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TIGSource ForumsDeveloperArt (Moderator: JWK5)New Pixel Artist Practice
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Author Topic: New Pixel Artist Practice  (Read 3715 times)
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« on: April 14, 2020, 10:45:59 AM »

Hi All,

I'm a programmer by trade and have for a long time been wanting to get into game development but have always found my artistic abilities putting me off wanting to get into it. So with all the added time at home I decided to start doing some daily pixel art practice and see where it gets me.

I'm posting here because I wanted to have some feedback but also ideally a place I can look back over time and see where I've gotten to. (plus maybe motivating me to continue if I ever feel the urge to stop) So my plan was to post an update every couple of days with whatever I have been doing as long as that's okay within the rules of the forum. (If not I would appreciate being pointed in a direction where it may be as I've struggled)

Day 1:

I did a couple of variations on an old computer and then some tiny icon type interior objects. The only thing I really liked in this set is the top right one and it's probably a big reason why I decided to continue to the next day where I got much more excited about doing this.

Day 2:

I had been watching "Brandon James Greer" on youtube and wanted to do something from a similar perspective as he had a lot of street scenes which I really liked. I think this is the style which currently appeals the most to me and probably the one which I would be most likely to pursue for making a game in.

I'm quite happy with how they all turned out, I think the main thing I struggled with is dealing with things inside of windows / doors at a low pixel count. This might be partly because I start with only the line drawing and the colour makes the inside/outside shift much clearer.

Day 3:

On this day I decided to spend more time with fewer objects to see if I could refine them. I did a lot of paper/signs, air conditioning units, and I think this was useful to explore the options I had available to me. I then did some resizing where I would draw something in large-ish size and try and reduce it as much as possible. I did this vending machine in the top left which was based on one of Brandon's scenes (although by no means a copy), the rest is original.

Day 4:

I started the day by doing a text as I hadn't experimented with this much before. I made a couple of different stylistic examples and found it generally useful. I think the most helpful thing that I learned from doing this is that something doesn't really need to look much like what it's representing if the context can fill in the detail, which is especially true for lettering where you can often make out words even though the actual pixels of some letters are a bit gibberish.

I then moved on to do a skyline which turned out okay but isn't really in a style I particularly like. I also did this building without outlines which is a style I think I should work more on in the future.

Day 5:

I wanted to practice some architectural elements and particularly stairs so I did a bit of that. I think the main thing I learned here was to keep an eye on proportions as in the first example the steps are massive. I'm still not entirely confident in dealing with perspective in this side on view so I'll need to look more into examples of that.

Then I decided to make a mock game screen, no real concept in mind here I just wanted to have a go at doing interface elements. Of course the text is barely legible but I do like the effect in context.

I then decided to do this portrait overlay on the game screen because I wanted to try and start dealing with some more organic and detailed forms. There's a lot of work I could do here but I'm reasonably happy with how it came out, the frame is nice. I then coloured it which was mostly just for practice, if I was to pursue this style I think it's stronger without the colour.

Day 6:

I decided to continue working on the mock game from the previous day. The idea was that that it was somewhat odyssey inspired and the aim would be to have segments of dungeon / mazes between segments of travelling around in a boat. I mostly did it as an opportunity to work more on things like the portraits and colouring which I think turned out okay although a bit messy.

I started trying out some animation work. It turned out better than I expected but a lot to get used to still in the aseprite interface. Should probably try some more detailed character animation next.

Played around with some different art styles and tried out some more animation

Day 7

Had a go at creating my first tiles. The top left is my very sad first attempt but after that when i tried to actually pay attention rather than just scribbling I think it turned out okay. I then played around with the colours a bit. I think I should have a go at creating a more complete tileset as I haven't spent much time trying to put things together.

Fleshed this out a bit more, it's a bit of hodgepodge and I have a lot to work on here, especially in doing things in a cohesive style.

In the final piece for the first week of doing pixel art I decided to do more looking at references. I didn't look at much pixel art other than the clouds which ended up not really matching the scene anyway so have to be considerate of sticking to a style. But I looked at some Moroccan street market photographs which helped a lot. I'm quite happy with how it turned out generally and I learned a lot in doing it.

Day 8

Tried using more image references, I need to look into how to manage my colours better as I often end up with this very muddy effect.

More trying out different styles. I struggle with the perspective in these types of views.

Trying out softer shapes and mostly failing.

Next attempt at making some tiles. This time paying much more attention, avoiding scribbling, and trying to work more with underlying shapes. I think it turned out much better than last time, although next time I will need to try and make some actually looping tiles.

Day 9

I've been watching "Octavi Navarro" on youtube and really like the style of characters in his drawing so decided to give it a try. I need to try and do more character art in general. Although I think next I will try and do some background art.

Tried doing a background, I struggle with getting colours that work I think I need to do a lot more looking at references.

Day 10

I decided to pursue this style further and just opened a big sheet and tried to fill it in with various bits. It was all done without any reference so I'm quite happy with how most of it is turning out, I am finding that I can work much faster than before and the results are more consistent. Of course a lot of these are still quite messy and some I couldn't get to work all that well, but happy with the progress.

I put together this horrible little scene using some things from the above as the last thing for the day. It showed me how much work I have to do on putting things together, composition, lighting.

Day 11

Doing light and colour practice today. There's a whole lot wrong with the examples below but I think I'm gradually starting to get it.

More light and colour practice. Again I feel as though I am improving and it's helpful, it does seem like some times it turns out much better than others and that there is some bit of knowledge I'm missing. Should look at more examples as always.

More random practice, getting quite bored of it so will move on to something else for the moment. Should probably go back to the more stylised look I was working on at the start to see where I am today.

