AuthorTopic: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint  (Read 36954 times)

Offline Ai

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #20 on: February 25, 2009, 03:54:30 am
I wasn't personally involved with the removal and readdition of miascugh's piece but I didn't have a problem with it nor did he seem to have a problem with dogmeat's request either.

I am continually mystified by the handy tools everyone's talking about with ProMotion and would like a copy of my own so I can see what they actually do.
Well, much of this stuff is available in the freely downloadable trial version. Really the main limit of that is the save format. The indexpainting stuff definitely works, and all the other drawing modes.

http://www.cosmigo.com/promotion/

You can also find very similar functionality in grafx2 (mostly accessed via the 'FX' button)
http://code.google.com/p/grafx2/


Quote from: ptoing
*What I was trying to say, only expressed better*.
Yes. And these tools are not easily delimited. For example, Airbrush can be brilliant for sketching areas of dithering (since airbrushing is actually what dithering presents the illusion of), Smudge as I mentioned before can be used in a 100% predictable way for quick application of small stretches of AA, Perspective is an absurdly useful modeling tool, sky gradients are boring as hell, but I use them routinely to figure out how I want the sky setup when there is a sky, Polar Mapping can be a great animation tool ... In my observation, this excessive focus on the final product can cripple workflows, with no tangible benefit.

Quote from: Gil
- Allow NPA parts of an image if sufficient parts of the image are pixel art. Examples are mockups. Sky gradients with brushed clouds are okay if the tilesets and sprites are all pixel art.
I have to agree that this is suitable at least for mockups.

Quote from: Gil
- Create different categories on the site such as "spec art" (art following a ruleset restriction like NES or C64), "pixel pure" (current standards) and "hybrid" (containing some NPA elements, not detracting from the piece being pixel art)

'spec art' is definitely a good idea! It's surely quite a different creature from your average pixel art.

I would also like 'hybrid' because I know I could provide good examples of the category, and effective process is a far more worthwhile trait in a gallery than it is currently given credit for. With hybrid, we could have more honest debate (verbal and practical) about effective workflow, which is always a tricky subject no matter what kind of work you're doing, rather than 'well, I used the proscribed tools' or 'I used some non-proscribed tools, so I'll pretend I used only the proscribed tools in order to avoid dogmatic smiting.' plus some limited experimentation with those spartan limitations.


If you insist on being pessimistic about your own abilities, consider also being pessimistic about the accuracy of that pessimistic judgement.

Offline pixelblink

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #21 on: February 25, 2009, 03:55:53 am
...Only watch the end product for NPA...

and how does one watch for NPA without doing what we're already doing? There are always blurred lines between what each of us construes as NPA and it becomes a challenge for sure.

And Shark/Feron: it's good to see you still kicking around here :) I think the topic is relevant to both sites and this can only be a resourceful conversation for all of us

Offline Gil

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #22 on: February 25, 2009, 03:57:09 am
Feron, I explained why I want the discussion here, this has nothing to do with Pixelation, but rather with the less biased opinion of the Pixelation member. The PJ mods are apparently entirely okay with this.

As for pixel perfect, here's a nice example:



All three portraits are varying degrees of pixel perfect. The dragon is close and could probably be called pixel art with some touchups, while the demon is far from pixel perfect. The on the right is definately pixel perfect.

Now, if EvilEye were to clean up the dragon to pixel perfect standards, PJ would still not allow it, because 80% of the process was done with brushes, filters, scaling tools and other such "dirty tools"


Edit: 4 minutes 50 seconds for this result using color reduction in Photoshop. Another 15 minutes and the piece would meet the PJ quality standards easily if I wouldn't mention the tools used. Dither and everything else courtesy of a Photoshop filter

« Last Edit: February 25, 2009, 04:07:27 am by Gil »

