AuthorTopic: GR#015 - Death Walks - Realistic Face  (Read 15149 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 »

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.

Offline NaCl

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #10 on: February 10, 2010, 04:38:41 pm
Pixel art is kind of weird to me, it's somewhere between a style and a medium. You wouldn't ask "is this an oil painting?", but you might ask, "is this cubist?". So the fact that the question, "Is this pixel art?" exists says to me that it is more of a style, though it is tightly coupled with the medium, and gets its name from the medium.

As for this piece of art, I'd say it's a CG drawing that was carefully given a highly efficient and small palette. However I don't think palette size is the best indicator of whether or not something is pixel art. Oekaki is often drawn with very few colors, but I wouldn't consider it pixel art. Pixel art has seemed to always try and transcend whatever hardware limitations existed, and this piece succeeds at transcending the approximate restrictions computer art used to face. So what does that make it?

For inclusive purposes, like posting here or on PJ, I would easily say this is pixel art, but if you want a rigorous semantic discussion about what is pixel art, then I'd say this was probably not pixel art.

Offline Helm

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #11 on: February 10, 2010, 05:09:26 pm
Mike: the difference between working from a sketch is that usually in pixel art we use the sketch as reference and then retrace strong pixel lines that simplify the sketchwork back to the familiarspace of how pixel art works. Here I opten to keep the computer-reduction sketch and work directly on it, fix its AA and colors and *then* do traditional pixelling on top.

Accident: what is then the usual charm of pixel art? Because I'm starting to believe that really it has very little to do with *form* and more to do with *content* like we expect from pixel art very period-defined SNES style fantasy Rococo creature sprites and then we extrapolate the technique from there to other contents?

This isn't exactly tracing as I said to Mike above though, that's the interesting part about it. Pixel artists have been tracing from penic (edit, I mean 'pencil' but I won't remove 'penic' because it's a hilarious freudian slip) linearts since the dawn of the form, this isn't exactly that.

Also, fix your Firefox! :)

NaCl: That's an interesting thought about pixel art as a style and a medium, it's like I said above people think pixel art and expect a certain type of content and aesthetics, they don't just think 'has this been handworked on the pixel level?' and those are concepts I'd like to challenge if not for any other reason than that creating such 'holy laws' especially for people who are inexperienced to the medium will lead to stagnancy. As to 'a CG piece with a efficient palette' you underestimate the amount of straight-up hardcore pixelling that went into it. And I don't say this to say you shouldn't, it's actually interesting that you look at it and you don't immediately notice the pixelling. I'm interested in why this is and how it works.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 03:01:55 am by Helm »

Offline Rosse

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #12 on: February 10, 2010, 08:37:22 pm
Very very interesting topic! There are many things discussed here, not sure if I collected every thought, but here some comments.

