kind of.

Still very open to feedback regarding the water animation, characters, colors, textures - whatever, really. Also, I need to make this chest more wood-like and less chocolate-like.



EDIT:

Does this work? Or do the ripples give you a seizure? Apart from the uneven and glitchy movement, I mean.

36 frame version just to space out the loops a bit. Still the same issues tho.



EDIT: Less chocolate. Is it wood though?

« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 07:34:40 pm by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #54 on: May 22, 2021, 08:32:39 pm
- Improve the halberd pennant flowing in the wind, try to make it smoother.
I think you should (let's see if I can describe this...) make it do its wave and whip the very end every time.
Also you could let it fall down for a bit, then blow in the wind again.

It all depends on how much time you want to spend on it adding subtle details. But I think it would all add to the piece in the end and make it that much better.

Quote
- Maybe add an animation of wind blowing across the grass. Fuck it. Ain't nobody got time for dat.
That would look super cool, though. Maybe something like a ripple or two...
The edges would probably need to be rough, I think, to sell it as grass... (big guess here)

Quote
Does this work? Or do the ripples give you a seizure? Apart from the uneven and glitchy movement, I mean.
Looks fine for me, I think...

Quote
EDIT: Less chocolate. Is it wood though?
Yeah, that looks a bit weird. Like it has some odd grooves now, kind of like if a rat went there and gnawed some of that wood to get what's inside. (yes, the treasure is not gold, but actually cheese. :lol:)

Perhaps something like giving a couple panels a different shade of brown, or just overall not adding that much detail.

---
EDIT: Maybe..?

or

And they may need a handle to help them carry all of that cheese out of there once they're done taking their photo:



---

Also, what do you think of making the tip of that sword a little rounder?



I know you don't *want* to add AA to anything (esp on the edges), but... it's just a couple of pixels...  :-[

The glove/gauntlet could use some shading too.



A little less contrast on the highlights?

« Last Edit: May 22, 2021, 11:13:19 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #55 on: May 23, 2021, 01:25:31 am
Phew! Once again, thanks for taking the time! Here's what I've got:



- Tried to improve the pennant and get the whip action going. I may have gone too far? But I think it's ok.
- Didn't want to do the ripples because the perspective of the foreground is kind of a bit funky and I didn't want to draw attention to it. But now that I've done it, I actually like it and I feel like I learned something from it. So thanks for encouraging me. Unless it now looks ugly, in which case FML.
- Still need to fix the ripples.
- Great edit of the cheese chest! I immediately felt really stupid when I saw your edit. How did I not think of that, when I'd been looking at wood panels as a reference? Anyway, I love your edit and I think I've come as far as I can without 100% copy paste. Hard to avoid when there are so few pixels.
- Thanks for feedback on sword and gauntlet. I forgot all about that gauntlet.
- Softened the highlights on the top of the chest.

To do:
- Fix the trees.
- Fix the water ripples.
- Bring back the golden animation on the chest. (Btw, reference HERE  :P)
- Double the frames from 18 to 36 again in order to even out the knight's head movement. He looks really nervous now. Which is funny, but not intentional.
- Sleep, at some point. Maybe.

EDIT:

No sleep for me. Check, check and check. Trees are still a bit cartoony, but better.



EDIT2:

And here's another female commoner. I'm kind of struggling with how to do complex fabric folds at this scale without making it too noisy and harsh, and having too much banding. There are so many not-quite-parallel lines of shadow and highlight running down her dress to make the folds and layers. It ends up being either banding or noisy, I think.
Any advice, pixel smiths?

« Last Edit: May 23, 2021, 10:14:32 am by cels »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #56 on: May 23, 2021, 02:15:58 pm
Hmm... I *think* that when that happens you're better off just throwing that into shadow or making all of that area a single flat color.
(other, more experienced guys may have a different opinion, though...)



This is what I would do:



---

Although, y'know... You could use some of that gray down there too...

