In this tutorial, I will explain you how to use a couple techniques I used to improve Planet Centauri’s sprites before implementing them into the game (or before animating them). Some of the rules shown here are very easy to use, and/or are purely methodical; so even if you aren’t very skilled, follow those simple guidelines to make your sprites cleaner.
A lot of basic mistakes will ruin the quality of your art. Thankfully, they’re also generally quite easy to fix with some experience, and by paying attention.
Too many colors
Pixel art is all about constraints. When two colors are very close, merge them into an intermediate one, so you see if it improves the result. Using a small palette will help you improving your skills much more easily, and will make creating sprites also easier. It also will make it easier to identify unwanted artifacts (i.e. misplaced pixels).
If you are constructing a palette with gradients, avoid at any cost independent gradients (i.e. only dimmed/lighted base colors). Use gradients that depends on each other.
You can also try to use yellow-ish or cyan-ish saturated light colors, and blue-ish and purple-ish desaturated dark colors. However, avoid using an over-saturated or an under-saturated palette. This usually ends up bad and breaks contrasts. You should also use gradients with outspread tints to avoid washy color contrasts.
Remember never to use more colors than necessary, and use gradients with contrasted brightness. Feel free to try using other generic palettes on your sprite to compare it with your palette so you can improve it.
Avoid as much as you can excessive contrasts between neighboring pixels. For example, a black line over a white background usually won’t look natural. A line that fits the background color well gives a realistic volume effect.
This is as true for outlines, which has to fit with both the inner color and the umbrage of the surface.
NB: Obviously, this doesn’t work with any graphic style.
Pillow shading is a nasty effect that occurs when the light source comes from the front.
Avoid pillow shading, unless you really know what you’re doing.
Lines and curves
Perfect line: A line that has a constant vertical and horizontal step.
Perfect curve: A curve made of perfect lines which step always depends on the other parts of the curve.
Dirty line: A line that has at least one sub-segment with more than one adjacent pixel on one end.
As you may have noticed on the pictures above, dirty lines should be avoided. You should use as much perfect lines and curves as possible.
A cluster is a group, a pack of connected pixels with the same color. Cluster shapes will greatly affect the final image. Bony and crude clusters will give a sketchy aspect. Round and straight lines are preferred so you get a precise, smooth and nice image.
Avoid lonely pixels. If one pixel is inside of a different color cluster without any adjacent pixel with the same color, remove it.
Dithering et texturing
Contrary to popular belief, dithering isn’t as great as it seems. A lot of dithering between heavily contrasted colors will often give a dirty and noisy image. It is also a very bad idea to use dithering when animating a sprite, because keeping coherent dithering will be awfully hard.
If you art style lets you do it, use texturing instead (the difference is that texturing does not induce color limitations). But don’t forget, texturing means harder animation and worse clarity. Again, it’s a matter of style. If you want a cartoon-ish look, do not use dithering nor texturing.
Antialiasing a technique that reduces the staircase effect (aliasing) which is clearly visible on two lines between two contrasted surfaces.
There are two use-cases for internal AA : Simply separating two surfaces, and using lines or curves cutting through two different surfaces.
In the first case, you may just need to insert an intermediate color where aliasing is visible to reduce it (generally, when the curve abruptly changes).
In the second case, you may just need to add a small intermediate color cluster between every horizontal or vertical sub-segment. Its size directly depends on the sub-segment size.
External AA suffers from an important restriction, unlike internal AA: The background color in a game will constantly change, so you need to have an effect that looks good on both dark and light backgrounds.
This rule is quite easy: You only apply the effect inside of the sprite. The end of an outline that neighbors with the background should never be modified.
In this image, the internal AA effect applied on the outer part of the sprite unveils some nasty artifacts, while external AA, even if it isn’t as efficient, gives a great effect on any background type.
I’ve received a couple messages about my coloring process, so here’s a little tutorial featuring Bucky~~ It’s pretty basic, but it’s essentially my process for any piece I do. Someday I’ll record myself drawing when I get the chance. But this is essentially what I do, hopefully this helps! Step by step commentary under the cut! :D takkunzx this is for you!
Steps to my painting, ‘Lay Me Down’, inspired by Sam Smith’s song of the same name! I’m going to attempt at explaining what I did to achieve this result (which I’m not entirely ecstatic with, but what else is new!). >.<
Step 1 - Black + White
So when I’m working this way, I normally start off in black and white and with reaaaallly soft, subtle values - super low contrast. The reason why I do this is because although I have an idea in my mind, it’s really quite blurry in there, so I’m not entirely certain how it’s going to look when I paint it on my Photoshop canvas, so using low contrast-y values really helps me to visualize it all better.