First, thanks to NaCl for posing that questions. I think PixelArt can defined as many things, a medium, a style but maybe as a philosophy too. I've read what wikipedia states about media in arts and I've got this:
Quote
In the arts, media  (plural of medium) are the materials and techniques used by an artist to produce a work.
Then the example for a drawing:
Quote
In drawing, "media" refers to the type of held dry tool used and the base onto which it is transferred. The "held dry tool" normally means a pencil, or stick medium, referred to as a "crayon". Small particles of broken-off stick medium are transferred to a base or plane of production on which the artwork is produced. A typical base is paper, but canvas and other surfaces can also be used.
If I want to do something similar to what PixelArt is to me I would post something like:
Quote
In PixelArt, the artist works on a canvas with an ordered raster built upon a specific quantum (undividable part, similar like the old idea of atoms). These quanta (plural of quantum) might have different forms, sizes or colors, but are never allowed to break the ordered raster. The artist doing PixelArt is concious about the ordered raster and the available quanta and tries either to obscure or highlight the ordered raster or a combination of it.
I just made this definition up, so it might have flaws, but let me make some examples:
  • First, what we consider normal PixelArt in Computers, for example a Sprite. We have a ordered raster (in modern displays squared pixels [consisting of three subpixels, not important because the subpixels are not conciously altered, except for real subpixel work]) and quantum (palette, for example fixed 16 colors or 8 colors out of (128x128x128) colors) - valid PixelArt concerning my definition
  • If we look at indexpainting, we are more on a gray level, but it's not PixelArt in my definition. We have a ordered raster and a given quantum (mostly straight ramps with different hues). But some tools ignore the grid completely and while painting the artist pays mostly no attention to the grid. - NO valid PixelArt concerning my definition
    As you can see, I think the raster is more important in pixelart than the choosing of the specific quantum (in computer pixelart the pixelcolor). I don't have a problem when you use brushes which cycles the index of the colors, because it doesn't break the grid. Other tools like doge&burn, smudge break the grid. Therefore IndexPainting is in most cases no valid PixelArt. Please notice, I only look at the part of IndexPainting, the cleanup part with nice tools is PixelArt!
  • HighRes Painting is not PixelArt, even when it has indexed colors / fixed palette, because the painter pays no attention to the grid.
  • Making a picture with mosaics is considered pixelart by me, because you have a fixed grid and a specific quantum (the tiles. They might even have different forms like squares, triangles or spheres).
  • Making pictures with multicolored stones on the ground is mostly not valid pixelart, because you have no grid you could pay attention you. If you make yourself a grid it becomes like mosaic, a valid pixelart
  • Sand mandala has a quantum (grain of sand), but it has no raster.

This is only as far as pixelart is concerned as a medium. In Helm's case, the part about the highres painting and downscaling is obviously not pixelart (I know, nobody stated that) and the last part about the cleanup is valid pixelart. The outcome is therefore valid pixelart (at least at the cleanuped parts). A blank canvas or a random canvas or a downscaled painting is for the definition the same. Every quantum which has been intentionally dealed with is pixelart. In a blank canvas you maybe leave some pixels intentionally white, therefore they are "altered by your mind" - they have content. In a random canvas or downscaled painting it's the same, it's maybe just harder to spot which pixels have "content" or not. Some pixels might even be correct even if they were never altered.

That's about the boring part.



One very interesting thing Helm said was "I'd never have pixelled hair strands like these if I started with a pixel doodle base for example". I claim that if Helm wouldn't have painted this image first in highres, the outcome would be certainly different!
Please let me elaborate: To me, making pictures should be a form of communication, you want so say something. Helm wants to say something, something which has a "infinite resolution" and that picture contains a head with a very faint tilt. In highres he is able to draw that. I just looked through Helm's pixeljoint gallery and I'm sure, if he had pixeled that image from scratch in the native resolution, the wouldn't have that faint tilt, it would be more extreme (only my opinion!).
Well, I can't say if you should have a fixed idea and then choose a medium or workflow or if you should be inspired by the tools you use or a mixture of it and I think in the end it's not even important (as far as you are honestly expressing yourself - bruce lee ;) ).

Please let me make a very unpopular statement: There are not enough original downscaled paintings which then are cleaned up! Why is that so? There's always that talk about Styles, Final Fantasy Sprite, Street Fighter Sprites - there's no content which is communicated, only shadows. I think it's easy to adapt to a style on a pixel level and create nice looking pixelart. That's how the pixelation forum started and how many artists got their job in the gaming biz. There's a reason why there are not enough downscaled and cleanuped paintings and so many "not very good" pixelartists. They lack in a higher resolution idea/picture. That's why it's also important to have strong traditional drawing and painting skills. It's way harder to draw something highres - pixeling is only a handful of techniques and experience. Many might think that downscaling an original painting is like cheating, maybe because it's so rarely seen, maybe because they don't understand it (it looks too CG-like for example) or because they simply are envious (as I said, cheating). But I do think that the workflow of Helm, painting big- downscaling and refining would make more good pixelartists which even satisfies the pixelpurists.