Offline Dusty

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #23 on: February 25, 2009, 04:11:54 am
Dusty, thing is: If you make a sketch in Photoshop and then reduce colours, shrink BUT THEN start going over it and doing pixel revisions = pixelart. The process is not as important as some people make it out to be, really.
Aye, I agree. I was just raising a point. I really don't want to actually get into the debate and take a side, just found an interesting point I wanted to raise and see how it was responded to(not to say I'm ignoring any responses to it, I just feel others can take it and do more with it than I could).

edit: One thing that I think is way over the top over at PJ is their strict moderation of previews. As far as I can tell, if you use prerendered fonts or partial transparency(a strip of black at 50% opacity over the image, for example) and such in previews, the piece still gets rejected.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2009, 04:26:27 am by Dusty »

Offline ptoing

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #24 on: February 25, 2009, 05:15:31 am
I was bored. 32 colours.

<-orginal 3148 colours
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Helm

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #25 on: February 25, 2009, 08:05:02 am
Oh my, it seems I kinda started something. But if this has started then it means it's something that is begging to be discussed, so if anyone is interested in a more fleshed out opinion than the above quote by Gil, here it is.

First of all, Pixelation is not 'loosening up' in the least. You might have not noticed any changes in the ruleset on the top of the forum. That's because none occurred. Let's look at the relevant parts again:

Quote
Always clearly state what your references were in making a piece. If you sketched in pencil, color-reduced to 1bit and then went to work on it, okay. Ways like this are completely accepted and nobody's going to shout at your for it, but it's good to know anyway.

Quote
Pixel Art, is art where there's specific attention paid to the fine manipulation of picture elements. It deals with the informative quality of specific, single pixels. If the art you're about to post has not been pixel-pushed on that level, don't bother. Automatic AA, soft brushes, filters, smudge tools, all are indicative of index-painting, or at least dirty-tooling, but do not always mean your art will not benefit from pixel-level critique. If you've made something using some of these tools and then you're able to reign the piece in by optimizing the palette into using the best possible amount of colors, went in and pushed single pixels until everything is right, then it's probable we'll be able to talk about your art and how it can be made better. Always be clear of how you made things, only post concept art when it's relative to a pixel-art piece you've made and never never try to deceive us.

As you see here these thoughts are not in conflict with how we deal with things now at all. The Low Spec part of the forum is not a pixel art forum per se, and if it hurts the focus of what Pixelation is, it will be reevaluated. It is however not an admission of 'moving on with the times' or any other such thing. Good pixel art will be in 10 years from now about what good pixel art is today. Control will always be paramount to the skilled technician.

I stress this point because it's important for what I say later. These rules have not been watered down around here nor will they ever. Why? It's not a point of purism. It's a point of learning the art form (which is the focus of Pixelation). You will not learn the art form if you're being deceptive with your methods. You will not learn the art form if you're trying to do oil paintings in pixel art or photographic manipulation in pixel art. You will learn the artwork when you do pixel art in pixel art. Embrace the medium. Learn what it does. And when you're ready (like Ptoing is, I don't think anyone would doubt this) sure go ahead, start with an index painted airbrush base, or a scan, or whatever. It will not reduce the quality of the artwork if you know how to reign it in.

Furthermore points have been raised about what this control we often speak about really is. Is the process of making art after all, conscious? Very much not so. It is very subconscious in its original intent. One might start with some abstract wacom strokes until something 'speaks' to them and they know what they're making a bit more and they work it into pixel art. Or one might work completely from a pixel art base and still do abstract stuff before starting to formulate towards a specific piece more. When we speak of control we do not mean one should work like a robot, one pixel placed *bzzt* next pixel placed *bzzt* from the top left corner down assembling a perfect finished image FROM MEMORY or something ridiculous like that. Sorry for the hyperbole but a lot of PJ commentators seem to think this is how great pixel art is made.