« Last Edit: May 23, 2021, 02:37:46 pm by fskn »

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Re: Some characters

Reply #57 on: May 23, 2021, 02:40:17 pm
CELS, these are looking wonderful! I love your character designs. I can't believe how many you keep coming up with.

Regarding the commoner, I'm a less experienced guy, but I've also given it a go.


Googling Bavarian dress (the first thing I could think of with skirts that have the right sort of folds, such as these) suggested that less contrast might be desirable in the areas that are well lit, but I compensated by adding in more contrast at the top. Removing the darker parts of the skirt also got rid of half the banding, and expanding the mid-brown and AAing a bit with it got rid of some more. As ever, your mileage may vary.

I also mucked about with some other parts. I thought the shadow inside the red cape on the right didn't suggest anything that we could see the bottom of the cape doing, so I smoothed it out. I also fiddled with the gold and red band on her forehead to make the eyes more prominent. Her left shoulder (our right) looked too close to her neck to me, so I tried to move it further out. I think I messed up the hands a bit, though. Her left hand is in quite an awkward position and I don't have a hand model available at the moment (or a nearby mirror). Is she in the middle of lifting and throwing back her cape?

Oh, I also moved her feet apart. I assume from the original that she's meant to be walking towards us and a bit to our left, but it started to look less balanced to me as I was working on it so I shifted it to a standing pose. That was more for my benefit really but I think, if she is meant to be walking, it'd be good to use the folds of the dress to maybe show the knee/leg structure and add some movement that way. That's a very mild suggestion, though, as I'm not sure how I'd approach it and I don't think skirts like that really show much of what's going on beneath anyway.

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #58 on: May 23, 2021, 06:32:49 pm
Thanks, guys! Super super helpful! I've tried to find a good compromise between your edits, my idea and the reference.


@fskn: You may be right about adding too much detail vs using larger clusters. I notice I'm gradually adding more and more detail, especially if my reference is fairly detailed. I don't think the grey on the bottom skirt works that well, at least not on my screen. Could be a calibration issue. Other than that, there's a lot of great changes in your edit. Btw, I totally forgot to fix the head of my queen before, which I've come back and done now. Totally slipped my mind.

@SeDiceBisonte: Well, I'm only coming up with some of these character designs. The rest I'm just copying from the internet and maybe changing a few colors. But that's ok - at this stage I need references in order to learn :-[

Good idea to google Bavarian dress! I should have included my reference, you can find it HERE. It might explain some of my weird choices and possibly reveal my mistakes. I'm not sure that I've captured her leg position correctly.

You made a lot of great changes and as you can see below, I tried to incorporate several of them. Cheers!

I can't quite figure out how to make the gesture of the 'berzerker' with axe and sword look more powerful and determined, rather than agile and sneaky. I'm trying to do THIS and not getting it right. Partially perspective, but there's probably something else that I'm missing.

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #59 on: May 23, 2021, 07:23:55 pm
I can't quite figure out how to make the gesture of the 'berzerker' with axe and sword look more powerful and determined, rather than agile and sneaky. I'm trying to do THIS and not getting it right. Partially perspective, but there's probably something else that I'm missing.

https://i.imgur.com/4QDEn4S.png

I think most of it is in two things:
1) The shoulders
2) The low camera angle.

You can't lower the camera angle as you're doing like a roster of characters and so all of them have to be seen from the same camera angle... right? (I mean, you probably could put one of them in a pedestal or a throne or something up above the rest...)

But you could make the shoulders stronger and more prominent. And the whole figure heavier.



So something like this..?





Actually let's make that axe heavier as well.





Alternatively...

« Last Edit: May 23, 2021, 07:53:53 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #60 on: May 24, 2021, 01:24:09 am
That is glorious and exactly what I needed!  :y:

To be continued.

EDIT:

I did like the look of the helmet tilted back, but it didn't feel quite right for what I'm trying to do here. Uh, and I need to fix that banding.

« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 01:24:11 am by cels »

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #61 on: May 25, 2021, 01:53:38 am
I did like the look of the helmet tilted back, but it didn't feel quite right for what I'm trying to do here. Uh, and I need to fix that banding.

