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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperArt (Moderator: JWK5)Art Critique- Simulation Detective Game
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Deliverance
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« on: November 26, 2018, 08:40:29 AM »

So I'm considering revisiting an old project of mine called Vagabond P.I.  It's a game where you play as a detective solving paranormal mysteries, but has a few harvest moon style simulation touches here and there.  I've been looking through the old pixel art, and although I like it as a whole I feel like some small revisions could go a long way.    I would say the art style is between Mother 3 and Animal Crossing.  What do you guys think?  What improvements could make this really stand out as professional?
https://imgur.com/a/N09UeUu
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 08:47:15 AM by Deliverance » Logged
bananatron
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« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2018, 05:47:03 AM »

I love both animal crossing & earthbound. What sets the art of those games apart is how stylized and opinionated they are. For me, the art in this screenshot lives in an undesirable middle ground where there is too much detail, but not enough fidelity to fill it out, which can come across as unpolished. In general, everything except the character on this screen seems a bit flat and generic to me. I think maybe having a lower pixel density would allow you to create more assets quickly (with lower fidelity) and force style onto the art format - adding constraints like that tend to help.

I'd study character work for games like nuclear throne, earthbound, etc. to get an idea of how much depth you can get from very few pixels. One huge advantage is how you can create a lot of assets relatively cheaply once you learn to make them well.

Cool concept - I hope to see more of this project!

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Cobralad
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« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2018, 08:14:05 AM »

you should probably work with outline. 98.8% of people played eartbound on 2xsal enabled nestickle which reduced jaggies.
toby fox shitty outline was really jarring in undertale, especially after opening done by a professional.
You should either fix outline AA and clusters or go for no outline stylisation.
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Deliverance
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« Reply #3 on: December 04, 2018, 10:29:54 PM »

Hey guys, thanks for the feedback!  I couple questions should you have the time:
1. Is there a way to still embed with imgur?  If not, is there a good free image hosting sight to use these days?  When I started game creating in the stone age it was photo bucket but image shack but they've now become paid places.

2. Bananatron, can you elaborate a little bit more on what you were suggesting.  I was a little confused by the term fidelity and what you meant by that.  Admittedly, I'm very happy with the character sprite and I do not wish to change it and would prefer to make everything else match it.  Perhaps simplify shading and textures on other stuff?

3. Cobralad I've created a few outline options here, let me know what you think.  https://imgur.com/a/maneP93
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-Ross
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2018, 05:15:42 PM »

Yeah, you can embed any images between `img` tags. You can click the little picture button in the post editor, in the bottom row, second from the left. Like so:




Your stuff is on the higher-res end of pixel art, which will make your life a bit more difficult. Most stuff I see is 32x32 or smaller. The lower resolution you go, the more is left to the viewer's imagination and the more it becomes a sort of puzzle rather than an artistic challenge. Higher resolution means more ways to mess up. And I think you need a bit more detail and shading than you have to make it look professional.

There's a bunch of pixel art tutorials to check out at: https://lospec.com/pixel-art-tutorials Arne's tutorial in particular is good: http://androidarts.com/pixtut/pixelart.htm

Your image is really lacking consistency. The background seems like a high resolution texture with some sort of rectangular pattern, while the water is two flat tones. Different things use different outline colors, with no pattern that I can see. The water edges have no shading, the lily pads have a little bit of pillow shading, the trees are lit from either side, and the character is pretty much flat? (his hat is lighter on top, his pants are lighter on the sides, I dunno.) The good news is, none of that is very hard to fix! You just have to try some different options and make a decision on which one you want.

  • Pick a light source and a shading style and stick to it.
  • Try to pick a perspective. This is a bit tricky, you may want to show characters from a more head-on perspective than other things. Just try to be consistent for each type of object (all characters the same perspective, etc.).
  • Pick a limited palette. Try: https://lospec.com/palette-list This isn't required obviously, but I think it will make your work cleaner and nicer and force you to think about your decisions more.

You also need variety and contrast so it is pleasant and interesting to look at. Having the same repeating tile for every bit of grass is boring and ugly. If you change maybe 20% of those tiles to different ones, instantly it is way better. If you change every tile randomly, that's about the same as having them all identical. You want to mix up the intervals. Contrast flat areas with textured ones, large shapes with small ones, and so on.

