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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Topic: Tower Shields (and possibly other types as well)
    Posted: 31 March 2014 at 5:55am
So, with the shields again!



So far just wanted to get the general colours and shapes down. I'll likely add patterns, decals etc to it.

Was just wondering if it roughly looks like a tower-shield, I'm also wondering if my AA is correct?

Also, I am interested in which colour works better, as the first row has a darker last shade whilst the second row has a lighter highlight.
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 01 April 2014 at 6:47am
Pixelling is just fine. To me the colors are far too saturated.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 01 April 2014 at 7:24am
Thanks for the reply Jalonso, good to know the pixelling is fine, I've been trying to change my colours as of late.

For reference, here's my current palette:



I'll try de-saturating them, my problem is that every time i try that, the colours lose their distinctiveness and just become dull. I've read the various tutorials on colour, but is there any way to deal with saturation? Like a formula or technique? Do i need to decrease it by -5 per colour, etc?

I'll post the desaturated palette later when i've done it.


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SuperTurnip
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Quote SuperTurnip Replybullet Posted: 01 April 2014 at 9:36am
Think less about a "palette", instead think more about a "gamut mask". One staple of the pixel art process is the palette, but something that is sometimes overlooked is the gamut-- all the available colors in a color model-- and how it can be made smaller and masked down to something much more precise and limited. Whilst a palette helps organise the colors you have, it doesn't really create structured rules for colors you might add (or how to add colors, for that matter). Controlling your gamut is different, in that it limits available colors in a very structured way. I'm not the best to explain this, so here are some notes about gamut mapping/masking:
Painting Tutorial
(this has visual explanations, but I haven't read the text fully)
Gamut Mapping
Gamut Mask tool
(This tool doesn't really work for pixel art, but it provides a starting point to observe from)

I hope this lets you explore colors in a different way from what you're used too. Good luck!
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 01 April 2014 at 9:47am
Here's an update on the palette, de-saturated certain colours, saturated some of the lighter ones, and kept ones that already had low saturation the same:



Superturnip: I'll give this gamut-tool a go, thanks for the links!
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 02 April 2014 at 5:58am
A quick update, some of the shield's have decals and split-colouring.



Word on the colours, are they still too saturated?
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MrHai
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Quote MrHai Replybullet Posted: 02 April 2014 at 6:45am
I think it depends on the context they will be used in. In isolation I feel they are too saturated and shiny, but I'm sure they could work within a certain style.

Also, the decals should be curved to follow the shield shape, just like the split coloring
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 03 April 2014 at 10:59am
Thanks for the comment MrHai.

I don't want to submit the piece until i can get my palette right, is there any further tutorials on colour? Specifically saturation and when i should decrease or increase it?
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MrHai
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Quote MrHai Replybullet Posted: 03 April 2014 at 4:35pm
I'm inclined to say you should just do what you want. I mean, if you like this look, that's your style. Whether or not others will like it is a different matter of course, but unless you are targeting a specific style, "too saturated" is relative. Just because I might prefer pastel colors, doesn't mean everything else is wrong. The most important thing is to be consistent with your style so all elements bear the same aesthetic.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 05 April 2014 at 1:29pm
Thanks again for the comment MrHai.

I do agree with you in one of your previous posts that the colours were too shiny, so i've taken the step to reduce some of the undeeded ones, darkened certain ones and changed my palette again (not a major change however). I also attempted to make the shield lines match the curving of the shields, not sure if it was successful however.



I may have made it a bit too dark!

I take on board what you say about Style, but i don't want my style to be static and based upon something that is flawed, in my eyes at least. If i ever do release these as part of a game, make a game etc, i'll make sure all of them are of the same style, colours etc.


Edited by AshCrimson - 05 April 2014 at 1:30pm
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 05 April 2014 at 2:29pm
They are looking real nice.
You need to focus a bit more in future works in optimizing your palettes because you use far too many. Its bad form and a terrible habit. I admire that you actually shared the blue and the purple across ramps. Do that ALL OVER. You could shave this palette in half and visually nothing would change.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 05 April 2014 at 2:55pm
It is a pretty bad habit i admit.

I've merged more colours, deleted some that are too bright. Not sure which ones i can replace, without expanding the palette.



