Sprite Issues

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TheScribe
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Sprite Issues

Post by TheScribe » June 26th, 2012, 11:11 am

I read all the tutorials I could find on creating sprites. They had good advice, but they didn't really cover coloring and texturing well. So I was wondering if anybody could create a tutorial on how to properly color a sprite. If there's already one could you please post a link?

Thanks.
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Crow_T
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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by Crow_T » June 27th, 2012, 1:19 am

http://wiki.wesnoth.org/Create_Art Not enough here? Then you need more classical art training, try here: http://gurneyjourney.blogspot.com/

A Gimp tip: paintbrush is good for blocking in tones that blend a bit, pencil is good for exact pixel placement. It's really a matter of making some sprites, then actually putting them in game next to some stock ones. This will be a good guide.

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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by TheScribe » June 27th, 2012, 2:12 am

I'd been to the page you listed. The one that looked the most helpful, "How to Shade", didn't help because all the pictures were blocked for some reason so I can't really see what they're doing.

There were a couple helpful ones, but they just brought me to the point where I am now. They were all helpful, but when they get to the subject of coloring/shading they kind of dodge it. I realise this is one of the hardest parts, but the one telling me how to do it doesn't work, as I said before.

I know what it should look like in my head, but transfering it to the computer is hard for me...
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artisticdude
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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by artisticdude » June 27th, 2012, 3:25 pm

Crow_T wrote:A Gimp tip: paintbrush is good for blocking in tones that blend a bit...
:augh: Nono, please don't use the paintbrush tool when doing pixel art! Pixel art is all about control, which translates to the fact that you need to have control over each individual pixel. Since the paintbrush tool isn't hard-edged (i.e., it automatically applies anti-aliasing to the surrounding pixels), you lose that control and the quality of your image suffers as a result. In addition, your color-count will increase exponentially (which means it will be impossible to simply use the bucket-fill tool to change a shade in your palette), and the end result will look blurrier than if you had done it solely with hard-edged tools.
TheScribe wrote:I'd been to the page you listed. The one that looked the most helpful, "How to Shade", didn't help because all the pictures were blocked for some reason so I can't really see what they're doing.

There were a couple helpful ones, but they just brought me to the point where I am now. They were all helpful, but when they get to the subject of coloring/shading they kind of dodge it. I realise this is one of the hardest parts, but the one telling me how to do it doesn't work, as I said before.

I know what it should look like in my head, but transfering it to the computer is hard for me...
Honestly, there is no tutorial on earth that can really teach you to shade. Tutorials can give you helpful hints, but in the end you'll only learn shading through observation and practice. Look at objects in real life. Where is the light coming from? Why are certain parts of the object in shadow? Where are the highlights in relation to the lightsource? And so on and so forth. Try experimenting with simple shapes (e.g., cubes, spheres, etc.). Study existing sprites and how they are shaded. :)
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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by Crow_T » June 27th, 2012, 10:35 pm

:augh: Nono, please don't use the paintbrush tool when doing pixel art! Pixel art is all about control, which translates to the fact that you need to have control over each individual pixel.
I have to disagree here, it depends on your style of working. I generally block in big areas, and refine, refine, refine. I work by swooping for the most part, and refining with the pixel-perfect pencil. It's kind of destructive to use the pencil in some cases, you can subtly affect an area with the paint brush.

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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by artisticdude » June 28th, 2012, 2:18 pm

It's not so much a question of methodology as it is of medium. Mainline Wesnoth sprites are made from 100% pixel art. UMC sprites do not have to conform to this, of course, but for the sake of consistency and quality most UMC sprites are modeled in the style and medium of mainline sprites.

