AuthorTopic: GR#015 - Death Walks - Realistic Face  (Read 11935 times)

Offline Helm

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GR#015 - Death Walks - Realistic Face

on: February 10, 2010, 03:43:33 am


This has been an experiment in working from a messy cg base and reigning in the end result on the pixel level. It took about 15 hours and I can't say I consider the end result a complete success as there are many places where pixel clusters are sloppy still but I'm afraid I have reached the end of my patience.

Here are steps:



This is the original sketch at half the size I worked on. As you can see what drew me to to it was the gestural strength, most of which I like to think I retained in the final piece.


Here the palette is initially attempted.

You can see an unfortunately textured attempt in the corner of the halo here, which I later discarded.

The long hard work of reigning in the messy pixel clusters from the color reduced version begins in earnest here.

And ends here.

Critique is always welcome but nitpickery not really encouraged (meaning, I'm aware of many places where a final hand would help smooth things out but it's not something I want to do right now). Discussion on the attempted experiment and results are more what I'm after. Does this work as pixel art? Is it too messy? What would you have done differently? Do we *want* to classify such things as pixel art? Are 15 hours of trying to reign in bad pixel choices made by a computer a worthwhile endeavour. So on. After we're done (and I might even have the time to go over it and smooth a final few things out) I will also submit this to PJ with full transparency of the process and with a link to this thread so if we have something worthwhile to share with the world at large about CGI reduction - to pixel art methods and concepts, we can try here.

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #1 on: February 10, 2010, 04:15:28 am
I don't think there's anything against it being pixel art. You obviously had control over every pixel and color in the image.15 hours of working a reduced cg image may not be the best way to do pixel art- but you made it work. Is it messy? Well you're drawing a fucked up zombie lady so the subject matter is pretty messy and the pixels are going to achieve that affect- but it is done in an orderly manner.

Also I miss the lovely background work you started to do and later abandoned. The simpler background works well, maybe even better than the other would have- but it still would have been really pretty to see.

Offline blumunkee

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #2 on: February 10, 2010, 04:28:02 am
What? No nitpicking? !yus!

Gut reaction: this is doesn't look or feel like pixel art, even though I know it is.

On close inspection I can see where the hand tooling is, yes. But I suspect the average jackoff—even the artistically knowledgeable jackoff—would just see this as a simple 30 second PS image reduce. Which is unfortunate given how much work actually went into it.

I'd like to ask you; was it worth it? Is this end result your original intention?

I don't have a problem with my gut reaction. It doesn't ooze that hand built look, but it personally doesn't matter to me. Maybe because I already know you can do the hardcore bear-punching grizzly-chinned manly-man stuff it's not an issue. But I wonder what the comments would look like if this was not from the ubiquitous administrator guy with the perversely high post count? If newly registered OGLOP, post a count of 1 showcased this as his first piece, I'd imagine most users would want to see some proof in the form of something more obviously "pixely".

I anticipate issues getting this onto PJ. Anyone familiar with the process knows that this isn't the kind of work that necessarily gets green-lighted without a little scrutiny and discussion. Surely you must anticipate this as well. Are you challenging the system? Or perhaps just lightly poking the system with a stick from a distance? What do you hope to accomplish? What dark desires fuel your twisted machine heart? Must we squishy human meat-puppets really confront the unmitigated force of your cold unfeeling robot logic?
« Last Edit: February 10, 2010, 04:32:18 am by blumunkee »
ALL CREATURE WILL DIE AND ALL THE THINGS WILL BE BROKEN. THAT'S THE LAW OF SAMURAI.

Offline Helm

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #3 on: February 10, 2010, 05:17:44 am
Ryu that background sucked ass it was just a 'token demoscene' reflex that I'm trying hard to abandon. Not every surface needs texture even if I can draw every service to have texture.

blu you ask all the questions I was thinking about privately too.

First of all I don't know how I feel about it, yet. I think it looks more handpixelled at 2x zoom than any cgi-reduce ever would, but curiously, at 1x zoom it looks like a cgi image which is a very uncanny thing to experience - at least for my own art. I don't expect myself to do this again any time soon, but I do not think the experiment was a failure. This *is* controlled, not in any absolute degree (no, Ryu, not every pixel here is consciously placed and pondered on) but as compared to the pixel placements of the majority of pixel art submitted and accepted in Pixel Joint (or of those that we critique here in Pixelation) it's well beyond the median (with this I mean to suggest that even simpler pixel art pieces aren't very controlled due to the artists' inexperience with how pixel clusters work together. Just because someone is using only the pencil tool in ms paint it doesn't mean they're minding their pixel placements as much as they should or could). There is a degree of chaotic unintentionality in the basic brush-strikes but that exactly was the exercise. When we purely pixel sometimes, we tend to default to the single-pixel control brush because that's the comfort zone of pixel art but there's much to be gained from 'messier' doodling that exposes the subconscious. The effect of this piece is in the end this: doing the classic "I ripped off a Boris Valejo painting for my demoscene submission" only I didn't rip anyone off. Just how when you have to repixel something that wasn't first made for pixels you end up with novel approaches, the same here. I'd never have pixelled hair strands like these if I started with a pixel doodle base for example.

