AuthorTopic: GR#001 - Red Dragon - Dither  (Read 23344 times)

Offline Dogmeat

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GR#001 - Red Dragon - Dither

on: November 17, 2008, 09:52:19 pm
Original from about a year ago:



Updates in sequencial order:





I started working on this about a year ago and have since not touched it, actually, I worked on it on saturday but one of my HD's crashed and I am not going to be able to retrieve my updates easily so I grabbed this one from  my website and am going to work on it vigorously, hopefully, with some good ol' C&C pixelation style.

In my newer version I had fleshed out the face a lot more, gave the eye a rounded feel and worked on the wing a little bit. I know this needs a lot of work but I want it to be absolutely perfect and polished.

Thanks, and its good to be back.

EDIT: added all the other wips, including the one where I pixeled a little boy with a teddy bear, which won't be in the final :)
« Last Edit: January 19, 2009, 05:41:04 pm by Dogmeat »
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline Souly

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #1 on: November 17, 2008, 10:11:21 pm
Just nit pick edits take em or leave em.

I think you may have over dithered the face but that's just my opinion you may like it dithered up to you.
Cleaned up the chest a bit, made the wings joint bit bigger?

But it's looking good, keep going.

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #2 on: November 18, 2008, 01:09:15 am
Great suggestions Souly, I got rid of a lot of the dithering and worked on the shading on the head and leg a bit. Also changed how the feet look, I think they look more gnarly now :)

New WIP based on Souly's suggestions:

Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #3 on: November 18, 2008, 04:37:40 am
more updates:

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Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #4 on: November 18, 2008, 08:49:34 pm


Had to use gimp because I'm at work, so I'm not sure if it exported correctly. Either way, I made some more adjustments, but I'm now getting to the point where I'm having a hard time locating the next thing to flesh out. I also tried to add a knight in front of the dragon to give a size perspective but it really didn't work out.

I could really go for some hardcore C&C on this dragon, I really want to make him as polished as possible while learning some advanced techniques at the same time. Please offer up your suggestions :)

Thanks!
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #5 on: November 18, 2008, 11:29:15 pm
I like it, but I think it needs a bit of cleaning up to really bring out the details.

When you're working on something this size, I think it's important to make the most out of the little space you have, and use thin outlines if you're going to use any. Another thing that adds to line thickness is the color of the lines. High contrast lines seem thicker, so try to avoid using black where it's not really necessary in order to see the lines.

Dithering should also be used with care, preferably only to blend colors where needed and suggest texture (scales in this case). You also have a bit of banding and some similar colors. I think it's a good idea to keep the increase/decrease in hue/saturation/brightness fairly constant between the colors in the ramps, but also keep in mind that you need fewer colors in ramps that are only going to be used in small areas (like the white) than in the colors for larger areas (like the red). Your palette is also a bit plain at the moment. Try varying the hues a bit more.

The dragon itself seems to lack a clearly defined light source. Try to move the highlights closer to the light and add more shadow in the other end. You can use ambient light to suggest forms in the darkest parts if you feel you lose too much detail by doing that.

The shadow cast by the dragon on the ground could be lighter so it's easy to tell it apart from the dragon itself.



This is a fairly extensive edit, but I wanted to give you some ideas for colors and how to sharpen it up a bit and still keep it AAed and dithered. I thought green would serve as a nice contrast to the red and moved the highlights towards yellow. You're free to find other combinations, of course.

I hope that's useful. :)

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #6 on: November 19, 2008, 12:49:08 am
Thank you Arachne!

I have made some adjustments while trying to learn from your incredible edit, I definitely see the faults in my earlier versions and hopefully I'm on the right track with this next WIP:



Also, I tried to bring the features from the other side of his head out a little bit, let me know what you think. I still have to work on the wings, feet, tail and more adjustments to the legs/body/face, lots to do, just the edit I needed to keep me working for a WHILE!

THANKS!
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline I Am Uh

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #7 on: November 19, 2008, 01:34:07 am
Did a little edit.

Somethings I think you should work on are contrast and pallet, try something crazy and out of you're comfort zone, that's how you learn.
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Offline Larwick

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #8 on: November 19, 2008, 02:02:59 am
Did a little edit.

Somethings I think you should work on are contrast and pallet, try something crazy and out of you're comfort zone, that's how you learn.
I think you may have some monitor troubles! I see that dark blue as darker than the dark grey. It's very saturated and dark, making it harder to read also.
I actually think the palette is fine as is, it suits the piece fine. It's a cute character dogmeat, keep it up. You'll have to fix the end of the tail as it reads quite confusingly, although you probably are already.