In the end I don't really care. I think it's fair if you have an idea and you use the tools to communicate it the best way possible. Maybe it's a highres painting or a pixeldoodle. In the end, pixelart is more a philosophical thing to me. Creating the most out of the restrictions, limit yourself. I think Helm somewhere made the example of a GO-game. Pixelart can sometimes even be something like meditation.
Just ask yourself (while critisizing), are you ranting about some arbitrary constructs or are you really seeing what some fellow human wanted to express?

Offline Chis

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #13 on: February 10, 2010, 10:27:26 pm
Sure it looks like scaled-down cg at first glance, but even without zooming in, if you look carefully you can discern pixels in her hair, in the background, under her chin, etc. And for some (not all) pixel artists that is the intended result - leaving it smooth and polished except for a few hints here and there that it's more than your ordinary drawn picture. I think that although Helm's piece takes this farther than most, the quality is still there. Maybe in that sense it's better that you left it almost-but-not-quite finished.

Offline Tuna Unleashed

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #14 on: February 10, 2010, 11:27:45 pm
fuck you helm i love this so much

anyway it took me like 3 seconds to see the pixelartyness in it

Offline ptoing

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #15 on: February 10, 2010, 11:38:50 pm
Awesome to see this finally finished. I agree it is probably not the level you could have taken it to, but it is nice nonetheless and I think the pixelart aspect of it is obvious. There is lots of really nice pixel level detail in the face and tasteful dither all around.

Can't find anything I would crit about it really (apart from sloppy aa here and there, but it's a moot point)
There are no ugly colours, only ugly combinations of colours.

Offline Chris2balls

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #16 on: February 11, 2010, 01:02:32 am
I think you've turned a CG sketch into pixel art. I won't reiterate what's been said, but this is to me like any base you'd use for a pixel piece, except that it's an already "finished" piece that's going to be reinterpreted in pixel art format, and not simply some sketches lines, blobs or volumes: you're reinterpreting it, it's a redraft so yes it's pixel art. This work pattern creates a dual vision of the piece, like in digital art, but married with the crispness and "solidity" (I mean by that the pixels are mostly "controlled" in terms of technique) of pixel art.
Thank you for sharing this, and what has been said was very interesting. Bookmarked, and I think I'll try this process myself!
☑ Available for work     ☒ Unavailable for work
Check out my portfolio if you are looking for a pixel artist!

Offline Helm

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #17 on: February 11, 2010, 02:42:44 am
Thank you all for your thoughts. Especially Rosse, you've given me a lot of food for thought that I'm sure will reach productive ends. I will submit this to pixeljoint now.

Offline Helm

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #18 on: February 11, 2010, 03:27:35 am
Actually I want to tackle some of these thoughts if that's alright:

Quote
In PixelArt, the artist works on a canvas with an ordered raster built upon a specific quantum (undividable part, similar like the old idea of atoms). These quanta (plural of quantum) might have different forms, sizes or colors, but are never allowed to break the ordered raster. The artist doing PixelArt is conscious about the ordered raster and the available quanta and tries either to obscure or highlight the ordered raster or a combination of it.

I think this is on the right path, though I'd keep talking of pixels as atoms instead of quanta just for readability (the building block of the universe being the atom is still more visible in public consciousness than quantums). The thing we hold from this is that pixel art is concerned with the raster grid and the pixel clusters they place on it and how they interact.

My problems however with your examples are that you take a spite and say de facto 'this is pixel art' although the actual pixel placements on this little 16x16 thing can be pretty senseless. Let's say I take the freehand tool in mspaint and just doodle a few jaggies and then clean them up minimally and slap some colors on and call it pixel art. By your definition is it inescapably pixel art because the grid is so highly visible the artist *had* to deal with it at least minimally. It might not be good pixel art but the principles are in action there. I don't necessarily disagree, I just think it's not a particularily brave definition. It's serviceable as a description of method but not very suggestive of ambition and high-end result. But perhaps that's besides the point.

