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Indigo
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Quote Indigo Replybullet Topic: Pixel Purism: Process vs. Results
    Posted: 10 April 2014 at 2:15pm
I posted a blog recently that I feel the pixeljoint community would particularly be interested in discussing.  PJ's view on pixel art tends to be that of what I call a "process purist" mentality - one where not only does it matter what the end result is, but also how you got there.  I used to be the same way!  But over the course of my career my opinion has changed, and I feel that way of thinking can be toxic.

You can read the blog post at the source here:
http://danfessler.com/blog/pixel-purism-process-vs-results

The following is the content of the post pasted here for convenience:

Pixel Purism: Process vs. Results
When I first began doing pixel art a sense of pixel purism was engrained in me by the pixel art communities. Rules and conventions were established in the post-pixel area of video games as a means to wrap up in a neat and tidy package what the art of our youth was all about. They covered what tools were and were not allowed, how many colors were acceptable, and coined a vocabulary of new terms to describe patterns to follow and avoid. Some even went as far as to say that each pixel needed to be placed individually in order to qualify. Although these rules were being made up organically by kids no different than me, they were treated as law and anyone who dared think otherwise was quickly corrected and indoctrinated.

But the truth is pixel art was never like that in game production. In fact, in many ways, making art for games today is no different at all from what it was like back then; the problems are just different. If you take a peek at the technical details behind the art of any modern game you’ll be surprised to find out that it’s just a bunch of crazy ideas and hacks stacked on top of each other in order to push the system to do something that was previously never thought of. The pixel art era was no exception to this mentality; there were no self-imposed rules against transparency, high color-counts, or what tools you used. Those were the rules given to you by the platform, and your job was to attempt to BREAK them in any way possible and push the limits. The inescapable truth is most pixel art games of our youth, if they were able, used what would be declared today as “Dirty” Tools or “Non-Pixel Art” (NPA) practices.

“Unlike the famous adage, when it comes to pixel art it’s the destination, not the journey.”


When I got my first job at Gameloft in 2008 my mentality towards pixel purism shifted drastically. No longer was it about how you get it done, but rather how FAST. I began doing things I was told was unquestionably wrong like color reducing and layered blend modes. This isn’t to say the things I learned as a pixel-purist weren’t useful – they were! They resulted in high quality art with attention for every pixel and for that I am thankful, but I feel it was taught to me backwards. It became clear to me that there were two distinct types of purism; process purism and results purism, the former being completely useless and toxic. Why take an hour to do something in a tedious way, when you can do it with the same results another way in half the time? Unlike the famous adage, when it comes to pixel art it’s the destination, not the journey. So let’s talk about the various methods of creating pixel art. They can be summed up in 3 major categories...





“Isocity House” by Kenneth Fejer - [Source]

Manual:

This is the most common method for indie developers these days. Anyone who grew up with MS Paint on their computer has had a taste for this due to the program’s inherent limitations. Simply put, in this method each color is placed by hand. I say ‘color’ and not ‘pixel’ because tools like the paint bucket, line tool, and large brushes are generally accepted as pure. So long you’re laying down each specific color by hand, with an attention to proper pixel technique and color conservation, then you are creating pixel art in this method; The “purist” method.





“Grishkin” by Cure - [Source]

Color Reduction / Cleanup:

This method involves painting with dirty tools to solidify the overall composition fast, then color reducing (or “indexing”) the image to a more manageable palette. When you do this, the image will look like a mess in terms of pixel art standards. Jagged aliased edges and stray pixels will be strewn across the canvas, but the composition is still intact. From there it’s back to manual pixel-pushing as you clean up the image and refine it on a per-pixel level.





“Atomic Ride” by Acryl - [Source]

Index Painting:

The most elusive of the methods is Index Painting. The term “index” refers to an image mode where a pixel's color value does not carry any RGB hue information but instead is an index to a colour palette. Indexing was a major part of early game development and allowed for cool tricks such as palette swapping and FX animation by cycling a pixel through a series of indexes (Color Cycling). As art tools such as Deluxe Paint (Amiga) became more powerful, features allowing for laying down multiple colors at once were made. Things which were previously impossible like blend modes, procedural dithering, soft-brushes and gradients, was now available to pixel artists. Index Painting refers to the use of these more advanced tools; i.e. painting with multiple indexes. A few modern programs continue to support these features including ProMotion and GraFX.

