Drawing eyes
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Author:  Bregalad [ Thu Jan 23, 2014 4:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Drawing eyes

Well it's probably my first topic in the "NES Graphics" subforum. Now that I decided to enter the competition, I have to update my graphics a little. It is not really much related to my entry, but I just figured out how draw eyes are problematic. A single pixel wrong, and you'll be screwed, your characters will look crazy, dumb, or completely stuned. This is true for the face in general, but especially the eyes.

So for drawing sprites, this is in general not much a problem as there is typically so few pixels of room for your eyes (typically something like 2x3 pixels at most) that you can just try all possibilities, and keep the one you like the most.

But if you're drawing a more detailed portrait/close up for non-gameplay graphics, this becomes a problem. Especially if you want to keep the iris coloured with the colour you picked for your character.

I've draw a little mock-up for eyes of varying "size" (i.e. varying level of detail). The original (leftmost) eye is simply from the YY-CHR demo.
File comment: Eyes for various sizes in decreasing order.
eyes.png [ 1.09 KiB | Viewed 1116 times ]

So we start with a very nice, cute and fully detailed eye. Unfortunately if rendered on the NES it'd be HUUUGE, it takes 2x4 tiles for the eye alone, so the entier portrait would take about half of the screen at this level of detail. It's extremely unlikely you'd ever want something this big at NES resolution.

So the first thing to do is to remove the eylash and eybrow. They are not needed per se, the viewer will "infer" them when seeing the face with a smaller level of detail (lower resolution). This is the second eye of my example. Unfortunately it's still too big (8x16 pixels), it could be used if you have really gigantic closeup on character faces, but again it's quite unlikely.

The third one is reduced to be as small as possible while being a fully detailed eye. It is 6 pixels tall. I shaped it quickly randomly, but you could still shape it easily to give the character different emotions/styles. This would work for rather large face closeups, but not for smaller face closeups and it would be out of question for a sprite.

The fourth one is 5 pixel talls, at this points it starts to be hard to give it the emotion/style you want, but still possible.

At 4 pixels talls it's no longer technically possible to draw a "correct" iris. Now things gets really tricky, you can either use the iris colour directly next to the pupil but it doesn't look quite right unfortunately, I can't get anything better.
Much unfortunately much of my closeup can't afford more than 4 pixels in height for eyes (if I want to respect the dimentions more or less), even when drawing chibi-styled graphis.

At 3 and 2 pixels tiles, you have no more room for style and emotions, and it's impossible to colour the eyes. You'll have to go with several black dots. This is very likely what you'll use on you sprites.

Author:  Dwedit [ Thu Jan 23, 2014 5:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Drawing eyes

If you need a good example of eyes drawn at various sizes and levels of detail, see Moon Crystal.

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