I start off with a SUPER rough value sketch - you can see it really just looks like messy blobs of nothing at this point. But I’m trying to work out the poses, and because it’s a pretty difficult angle (particularly for the dude), and I don’t have any particularly useful references that I can work with (I suppose I could’ve taken some pictures, but, you know, I can be a bit lazy sometimes =P ), working it in lightly really helps me to figure out the shapes. If I was to go in there with dark, highly contrasted values, the likelihood of me messing it all up would be pretty high. It’s harder to visualize things when you have definite lines and shapes, so I find keeping the values low contrast and somewhat blurry is key here.
So I’ll keep working out the image in B+W until I have a pretty clear indication of the shapes (which I’m always, always, always trying to keep in mind!), and composition. Here, I’m really trying to just lead the eye to her face (and to the dude’s sadness) so I’m trying to make sure all (or most) elements of the image leads the eye there. And also, I wanted the lighting to feel a little dramatic, so I’ve decided on a harsh diagonal gap of light that shines only on the area of the image I feel is important.
Step 2 - Colour
Once I’m relatively happy with how the B+W image is going, I’ll add in some colour on a ‘Color’ layer, and I’m using a ‘Color’ layer (as opposed to ‘Overlay’ or anything else) so it doesn’t mess up my values. But anywho, I’ve plopped on some colours and they’re really under-saturated at this point. And I’m doing this on purpose because I find that it helps me find a harmonious colour palette with hues that work well together. If I was to jump in with saturated colours (just from my personal experience), I’ve found that my colour palette becomes a bit of an eye-sore and it’s just really hard to get the colours to work together. I also end up having to de-saturate areas of the image that don’t need too much attention anyway, so may as well start off with a low-saturated palette. I am quite honestly terrible with colours (I just can’t get my head wrapped around it!), so I find this way also helps me with visualization much in the same way that starting off with low contrasted values helps.
Step 3 - Fleshing it Out
So really this step entails just going in there, adding in more saturated pretty colours, and fleshing out the image with details until the end. I’m doing this all on Normal layers now. I’ve added little cracks and other details to the stones, fluffed up the flowers, extended the canvas a touch, and reworked the fabric of her dress. I also noticed at this point that I’ve made the guy’s head way too small initially lol, and he also looks a little awkwardly hunched over so I’ve switched up the angle a bit and enlarged his head so the foreshortening feels more natural.
By the end of this I’m really just fiddling around with the lighting and contrast of the image, adding in hints of colour here and there on overlay layers in areas where I felt there needed some. They’re very subtle changes, but I feel as though they help to bring it all together.
Anywho, that is all! I hope it helped at least a little for those of you who are trying to learn! Any questions? Just shoot me a message! :)
the best advice i can give you for photoshop as it applies to tumblr graphics.
DO sharpen gifs. DON’T sharpen caps for picspam.
when making picspam, cap choice is just as important as coloring.
when you color, enhance what is already there. don’t take a yellow cap and try to turn it purple. it’s going to look ridiculous.
it’s better to under saturate that over saturate.
that tumblr trend with the chopped words lazy minimalism scratched out face etc that you think looks neat and everyone is doing seems like a good idea now, but its not. its not a good idea.
start an inspiration folder and use it when you want to start something new. that doesn’t mean ”copy other people work” but break other graphics down and do your best to try to mimic the effect for your own knowledge. everybody learns by imitation. you can make it your own. i’ve had mine for 5-6 years now and its the best thing i ever did..
if the typography looks questionable, it probably is. that goes for most things. trust your instincts.
don’t stress about the fact that you “don’t have your own style”. some people take years to develop a recognizable look to their work. its okay. you will.
ANYBODY can be good at photoshop. ANYBODY. theres no creative gene that makes you pre disposed to photoshop superpowers, and its insulting to assume that some people are naturally better because it invalidates the years of suffering they went through to be as good as they are. Your favorite graphic makers didn’t get out of bed and master PS. YOU DON’T NEED ANY ARTISTIC EXPERIENCE TO START PHOTOSHOP. photoshop is something that takes practice, but you aren’t broken. you aren’t hopeless.
arial bold italic with a +1 or 2 stroke for dialogue text.
when applying textures, soft light and screen are your best friends, and (probably) lower the opacity.
if you use a popular texture, always try to make it unrecognizable.
put your textures under your color layers always.
even if you screw up a lot, never stop experimenting. you don’t have to post every failure, but screwing up is part of learning.
