AuthorTopic: How did the old masters create their pixel artwork (e.g. Simon the Sorcerer)?  (Read 22984 times)

Offline questseeker

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I feel slightly responsible for involuntarily derailing this thread towards "pixel purity" with my two posts about Deluxe Paint; I think tools are an important factor in creative process, and I hoped for someone experienced to explain how vintage software affected their way to work and how contemporary software is different.

To come back to the topic, the flame raises a surprising amount of surprisingly relevant points, such as:
  • Were the "old masters" recognized as such? By whom? And masters of what, exactly?
  • Specifically, did people who liked videogames appreciate their art?
  • How did the various communities of authors and audience of pixel art change, socially and culturally, over so many years?
  • Was the notion of "pixel art" as problematic as it is today, or did people just draw stuff?
  • Where does the artistic ideal of pixel art "purity" come from? My theory, as I explained, is that it originates from the fracture between mainstream users of general purpose software and nostalgic users of "retro" software.

Offline STE 86

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    • Were the "old masters" recognized as such? By whom? And masters of what, exactly?
    LOL no sorry, we were not masters, we were students on the cutting edge, constantly evolving and experimenting with new machines and applications we were constantly learning new skills. consider it similar to the photographic revolution in the 60s with David Bailey and Brian Duffy etc (just nowhere near as glamorous :) )
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    • Specifically, did people who liked videogames appreciate their art?
    yes it was appreciated and some folks like Bob Stevenson and Paul Docherty on the c64 and later Pete Lyon on the ST were "names". although to be quite honest most were known only to the demo scene by name. the general public may well have appreciated their graphics but generally they didnt know their names. the programmers and particulary the musicians of the 80s games were far more likely to be "names" than the artists/designers.

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    • How did the various communities of authors and audience of pixel art change, socially and culturally, over so many years?
    i can only comment from the c64 demo/compunet era but in those times artists could be very well known on the "scene" and would recieve far more attention there than commercially. after about 1989 i cant really comment because i was commercial after that totally with no activity in the demo scene.
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    • Was the notion of "pixel art" as problematic as it is today, or did people just draw stuff?
    No nothing like this, we just drew stuff and learned from each other. just talk and observation of new techniques, no crits no hard and fast theory just do it and learn and experiment. no barriers on what you could or could not do, if u could draw it, it was acceptable. just no "digitization" which would be termed "wired" now :)
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    • Where does the artistic ideal of pixel art "purity" come from? My theory, as I explained, is that it originates from the fracture between mainstream users of general purpose software and nostalgic users of "retro" software.
    I have no idea, but presumably it came after the time when applications finally enabled artists/designers to work in the electronic medium in the same manner they would on paper or canvas rather than dropping clusters of pixels on the screen by hand.

    Steve[/list]
    « Last Edit: February 19, 2010, 09:11:49 pm by STE 86 »

    Offline Jad

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    we just drew stuff and learned from each other. just talk and observation of new techniques, no crits no hard and fast theory just do it and learn and experiment. no barriers on what you could or could not do, if u could draw it, it was acceptable. just no "digitization" which would be termed "wired" now :)

    ooh. Sounds good. Sounds like how I've experienced pixelation since day one. Lots of drawing, lots of checking out stuff, although plus a lot of looking at the sprites of your favourite games and then seeing what made it all tick. All of that later turned into the expressions that are regularly used by pixelation members of today when we talk about stuff like 'sel-out' and different dithering types.

    Of course, us who've been around for years now use these terms like they're common knowledge. We're not trying to prove an artistical point with that, we're talking about how the hell you make the pixels do what you want them to do. I think that's how you want stuff to work too, right? Whenever someone says 'what is AA anyways?' or 'what do you mean by 'banding'' there's always someone to tell them or paint them a picture. Are we giving helpful pointers by doing that, or are we confining people into rulesets? I guess it's good food for thought. But we're not doing that cause we're pretentious assholes with a crazy agenda of making pixel art into a true art form. Haha

    I think you have a good point anyhow. Us at pixelation have been circlejerking with constantly discussing the same topics, the same methods, with the same people. That way we've become better at all these things and standardized knowledge about stuff, made tutorials and the like. Thing is that it's always refreshing when someone will point out a completely different way of doing things or just explain that 'you can always just do it like this, cause it still looks good'. Someone like you.