Any further recommendations on what colours i should cut? Or should i try to make some that bridge the gap between the differing colours?
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 05 April 2014 at 3:41pm
See the resource section and scroll down to the palettes that flow organically, like Syosa's, instead of the linear ramps you now have. Find the flow with your colors and tweak and edit as needed and see what happens. For example, the lightest yellow and lightest green could eaily be one shade that serves both ramps. This goes for light orange and the 2nd color in the brown ramp. The grey befor the purple (a neutrolizer) can be darkened a tiny bit so it 'add' help to brown and blue ramp without adding any colors. Light brown one and grey 2 should also be a helping neutralizer (one color) that buffers the lightest blue to use as an 'addon' in ramp brown.
Just think organically and if you tweak and play you'd be surprised what color helps what ramp and gives you more color otpions than the colors you have.
Its an art...you are an artist...create.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 06 April 2014 at 1:13am
Thanks again Jalonso for persevering with me.

Here's my attempt to unify the colours more:



I think the 4th brown looks a bit off, so i'll probably change it. When paired with the the purple, it looks a bit too light, so i might need to change it, without making it darker than the purple.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 07 April 2014 at 8:53am
Update:

Unfortunately i had issues when i reduced some of the colours, some of them not matching well with the previous and later ones (Most notably the purple 2nd darkest purple with the metal-coloured (last column) palette, as well as there being issues with the same purple on the brown/wood palette (first column) so i had to reintroduce some colours.

I've added metal around the shields, hopefully to make them look more shieldlike, rather than just context-less shapes.



I'm still aiming to reduce the colours though, but so far in that image i have 24 colours (including black).
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 07 April 2014 at 8:55am
So much better. That's the whole idea and every palette you make should do as much of that as possible. It actually helps the final product and makes you better with colors in other mediums where restrictions are not really needed because you became efficient and precise.
Don't be afraid to mix colors from different ramps.
Think organic not linear.
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SuperTurnip
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Quote SuperTurnip Replybullet Posted: 07 April 2014 at 10:50am
Great improvements. I love the palette, and it's wonderful that you recognise design as well as color and form-- adding the metal border made these shields for me, beyond any color or form lighting changes. I can only nitpick that the bottom middle of the shield edge looks too sharp and flat for the smooth curve. Apart from that you're golden.
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 07 April 2014 at 11:08am
Thanks Superturnip!

I might have misinterpreted your advice, but here's my attempt at dealing with the problem you highlighted with the shield's bottom metal edge:



1st: Original 2nd: Changed the lighting of it, hopefully to make it look less smooth and 3rd: is an actual change in the curve.
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SuperTurnip
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Quote SuperTurnip Replybullet Posted: 07 April 2014 at 5:28pm
That's exactly what I meant! The third version works best, in my opinion. The brightness of the first distracts a bit from the curve. Other than that, it's fine.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 08 April 2014 at 12:50am
I've been told by other's in a different forum that the shields resemble more of a can, so i've tried to remedy that as well as making them less shiny, something they said was a problem as well.



Hopefully they still look good. If the shape is correct, I'll change the rest of them later, so far it's just a quick edit.

Here's another varient, with the previous ones for comparison:




Edited by AshCrimson - 08 April 2014 at 2:39am
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 8:20am
I've been told in the same forum i mentioned previously (Somethingawful.com Pixel-art thread) this: (quoting post because SA may be under pay-wall)

"I think the palette is part of the problem in shading. Like in the first shield you've got the red, the orange, and then a huge jump to the yellow. Makes them look much shinier than they should be, and just exacerbates any issues with the form.



atm there's not a lot of crossover between the colour ramps. You've got the blue ramp, the green ramp, the red ramp etc., but each colour in one ramp has the same perceptual brightness as those in another. Squint and see how close the equivalent blue and green are, say."

I'm not sure how to deal with this without radically changing each colour on each ramp to avoid this.
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 9:18am
Originally posted by AshCrimson

...I'm not sure how to deal with this without radically changing each colour on each ramp to avoid this.


Unfortunately, that's what palette unification is and the reason many pixelartists finally get a palette and stick to it. I personally like this part of the process a lot when making my stuff so I never re-use palettes.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 9:36am
Well, it'd be nice to have one palette, without having the problem of having to redo it for every piece. At the moment im trying to lighten some of the colours, especially the 2nd green and possibly third, maybe the 3rd red and make it more orange-ish.

Another issue is the 2nd and 1st darkest colours, specifically the purple. They seem to blend and it's difficult to tell them apart, which makes me think they might be redundant, but when i try to eliminate one, make it darker etc it ends up looking worse. They also make some of the colours look way too dark, but im worried if i start messing about with them i will end up adding more.

Are there any tutorials that help with colour and palette unification?


Edited by AshCrimson - 10 April 2014 at 9:37am
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 10:06am
See the forum's 'COLORS: I don't get it' in the resource section.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 10:37am
I've read it. I might take a look at Dawnbringer's palette and some other peoples and see if i can learn anything from what they've done.