(Hey! Love your imagines! Could
you write one about showering with Damon?)
here you go :)
what a day” I groaned just before I threw myself face first onto Damon’s
king-sized bed, a chuckle emerged from behind me as Damon himself walked pasted
the bed and flicked on the T.V.
least you didn’t get burned alive by a dozen dead witches” he remarked making
me smile. Well yes, he was right a group of dead witches did try to murder him but
that was only because they didn’t like our presence which meant Elena and I had
to venture into the abandoned building in which they were burned.
don’t blame them” I joked making him spin around, an evil smirk spread across
his lips before he started walking towards me, each step slow and jagged. I
quickly scurried off the bed and jogged past Damon towards the open plan
do you think you’re going?” he asked appearing in front of me, I collided with
his chest and bounced back before staring up at him. After composing myself I
have a shower, there’s dust in my hair” I replied and strutted off past him,
continuing to my desired location. I could feel Damon’s eyes burning through
the back of my head.
enjoy” he chirped and as I turned around I saw him jump onto the bed with his
arms behind his head and again a mischievous smile that never seemed to
in the tiled room I surveyed the shower- of course Damon’s had no
curtain, no privacy, he was Damon and he had so much to flaunt. After realising how exposed I was going to be I removed each article of clothing slowly, before taking off my undergarments I checked to if the Salvatore was looking- I didn’t want him getting any ideas.
I reached for the lever and pulled it up, with in seconds hot, steamy beads of water came spitting out of the shower-head. Goosebumps rose against my skin the closer I moved to the heat, until finally I stepped under the water saturating myself in the process
Every shower felt like a new beginning and this one was no different, my hands moved through my hair to keep the water out of my face while I turned around slowly so every inch of my skin got wet.
“Mind if I join you Y/N?” Asked Damon making me jump and spin around all while trying to hide my lady parts from him- it was nothing he hadn’t seen before but I still couldn’t q I only gave him a few looks before I pulled him under the water with me, his fringe fell over his face instantly making me erupt in laughter.
Damon grunted, raked his hair back and pulled me into a kiss, his lips were soft, smooth and moist as they moulded with mine- the kiss wasn’t rough, it was meaningful like always. I slung my arms over his shoulders and glided them below his neck.
“Hmm” he mumbled before bringing his hands to the small of my back and pulling me closer, the feeling of his body against mine was familiar but the water dripping down on us made it foreign. “We should do this more-”
“Damon!” yelled voice, it was faint but we both heard it coming from the hallway. Elena. She screamed out again making me roll my eyes when Damon stopped kissing me, of course she was here to ruin everyone else’s fun- I only hoped that this was worth it.
“Go” I said to him and pointed out of the shower, he looked hesitant at first but suddenly kissed me again.
“I’ll go see what the hell she wants, we’ll finish this later” he replied with a smirk as he exited the shower, I couldn’t help but stare at his toned back and arse. This wasn’t the worst thing to happen and at least I could prepare myself.
“Damon…” he stopped and turned around “just hurry” he laughed and wrapped a towel around his waist.
“Y/N, I will be faster than humanly possible he joked and left soon after. I flicked of the lever while groaning after hearing Elena’s muffled voice, I sure hoped she’s finish soon, didn’t she know that cock-blocking wasn’t okay?
So! I've been having fun trying out your tutorial, but I do have some questions! (1) Your brush settings show shape dynamics, but the example strokes don't? (2) What's that second brush? (3) I wanted to ask how long it generally takes to get from "saturated colors" to "looks blended," as a small round brush at 10% opacity seems to be taking an inordinately long time to look like I'm even doing anything. (4) Under what circumstances do you STOP using low opacity? Any and all rambling appreciated!
You’re in luck; I found the arrow that the -ing brushpile ate and I still have more hard cider.
I usually do the ponies in sai, and usually they’re more relevant, but hey. hard cider. it’s 10% alcohol: you get what you get.
ONE - I, why is that even checked? Why do we even have that lever, Kronk? No, I don’t use shape dynamics on that brush; the idea here is that you constantly change your brush size and fit it to the area you’re painting. Use [ and ] - or Mac equivalent - to run your brush size up and down. Use the biggest brush you can stand at all times and just plan on cleaning up the edges later. Big brushes, big big big, save the small brushes for details. If you DON’T use a brush with a lot of shape dynamics then you’re always going to have overlapping brush strokes - Good! This is both blending and texture.