I am not exactly challenging any system (I won't die of sorrow if PJ won't allow this) but I want to consider some common and repeated 'words of wisdom' about intentionality and control in our medium that people with less or sometimes even none at all experience with what it takes to pixel capably tend to propagate because their communities are based on such 'common wisdom'. I feel extra responsibility because it is parts of what I've said in the past that have been construed often, so I felt the need to check out the other side and see if it's viable. It is in the spirit of demystification and critical thinking that this was made. I don't want to mock anyone, just scrutinize easily said truisms. There is, I feel, always something useful to be gained artistically and aesthetically from looking under such rocks. However yes, I did start making this when that thread about 'what is NPA in pixeljoint?' was made, although I didn't work on it after that for like, 8 months, it's done now.

Offline Squiggly_P

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #4 on: February 10, 2010, 06:40:33 am
Maybe from a purely academic point of view you could say it wasn't 'pure' pixelart, but if you consider the original to just be a base that was then heavily edited at the pixel level, I don't see why it wouldn't be considered acceptable.  On the other hand, if tracing is considered unacceptable, then using the actual image as a base might also be considered 'cheating'...  I dunno.  I guess it all boils down to how you feel about it.  Had you not shown the process and just posted the finished piece, would you be comfortable with that?  I mean, it's not like you traced a photo or something.  You drew something, then you applied pixelart techniques to that drawing.

It might not be 'pixelart', but it's definitely pixeled art...

It's also awesome, btw.   ;D

Offline Jakten

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #5 on: February 10, 2010, 02:56:13 pm
The blinking image really freaks out my eyes. Everything goes wavy once I look away from it...

Anyways I would class this as pixel art, I don't see why it wouldn't be. The ends justify the means in this case, it has all the trappings of what pixel art is. If the progress wasn't posted I don't think any one would be the wiser. I agree that it looks a lot more pixel perfect in x2 though than x1. Her face looks like it hadn't been pixeled to me but it might be because of how much is going on, especially around her mouth and chin it's only noticeable because I see some dithering puttering away from it.

This is how I thought most people did their pixel art anyways. It makes it feel a lot more natural and painterly while still having an incredibly crisp look which you wouldn't get from a pure cgi image. I'd say using such a messy method might not be the most friendly way to pixel if you are aiming to get something done in a specific time frame though but I wouldn't rule it out if that's the style you're going for.

I look forward to seeing how PJ deals with this when up post it up...

Offline Helm

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #6 on: February 10, 2010, 03:03:24 pm


This is also useful to show how much changed and how much stayed the same.

Offline Mike

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #7 on: February 10, 2010, 03:54:58 pm
Am I to understand that it's frowned upon when an artist uses a sketch as a pixel base??????

Offline Accident

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #8 on: February 10, 2010, 04:11:35 pm
no, it doesn't have the usual charm of pixel art. no, at first glance, it doesn't look at all like pixel art.

but as pixel artists, aren't we taught to be observant, and to expect big things from small packages?

also, even through this sucky FF zoom blur, I can see the pixel placement just fine at 2x. And yeah, I also see some 'natural' pixels, that don't look as controlled as they should be.

but if the matter of discussion is whether this should be considered pixel art or not, I don't think tracing is a /bad/ thing if it's your own work. in actuality, it's a very good thing. it many beginners would use their cgs as traced reference to their pixel scenes, I believe one could see a general improvement in the overall expected skill. as you've said in more than one post, I think, and as many others have also stated- you can't have a good grasp of pixel art if you don't have a grasp of art fundamentals in general.

I'm all for it.

Offline Dusty

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #9 on: February 10, 2010, 04:20:06 pm
Am I to understand that it's frowned upon when an artist uses a sketch as a pixel base??????
There's a reason this wasn't just posted and left as-is. Hence a lot of the lengthy chats about just this very topic. I like that pixelation is open to such a degree of discussion about 'taboo' like this.

I agree with everyone else though, the end-result doesn't look very much like pixelart at all. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but ya... first thought is color reduction. You have a point though, looks way more refined at 2x.