I don't really want to submit the piece until i can get my palette right, since colour is such an important aspect of it.
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inphy
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Quote inphy Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 11:21am
I guess others are saying they look like cans because the shields are pretty round and seem to be very glossy surfaces, with a strong specular highlight.

I'm thinking that reducing the curvature and glossiness (moving towards matte) a bit could help convince them. It doesn't mean you have to get rid of highlights completely, but you could try to apply them differently based on how you might think the material reflects light.

Not all materials reflect light so strongly, for example a wooden shield wouldn't really have strong specular highlights. Not even metal shields would, unless they're specifically painted with glossy paint and then waxed to a perfect mirror shine. However, it's more likely they've been painted with a matte paint.

Example:

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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 12:45pm
Thanks for the advice, here's my attempt at the advice you given:

I tried two different versions of shading, although im worried they are essentially pillow-shading. I changed the Shape slightly, to make it look more shield-like. I also changed the colours, using some of DawnBringer's colours from his 32-palette.



(Bottom ones for comparison)

Apologies if this isn't what you meant, Inphy

Edit: Added six more varients of the shading. Personally i like the fourth one, but im not sure if it's "correct".


Edited by AshCrimson - 10 April 2014 at 2:07pm
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inphy
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Quote inphy Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 2:25pm
Well, I was more after the difference between glossy and matte. They're all still the same gradient with heavy contrast but with less colors. Like the top left purple shield, the colors are pretty much the same as on the purple "can" in the bottom right - darkest bits virtually black, strong specular highlight. They're not any more pillow shading than the first attempts, but they're still fairly glossy. To explain the difference a little better:

Glossy (your old shields):



Matte (more like the shields #1 - #3):



See how the light reflects, and how there's a huge contrast difference in the glossy (from white to black) and how matte looks kind of "dull"? For another example, take a look at some scuta in natural light:



They're not glossy, they don't look like mirrors or cans. There's no huge contrast, and you shouldn't think that you just have to have that huge contrast difference from blacks to bright colors for good shading and/or in order to avoid pillowshading somehow.



Edited by inphy - 10 April 2014 at 2:27pm
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 2:46pm
Not sure if this still counts as glossy? Sorry if i seem like im missing the point, im taking everything into account, colour is another of my weak points.

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inphy
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Quote inphy Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 3:18pm
Nah you just need to trust your own opinion more. :) Those are not glossy, except for these two designs, and I know you can tell which side is shiny (glossy) and which side is not shiny (matte):



Of course, being glossy is not a bad thing in any way, it's just as "valid" as matte - but it all depends on what material you are trying to depict. Brushed metal, polished metal, painted metal - all reflect light differently, some are just more shiny than others. The best way to figure out what to do is just to look at different things, look at references, and observe how light interacts with different things.

Look at a soda can and then the picture of the three shields (scuta) in my last post, especially their shininess, and then your first shields. Would you say their shininess is closer to the soda can or the scuta?
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 3:47pm
I'd agree that the shading and shininess leans more towards a can than an actual shield.

I'm actually glad i didn't submit it, since it's obvious now it needed more work. Sorry for dragging this out for so long, especially just for a few shields. :S
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 5:46pm
Ash. You do not need to apologize or excuse yourself in the gallery or the forum. That is the reason PJ exists. People who persevere and work as hard as you have is something worthy of respect and admiration. Its no effort for most to give you feedback because you demonstrate that you are taking it all in and its a pleasure to comment knowing its not going to waste.
PJ exists to ask, contribute, share with no limits. Understand that while all this is help to you many other PJers who maybe never post or feel they have nothing to contribute (they are wrong, of course) read and learn. I guarantee you someone other than you has learned something from your shields.
Every WIP thread should be like this.
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Quote MrHai Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 6:48pm
Agree wholeheartedly with jalonso. It's great to know the critique you give will be given fair consideration and reflected upon, and this is a great thread. inphy makes good points, and it's sort of what I was getting at in my last post - you just have to decide which look you want to go for, and trust in your own opinion. I think it's great you tried so many different things though, I can imagine you've gained a lot of experience throughout the process.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 12:35am
Thanks so much for the comments guys, I know i can be quite negative and apologetic.

Here's a very quick update.



Not sure if the lines are correct, at least in terms of the way they curve.
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inphy
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Quote inphy Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 8:56am
Yeah like everyone said, there's absolutely no need to apologize!

I like those shields, but how about you, do you like them yourself? One more thing for your consideration, you don't necessarily have to split the shield in half, light left side and darker right side. Consider it like this:



The light is deliberately set up for the example and the arc is exaggarated, but you see how light hits shield C. Since it's basically a wedge, only one side of it will catch direct light and it'll look like split in the middle. Shield B, a semicircle, will catch more, and shield A being completely flat gets direct light all around.