No, control in pixel art is judged by how the end result is somehow... elegant. You look at the image very close, you inspect every part and there is some... holistic beauty in how most (only a god could utter 'every') pixels work in unison, their potential maximized. This is what the desired control is. That some dude did whatever they did (as long as he told us the truth about what he did) and then spent the time loving the majority of the pixels in his image until they were the right color, in the right shape. Anyone that has spent a few years pixelling honestly knows what I'm talking about. These people should be judging equally honestly if someone else put that effort in.

I do believe that the attitudes prevalent in Pixel Joint are relevant to the letter of the ruleset explained above, but not the (clear, I had hoped once) spirit of it. I believe this because PixelJoint is operated by Pixelation users or at least people who were at the time of its inception very aware of the attitude that would later coalesce into the above stated ruleset on - at the time - Pixelopolis and then reworded and refined in Pixelation proper again.

The problems that occur in Pixel Joint are many from my point of view. I won't cushion the blow here, I hope you guys will be ok with me saying it how I see it:

1. You are flip-flopping daily on what is and is not pixel art based on what is and is not admitted to the gallery. Whether it's a sin of omission or not is meaningless from a managerial point of view. If one of my pieces were hypothetically removed because I stated I used this or that dirty tool yet my end result is clearly controlled (as is the startling case of Mia's piece) and then some dishonest bullshit like Slay's pieces stay there then I wouldn't have any faith on whomever is making these calls anymore. I don't want to put any words in Mia's mouth, perhaps he really didn't mind at all, just saying how I'd feel. It's inexcusable that someone so amazingly good at making his pictures feel right, pixel-perfect almost, like Mia is taken off and then sloppy sloppy sloppy art is put up there and adored by the masses daily.

This happens perhaps (I stress the perhaps):

2. Because the people that make judgment calls on what is and is not pixel art are not on one mind on the matter
3. Because they are not all as experienced in spotting what is a fake and what is not
4. Because they are too entrenched in 'scene politics' (pleasing one or displeasing the other) to make sound judgment calls
5. Because they don't have the time to look very closely to every piece submitted in an admittedly huge and growing gallery

These are just from my point of view.

Here's possible steps towards a solution:

Get off trying to represent the medium through a discussion of your personal aesthetics and instead look at methodology. Pixel art is not 'something that looks like video game art'. It is when someone controls the information of single picture elements and how they act in unison. If the end result shows this sort of control and the artist has been transparent in their methodology it doesn't matter if it doesn't look like 'video games' to you. Yes, looking at color counts means something because lots of colors probably mean the art is not controlled. Yes, looking at aa paths and the shapes of the dithers means something because you can spot dirty tools (no control) and autocomputed color reduction (no control) there.

But it also takes trained eyes. I see very blatant mistakes in what is accepted and what is not in the archives. I don't know who of the people in Pixeljoint are making the calls, but it seems they should agree on what is and is not pixel art before they start judging.

Perhaps you need to install a sort of plugin that has a voter below a piece that says 'IS THIS PIXEL ART ACCORDING TO THESE {LINKED} CRITERIA? Y/N' and when someone votes, the voter would check how reliable this person is in their opinion (which should be based on how many of his past choices as 'is not pixel art' end up actually being rejected by the numeral majority) and weigh their vote for or against respectively. I have faith in crowds, I don't think they're idiots. This sort of system would take care of itself for most really problematic pieces of art. However, especially given the relative inexperience of a lot of PJ users, on closer calls there the opinion of the ignorants (OMG THIS IS TOO GOOD TO BE HANDPIXELLED!!!!1) might overweigh against the actual people that can tell there is control. Then the informed mods step in. This would mean way less work for the moderators and a less tired mod is a more careful mod.

But this won't solve the problems with Pixeljoint actually seemingly being of many minds as to what pixel art is. I hope this dialog (as well as similar over in PJ) might help to that end.