Day 12

Trying to go back to working on some more game like assets. Did some 'actually tileable' tiles this time.

Continued a bit more with this tileset. I find with these small characters I struggle and false start a lot more than with background features or props, the knight character in this is quite the mess even though it's the third attempt. It's probably another case of needing to look at more references if I don't have a clear idea.

Made some more creatures. Half way through I realised I have a habit of washing out all the colours and did some work trying to rectify this and cleaning things up.

Day 13

Working on more characters and colouring. I used https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/819092250948626804/ as some guidance when I did the first two block outs although mine are much smaller than the source image. I felt it very helpful to block out the body parts so will do that more in the future. Then I made some variations and worked on colouring, trying to be much better about not ending up with a washed out mess. I think it ways it turned out alright but it still takes me a lot of guess work. This time I started out with black and white and was toggling between a light and a dark background to make sure it wasn't washing into the background too much. I felt like this was better than it had been in the past but I feel there are issues working with black and white first because I end up struggling to apply colour afterwards.

A bit of animation practice as I haven't done much, I should do more preparation as it's very uneven since I just kind of sketched it out as I went.

Quick / Sloppy coloring

More animation practice

Day 14

Today is two weeks since I started this, I feel like I've come a long way but have especially in the last couple of days felt how much more I have to learn. I think I'm about ready to try and focus in on a particular style and work in that for a while rather than the scattershot I've been doing previously, but I'm undecided on what that will be.

For the practice today I looked through a lot of modern pixel art games for inspiration and decided to do this titan souls esque background. I really like using the little patterns as shading/lighting elements.

More messing around with the patterns. Kind of overdoing it but I feel like I'm getting some useful tricks out of it.

I've decided, until I change my mind, that my first actual game project is going to be some kind of very minimal space shooter. I've done the first concept for this and I'm quite happy with how it looks apart from the drone and the rocks, I'm not sure what I want to do with props or the background (if I'm not just leaving it black). Mostly the point of doing this game even though it's not a genre I'm all that into is that it's vaguely fun out of the box and I can keep the scope really small.

Day 15

Today I actually started doing some game development. I followed this project youtube and then replaced all the assets with my own and made some amends.

I think I'll spend some more time on it to make it more playable and maybe try to get more animation work in there as things like the bullets and the engines are using particles which don't look as good as the hand animation.

As I spent so much time doing the development today I wanted to make sure I still had a little bit of general practice so I drew this little ship. I have been thinking to do some more complex version of the type of space shooter above but make it naval instead. I think it'd be a decent second project as there's enough new concepts but I know I can do the base already.

Day 16

Been doing a lot of development this morning on testing out things for this boat game. The water movement and waves is a bit funky but I think I can make something quite interesting with it with another pass or two. I'm not sure what art style I want to use for the sprites, I'm not particularly happy with these boats that I've drawn so far it feels like I might need something higher pixel count.


Trying out different styles, it's not quite there but I think this scale works much better and it looks it in game as well. So I think I can make it work with this style I just have to plan something out more than this mostly nonsensical ship.

Did some rethinking on the ship and much happier with it.

Day 17

Most of my free time today I did more development again, gotten a fair amount working and going quite smoothly so far. I'm going to try and get some more art in by the end of the day though

I did some work on trying to make a harbour. I think the style is sort of working out, the main issue is that everything is wood and I need to find ways to break that up better.

Day 18/19

Continuing on this little game. I keep revisiting the art style as I'm not quite happy yet. Even here I've just done the UI/Boat in a different style than the rest but I do like how it pops out so I might keep the landscape the more dimmed colour and then most gameplay objects in the deeper colours.

Thanks for reading!
« Last Edit: April 29, 2020, 05:27:26 AM by teapoted » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2020, 04:41:28 AM »

I think you don't need much guidance, that practice routine is very good: drawing multiple instances of the same object and looking what makes it what it is, daily practice and copying and making variations from artists that inspire you. You are on the absolute right track to develop your own style, keep up the good work!  Grin

Do you have a roadmap for practicing/ drawing assets for the period after these 7 days? If yes, I would love to see what other work you do. Hand Metal Left

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« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2020, 09:02:37 AM »

Thanks for the reply!

I don't have a concrete roadmap but for the immediate couple of days/weeks I plan on doing this type of practice where I just do a bit of everything. I update the post all the time with new stuff so it will be in the original post. After this I'd like to pick a style / theme / game idea and dig much deeper into it as currently I haven't worked much at all with any individual style. I would in the next month or two like to have made a very simple game of some description. I don't have any great ambitions at the moment as I have another job so I'm just spending some free time to see what I'm capable off as I don't want to spend another X years thinking that I 'could have' done this and that by now.
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« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2020, 07:37:43 AM »

You surely got the artistic gift, I should probably take advice from you

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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2020, 05:27:34 PM »

First off, very nice stuff. I like the style overall, it's quite charming.

On critiques, I think your tiles from day 7 (so maybe a little late for me to comment, but still) look a bit rough. Top center one looks the best because of the shading, the others are a bit messy and noisy. But for your first week doing this I think it's great. Keep working on it.

Looking at the characters and creatures from your second week, and the boats from week 3, I think you should practice with your shading. Check out the tutorials on lospec.com, there's a lot to be learned from them. Try to avoid what's called "pillow shading."

Very lovely scene that last one.

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« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2020, 01:32:55 AM »

That is some extremely organized practice, christ.
Great job.
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« Reply #6 on: November 08, 2020, 07:25:42 PM »

Just want to say I adore the patterned ripples in this image from day 14:


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