    I think you need to know that you're certainly welcome on these boards. Especially do feel free to offer critique and pointers in the pixel art section.

    Also feel free to debate whenever you feel that someone gives critique that forces art into needless conventions. Just don't do it cause we're pretentious jerks. Cause that's not why things are as they are, and it's a silly way to describe the origin of the current state of things. Maybe you never actually said that. Then cheers, let's have some fun with those pixels oldschool ararar
    ' _ '

    Offline blumunkee

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    Huh. I really should be following my own advice, but I need to post a counter to Jad's characteristically pleasant and levelheaded post, because personally didn't find much eye opening or refreshing about your points, STE.

    And I'm not ready for this flame to die.

    From the snipits you've provided about your glory days, it sounds like your experiences as an anarchist nonconformist illustrator/nonartist/whatever where similar to ours, except at the time it was popular and hightech so people wouldn't look at you like a subhuman-mutant if you brought up palette indexes and rastermodes in casual conversation among friends, and also nobody didn't not ever critique anything not once ever. And because you were able to share ideas and learn techniques without critique, it makes what you did practical and pragmatic, whereas when we in our future world share ideas and learn techniques and critique the application of those ideas and techniques, it, idunno, makes us assholes.

    I feel like I've already begun to attack a straw man, so I'll go ahead and indulge myself. From your posts and the tone thereof, all I've been able to extrapolate is that we are all closed minded pretentious jerks, that the observations and terminology we've invented are rubbish, that any act of communal discussion above the level of cold emotionless technical pixel placement is unmitigated faggotry, that most of the old dogs critique for the sole intention of grooming their already massive egos, and (I'm really extrapolating here) that your 'scene' zeitgeist was somehow more valid than our 'pixelart' zeitgeist.

    You suggest that your ideals are purely pedantic and functional, but I also get the impression that you think our defining of terminology and our writing of tutorials is wrong-headed, and that we should all just play it by ear and have all these important aspects of pixelart whatever embedded into the very being of our primal human consciousness in a blissful orgy of instinctual knowledge. This seems like a conflict of character traits (I read you as the anti-hippie type), and I don't think your idealized version of how things should work would do much good for the prospective pixel weenie who stumbles upon this place.

    I feel, and I know several other people here also feel, that it is important that we do study and we do document these things, because they are wonderful and beautiful and precious and obscure, and if we don't people might forget about them, or never find out about them, or never even care to find out about them, or never even get the chance to internally debate if they should or should not care to find out about them.

    I can't speak for anyone else, but I personally write stuff and hang out here and give people critique because I think there are useful pixel skills which can be systematically taught. I think pixel art can be approached in skilled and unskilled ways, and I think the skilled way is, 98% of the time, genuinely superior. Nobody here has ever claimed that the foundations we are attempting to build are the endall-beall way to do things. But I do feel that some sort of foundation, no matter how wobbly, will help the regular jackoff who gets interested in pixelart to not go into things completely blind.

    We have and will continue get some things wrong. We will invent some bad terminology and write some bad tutorials (I am particularly guilty of both). Some of us will make some assumptions that are fundamentally flawed and be forced to rescind some established truisms. For most of us this is an underfunded archeological expedition carried out by amateurs, not a nostalgic remembrance by a council of wizened sages. We look and we think and we write about what we think. Some people will misconstrue these things as lemmas and axioms, when they are actually snapshots of our theories. What do you want from us? We dork out over pixelart and then we write about what we dork out over.

    Pixel purity is balls. Everyone realizes that eventually. (?) But, is it unreasonable to expect that someone can get passionate about pixelart and and unwittingly take up the warcry of pixel purity? Humans are stupid and compulsive and operate most efficiently when their logic gates have to do as little dynamic reconfiguration as possible. Maybe pixel purity helps some developing artists build essential skills. If they limit themselves to that subset they consider legit and hardcore, doesn't it stand that by doing so they will force themselves to understand those things we see as foundational? Once that artist has matured, their thoughts can move from a mode of "If I don't use 16 colors, I might as well cut my wrists with chicken wire and bleed out on the floor" to "I can use as many colors as I want, but I'll choose use 16 colors because it makes my dick get bigger". Yes it should FUN and DYNAMIC and EXCITING but that doesn't mean you can't, at some point in life, take it a little seriously.