It's important to realize that not all digital art is "pixel art". There is pixel art, and then there is "art made out of pixels". Sprites are made of pixel art. Portraits are made of pixels. As a medium, pixel art inherently requires that the artists have exact control over every single pixel, which tacitly excludes the use of "dirty tools" like the brush tool or any other tool that automatically applies AA or other effects to the surrounding pixels, because at that point the artist no longer has control over the individual pixel and must accept the automated changes applied by the tool he's using. These automated processes are completely unpredictable, and as such take away the artist's control of every single pixel. In pixel art, especially at the scale of Wesnoth's sprites, every single pixel has a meaning. Changing a single pixel can drastically alter the way the human eye interprets the shape.

Using "dirty tools" also hampers the ability of the artist to work with the sprite, because the automated AA applied by such tools creates an astronomical color count. Ridiculously high color counts are generally frowned upon in pixel art. You should use as many shades as you need for the job, and no more. Otherwise the image will lose that crisp feeling that all good pixel art should have. In terms of more practical considerations, the high number of shades generated by "dirty tools" make it all but impossible to easily replace the color of an area of the sprite via the "bucket fill" tool.
cure wrote:You'll often hear people going around complaining "This isn't pixel art, it has too many colors!" This isn't because there's some unwritten rule in pixel art that says "it's only pixel art if it has [X] number of colors", you're allowed to use as many colors as you want. The main reason that people complain about color count is that a high amount of colors can indicate the use of dirty tools. Dirty tools create a lot of new colors in order to achieve their blurring, smudging, or transparency effects. People also mention high color counts because larger palettes are more difficult to control...

...If modern computers can easily display hundreds of colors, why shouldn't you use them all? In truth, using small palettes isn't an outdated tradition of pixel art, and there are very logical reasons behind this practice.

Cohesion- When you're using less colors, the same colors will reappear throughout the piece more frequently. Since the different areas of the work share the same colors, the palette ties the piece together, unifying the work.

Control- The smaller the palette, the easier it is to manage. You may, and probably will, want to change adjust a color later on. If you've got 200 colors, it's going to take you a lot longer to make the adjustments, because by changing one color you've thrown off its relationship with the colors neighboring it on its color ramps, and adjusting them means changing the relationships between those colors and their neighbors! You can see how this quickly adds up to a lot of work. With a smaller palette, the effect of changing a single color is more substantial, and there are less micro-relationships to worry about.
That being said, not every individual pixel needs to be drawn one at a time.
cure wrote:Every pixel does not literally need to be placed by hand
The job of the pixel artist is not to manually place each and every pixel. You aren't expected to behave like a robot, filling in large areas with thousands of single-clicks of the pencil tool. The bucket tool is fine. The line tool is fine. What's important is that the artist has control of the image at the level of the single pixel, not that you create the image one pixel at a time.
I've heard the argument before that you can get more subtle effects with the brush tool or other "dirty tools". However, it is fully possible to be just as subtle without resorting to automated tools. Furthermore, you should generally not want to achieve subtle effects on sprites. By their very nature, sprites are intended to be crisper than their surroundings, and to stand out. If you start applying the blurriness of automated tools at that scale, you will end up losing that crispness and actually losing the ability to portray tiny details. At so small a scale, many details will inevitably have to be nixed, but if you have control over the individual pixel you will be able to hint at those details in a far more readable way than if you were working with an automated tool like the brush tool. The automated AA would obscure the surrounding pixels and end up blurring the tiny details and fine lines into obscurity.
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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by Vranca » June 28th, 2012, 3:52 pm

My sprites,My Minitroops
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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by Crow_T » June 28th, 2012, 11:40 pm

OK well, here is an internet first: maybe I'm wrong :P Admittedly I have a thing or two to learn about sprite art, atm I'm carrying over other painting methods into it, which is more than likely a bad idea. So yeah, don't listen to my blatherings :whistle:

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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by Jetrel » July 1st, 2012, 11:20 am

I have to say, I was actually in this camp when I first started doing art (which was also when I joined wesnoth*); I thought the "rigor" of pixel art was really a joke. It was, and still is true, that a person can produce visually nigh-indistinguishable works using a paintbrush tool.