Some comments on aesthetic strengths. I often talk about Computer Aesthetic. I do believe that video screen art has some inherent strengths that manifest in pixel art (but not only) and that an artist aware of these strengths can play them up and achieve things that someone that is just worried about their art looking 'cool' or 'realistic' will not manage. I am very happy when I see people that do this. But I do not think this is a point of purity that is relevant to pixel art and how it's made. A lot of very well made pixel art is completely without any aesthetic merit for me and it is not my place to judge it as NOT pixel art here for that. I think similarly it is not the place of PJ to judge stuff as not pixel art if it doesn't conform to their, ultimately, preconceived notion of what art made of pixels should look like. This is a very important point. There is a HUGE DIFFERENCE between a) trying to weed out deception and encouraging proper artistic learning practices (which is the twofold reason we have the ruleset in Pixelation) and b) not accepting art in a gallery because it doesn't suit one's notion of how pixel art should look like. This seems startlingly clear to me but perhaps it's not. If asked I will elaborate on the difference.

This ties in with some demosceners you pissed off, I am not aware whom exactly and if anyone has links to the scenes I should give it a read. If you upset them because their art was sloppy and they copied from some shitty fashion magazine without stating references then good riddance, you really don't need them or their practices any more than the 90's did. But if you just thought it didn't look how it was supposed to look and/or someone said they used that tool or another and that's that, then that's not good.

Also as to disparaging comments in Pixeljoint. I would suggest you not encourage this and generally be very wary of 'scene rivalries'. This isn't because I will cry if someone calls me a fag over at PJ. It is because you must consider the mentality of the type of person that leaves here and goes over there to you to bitch about what jerks we are. He probably got it given to him straight about his artwork and now is misery looking for company. Do you need to encourage these people (even with silence)? Do you want them to converge to a countable opinionated minority? Do you want asshurt dudes that can't take critique influencing the steering of your gallery website? I've been linked to some pretty sad threads some times, enough of them to know that I wouldn't feel welcome there and regardless of whether any of you think I'm a nice guy or not, I don't see a reason why I shouldn't be, fundamentally, as a lover of pixel art and learning thereof.

A lot of this occurs in my opinion just because the userbase in PJ is generally larger and therefore a lot more children use the boards. But it also means that a lot of immaturity is allowed to grow there (again, by sin of omission or not doesn't matter). A lot of people might think Pixelation is hard-assed about 'idle fun' sometimes. There's a reason. You can't learn much in a children playground besides how to sling mud. "Well fuck you Helm if you think you're running a place of learning, get off your high horse lol you're just internet entertainment for me" might be a thought that crosses ones mind when they read this. Fair enough, but if it does that person has no place amongst people that honestly want to spend their time learning pixel art (or anything else) online. They shouldn't spoil it for them because they might need to reject core values and/or stand out to self-validate. There's other places that are full-on internet lols and nobody's keeping you from them.

Offline Cure

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #26 on: February 25, 2009, 08:37:06 am
Firstly, I agree with what I think helm is saying in that any stark “Pixelation vs. Pixeljoint” viewpoint is founded in a false dichotomy.  One is primarily a gallery, on is primarily a forum.  Many Pixeljoint mods frequent and post at Pixelation, and many Pixelation mods post their work on Pixeljoint.  As has been said, both sites are two important stones in the same building, the pixel art community.

I, for one, did not and do not agree with the removal of Mia’s piece.  If he hadn’t said anything, we would’ve never known the difference, because it was very controlled.  It wasn’t one of the cases where “npa” methods hurt the piece or detracted from its status as pixel art, and I see it as nothing but pixel art.

And not all of the mods agree with what is and isn’t let in to the gallery.  We’re only human, so we sometimes take different stances on individual pieces.  As far as the queue goes, it isn’t just a cold number, we know who votes and how they vote.  If someone consistently makes bad calls, then I’m not very likely to give their vote as much weight as artists whom I know have a keen eye for these things.

I don’t really follow you when you touch on the “preconceived notions” bit.  I know what you mean of course, but I personally (and the rest of the mods as well, I assume) don’t go by any preconceived “look”, but only the quality and control of the pixels.  I concede that there was quite a mess with many demoscene pieces, though.  I hope we can rectify that in the future, as we have alienated some very good pixel artists that way.  Our concerns with many of these pieces, however, is the possibility of index painting that seems not to have been reigned in.