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #9 on: November 19, 2008, 02:27:52 am
Lar: You got it :)

Ok, so here is what I've done tonight based on what Arachne suggested. The wing was a lot of trouble for me along with the tail tip as well. Rimlights are another thing I haven't used much so placing them on my version while trying to learn from Arachne's edit was challenging as well. I'm wondering about my shadow, I'm trying to get the wing to cast a shadow and I think i've been staring at this for too long so I submit it to you guys:

Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline Fool

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #10 on: November 19, 2008, 06:43:59 am
Cutie=)
A think it might benefit if you raise an eye to make room for the cheek. Also pose looks a bit stressed, see if this  makes any sense:


I move spine with shoulder down to make wing more visually attached and move tail on the back - i think it just not logically connected up there. That brown shade is very close to the green one and instead of buffering it creates something indefinite, i lite it up a bit. Perhaps, it all is up to you.=)
« Last Edit: November 19, 2008, 06:53:35 am by Fool »

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #11 on: November 20, 2008, 12:43:19 am
Thank you Fool, for your C&C.

After carefully observing the changes you made I edited my version. I edited the back leg and tail most of all, the face a little bit, worked the wing a bit and fudged the chest and back based on fools observations, here it is:



I'm still not sure with the tail, you tell me what you think, fools was much longer, but it seemed right when I made mine.
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline Larwick

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #12 on: November 20, 2008, 02:31:16 am
I actually prefer the old eye, it gave more of a drowsy mood and character. Now he's more of a proud dragon. Just to give my opinion.  :noob:

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #13 on: November 20, 2008, 04:43:26 pm
The blue is jagged edges and nitpicking a bit, but the banding is a more consistent problem shown in yellow.



Here's some recycled dithering advice since it also applies here.

See if you can break those lines. :)

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #14 on: November 20, 2008, 04:58:01 pm
Great! I understand, I wondered about the roughness of his look. I usually go for the ultra soft and detailed style of things but I don't want to go too overkill. I will try smoothing out the jaggies and consistency throughout tonight.

I just want to thank everyone for the awesome C&C I've gotten on this one, I never would have thought I would have taken the image this far and I'm really excited to polish him.

Now he just needs a name. I was thinking Rubicon or "rubi" for short.

Oh also, on the eye thing. Lar, I did like the large drowsy eye before, and I tried a few larger eyes out before I shrunk this one down. I still would like an eye with a bigger pupil. I was going for a pupil that was about 2 dark pixels in size. Thing that I found is that the eye really looked like it was embedded into the head, in a large smooth socket, this is the aspect I did not like and I will attempt to go for a larger eye while not having the socket. Expect some updates tonight.
« Last Edit: November 20, 2008, 05:00:10 pm by Dogmeat »
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline Helm

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #15 on: November 20, 2008, 05:40:11 pm
The blue is jagged edges and nitpicking a bit, but the banding is a more consistent problem shown in yellow.



Here's some recycled dithering advice since it also applies here.

See if you can break those lines. :)

If I hadn't given you another cookie earlier in this thread I'd give you one now. That top image is a great explanation of banding and I've been trying to think of ways to explain the effect to people more because I think banding is pretty much the most important thing to understand as a pixel artist these days.

In short: thank you for posting :D

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #16 on: November 20, 2008, 05:59:31 pm
I don't understand the term "banding", helm. Please correct me if I'm wrong in my understanding but is banding the way to tie two shades together with some sort of balanced color in between? Or is it more like an inner AA that provides a level of polish. In other words, I really don't understand the meaning behind the concept, but from the imagery, I get a sense as to what needs to be done to correct the problem. I think if I understand how the problem arises, I can avoid it more effortlessly in the future.

Also, if we get a good explanation going on, I will be better suited to give similar C&C to others in the future, so we're helpful all around :)\

I am learning loads from working on this, feels great.
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline Willows

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #17 on: November 20, 2008, 06:21:10 pm
Banding happens when you "line up" your pixels in a way that creates runs or imaginary horizontal or vertical lines.

It can be seen very clearly here:
http://www.pixeljoint.com/pixelart/30529.htm

on the dude's cheeks. That's a blindingly obvious example, whereas on yer dragon it's a bit more subtle.