Hmmm... What about extending the arm that's holding the sword? Because he's carrying the axe, but is threatening to use the sword. Looks like.



I'm thinking something like...



I don't know if that chestplate makes sense in your historical context, but that form, like he's with a puffed up chest, makes it look cool, IMO.



Wait, he's meant to have a cape? Let's give him a big honking cape, or something like a bear pelt:



(that's actually an excuse to give him the appearance of having bigger traps. :P)



On the guy with the shield, I like it how dynamic it looks, but him holding the spear so close to the tip makes him feel very protective IMHO, very defensive. I don't know if that's the intention, or if it's a byproduct of you wanting to use a perfect 45 degree angle on the spear, because it looks better in pixel art. It's as smooth as it gets without being perfectly vertical or horizontal, yet because of that you need to have that tip a little too close to his body, otherwise it would be stuck onto the ground.

You could try making that spear a 2-1 instead of a 1-1:


Though now one of the arrows gets parallel with the back of the spear and would need to be changed...

So let's put that at a 45 degree angle:

« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 06:07:16 am by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #62 on: May 25, 2021, 11:46:14 am
Thanks for the edits!

- Since you asked about historical context, this is a fantasy universe and the current set of characters are the equivalent of Kievan Rus + Normans who were formerly invaded by the equivalent of Greek / Ottomans. So there's some eastern European and some Norse inspiration, obviously, and also onion-shaped hats and towers. However, no Mongols, no Cumans and no Lamellar armour.
- Since it is a fantasy universe, I'm not necessarily trying to recreate 1:1 the evolution of plate armor or anything like that. But since the barbute was supposedly inspired by ancient Romans and Greeks, I thought it would be cool to have a knightly order who took that a step further and really tried to imitate their ancient Greek / Ottoman invaders. Hence the Barbute / Corinthian helmet and the muscular chest plate. I've tried to find more references of renaissance armor imitating Greek and Roman armor, but I didn't find very much (only this). It's ok, it's fantasy.  :)
- Blue steel plate armor with a barbute and Greek / Roman chestplate. Maybe a bit anachronistic. But then again, this is a universe with dragons and I think dragons disappeared sometime around the 12th century.
- Good idea to extend the sword arm. I also made it bigger (Thundercats hooo)
- Good idea to have a cape. I wasn't sure if I wanted one but now that is settled. Goes well with the viking culture without going full horned helmet.
- Fair point about the spear, I guess it would be pretty unwieldy to hold it so close to the spearhead anyway, except right before throwing it. However, I'm still a bit undecided. Although my version was less realistic and more defensive, it did reinforce the dynamic of him leaning back as he's under attack. On the other hand, I wanted these guys to look like attacking conquerors. Bah, I'm taking this too seriously. Let's be honest: I'm not sure Netflix is even going to call me.

Offline fskn

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Re: Some characters

Reply #63 on: May 25, 2021, 02:43:39 pm
Let's be honest: I'm not sure Netflix is even going to call me.

:lol: They just might!
I'd answer this post with a meme if I were allowed to post that.
https://imgur.com/f8qcAlt



In order to make that pectoral armor not appear too flat, you may want to consider:



(I made it rounder, but then it was too round. :lol:)
« Last Edit: May 25, 2021, 04:01:48 pm by fskn »

Offline cels

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Re: Some characters

Reply #64 on: May 25, 2021, 06:52:13 pm
Oh yeah! I kept trying to make the pectoral armor more 3D and it just ended up as a spherical manboob. Of course it needs to slant a little. Just another reminder that I need to spend more time on anatomy studies. Great edit! Now he looks more like a proper historical dragon-riding Spartan viking from Siberia.



I think I'm pretty happy with these 11, unless there are some glaring mistakes.



Now I just need to add detail and correct mistakes on my babooshka, the dancing cowherd girl, the spear dude and the two-eyed Odin Claus.