    Okay okay, let me ask you some some straight questions, ones not laced with rationalization or justification. It would seem that there is us, then there is you. Why? Can you become a part of us? Can we become a part of you? Is there really any difference between us and you?
    « Last Edit: February 22, 2010, 02:48:49 am by blumunkee »

    Offline STE 86

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    hmm actually i think i preferred it when u wrote single line posts but hey ho.

    at no point am i saying that critiques are at all bad, indeed when i taught graphics they were mandatory. but critiques must be based on practical advice tailored to the individual piece, not sweeping generalisations or rules to follow. and crits couched in pretentious sounding "techie" or "arty" sounding terminology are of very little help to anyone who hasnt frequented YOUR scene before. (i know this because when i first came here i couldnt understand what alot of your "arty technobabble" was about)

    that being said, tutes on AA or general anatomy are always useful to be pointed at. however as a "generalisation" on here i would say that 80%+ of all crits on here should really start with "GO AND FIND REAL LIFE REFS" as the amount of time newbys on here have just tried to make up the subjects pose, detail etc is just exasperating.

    there is absolutely no excuse these days for not google image searching for the elements u are trying to recreate.

    maybe there should be a general tute/sticky on finding real refs on the net?

    lastly, as real life events have just made clear to me, don't get wrapped up in your own little world of art and take it seriously. art isnt serious really, u just think it is at the moment. it doesnt save lives, it should really be fun and enjoyable.

    i think THAT perspective only comes with age tho. when u realise just what DOES matter.

    Steve

    Offline Helm

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    lastly, as real life events have just made clear to me, don't get wrapped up in your own little world of art and take it seriously. art isnt serious really, u just think it is at the moment. it doesnt save lives, it should really be fun and enjoyable.

    I get the feeling that such statements fit the bill of 'sweeping generalizations or rules to follow'. Brief as they are, I do not know how useful they'd be to most readers, especially those that haven't had similar life experiences to yours. I remember thinking 'life is meaningless' when someone close to me died and I'm pretty certain I cannot communicate this to anyone who hasn't had such a similar experience just by saying these words to them. There could be some approximation but it'd take a lot of hard work and artistry to get such a sentiment across (which is what people are doing with art in general, propagating their idea and emotion space). So what I get from you saying such things is that you're searching for a sympathetic idea-space in this community, like-minded people or at least tolerant people, to achieve some restful state of mind. I guess Pixelation could fit the bill. But because you don't go into much detail prefacing these worlds of wisdom, it's like telling people 'don't be close-minded' or 'don't think so much', well-meant but usually meaningless truisms when directed at the generic other. You'd have to get deeper into it if you want people to understand you, you'd have to get practical, to tailor your words to the individual you're talking to.

    So you have arrived at a contradiction, criticizing others for what you're doing yourself. Is that bad? I don't mind it so much personally, but if I did, I'd address it by not begrudging others for talking in 'sweeping generalizations or rules to follow'. I mean, when captured in a 'do as I say not as I do' situation it's best to change what I say, not neurotically push myself to do as I say. It would also help if I wouldn't hold them in any authority so I would not be betrayed when I test out their theories and they don't work for me. You could try that, you could let go of all the negatively charged value judgments related to 'people talking art bollocks' and just experience the social atmosphere here without such high stakes of acceptance and then perhaps it wouldn't reflect so darkly. The Pixelation userbase is good people, from almost 10 years of experience I can tell you that.

    As I see in the critique board, you're giving valuable and practical help to strangers so at least that's working out, you've found a use for Pixelation (and Pixelation has found a use for you!). If you're looking for some sort of acceptance for your ideals and concepts of art and aesthetics, they're more probable to come after a long time serving the community with such high caliber critique as you offer now than it is by being an adversary to the status quo or whatever. I'm sure you know: years pass, attitudes change, moderators come and go and the tone of community drifts so who knows, in a couple of years ideas such as yours might be the norm in Pixelation. I don't really care, what matters is that people continue to help people selflessly and build a warm community.