Another reason our userbase is perhaps less serious is that we’re a gallery rather than a forum, first and foremost, and critique isn’t the primary concern as it is here at Pixelation.  This is not to say that critique is not valuable at PJ, however, as it is always encouraged.  We also have a lot of the gimmicky aspects that are geared towards encouraging more experienced artists, such as the rank system and accompanying privileges.  The way in which we highlight weekly tops and award monthly tops is also something that younger, less mature artists might find attractive, as they might be looking for time in the limelight, rather than the “improve this and that and don’t expect a trophy because this ain’t little league” attitude of Pixelation that is geared towards improving the artists, something that I personally like, and this is the reason I come here first for critique: it’s better for it, and it’s what the site is geared towards.

Offline Helm

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #27 on: February 25, 2009, 12:10:57 pm
But what is index painting? I made up the term index painting originally. I did it to help raise awareness of how Deluxe Paint and similar programs work. I didn't do it to vilify it, I just wanted people to be transparent in how they went about how they made things and didn't try to deceive people with bullshit about how 'every pixel is placed by hand'. If someone posted an indexpainted piece here on Pixelation he'd get a lot of 'uhh, you need to clean this up' critiques, and they'd probably be valid. Who over in PJ made the call that if something is indexpainted it doesn't belong in the company of pixel art? It's one thing to say "PLEASE BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT HOW YOU MADE YOUR ART" and another "THIS ISN'T MADE HOW WE LIKE THIS ART TO BE MADE, SO IT'S NOT ALLOWED".

As long as you can concede the fact that a single index painted piece of art can be embellished upon on the pixel level until it is under control then it is just a matter of personal opinion on whether a piece by x artist has achieved this. You might have one opinion, another mod might have a different opinion, some pieces will be therefore featured, some not, willy-nilly. The official stance of PJ will make no sense from an outside viewpoint.

Yes Pixelation is a place of learning and PJ is mainly showcase, but also keep in mind that a lot more people visit PJ than Pixelation exactly for this reason and therefore the former set the internet standard on pixel art practices. This carries an enormous weight towards the progression of the art form to not breed crooked practices, to not mislead, to not vilify. Just saying NPA SOZ in the wrong pieces and OMG AMAZING I DUN CARE HOW MANY COLORS IT IS IT ROXX on the wrong pieces also just is maddening for an onlooker that knows the artform, but it doesn't raise an eyebrow for a newbie and he will adopt these practices and he will gang up on percieved NPArtists and deify bullshitters that claim lies and then you'll have the situation that you currently have on your hands.

What is the focus of Pixeljoint? It isn't just a generic gallery. It's a gallery of pixel art. As any gallery isn't it responisble towards persuing a raising of awareness about the art form it exhibits, about demystifying common misconceptions about it and so on? There is a humanist demand there that the curators be truthful and as transparent in their working as possible. If it's a website dedicated to just becoming bigger and bigger then expect a loss of focus.

re: we're only human. That doesn't fly when we're talking about such a disparity of opinion on something that seems so clear-cut to me from a distanced point of view (I mean mia's piece). In any case you need to sort out a common dictum and adhere to it. It's one thing for two people to look at a color and have one say 'mm, that'a a deep crimson' and the other 'I dunno... I think I see some purple in there' and quite another to have one see black and the other white. Remember, from the outside you're not making any sense. This breeds unrest.

re: preconceived notions : when no common stance seems to be adhered about what is accepted or not into pixeljoint, it appears from the outside to come down to the matter of the different tastes of the moderators or just who seems to be online to make the judgment call at the time. They then choose according to some fuzzy logic in them where factors influencing could be 'am I feeling grumpy right now?', 'do I want to please this part of the scene or that?', 'do I really know what I think pixel art is or am I just parroting a party line I haven't exactly understood yet?', 'even if I have a good idea of what pixel art is, do I have the experience to be able to tell if this guy is faking it or not?' and finally 'do I think this looks good enough to be called pixel art or not?'. Any way this mixes, I see trouble.

