Practicing and honing pixel art skills

A place for your artistic side. Discuss techniques and tools for pixel art on the NES, GBC, or similar platforms.

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BioMechanical Dude
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Practicing and honing pixel art skills

Post by BioMechanical Dude » Mon May 09, 2016 2:44 pm

Well, this is not really about NES graphics, but pixel art, in general. Although I can make some decent stuff, I feel like I don't really have a solid base, so I need to cover that and try to improve my pixel art skills. Although I don't know where exactly to start from. I decided to trace something over, in hopes that I would learn better how to draw various stuff. So, I turned this:

Image

...into this:

Image
(and yes, I know this doesn't follow the NES's graphical limitations, it's not really supposed to)

However, I don't know if this is very efficient. I need to know: What should I start drawing first? I suppose this would be different from drawing, where you might start with basic 3-D shapes, but those are too easy to create with pixel art. Do I trace pictures to learn, or just keep them separate and try to replicate them? Also, feel free to give other various, important tips.
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darryl.revok
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Re: Practicing and honing pixel art skills

Post by darryl.revok » Mon May 09, 2016 3:38 pm

Initial impression:
I think you did pretty well at defining the shape of the main cloud with limited colors. I also like the foreground, and it almost looks like something that could go in the NES. The tree could be a sprite.

The only thing that I see standing out right now are the single-color clouds. The little poofballs to the left of the main cloud also look good.

I like that you didn't use dithering for this image and relied on solid shading. That generally looks a lot better in pixel art. I can't help but feel though like you may need to dither the edges of the single-color clouds into the background. They're just too abrupt and don't have that "cloudy" vibe to me.

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BioMechanical Dude
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Re: Practicing and honing pixel art skills

Post by BioMechanical Dude » Tue May 10, 2016 3:00 am

Uh, thanks for the review. :)
However this was not the main thing I was asking for. Please read my original post again. I need to know how to "get started" with pixel art, so that I can cover the basics, some of which I haven't even touched upon. After all, this picture was simply drawn over. Anyone could do that. I need to find a good way to learn how to mimic real life through pixel art.
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FrankenGraphics
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Re: Practicing and honing pixel art skills

Post by FrankenGraphics » Tue May 10, 2016 3:43 am

I think drawing over real life photos _is_ a good excercise, if you pick a system and decide to keep the resulting piece reproducable on real hardware. Within those constraints, there are a lot you can practice on, such as warm/cold, compromises/approaches to light handling, and develop a distinct style and confidence over time. After all, that's what all nature romance artists did back in the day. Sit in a spot, watch a scene, draw outlines, paint (with am often restricted palette), trying to capture the complexity with stylistic tricks developed through repetition.

I sort of agree with darryl.revok that the thinner, mono-coloured clouds could benefit from dithering or detailing. I love the clear-cut shading otherwise.

Also, having people review one's work is something i view as the best way to learn and to try new things. I for one tend to apply the same techniques and styles over and over if there's too much time between the last second opinion and the next.

Taking a theoretical course in visual culture and arts has helped me understand how visual texts impact the viewer. It does help if one's practice is informed by theory. It's not that everyone will notice, or that it will shine through everywhere, but i think it contributes.
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Kasumi
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Re: Practicing and honing pixel art skills

Post by Kasumi » Tue May 10, 2016 6:21 am

Cure's pixel art tutorial covers some pixel specific things. Beyond that traditional drawing/painting skills will help, and the resources for that are usually not specific to a medium.

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BioMechanical Dude
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Re: Practicing and honing pixel art skills

Post by BioMechanical Dude » Tue May 10, 2016 10:20 am

WheelInventor wrote: After all, that's what all nature romance artists did back in the day. Sit in a spot, watch a scene, draw outlines, paint (with am often restricted palette), trying to capture the complexity with stylistic tricks developed through repetition.
Yeah, but they had to replicate what they see by drawing it from scratch. I'm wondering whether I should do that or simply draw over the image (the latter seems significantly easier, and doesn't require much thinking, which leads me to believe that it wouldn't be very effective)
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FrankenGraphics
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Re: Practicing and honing pixel art skills

Post by FrankenGraphics » Tue May 10, 2016 11:30 am

I think you could learn different things from the two. Doing a draw-over means time to train interpretation of details whith direct a/b-comparison possible, but i think it requires a reflective effort to be rewarding.

When drawing a view you see (either in real life or from a photo on your wall), i'd say you would learn more about composition; especially in the naturalist style. A good excerice (or so i've been told) is to keep in mind what you want to draw, though: What you see, what you really see if you think about it critically, and/or what you want the viewer of your work to see (no work of art is purely in one category).

EDIT: here's a related collection of pictures describing what happens when bikes that people have drawn from memory is interpreted as something realistic. bicycles are notouriously difficult to remember how to draw, but it can serve to demonstrate how we tend to draw symbols for things, rather than optic representations of things. That's not bad in itself, but becoming aware of symbols, signifiers and signifieds and using this knowledge helps inform the choices a graphical artist can do.
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