This is a SAI one, but you see what I mean by blocking with big big big brushes - LATER is when you worry about making the edges tidy, trust me when I tell you how much more natural they look if you let them be sloppy to start and clean up later:
BIIIIIG brushstrokes, BIg Big BIIIIG:
Also, anything but a white background. ANYTHING but. Sometimes I sketch on white, but once you start to color, change the background to Anything But White, this one thing alone makes it so much easier to get the colors singing together. Even if later you paint white all around the figure, fine, but if you’re Not Sure about color? Make the background a medium shade of grey or brown or green or what-the-heck-ever you like.
TWO - Second brush is err just a generic scruffy brush? I don’t use it much anymore. Generally, if I am in Photoshop I am ripping up reference images to get a composition or I am just sketching, and these days I try to gesture and block rather than SKETCH sketch. I use a hard funky square brush that doesn’t ‘turn,’ forcing me to block rather than sketch. The results look like this:
Like, okay, the brush obviously TURNS, but it’s kind of a chisel. You have to think in big shapes. I am terrible at thinking in big shapes, funky photoshop brushes are how I rattle myself loose.
THREE - Oh man, that little opacity is like washing a semi with a toothbrush. I only go that low for washing a tone over existing paint. Try something like an opacity of 85-90 and a flow of 35-45, with ‘Other Dynamics’ (in the brush settings) turned on an both the Opacity and Flow jitters set to Pen Pressure, 0%. I’m assuming you’re using a pen tablet / something with pressure sensitivity, here. The idea is to get a level where you can touch lightly to skim color on and really hog down to lay it on thickly.
As for how long it takes, hrrrrmmmmmmit depends? The honest-ta-gad ‘right’ answer is ‘As fast as feels comfortable to you.’ Play with opacity / flow / brush pressure settings until you get to a point where you feel like you can comfortably lay down blocks of color - e.g., you’re not just dusting color on and it’s frustratingly slow and neither is your brush so solid that you’re just plowing over the work you just did. Do err on the side of more solid rather than less if you’re after a ‘painterly’ approach. If you have photorealism in mind, don’t hesitate to practice with low opacities, because building up delicate transparencies is how you get that look. One way, anyhow.
I did find, aha!, I did find where I’d saved out some progress steps of a recent painting. Again, this is SAI, but all the same you can see how my thought process works.
This is the saturated layer of blocked-in color, I’ve also thrown a blue-green texture on top because I’m trying to make decisions about color mood. This is ALL rough brushstrokes, no details, I completely skipped the step of breaking up the shapes with black and white so this is pure color:
So then, colors thus roughly smacked on, I stay with the same opacity (hence why I keep the colorful stuff on a base layer - if I need to I can always desaturate it, lower the opacity of the entire layer, etc) and go to a new layer and start adding details. There’s still a texture on here, but I am working with a different color-mood idea. Look at Kate’s hand and you can see the details developing - trying to use as few strokes as possible, this keeps the shapes from getting too twiddly-looking, or anyway that’s the idea:
Next stage is the one where you can see just how much shit I break long before I fix things, but anyway, you see how the color is piling up over the saturated under-layer, details are filling in, but the idea is still to keep them AS BIG AS POSSIBLE. Save the small stuff for the end
I’ve got this zoomed-in view saved out as 4, and now you can see the detail level which is pretty much my goal - more detailed than this and I am just making myself (more) crazy and probably feeling like I’ve ruined the painting:
Finally, this one is saved out as 5, but what it is, really, is the finished painting minus the special effects:
in Photoshop I use a couple of Overlay layers to add lighting effects, sometimes I sharpen, I ALWAYS color adjust, very often I even hit the Levels palette and adjust things. If you get the color value right as you paint, awesome, if not!, by god you’re painting in PHOTOSHOP and we know what Photoshop is FOR, and color balance is IT.
The other thought here is that if you look carefully back through the steps, you’ll see that the amount of detail I am adding is not actually all THAT huge. It’s really not! With the stages laid out side-by-side like this you can plainly see that I am adding as little as I can get away with. I save the ‘busy detail’ for spots that should be busy, like messy hair and freckles and such, but in general I try to keep the details simple.