Helm, former moderator at Pixelation, describes the method:
“Instead of a small controlled palette, the artist starts out by making huge 16 or 32 color ramps (you'll notice most index painted work has straight ramps). He then proceeds to draw as if you'd draw in Photoshop, using blend modes, smudges, auto AA-ing and so on. Essentially in Deluxe Paint, Personal Paint, Brilliance (all Amiga stuff) or Gfx2 or Pro Motion for the PC, you can treat an image like you'd do in Photoshop more or less. You don't have to work pixel-specific as most pixel artists do … Most index painters however at this stage go in on the pixel level and start refining the image. It's essentially closer to what you'd do if you scanned in a watercolor image, color reduced and then zoomed in and dithered around and stuff, sharpening a bit here and there, simplifying here and there than it is to straight-up pixeling. So the end result is an image that has the volumetric control offered by dirty tools, but the finish of pixel art. This is index painting.”

Index Painting And Beyond!

It doesn’t end there! Building upon the principals we talked about here, In my next post I’ll be talking about a new method I’ve developed for turning Photoshop into the most powerful Index Painting tool in existence using what I’m calling “HD Index Painting”.

Stay tuned!


So what are your thoughts on this subject?


Edited by Indigo - 10 April 2014 at 2:17pm
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Hapiel
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Quote Hapiel Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 2:38pm
I am very very curious to your HD index painting! I have been searching for ways to apply the knowledge I have of pixels to projects outside of the pixel community, and index painting seems like an option for that...
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Christoballs
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Quote Christoballs Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 3:09pm
Kiwi wrote up a few tutorials relevant to this discussion, which you can find here: http://2dwillneverdie.com/tutorial/
He uses PS effectively to get pixel art results fast, as seen in the El Zombo process for example. I highly recommend checking these tutorials out!
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Indigo
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Quote Indigo Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 3:32pm
EXCELLENT find Christoballs!  This is exactly the sort of shortcuts I use all the time in my commercial work.  I'm glad someone has taken the time to document some of this.  And to my point - he still maintains pixel control over the final image, so I wouldn't consider his artwork to be any less "pixel art" or him to be any less of a "pixel artist"
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 4:07pm
From my experience, those learning a skill tend to latch on to absolutes rather than uncertainties because it allows them to continue forward with confidence and in effect acquire more experience in the process of using those absolutes. It's difficult to make progress by always being conflicted with yourself or your beliefs, such as wondering how to do something. If something tells you how to do something, then you have a road/path to doing it. You also might not know enough to conceptualize broader possibilities/options without having first developed a relationship with the medium. It's like someone learning survival skills before leaving the town and carving their own path to the unknown. So the way I see people in the past trying to define techniques for pixel-art and standing by them is because that is what worked for them. That is what got them places they hadn't been. If something doesn't work for someone, they'll try to find another solution, but in the end it'll have the same fates. The path-work will have been laid and people will follow because it is safe. It's just a choice then. People from the town will shout out at those who run off in to the wild for whatever reasons, but the town will still be there. The choices still open to be used. People will flock to whatever is popular, to whatever is profitable, whatever gets them to the places they want to be.. but in the end, it all has the same fate.
I could get more mental about stuff, but I'll choose not to. You've already shown me a bit of what you've done, but even if I didn't know what it was, I think whatever it is you're doing should be done if it helps yourself find whatever you need.

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Quote aeveis Replybullet Posted: 10 April 2014 at 9:54pm
Very interesting! Learning pixel art for me was definitely becoming aware of certain patterns and best practices, but those seem to point towards the end result, not how I got there. I do think once the result starts pushing near the edge of what people define as "pixel art" it can raise complaints.
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Quote AlcopopStar Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 1:51am
I agree, but not entirely.

These advanced techniques are only good to the point that they mimic styles that adhere to the more traditional processes pixel art developed from. That envelope can be pushed certainly, and there is room for intersectionality between pixel art and a more homogeneously defined digital art. But for pixel art to exist categorically it requires a certain adherence to a collectively understood set of aesthetics and procedural rules.

That is to say, the use of advanced techniques are well and good but without due attention risk breaking the "rules" that make pixel art a separate and coherent artistic entity unto itself.