Quote
If we look at indexpainting, we are more on a gray level, but it's not PixelArt in my definition. We have a ordered raster and a given quantum (mostly straight ramps with different hues). But some tools ignore the grid completely and while painting the artist pays mostly no attention to the grid. - NO valid PixelArt concerning my definition

What happens in your rulespace when the artist uses the 'dirty' tool and then spends anywhere from a token to a considerable amount of time going over the choices the automated tool made over the raster grid and fixing according to a micro-cosmic atomic-correlation preference?  :crazy: This is the matter at hand.

Quote
This is only as far as pixelart is concerned as a medium. In Helm's case, the part about the highres painting and downscaling is obviously not pixelart (I know, nobody stated that) and the last part about the cleanup is valid pixelart. The outcome is therefore valid pixelart (at least at the cleanuped parts).

You answer this but:

Quote
A blank canvas or a random canvas or a downscaled painting is for the definition the same. Every quantum which has been intentionally dealed with is pixelart. In a blank canvas you maybe leave some pixels intentionally white, therefore they are "altered by your mind" - they have content. In a random canvas or downscaled painting it's the same, it's maybe just harder to spot which pixels have "content" or not. Some pixels might even be correct even if they were never altered.

Yes there were combinations of pixel clusters that I looked at and they seemed fine as they were so I didn't touch them much (though I recolored them) and this will rub pixel artists wrong because I believe the psychoanalytical part of any definition of our medium involves a pride in the ownership of *every* artistic choice made. The avarice of 'complete control'. This is what I believe deserves to be tackled directly.

Do pixel artists think they're more entitled to feeling pride on their piece over say generic CG artists because they've paid more micro-cosmic attention to the building blocks of their image?

Might it be the case that when a pixel artist does that, they're trading in a set of freedoms to gain a different one and the end net result of intentionality and control of the image remains the same across most laboured-on mediums, given that the artists working on them are of equivallent skill and determination?

Quote
One very interesting thing Helm said was "I'd never have pixelled hair strands like these if I started with a pixel doodle base for example". I claim that if Helm wouldn't have painted this image first in highres, the outcome would be certainly different!

Exactly. But the pixel artist looking at this would say I (Helm) perhaps do not "own" the headtilt choice in the pixel art piece because it was conceived outside of the psychostructure of what pixel art is. That is to say: once you enter into the pixel art realm, you will fight only using pixels, whatever you did that brought you here before is worthless and your status will only be judged from what you can do with pixels. I find that a very telling characteristic of our cliques and I'm interested in provoking some discussion on it.


Quote
f he had pixeled that image from scratch in the native resolution, the wouldn't have that faint tilt, it would be more extreme (only my opinion!).

I'm very certain.

Quote
Please let me make a very unpopular statement: There are not enough original downscaled paintings which then are cleaned up! Why is that so? There's always that talk about Styles, Final Fantasy Sprite, Street Fighter Sprites - there's no content which is communicated, only shadows.

I wouldn't say that all those stylistic snes variations of fighter sprites etc are contentless, they are certainly derivative, but why do you say shadows?

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I think it's easy to adapt to a style on a pixel level and create nice looking pixelart. That's how the pixelation forum started and how many artists got their job in the gaming biz. There's a reason why there are not enough downscaled and cleanuped paintings and so many "not very good" pixelartists. They lack in a higher resolution idea/picture. That's why it's also important to have strong traditional drawing and painting skills. It's way harder to draw something highres - pixeling is only a handful of techniques and experience.

That's interesting, and what I'm trying to get to as a viable concept: pixel art technique applied to something that comes from a 'longer road' of methodology, not completely unlike how the Demoscene worked but without the ailments of that scene (or any 'scene') namely: dishonesty and misdirection to gain short-term recognition. If there is respect paid to how pixel clusters work and on their relative strengths, shouldn't we be open to work where pixel art was only the final stage of its evolution?