Offline Ben2theEdge

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #28 on: February 25, 2009, 02:35:43 pm
At the end of the day Pixel Art is nothing more than digital painting restricted to a grid. The success or failure of the art will have a lot to do with how well the artist survives in this strict grid format. It requires a different approach for the sake of clarity, not for the sake of "following the rules". You could paint a colossal image in Photoshop and shrink it down to 32x32 pixels and it would be pixel art because it is art made of pixels. It would also look completely balls-tastic. Not because the "rules" were broken, but because the artist did a piss-poor job of working within the TECHNICAL (not self-imposed) limitations of the medium. Pixel art, more than any other art form I've worked in, often gets its technical limitations confused with artificial ones.

On a practical note, if I insisted on creating all my sprites pixel by pixel from a completely blank canvas without EVER working from a sketch or larger digital painting, I would probably never finish anything larger than 64x64. That's just not compatible with my workflow. I could debate my employer over the virtues of "true" pixel art but that wouldn't help my cause much when the results are identical. To keep purists happy I've always made it clear when I do something "unorthodox" like that, but if I didn't mention it no one would ever know! If an art form has "rules" that you can "cheat" at without being caught, then it's not an art form any longer, it has become a sport.

I do believe that Pixeljoint has become too stringent with their rules, but I devised a simple and elegant solution: I hardly ever post there.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2009, 02:39:32 pm by Ben2theEdge »
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Offline ptoing

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Re: Pixel purism and the PixelJoint

Reply #29 on: February 25, 2009, 04:04:47 pm
At the end of the day Pixel Art is nothing more than digital painting restricted to a grid.

Nothing less either, and at the end of the say all digital painting is restricted to a grid which gets elimitated the higher the res goes, which is why paying attention to where you place stuff is paramount.

Quote
It requires a different approach for the sake of clarity, not for the sake of "following the rules"

True

Quote
You could paint a colossal image in Photoshop and shrink it down to 32x32 pixels and it would be pixel art because it is art made of pixels.

Argueing like this everything would be pixelart just because it is made from pixels (while this would make some sense froma semantic standpoint it would also be a very very blurry field), so I would say pixel art is digital art where focus lies on the pixels, unlike in more highres art where the bigger usually the better.

Quote
Not because the "rules" were broken, but because the artist did a piss-poor job of working within the TECHNICAL (not self-imposed) limitations of the medium. Pixel art, more than any other art form I've worked in, often gets its technical limitations confused with artificial ones.

This is also quite true. To make an traditional art analogy: The smaller the canvas you work on the smaller the biggest brushsize you are going to be able to use and the more attention to every tiny stroke must be paid if you want maximum possible detail.

Quote
On a practical note, if I insisted on creating all my sprites pixel by pixel from a completely blank canvas without EVER working from a sketch or larger digital painting, I would probably never finish anything larger than 64x64. That's just not compatible with my workflow. I could debate my employer over the virtues of "true" pixel art but that wouldn't help my cause much when the results are identical. To keep purists happy I've always made it clear when I do something "unorthodox" like that, but if I didn't mention it no one would ever know! If an art form has "rules" that you can "cheat" at without being caught, then it's not an art form any longer, it has become a sport.

Discussing the level of truth in pixelart is silly (I am sure you agree), as long as it is manipulated thusly that in the end no automation is left (which would be pure), but what tools you use in the middle does not change the trueness.
64x64 is pretty small :) I guess that has to do with personal workflow tho. Both the huge robot and the executioner were done from scratch without scans, which does not make em any more pixelart than something like Helm's Plotting Revenge piece which is started from a pencil sketch.

Anyway, I am rambling (awake since 30 hours atm)
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.