    Offline Gil

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    Pixelation is, to me, like a library. An effort to document a specific artform (or medium, style, subset of illustrations, whatever). We have moderators that act as librarians. They try their best to make the offering of pixels as big and meaningful as possible, within a certain ruleset, mainly aimed at two things:

    The pursuit of knowledge
    Friendly atmosphere

    If you go to the library and start shouting and kicking a football around, the librarians will come to you and say: "This is a place for reading books and we impose a rule that dictates being quiet at all times". It sounds pretty fascist and comparable to what the mods do around here. It imposes rules on how people should read books, which is wrong. Some people like reading books while listening to loud music and there's nothing wrong with that. I feel this is what you're trying to teach us. That we can't stand in the way of how people want to enjoy their hobby.

    Then again, I wouldn't want to go to a library without rules, for obvious reasons. That's what I'm trying to teach you. There have to be strict fascist rules to some extent, but it's aimed at the greater goal of introducing the people of today to the wonderful world of visible squares you enjoyed so much in 1989.

    Offline The B.O.B.

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    hmm actually i think i preferred it when u wrote single line posts but hey ho.

    at no point am i saying that critiques are at all bad, indeed when i taught graphics they were mandatory. but critiques must be based on practical advice tailored to the individual piece, not sweeping generalisations or rules to follow. and crits couched in pretentious sounding "techie" or "arty" sounding terminology are of very little help to anyone who hasnt frequented YOUR scene before. (i know this because when i first came here i couldnt understand what alot of your "arty technobabble" was about)

    that being said, tutes on AA or general anatomy are always useful to be pointed at. however as a "generalisation" on here i would say that 80%+ of all crits on here should really start with "GO AND FIND REAL LIFE REFS" as the amount of time newbys on here have just tried to make up the subjects pose, detail etc is just exasperating.

    there is absolutely no excuse these days for not google image searching for the elements u are trying to recreate.

    maybe there should be a general tute/sticky on finding real refs on the net?

    lastly, as real life events have just made clear to me, don't get wrapped up in your own little world of art and take it seriously. art isnt serious really, u just think it is at the moment. it doesnt save lives, it should really be fun and enjoyable.

    i think THAT perspective only comes with age tho. when u realise just what DOES matter.

    Steve

       Ermm, we do provide help with real life references, and anatomy. Have you ever actually searched throughout the site, before making this blind assertion? We even have a go-to thread with people posting pics needing help with anatomy, with some online referenced pics for anatomy as well.(Anatomy thread)

       If that's not enough for you, would you rather we just advertise Google image search for online references, somewhere on the site? Would that satisfy you?

       Also, if you look at just more than a couple of wip threads, you WILL see that when we notice a portrait pic(of some sort) is done a by a beginner, even in pixel art, one of the first things coming out of our mouths is to go back and try to get the basics down of traditional art before moving forward, as it's current limits are showing in the piece in question. Here's one I found in about, oh I don't know, 2 min, right at the top of the wip section!:

    [WIP]-Female Anatomy[nudity]

    There's even a page dedicated for non-pixel art type drawings, where most comments are with anatomy and real life references as well:

    Clicky-poo

       Also, who says art is all business, and no play? Is this how you see things when dealing with art? I hope not. It's always been fun for me, and helps clear my mind from time to time, getting lost in drawing something. Maybe it is your age, playing a trick on you. I'm guessing you've been a graphic designer for a couple of years, and you've seen it deteriorate to petty advertisement, with push on media quantity, rather than quality. And with this mindset, you've projected it unto a digital art site, such as this.(just a guess, though I'm probably way off base here.) This little theory is not justified by any length on my own accord, but it's placement in this response, is. And it's reasoning is simple: from the outside looking in, it's easy to judge, especially when you don't want to give the inside a chance.
    my back hurts...

    Offline STE 86

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    actually u are way off base. : ;D

    try googling STE'86 too?

    and am i not the one in almost every post i have made saying "do not take this tooseriously" and "it should be FUN"

    have u actually read my posts? or was this just a kneejerk reaction to me critising your "crit methods"?

    Steve

    Offline Helm

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    I went and googled you and found your c64 database entry with all your photo copies of 80's film stills/posters. Some of them have good multicolor instincts, others lack technique but it's a moot point for pieces circa 1986-7. Is there something else I missing? How is your 20-years-ago c64 work relevant to this thread?

    What you're doing is not answering anyone's points in the thread and just reiterating your bullet-point contentions with this windmill you're chasing. Apparently the Pixelation you experience isn't one others are experiencing. It's almost you're like on a crusade against something you aren't inclined to understand. Either start discussing with people and actually addressing what they spent valuable time trying to present to you, or let it go.