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In the end I don't really care. I think it's fair if you have an idea and you use the tools to communicate it the best way possible. Maybe it's a highres painting or a pixeldoodle. In the end, pixelart is more a philosophical thing to me. Creating the most out of the restrictions, limit yourself.

What's fascinating for me for the average pixel artist regurgitating those philosophical bullet points (many of which I've endorsed in Pixelation for what will soon be a decade) is how self-delusional they are. They say 'strive for greatness through restrictions' but they are only talking about the technical restrictions inherent in pushing pixels. When it comes to conceptualizing a larger work and trying to make it fit in those restrictions, that's 'cheating'. This is why I talk about avarice:  most pixel artists are content to make startlingly simple pictures, no, most of the time fragments of pictures and at the same time hold the pride of working on them so intentionally on the pixel level that they think they've elevated the content due to labored upon form.

But perhaps they are right!

I'm very interested in continued discussion on this. I'm sure the pixeljoint submission will gather fascinating anthropology too.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 03:31:09 am by Helm »

Offline Ryumaru

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #19 on: February 11, 2010, 06:19:32 am
Most likely more than half of these words go straight over my head, but pixel art is a medium, and as such- the process can never dictate whether it is or is not that medium. If you painted over a CG image created by you in oil paint- It would be an oil painting. If you pixeled over a CG image created by you in pixels, it would be pixel art. Trying to involve the process into dictating the medium of pixel art has brought much debate before. One could not say that a piece entirely done with a single pixel brush in an ancient art program is more pixel art than say something I did in microsoft paint, or what you did here. By reducing the amount of colors in your original CG image- you imposed a restriction- and from there you re-worked the image on the single pixel level- even if you did not change every pixel. With your current ability I'm sure you put more thought into every pixel you did or did not place in this image than the average pixel artist. if this piece was done on a metaphorical layer above the reduced CG image, and the sloppier pixel artist did his image on a metaphorical layer of a blank canvas( but really had a mental image imposed onto it) would you say it's not pixel art just because of their lack of ability to use pixel clusters to their full potential?

I do believe you have entered a sketchy realm in pixel art- where the amount of single pixel attention would be the main factor in determining whether it is pixel art or not. Just as a very rough work in progress piece of pixel art may be considered to have parts that are merely oekaki, I would say that if you had done about half work that you did on this piece- it would be the equivalent of a "WIP".

edit: some clarification of above- obviously I mean as long as you are " painting" with that particular medium. if you worked in charcoal and graphite and watercolor over a CG image it would obviously not be an oil painting. An important part to this is that the image was originally created by you, and so you are making the artistic decisions in both of the " layers".
« Last Edit: February 11, 2010, 06:24:04 am by Ryumaru »

Offline 7321551

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #20 on: February 11, 2010, 07:18:47 am
I think an important quality of pixel-art (if not the defining attribute) is contriving the subject matter so that subpixelling is minimal. If that weren't true, an image resulting from Photoshop's resampling function or a scan could be pixel-art without retouching, if it were sufficiently small.

So, I think this qualifies as pixel-art to the degree that the touching-up process addressed that, which it mostly did. But some areas remained over-AAed or confusing. For example, this 45 degree angle seems to have remained AAed since the initial color reduce - which isn't technically incorrect, but effectually blurs it:

Offline Atnas

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #21 on: February 11, 2010, 03:36:16 pm
Wonderful, Helm.  :)


@7321551: I disagree, pixel art is still pixel art even if the artist uses blurry arrangements and subpixelling. In fact, the more skilled a pixel artist is, the more they are capable of getting past the contrived state and move into territory where they're representing the subject matter more precisely. This includes manufactured blur and sharpen effects. The difference between the resampled and the pixelled image is that with the resample you have no control over how the image's pixels were placed. Because you didn't even look at the pixels, the art can't be pixel art.

Blurring and sharpening aren't something to be avoided in pixel art. I don't see why they should be. I also don't think the only way to control a pixel is by changing it.

