AuthorTopic: What is your pixel art workflow?  (Read 4986 times)

Offline QuickSilva

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What is your pixel art workflow?

on: March 06, 2009, 01:32:17 pm
I thought that it would be a nice idea for newer pixel artists to learn from if some of the more experienced artists from this site could tell us a little about the way that they tackle creating their pixel art pieces.

If you would be kind enough to share a moment of your time and descibe to us some of the methods that you use then that would be great. For example, do you work in a similar way to how you would with another medium such as paints? Do you start with outlines or do you go for volumes? Do you use different methods for lowres art as opposed to higher resolution pieces? All of these things would be handy to learn from.

Personally, I have started to work more on volumes as opposed to outlines as I feel it gives my work a more natural feel, I also start with a rough blurry image sketch and gradually try to bring it into view. When making smaller art for games I still find that outlines are the way to go. I also like the limitations of working with a small palette as it makes things more unified especially for game artwork.

How about you? Please share your techniques so that we can all try a different approach to creating our art. Pictures most welcome too :)

Jason.

Offline Gil

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Re: What is your pixel art workflow?

Reply #1 on: March 06, 2009, 01:43:14 pm
Just look at the video thread, everything you need is in there ;D

Offline Mathias

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Re: What is your pixel art workflow?

Reply #2 on: March 06, 2009, 05:49:39 pm
Gil, the video thread isn't sufficient for QuickSilva's idea for the content of this thread, but you're right - the video thread is very handy for getting a behind the scenes look at some of the better artists work here and how they go about it, yet most of the videos are so fast-paced most of them amount to nothing more than a time-lapse. They lack narrative and explanation, although yes, showing an artist's A-Z process on a certain peice.
I think QuickSilva's thought is to create a place for pixelers to exchange techniques and tool ideas, workspace setups, etc. He's wants meaningful pixel art-related dialogue that we can all benefit from.

Since I love the idea for this thread I'll start and hopefully others will follow.

I use Photoshop CS4. Pencil tool with custom brushes. I use lots of layering, but but no alpha transparency. Wacom Intuos 3 6x8" tablet.
I've discovered some nice techniques for facilitating pixel art creation:

1) No need to constantly zoom out to check out 1x. Simply go to Windows > Arrange > New Window and Photoshop will give you a second window that auto-updates, staying in sync with what you're doing in the other window, so arrange the windows accordingly in PS's workspace, set one to 1x zoom and don't touch it, then use the other window for everything else - what you do in either window will update in the other. You cannot do this with the navigator panel because you can't control it's level of zoom.

2) Designing double pixel art peices. Change PS's pixel aspect ratio - View > Pixel Aspect Ratio > Anamorhpic 2:1 (2). Now all pixels are stretched to 2x their width automatically - you draw one square 1x1 pixel, it looks like a 2x1 wide pixel. Awesome for doing old C64 stuff, etc. When done, save the final thing, set pixel aspect back to square and use Nearest Neighbor interpolation method to stretch the thing to 200% width, save it as an indexed GIF or PNG, done.

As for early sketching for new stuff, I start on paper and pencil, every time. It's just what feels best to me, despite having a good tablet. I like having a hard copy. And I don't think it's old fashioned, just another preference. Sometimes I'll scan it it, sometimes I won't, depending on complexity.
I start with forms as well, as opposed to lines. Lines are too confining and calculated. Seems to me, lines cause you to limit creativity, because now that you've made these lines, you have use 'em like a template and that may supress midstream ideas, etc - If you decide to change a char's arm, are you going to create new lines right off the bat, no, just mass it in with blobs and refine until you have the right shape. Having said all that, there's always exceptions, sometimes lines may work better, there's no sure-fire recipe for art.

You use the word volumes in yer post, but I think of volumes in relation to depth and lighting which come after I have the basic form of something established.

« Last Edit: March 06, 2009, 05:54:01 pm by Mathias »

Offline QuickSilva

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Re: What is your pixel art workflow?

Reply #3 on: March 06, 2009, 07:48:39 pm
Thanks for starting us off Mathias. And you are correct about forms coming before volumes.

Jason.

Offline Gil

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Re: What is your pixel art workflow?

Reply #4 on: March 06, 2009, 07:59:56 pm
It's strange for me to do the volumes first, because it was drilled in at art school that you go for lines first, never volumes. Of course that was all model drawing, so you have something to reference off.

I always work with colored in line art though. The basic colors are filled while I'm working on the line art. I'm completely opposed to working with black lines on white canvas. It's also something we learned in art school, never sketch on white paper. Sketching on tinted paper with colored dry media adds a lot of warmth to a sketch that alters perception of the piece.

Mathias: your post comes off as a bit patronizing towards me. I don't like it. Just pointing that out ::)

Offline Mathias

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Re: What is your pixel art workflow?

Reply #5 on: March 07, 2009, 01:28:35 am
Well, when I sit down to for a brain dump, quickly sketching to search through ideas, see what they look like on paper (or screen, whicheva), I do create lines and not forms, so preliminary rough sketching I guess is lines, but later, on the computer it's normally form I'm thinking about. I dunno, I guess what's important here is that finding what works for you and not handicapping yourself. Try new stuff all the time if you can. Break your normal system, there's probably a better way to do it than what you're accustomed to.

Gil, sorry about that, not my intent. Although, I did think your initial response a little one-linerish/on the curt side. But I guess I was wrong, obviously I'm not used to you. You know how some forum people can't do without their "searing brevity". And, you raise an interesting point about perception. For a while I would sketch with normal paper/pencil in a totally dark room with only one black-light on, it creates a really fun effect, very much so altering your perception of what you're drawing, as you draw, almost gives the drawings a life of their own, but then flip on the light switch and it looks different. Interesting phenomenom, something to keep in mind as an arteest.

Offline samw3

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Re: What is your pixel art workflow?

Reply #6 on: August 19, 2009, 08:30:05 pm
Can I bump this topic?  Seems like such a great topic, but it kind of fizzled out, and, as a budding artist, I'm very interested in this.

Also, beyond workflow, what are some time saving tips?  My art comes painfully slow right now and I'd like to improve the speed of it.
Sam Washburn