I guess I'm saying don't get stuck on having to shade the shield the way I did either, place your light wherever you want and have whatever curvature you want and then go from there. I'm not saying there's a need to change either - it's completely up to what you want to do.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 10:39am
I intended it to be more like the roman shield you linked above rather than a wedge shape. I'll amend the shields with your words about shading and the curvature of the shield in mind.

Also, I was just wondering should i reduce the AA of the metal bordering around the shield? Does it detract from it, is there too much, too little etc?

This whole process has really made me want to go back to my kite-shields and amend them.

Edit:



Included original kite-shield for comparison as well. Wasn't sure where the light would hit the curve of the kite-shield so included two minor variations


Edited by AshCrimson - 11 April 2014 at 11:57am
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inphy
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Quote inphy Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 12:32pm
I think it looks ok, maybe a bit thick at two points. With AA it's easy to make things appear thicker that they should be, especially so with such a narrow outline. Check the bottom left and the top part of the left shield - does the AA make those points look slightly thicker than the rest of the outline to you?



The shield on the right is one idea - do those parts look as thick as on the shield on the left anymore? Sometimes it can be better to consider not having such an explicit outline but to "fake" it.


Edited by inphy - 11 April 2014 at 12:34pm
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 10:18am
Another quick update, took on board what you said with the AA-Inphy.To me, the second version looks better and more "correct" and cleaner in my opinion.


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Quote SuperTurnip Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 10:52am
Awesome progress. some chips and scratches might be at home on these shields, but that's personal preference speaking. Great stuff!
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 12:59pm
Might try that at some point Superturnip, want to get the shield logos down first, speaking of which here's some so far:



Also was just wanting some feedback on the small round shields at the bottom (want to see if there's any issue with them before i start adding logos etc).
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 1:08pm
Wow! these look great now.
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inphy
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Quote inphy Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 1:35pm
Yeah, really nice work! Don't see any issues with the round shields.

If you want to see some design and color ideas, for more historic realism there's lots of stuff on heraldry. For a more fantasy touch, shields in Dark Souls and Dark Souls 2 have some cool designs (they had a medieval equipment consultant or some such on staff).

For the round shield, if you want to try to replicate something historic, try searching for parma, buckler, and targe shields. But of course you don't have to - you can also let your imagination run wild and design your own shields! :)
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 2:42pm


And thats the rest of them done. Thanks for the links Inphy, i kind of wanted to stick to a medieval-sort of style for the moment, but who knows?

Barring any need to change them, i will probably submit this to the gallery, but i will wait for critique incase there's any glaring faults, things needing to be fixed etc.
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Quote MrHai Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 5:49pm
Looking good, Ash. Just one thing: seems like some of the patterns have stopped following the shape of the shields.

edit: I can appreciate the patterns becoming hard to do when having to take curvature into consideration, and I don't think you necessarily have to curve the patterns. Either way though, you should avoid mixing the two (like the curved cross mixed with the straight coloring in shield #6 from the left, top row). Also, not sure whether the curved crossbeams on the orthodox cross is a remnant from when the shields curved the other way, or whether it's a deliberate choice.

Edited by MrHai - 12 April 2014 at 6:08pm
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 1:03am
Thanks for reminding me of that MrHai. The reason for some of the shield patterns not following the curvature is because they either looked worse off with it or they didn't resemble the thing i wanted them to (for example third row, 7th shield's logo didn't resemble a crown when i applied curvature).

I took into account what you said and made sure they were consistant and applied curvature when it added to the shields:



I also changed the metal beams on the shields that had them.


Edited by AshCrimson - 13 April 2014 at 10:24am
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 5:21am
Originally posted by AshCrimson

...because they either looked worse off with it or they didn't resemble the thing i wanted them to (for example third row, 7th shield's logo didn't resemble a crown when i applied curvature).


Yes. Sometimes one must make artistic decisions like that. Pixelart forces us to tweak all the time.
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AshCrimson
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Quote AshCrimson Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 10:05am
Do you think it's complete enough to submit?
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 10:14am
Dude, it was completely enough to submit with the very first post.
I suppose many saw potential in the piece and you enough to help and push you along to elevate it a little.
You went and elevated it a lot!
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Quote StoneStephenT Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 11:19am
These are the kinds of threads that help me learn and grow as a pixel artist. (Now if I could just rouse myself into working on new stuff.)
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jalonso
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 16 April 2014 at 10:07am
Art is now submitted.
PJ has decided this is a worthy thread and get one of our news features.
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