Offline Jad

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #22 on: February 11, 2010, 05:52:52 pm
Aw dang man, you sat down with a 16-color palette and blotted down shit in very low resolution.

That's like the MEDIUM of pixel art. In my mind it's all so simple. I guess I'm making things very easy for myself.

What base you used isn't relevant to me either, if pixeljoint and this forum was suddenly flooded with touched-up color reduced pictures that were initially high-res I'd just think 'oh new pixel art movement' I mean sometimes I really think there is too much debate over what's kosher in the pixel art world.

And now I'm not really referring to the discussions about this piece at hand but about the discussions that the discussions about this piece often refer to.

Yeah that made sense.

über und aus
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Offline huZba

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #23 on: February 11, 2010, 06:11:18 pm
More easily quantifiable human experience that honestly approaches it's realm of grids and single pixels instead of aproximating seemingly analog visual information. That's how I've reasoned pixel-art for myself.
I don't see how it's different to take pride in putting every pixel by hand to brushing every single stroke by hand, so the act alone of placing pixels doesn't pixel art make i think.

Offline Rosse

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #24 on: February 11, 2010, 07:55:54 pm
Thanks for the long answer, I really appreciate it. The definition was very quick and I see how it lacks in many ways. A medium-definition doesn't have to contain what is good use of that medium (how to be successful in this medium), but I agree that it would be way more useful if the definiton would contain what should be achieved with the medium (on a technical or spiritual level). But honestly, I think I don't have enough pixelart experience to make an elaborate and useful definition is this respect.

You posed many interesting questions. Maybe it's a similar discussion in other arts, like martial arts for example. There's much talk about which is the most original art, the strongest and so on. I know the question exists, but it still looks a bit strange to me if I think about it. "Do pixel artists think they're more entitled to feeling pride on their piece over say generic CG artists because they've paid more micro-cosmic attention to the building blocks of their image? " I think I sometimes miss a term for "the way of the artist" (in a visual sense) like "the way of the warrior". There are tons of styles, tons of techniques but when real masterfulness is achieved, everything vanished and the human being is left to express himself in his own way. I sometimes kinda miss this spiritual thinking in visual arts. I know this thinking might be influenced by buddhism, maybe strange to western thinking, but I truly belive that in arts in general there's something like enlightment - that is, when you abandon all thinking of techniques, styles, wishes and truly express yourself through your own way (I think the term flow is something in that direction which is a known term in the west).
To come back to your first question, whether the highres or lowres artist is doing the "higher/truer art". As I stated above, the question to me is nonsense, but I think if a artist would go the "way of the artist", the wouldn't need to pose that question, because in the end, whatever medium or technique he uses, he reaches the same - nothingness.

Please forgive me if I'm too spiritual  :-X

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I wouldn't say that all those stylistic snes variations of fighter sprites etc are contentless, they are certainly derivative, but why do you say shadows?
I'm not sure why I said shadows, but I think it's a bit like a shadow can never be more elaborate than it's source. If a certain sprite is created with a highres-idea in mind, then a copy or variantion of that sprite will always lack something which the original has (if you don't understand the highres idea behind it). Of course I ignore the fact of "happy accidents", which might be even more probable compared to highres paintings (bob ross).  If you understand the highres idea, then of course adapting to a style wouldn't be a mere "shadow".

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What's fascinating for me for the average pixel artist regurgitating those philosophical bullet points (many of which I've endorsed in Pixelation for what will soon be a decade) is how self-delusional they are. They say 'strive for greatness through restrictions' but they are only talking about the technical restrictions inherent in pushing pixels. When it comes to conceptualizing a larger work and trying to make it fit in those restrictions, that's 'cheating'. This is why I talk about avarice:  most pixel artists are content to make startlingly simple pictures, no, most of the time fragments of pictures and at the same time hold the pride of working on them so intentionally on the pixel level that they think they've elevated the content due to labored upon form.
Is it fair if I say it's like the question "technique versus content"? Is it not normal for an artist to grow in the way of: child, has only content and no real technique. At some point it notices that it can't convey the idea as it wished. It's the beginning of learning techniques and doing studies, a time when it's easy to fall in the trap of overestimating technique. But as you begin to master technique, content gets more important and you slowly begin to express your ideas with the learned techniques. That was the way in traditional techniques since ever and it's the same in pixelart I think. These talk about "doing pixelart the right way" may only be a intermediate state you grow out of when you begin to master the technique.