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #18 on: November 20, 2008, 06:34:46 pm
oh I see, it's like pillow shadind along edges. I totally understand and that reference image really got the point across. Thanks!
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #19 on: November 21, 2008, 06:52:45 pm
new: old:

I have to admit, this is a tough concept for me, I've fudged the area arachne pointed out above, and I'd like your opinions on how I'm doing, and if I'm correcting the jaggies and the banding problem correctly. If not, I  need more help, otherwise, I can start working on the rest of him.

the way I'm looking at the problem is more like if we have 3 colors, a light, medium and dark, the dark and the light can't touch, except for the corners, and you have to bridge the colors using the medium color. Problem with this is that i feel like I've seen a lot of good pixel art where you have a really bright highlight, and to 1 side you  have smooth blending, but to the other side you have the darkest color in the palette. I'm not sure if this is a lighting thing, a style thing, or what, if anyone knows, please let me know :)

Thanks ;)

EDIT: added dragon10.gif next to it, for ease of comparison.
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline AlexWeldon

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #20 on: November 21, 2008, 07:00:55 pm
This is a good study in facial expression... looking at the sequence of edits in the original post, he went from surprised to suspicious to bored to smug. Later in the thread, he became proud and condescending. All perfectly good and cute in their own ways, but it depends on what you're trying to communicate, and it's good to look at them all and try to see what it is that gives them those moods.

Offline Arachne

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #21 on: November 21, 2008, 10:34:22 pm
the way I'm looking at the problem is more like if we have 3 colors, a light, medium and dark, the dark and the light can't touch, except for the corners, and you have to bridge the colors using the medium color. Problem with this is that i feel like I've seen a lot of good pixel art where you have a really bright highlight, and to 1 side you  have smooth blending, but to the other side you have the darkest color in the palette. I'm not sure if this is a lighting thing, a style thing, or what, if anyone knows, please let me know :)

If you look at the second image I posted you'll see that I've put the light and dark together. The trick is to keep in mind that bright plus dark equals medium, and you can take advantage of that to get rid of banding, like so:

bb
ac
bb

ab
ac
bc

(if you imagine drawing a line between the two b's in this one, you'll see that you end up between the light and the dark, which kind of cancel each other out)

instead of

bc
ab
bc

ab
ab
bc

And you can extend it in many different ways:

bab
cac
cbc

cab
cab
bbb
cab
bbb

aabcc
abbbc
aabcc
abbbc
aabcc

instead of

bab
cbc
cbc

cab
cab
bab
cbb
bbb

aabbc
abbcc
aabbc
abbcc
aabbc

And it can work for double pixels as well:

cb
cb
da
da
cb
cb

One thing to note is that you end up with coarser dithering patterns this way. The most important thing is to try and notice where you can place a pixel so that it looks best. After a while, you'll begin to see a pattern. :)

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #22 on: November 22, 2008, 06:07:48 am
I made a reference chart based on Arachne's text interpretation. It is much easier to understand :)

Thanks Arachne!

Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline skamocore

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #23 on: November 22, 2008, 08:31:35 am
Dog, I think you misrepresented her chart a little bit, it should be:

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #24 on: November 22, 2008, 04:34:43 pm
Ah, you're totally right! I was really tired last night trying to translate arachne's text into graphics, thanks for correcting me :) I stared at this for so long I had dreams about how the patterns should look. Hopefully get some of the dragon done this morning.
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Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #25 on: November 22, 2008, 06:06:41 pm
Using the rules ( modified skamocore one thats actually correct ) I started fudging the area arachne spoke of in a previous post. I may have missed some pixels but let me know if I'm on the right track, I think i'm starting to understand the concept but I want to make sure before I drill it into my head and finish this guy. I think it's looking more smooth for sure and getting that "pixely" feel from it.



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Offline I Am Uh

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #26 on: November 22, 2008, 07:12:16 pm
Tragic reduction of definition. It's Bicep simply looks like fat now. The elbow looks a bit rounded as well. The only way you could pull this off is if it's a very feminine female Dragon. (Which isn't very Prominent in Dragons.)
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Evil prevails.
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Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #27 on: November 22, 2008, 09:53:47 pm
Attempting to correct the muscle problem while still using the banding rules:



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Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #28 on: November 23, 2008, 09:57:02 pm
Latest:



Worked the face.
Worked the legs
Realized the purple works as an excellent highlight for the darker red.
Fudged the tail a bit

Let me know what you think.

Edit:

Thought the back leg still needed a highlight, unsure if this is working well or not.

« Last Edit: November 23, 2008, 11:07:41 pm by Dogmeat »
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Offline Helm

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #29 on: November 24, 2008, 11:30:47 am
First of all I want to tell you that I like this lots, especially the expression. However I think you might be spending too much time with single pixels and not looking at the effect of the piece on the whole.