Writers let love into insignificant moments, they’re the reason you stay a plague in my mind. Writers let you live longer in their subconscious, where you’ve become my reoccurring dream. You are the crumbling of my self-esteem when your eyes open, nevermore confident than I could be under hue of saturations which seek to hide the fear I have since you’ve forgotten who I am. Do you remember the sly look across the greenery? When I tried my best to impress by covering up the brightness of my own? I felt insignificantly shadowed under the weight of your constellation because I knew it could outshine mine as I hid behind the moon. I never stood a chance against you, and I knew, and it made me sharpen my graphite into pointed edges where you’d become the muse of my words, how they could never be as beautiful. Writing down the things I could never have said as I tripped over punctuations that let the wrong words out. There is safety in the lined paper which I use to write to you, now. They are safe from the scrutiny of your imperial affliction. I am a writer. Words are my beauty. I could write you into a million little infinities, but they’ll never be more poetic than the curve of your shoulders or the speckles dotting your cheeks. They could write more than I ever could in the hopes of garnering your attention.…and maybe I’m not over it because I haven’t written you into my poetry, patched myself up in graphite and tossed you out to sea. I hope you find significantly insignificant moments to remind yourself of who you are and where you were when you stood on the banks of the ocean in which I tossed you into.
hey ayla, what technique do you use for changing colors on the fe:a portraits? do you just run a selected area under hue-saturation, or do you paint over it on a separate layer?
i actually figured out a new method recently, where i filled the area with the color i want using the paint bucket tool on mulitply mode and then filling it with the original color with the paint bucket tool on divide like
here i have the sleeves selected on lissa’s dress
i’m going to make them this blue color so i’m going to fill the enitre area with my paint bucket on multiply mode
after that i’m filling the area with the sleeves’ original yellow color with the paint bucket on divide mode
giving the end result of lissa’s dress with blue sleeves
you could also do it the other way around, with filling the area with the original color in divide mode first, which would bring that color in your selected area to white
though if your selected area had highlights like most of the characters’ hair does, doing it this way would remove them, so this i wouldn’t recommend this way if you need to keep highlights in your area. as a comparison:
This isn't really a request, but I'm just wondering how you manage to make these sprites, let alone so quickly. I've tried to edit FE sprites before, but it's kind of baffling to see just how much detail is in ever individual sprite, and it's pretty tedious to edit these pixel-by-pixel and actually make them look good. Is there any techniques you use for these? Or is it just experience with sprite editing?
A/N: What’s this? Everlark? Don’t worry, I’m definitely surprised too. But after seeing mrpink627‘s recent gorgeous and heartbreaking piece of art, I couldn’t help but feel inspired to write these two again. I’m not sure what it is with me and Everlark Hurt/Comfort fics, but oh well. One more for the collection lol!
This one-shot was inspired by this picture [x], and it’s just a little something I thought up. Thank you, Clayton, for ultimately pulling me out of my writing block with your talent, and I hope you all enjoy!
In This Together
The sound of his screams is the first thing that registers with me. Pained, terrible cries, bouncing off the walls of the house, reverberating through my skull, shocking me to the core.
It’s such an eerie noise, chilling every bone in my body, that I have to wonder if I’m experiencing a nightmare myself.
But no, it’s real. Unfortunately, it’s real.
And without warring with myself further, I rush towards the source, tearing down the hallway and towards the bathroom.
It hurts me so, knowing that he’s in such agony even here, a place where any and all threats are practically non-existent. But still he suffers. Still he relapses and falls victim to old terrors.
The love and peace I offer him just isn’t enough some days.
Part of me understands. Even though I’m slowly healing, even though I’m beginning to crawl back up from depths unimaginable, I’m still plagued by the horrors both the Games and the Rebellion inflicted upon me. I have my good days, and I have my bad days.
Sometimes I’ll be able to sleep soundly through the night, cuddled tightly and contently in Peeta’s arms, while other times I’ll wake up screaming and tear soaked every time I fall to slumber. Sometimes I’ll be able to rise from bed, offering smiles and greeting the day with enthusiasm, while other times the bed is my prison, locking me within the grey void of mine.
And Peeta is the same way.
But what I’ll never be able to fathom fully, what I’ll never be able to grasp, is the true inner sanctum of his mind, the true suffering that bleeds through it on occasion. And what the Capitol did that scarred him as a result.
Scandal tries to be a political show, it tries to a procedural, it tries to be romantic drama, it tries to be a spy show, it tries to be so many things but at the end of the day it under-develops and over saturates the storylines so astronomically that all it is is vapid and unwatchable.
Hi guys, my name is Juan Esteban Duque. I’m a photographer based in Bogotá, Colombia, South America. My interests are related mostly on urban and street photography. This is a grey and rainy city, and the pale and under-saturated palette on my images definitely comes from Bogota’s unique light. Most of my pictures depict lonely places (not common on a city with eight million inhabitants), but when people appear on them, they look like part of a planned scene of a movie.
You can find my pictures on tumblr at http://maldingobicho.tumblr.com. Right now I’m working on a web site where you’ll be able to see a few of my images in a bigger size, take a look at maldingobicho.com