Offline Redshrike

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #25 on: February 11, 2010, 09:40:12 pm
Sorry if this has been already said (long thread which I have only read about a third of), but while the general feel isn't as "tight" as some pixel art is, the color usage and placement feels very "tight" and definitely gives me the feeling of having had pixel-level scrutiny.  Not probably very useful, but that was my thought.

Offline 7321551

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #26 on: February 12, 2010, 08:12:28 am
First, I should emphasize that this doesn't apply to the piece under discussion specifically, which, as I said, is pixel-art because it mostly addressed these points, & I like it. I'm just describing my opinion on the role of computer automated processes in creating pixel-art.

Blurring and sharpening aren't something to be avoided in pixel art.
I agree. But isn't intentional blurring/sharpening a distinct design choice? All I meant was that the overzealous AA resulting from scanning or resampling appears blurrier in scenarios where it wasn't intentional.

In fact, the more skilled a pixel artist is, the more they are capable of getting past the contrived state and move into territory where they're representing the subject matter more precisely.
I see what you mean, but pixel-artists seem to regularly arrange the subject to avoid subpixelling precisely because it appears more precise.

For instance, they seem to prefer to align a subject the size of a pixel like that on the left, whereas they could also represent a subject of that size residing in the center of 4 pixels, such that each pixel is 25% opacity red. My earlier point was that computers don't have a preference, & so that's what the role (or part of the role) of the pixel-artist is. (clarity edit: What I'm getting at is, the artist not optimizing this aspect at the very beginning seems inefficient)

To look at it from the opposite angle, an artist who sufficiently internalized in her mind the rules of representing subpixel things could probably produce a result like this, I think?:

Would it be pixel art? People's answer to that will probably derive from where they fall on the style/medium dichotomy that NaCl brought up. My personal definition is "style".


« Last Edit: February 12, 2010, 10:41:23 am by 7321551 »

Offline Atnas

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #27 on: February 12, 2010, 10:40:11 pm
On alignment, I agree, of course the artist would contrive the alignment to have it fall into the grid. I thought you were referring to the overall practice of subpixelling, which was silly of me. Yes, the computer doesn't have a preference and doesn't manufacture its own positioning, but in the case of a cleaned up resample, as you said that is where the artist plays their part. The only thing I was really stating about this was that the computer can also make placements you would find favorable, and not changing them is just as controlled as changing them.

On choice, the reason why it's more common in images made like this one is probably because the artist finds the blur fresh and appealing whereas otherwise they would have not thought to include it. So in either extreme case, just as much choice is provided. Plus, I know you're talking in general, but in this image the blurry [arts contribute.

On the eye image, yes, it would still be pixel art. I would feel bad for the artist because she was using an incredibly inefficient medium to create the image. The style chosen by many pixel artists is clean and easy, and it looks nice, but it doesn't necessarily disqualify other art made with the same pixel analysis of being the same medium.

hurr, we don't disagree that much do we. : D

You're right, Helm made pretty art and I'd love to see other people make pretty art. I guess the only reason the discussion matters is that pixel art needs to classify as pixel art by pixeljoint's standards in order to be shown there. But it's been shown and embraced and it feels good! <3

Offline Helm

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Re: Death Walks

Reply #28 on: February 13, 2010, 03:34:52 am
This discussion for me has been of equal importance to the piece. I'm very glad to see Pixelation and Pixeljoint provoke and embrace such dialogue.