Step back and look at the whole picture. Manage your contrast over the whole screen. This is not just for pixel art, but the most important visual thing that most games fail at. If an object is important (and not explicitly a secret) it should be high-contrast, if it's unimportant, low-contrast. Period. For non-action games this is slightly less vital, but you still don't want your game to be a busy turd that people don't know where focus on. Trying to make one character or one set of tiles look good on their own is not going to work; What really matters is how it all looks together. It's a classic artists' trick to squint your eyes at something to see the general shapes and colors without the details. Try that with your game and then other games. I think you will see that they are more bold with colors, have more going on in their scenes, have clearer silhouettes, and a better hierarchy of contrast.

Look at stuff. Look at good pixel art. Lots of people have done it, there's no sense closing your eyes and trying to reinvent it all yourself. And don't just look, try copying other art (not to steal it, just to learn). Also look at real life! You want to draw a forest and a pond, well, go look at a bunch of photos of forests and ponds (or go outside?).

Just for kicks I did a quick little test of my own. Not really pro, and not the style you want (on purpose), but maybe it gives you some idea what I'm talking about. I used a 16-color palette from that site I linked earlier.

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Cobralad
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2018, 02:51:21 AM »

Cobralad I've created a few outline options here, let me know what you think.  https://imgur.com/a/maneP93
i like the last one but there is still much junk colors. Like on each one shirt has two or 3 indistinct shades of gray. You should avoid just moving slider up because it does not look natural and generates visual noise.
You should either go with flat style or read up on shading in academic art.
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Deliverance
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2018, 07:09:58 PM »


Here's a character sprite revision in 32 x 32 in a fixed palette.  What do you guys think?  Personally I would like to be able to show more emotions and movements somehow.  Ross, what is the character size you used for your example you provided?
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-Ross
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2018, 06:08:14 AM »

That looks nice to me. You could try shrinking the hat if you want to show more of the face. Don't change your whole game just on my account though! I'm just saying that it will be less work and less of a challenge to do lower res. People tend to really underestimate how much time art takes. 64x64 or whatever is totally viable though, It's just a matter of

I just painted over your first image for mine, so it's almost exactly the same size. (I scaled it up 2x to post.) I think I shrunk the feet by a pixel or two though.
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Deliverance
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« Reply #8 on: December 11, 2018, 06:26:01 PM »

Here's a variation I tried.  I really do like the large sprites and resolution because it lets the game almost look like a comic book or paper Mario when it plays out.  But, I changed the border and used a limited palette.
 I also emulated a few things I liked from -Ross's design.
Old sprite is on the left, new sprite is on the right.  Any thoughts?



« Last Edit: December 11, 2018, 06:34:10 PM by Deliverance » Logged
Deliverance
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« Reply #9 on: December 14, 2018, 07:30:25 PM »

Here's a mockup with some more graphics modified.  This screenshot was taken at night so everything should look a little darker. The bushes and plants definitely need to be modified to be more subtle, I just haven't decided how yet.  You be able able to pick herbs is why I feel its important to leave them in.
 Once again, love any and all honest feedback.
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Chris MacAdam
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« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2018, 07:54:43 PM »

Hey compared to the other pictures that have been posted I think you are on the right track and I want to drop by and say its coming along. I am liking the flatter less noisy look. Changing the grass helped a lot tbh.

Some notes I have for the last image though is think about the sizes of everything. The bugs are almost the same size as the deer, the player is larger than the trees. I think if the trees were much larger and everything was a little more to scale, it would look a little more coherent.
This is opinion of course, but with the higher res sprites I feel it looks a little more off, and its harder to get away with things like that.
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Deliverance
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2018, 12:14:53 PM »

Thanks Chris!  That is something I will definitely work on.  I plan to have different size trees in the finished product.  And yeah, smaller cuter firefly would probably work better these look like something from a scifi movie.
So I experimented with antialiasing a bit today, something I've never done before.  What do you guys think?  Character sprite on the left has a double thick outline with gray and black, character on the right has gray mixed in with the black for an AA effect.
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Cobralad
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2018, 12:28:09 PM »

not sure about it. entire point of aa is either make it smooth for old blurry screen or adjust sprite for darker background.
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Schoq
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« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2019, 02:10:21 PM »

AA will necessarily have the opposite effect that it's supposed to against some backgrounds (unless it's actual semitransparent pixels), so only do it if the sprite is only going to appear against very similar background colors throughout the game. In this case it doesn't work regardless because the antialiasing is only external, so the black lines appear jagged and broken. Either way I think the sprite is a bit too small for it to be effective.
As for the left one I'm not sure what you intend with the double outline, the sprite would look better if you just removed it.
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