So I’ve been receiving messages and asks here and on my other blog (the Wishgranter) from some artists trying their hand at pixel art for the first time. BIG DISCLAIMER : I’m by no means an expert in the medium but I’ve been studying and working on pixel art for some time and I thought I would share some things I’ve learnt for other beginners. I will be using the following image (with permission) as an example to give tips - done by @yatagansaber and sent to me for feedback.
First of all, for me what defines an image as pixel art is not it’s small resolution or the fact that you can see individual pixels, but it’s the way that it’s made. The art of ‘pixel pushing’ differs from other digital mediums by the fact that each pixel - or at least most pixels - in the image are hand placed by the artist and have a purpose.
What I mean is that regardless of the size of the canvas, the artist probably went in at some point with the 1px brush and hand placed most individual pixels. For me, I usually start with a larger brush to define forms but then I switch to 1px brush very early in the process all the way to the end.
Point no. 1: Canvas size So for this case, the canvas here is pretty large and the artist is going for an armor clad character which means the canvas was probably going to get larger. So here I would strongly suggest going for a much smaller canvas especially since the artist is just starting out with pixelart and it is much easier to grasp the concept on a smaller canvas. I usually start with a 60x60 canvas and then adjust as I go, but I very rarely go over 100x100. In pixelart you will not be blending with giant brushes, so for the big flat areas you will either end up with a single flat color or do a lot of dithering which might take away from the final image.
Point no 2: Defining curves
Define your curves better. When working with pixelart, curves need to be defined properly or it will end up looking very jaggy in the end. Referencing the image, The neck area of the armor for example could be defined better to have a more presentable effect. Focus on having the lines gradually decreasing in pixel width alone the curve of the object you’re drawing.
Point no 3: Coherent Light sources
More of a general art tip. The image doesn’t seem to have a coherent light source. On the shoulder pad to the left it seems to indicate a top left art source while the neck area completely ignores that light source and indicates one to the top right. Another light source is indicated to the bottom right in the torso area. Although having multiple light sources is totally acceptable it needs to be done coherently. Artists usually stick to one main light source and maybe some back lighting for effect.
Point no 4: Light and Forms
Also a general art tip. Make sure you use lighting to define your forms. The lighting on the shoulder pad seems to suggest a flat, sharp surface while the general form seems to suggest a cylindrical object. This very important as it will help the viewer understand what they are seeing. To help with this, try to find references and see how the lighting hits specific objects.
Point no 5: Contrast
When drawing metal objects such as armor you must think about it as a very reflective surface. The light source should be much brighter and stronger then the rest of the palette to create a good contrast. Again, this isn’t exclusive to pixel art, but to art in general. The best way to get used to these things is to watch a lot of real life references and other artist’s work.
Point no 6: Color Palettes
Choose a more interesting color palette. When drawing pixelart you’re not going for realism, and even in real life, it’s very rare to see something being completely one color. Don’t simply stick to one color and increasing/decreasing brightness. Try messing around with hue variation and saturation as well to create a much more pleasant image. For this case I didn’t have time to create a new color palette so I simply added some hints of color to the shades. Ideally before starting a new piece you decide on a color ramp with different hues and stick with it till the end.
So after applying those points (except the canvas size point) to the armor piece I ended up with the result below:
It’s obviously nowhere close to being perfect since I do not have the time to keep pushing it to a good finish but it should give a good idea of how those several little points can help make your pixelart look better.
That’s all I got for now. I hope this can help someone out there with their art! All feedback appreciated and feel free to ask me anything.
It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair. I sit on the stool and my mother stands behind m e with the scissors, trimming.
Stopped working on the combat for now and moved on to character selection. When your character dies you start with a new one back at the town and you get some options to pick from. Characters will have generated names, gender, class, basic attributes and traits.
More on all of that later but for now here’s the Male Knight as he will appear in the character select screen.
kidswishnetwork: #throwbackthursday w/ #wishkid Evelyn who met & spent time with #musiclegend and #kwn #wishgranter @ddlovato and the #talented @davidarchie back in 2009! #20years of making dreams come true & still counting!
ARTEMIS is waiting outside my window. I shut my eyes tight and whisper to her, but she just puts a finger to her lips and smiles. She is telling me to wait, and I fall asleep with her weaving moonlight into a blanket.
HERA sits in my dining room, fingers arched and an eyebrow raised at my dusty wicker chairs. “What’s for breakfast?” She asks. I make pancakes and she doesn’t eat them. Hera never eats them.
APHRODITE peeks coyly from my bathroom, and we laugh as she braids my hair and tells me about the boy down the street who keeps asking her for advice. I do her makeup and we put on matching earrings. The boy down the street waves as we skip down the sidewalk.
ATHENA is lounging on my couch. She is unreadable, but Netflix is open and I can hear her muttering about a new episode. I make popcorn and she tells me about the time she taught a film class at a community college.
PERSEPHONE is lying down in my backyard, and I put up the hammock. We stay there until late at night and she teaches me the names of all the constellations. I tell her I knew someone named Orion once, and she lets out a tinkling laugh. “Didn’t we all?” She says. We fall asleep to the sound of crickets.
ARTEMIS is waiting outside my window. I keep my eyes open and I sit on the roof with her as we tell stories about little girls who grow up to be wishgranters.
The slime got an update this time. Unlike the other enemies currently in the game, the slime attack by proximity during it’s walk cycle. This makes it hard to fight without getting hit, however it doesn’t have high attack damage so it balances out. They’re a very dangerous enemy to face with low health though.
I messed around with freeze frames for when the player gets hit in order to make it have more impact and help the player realize that he took damage. It’s a very slight pause but really improves combat feel. The same freeze frame effect is also used on Critical hits - no matter who performs them - now accompanied by a new effect to make them pop out more. You can see a critical hit in the GIF above when the last slime is killed.
In other news, I’ve been getting the same questions constantly and even though I really don’t mind answering each of them, I thought it would be helpful to set up a small FAQ about the project, how I am making it and about myself. Please take a look HERE and if there is something you think should be listed there, go ahead and let me know!
I’m going through all the enemies currently in the game and making them smarter, add polish and moves etc, as well as working on new ones.
The latest is the Archer. I added a new Spawn animation and added the ability to jump away when the player gets too close. Feels much better fighting them now as opposed to how they were before, just standing around shooting at you.
To break away from the boring coding for a while, I added a new 4 color shader and a slowdown effect on death for added drama. Still needs a bit of tweaking on the colors but it’s feeling pretty good now!
I tried messing with the 4 color shader to make a ‘4 color mode’ and while it’s certainly interesting, it feels a bit too messy as it is to actually play the game that way. I might re-visit the idea later on after the game is done tho because it would be cool if I can implement a sort of palette switching retro mode.