  • Your rendering is too 'dirty', I think. You don't define forms enough and you put more import on noise dither than such a small piece benefits from
  • You hue shift to hue shift. Do you need purples in a red dragon? It's not that I don't like the effect is that I ask myself 'what does it accomplish'?
  • The forms are too fuzzy with aa and the outlines too heavy. I think you'd do better defining strong, simple forms and then trying them together with pixel tech, not straight off dithers and noises and single pixels everywhere, they just confuse the design
  • The sharp speculars you use make it seem as if the dragon is made of alabaster or something, an ornament on the side of the fireplace catching a lot of glare from flash photography

It's important to realize that I don't think my edit is BETTER than the original in these respects as it is an extremity used to define a range between what you're doing and what else you could be doing. Even if you find an optimal space somewhere between that that's great. I didn't want to be more subtle because then it would look as if I was giving you nitpicks (and this thread has been mostly nitpick critique besides arachne) whereas I think there are fundamental issues with design and pixel art you need to come to grips with. For example note that ordered dither, when used discreetely and doesn't touch other dithers suggests middle shades of the two colors mixed without needed more shades. It looks almost 'oily' as if someone put a brush down and did a strong pass with a feathery finish, that's a good effect. I know a lot of people like nose dither but in such small spaces it mostly creates banding and confuses the forms! Some anatomy also be an issue but eh, it's a cartoony dragon. Usually I suggest to people to think more like painters and less like sprite artists but to you for this piece I'd have to suggest the opposite! Think more about what bodies of pixels do together and not just the value of a single pixel here and there.

Offline tehwexxl0rz

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #30 on: November 24, 2008, 01:45:18 pm
I was working on an extensive edit for you when I realized, hey, most of my college applications are due in a week and this is not one of the required essays I still need to write. :ouch: So.... only a partial edit:



Besides the color edit, I tried to demonstrate proper dithering, or at least my understanding of it. Hope this helps some. :)

Offline TrevoriuS

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #31 on: November 24, 2008, 02:18:31 pm
What you display is uniform dithering, any other form is not necessarily improper. Which it isn't in this case.

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #32 on: November 24, 2008, 06:35:30 pm
I was working on an extensive edit for you when I realized, hey, most of my college applications are due in a week and this is not one of the required essays I still need to write. :ouch: So.... only a partial edit:



Besides the color edit, I tried to demonstrate proper dithering, or at least my understanding of it. Hope this helps some. :)

Nice edit!

Helm: Also a nice edit, I see what your getting at.

What I'm trying to accomplish is to give the dragon that kind of cute/toylike look, while also making him look organic and alive, like a dragon you could put in your shirt pocket. I thought the purple helped give him a sort of sheen that would have come from an ambient lightsource and give him that almost realistic look but I agree it makes him too shiny.

While I like the clarity and polish of tehwexxl0rz edit, I'm trying to accomplish something in between his and helms edit.

What I'd really like to know is if I have properly addressed some of the banding issues I was having before.

More edits to come!

Edit: I also wanted to say that I think my palette needs a change, something is off in it, and I like where tehwexxl0rz was going with his, but I don't think I want it to be as dark in some areas. If anyone has any suggestions, maybe we can pull apart my ramps and talk about the theory behind the colors and where to go from then.

When I really think about it I think I stole some colors for this dragon from Larwicks snakebomb, its his current avatar. Thanks Lar!

At this point though, I think the palette needs to be adjusted to finalize this dragon, any ideas?

Edits won't be so often this week, I'm getting married on saturday and thanksgiving on thurs. We'll see though.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2008, 06:38:30 pm by Dogmeat »
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama

Offline Jad

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #33 on: November 24, 2008, 09:17:45 pm
wex: Actually yours and arachnes philosophy about dithering go together, only your kind of dithering intersects and her kind mostly separates colour layers to avoid banding. Both have a system of separating the two diagonal dither meshes by one bright mesh and one dark, "uniform dithering" as trevorius worded it.  O:
I seem to remember the old days when peppermint pig and other people made a fuzz about what they called "interlaced dithering" .. ? Which is exactly what thewex did here, I think. Someone from the olden times care to refresh my memory on this?

I think the interlaced technique creates a nice scaly texture by its combining of dark and bright pixels next to each other. makes the scales seem glossy. Dogmeat, I second your desicion to try and find a good middle ground here, it might create appealing results! Good luck.
' _ '

Offline Dogmeat

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Re: [WIP] Red Dragon

Reply #34 on: January 15, 2009, 08:44:56 pm
Wow I haven't worked on this in a while, first thing I did was grab wexx's pallette. I like it, but I'm thinking it needs to be desaturated just  a little. Worked on the arms/body/face/etc.. Only had an hour today to touch up some stuff. Also noticed in helms edit, he had a good point bout where the front foot is, so I moved it to make more sense. I'll work on this more when I get home from work, all I had was lunch :)



Also, when posting this, I am noticing the lighting is a little hard on that front shoulder/arm/leg, I was trying to imagine the light hitting the muscles, but not hitting whats around the curvature of the muscles, you tell me.

Great to be working on this again. Thanks to everyone who's given great C&C

Real quicky edit based on what I just said:



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« Last Edit: January 15, 2009, 10:10:33 pm by Dogmeat »
Daisuke Nagano Yokoyama