:| Unfortunately (and I'll thank artisticdude for being a non-example of this who gives a sound explanation), most of the people who defend pixel art formalism fail to give good reasons for it. The usual line is usually an appeal to authority; "just do it that way because that's how it's done". There are better arguments, but often those who defend the medium aren't the best orators - they can "feel" why it is worthwhile, but they can't express it in words.

The primary reasons for using "pure pixel art" (PPA) are mostly related to speed. Your goal when doing pure pixel art is achieving a certain archetypical pixel-art look; often characterized by crisp rendering of select details (often but not always including lines/outlines) at the exact resolution your display offers. The advantage of using purist approaches is a pretty good assurance of getting this look, coupled with high speed at certain operations. There are a lot of selection or fill operations that are wicked-fast using PPA techniques, and very slow using painterly techniques.

The selection operations are really the crown jewel. Selection plays into a great many operations; be it masking as a quick substitute for layers; moving elements of a drawing, adjusting colors, or any number of other tasks it shares with painterly digital art, but which it's much slower than instantaneous to do there.

One of the best examples is that it's much harder to adjust color ramps when using painted material, because it's much harder to rigorously isolate bands of color when there are a lot of color values involved, rather than one single RGB value. This comes as much into play with working in photoshop, as it does to live, programmatic palette-shifting (like wesnoth uses to shift team colors). It's reasonably easy to non-rigorously isolate them - it's hard to have absolute guarantees that if you're, say, turning a green shirt on a character into a purple shirt, that if you're selecting via color, you're not going to miss a small patch that happens to have barely-perceptible color differences versus the others.


One miscellaneous bit it also helps with is "color wander" from sampling colors using the eyedropper (which when painted using a blended-edge brush tend to change as it blends, and repeated samples can gradually morph a color much like the classic dinner game of "telephone" morphs a spoken phrase). Color wander can be coped with in painterly works via standard palettes, but doesn't exist in PPA because there are no regions of slightly different colors. Standard palettes, too, introduce a huge problem in and of themselves - once committed to, a standard palette is pretty onerous to change rigorously.
Crow_T wrote:OK well, here is an internet first: maybe I'm wrong :P Admittedly I have a thing or two to learn about sprite art, atm I'm carrying over other painting methods into it, which is more than likely a bad idea. So yeah, don't listen to my blatherings :whistle:
This is quite admirable. :)


* I started art when I joined wesnoth; I joined wesnoth because I was a programmer who was in college, and was becoming mortally concerned that in college (arguably the best possible place to find artists), I couldn't find a single person willing to make art for my game concepts (as a free venture, since of course as a college student I couldn't afford to pay for anything). So I found wesnoth and realized it was a perfect outlet to attempt to learn to do game art on a project that would succeed on the code side without any intervention on my part, and was also a good chance to have my newbie attempts criticized by a real and impolite audience, which would hopefully tell me any unpleasant things I needed to hear.
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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by Crow_T » July 1st, 2012, 2:01 pm

Heeeeey, Maybe I'm NOT wrong after all :geek:
http://wiki.wesnoth.org/Creating_a_scratch_built_sprite
If you paint a unit take a break from the brush tool and use the pencil and add some straight lines, especially on the edges of capes to break up the shading. It can add some very nice contrast. Use it with care. (On texture it looks like embroidery)
Heh maybe the wiki should be updated.

I do understand the point of what the more experienced people are saying, I made a scratch built sprite, and it looked nice, but in game it stuck out like a sore thumb, or more accurately looked like a mushy blob in there compared to the mainline ones.

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Re: Sprite Issues

Post by wayfarer » July 2nd, 2012, 8:48 am

Some time has passed since I cooked that up. :whistle:

While I still stand to most of the points. (Especial to the brush I still love you man I really do)
I am just too lazy to defend it. Since I can work with it and I think the results are likable, so each it's own

I have collected a bit more experience and would put some parts a bit different.
Especially the examples....
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