Would rotoscoping or colour reducing video footage of fighters be pure pixel art?

What about making low poly models with a pixel shader?

For me the answer is in how these assets are treated after there conception. And how much effort is put into adhering to pixel arts unwritten aesthetic tradition (low colour counts, hand aliased, what have you)

Ultimately I think the destination is important. And accepting these advanced techniques might push us towards more interesting and more economical art. But I don't think the traditional process should be disregarded, as this more methodological pixel by pixel approach serves both as the point of impetus from which many of the defining traditions of pixel art arose from while also providing the core foundational skills to people learning the craft.


Edited by AlcopopStar - 11 April 2014 at 6:32am
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yrizoud
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Quote yrizoud Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 5:16am
With Index painting, I think you're grouping together several techniques that are not so similar in their destination or journey.

Helm's description is basically RGB painting performed in a 256-color space. In Grafx2, this is what happens whenyou use the modes :
- Transparency(Normal),
- Transparency(Alpha),
- Smooth,
- Smear+Transparency

But the indexed colors mode allows other ways of working, including pixel art in the strictest sense : Select a color, draw, the affected pixels become the selected color.

Yet another way is the Shade mode : You groups your palette colors in ranges, and then when you paint with left mouse button, the affected pixels changes to the next color from the range it belongs, while the right mouse-button makes it change to the previous color. This avoids a lot of color-picking and using shortcuts of next-color / previous-color.
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Quote cure Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 7:50am
Technically I didn't use "dirty tools" in creating Grishkin, I just did a color-reduction of a photograph (of a traditional painting). But that's irrelevant, as it doesn't really affect the process you described (i.e. cleaning up a messy reduction).

I don't have much else to say about this topic unfortunately. All seems pretty straight-forward.


Edited by cure - 11 April 2014 at 7:51am
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 7:55am
Just to clear on PJ submissions of color reductions/cleanups.
Using your own art (like cure did) is cool on a case by case basis.
Using other's art is theft, plagiarism, uncool, unethical and shameful and not allowed no matter who you are.
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Quote inphy Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 9:26am
Now I'm just a layman, but for me, pixel art has never about forcing some minimum level of misery per pixel on artists in order to adhere to some vague notion of purity. It's not about how you go from A to Y, but about what you do at Z (like Helm mentioned, "finish of pixel art"). It's about having control over the pixels, so that any viewer can grab virtually any pixel from the piece, feeling that you have thought about this very single pixel and everything is according to the your grand vision.

Antialiasing, subpixelling, clusters, palette control, pixel-level control - you're not losing (your chance to implement) any of it just because it took you 30 minutes in PS to reach the same point as you would have in 30 hours of pixel-by-pixel work in <insert favourite pixelling software here>. The latter method doesn't really add any inherent value to the piece (although it's a good learning tool as mentioned), whereas the former method can actually help you work on your art instead of having to work on working on your art.

Added: I think the same principle works with music. You can plink away note by note on a guitar to compose your next hit, or you can use a piece of computer software to compose and throw notes around with ease, transpose, time shift, change tempo etc.

When you finally play the song to an audience, it's all about you and your skill. It's irrelevant whether the song was composed note by note on a guitar or on a computer, the song isn't going to sound any better or worse.


Edited by inphy - 11 April 2014 at 10:02am
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 11:25am
I like your thinking, inphy.
I think anyone who believes the process doesn't matter, and that only the result does, is fooling themselves.
The process happens inside yourself. If you believe the process doesn't matter, than you aren't believing in your self. Instead, you are believing that you've created something that is disconnected from you.
You can believe in the process and still have results! You can't really separate them. You can think of them separately, but that is because both are a reality that is explorable. To say one is better or worse, well, that depends on what you're doing.
A process inside yourself can't express itself without showing some form of result. The results are what others can see. Others can't see your process. You can record your results, which people believe is a process, but it isn't a true process because it is just different versions of a result. You can't find any process other than yourself!
The process is very important... the results are very important too.


Edited by AlexHW - 11 April 2014 at 11:27am
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 11:33am
And to follow my previous post up..

Anything that allows you to become closer with yourself I believe is worthwhile. If your aims are to gloss over the process and focus solely on results, then I think you'll spend more time finding ways to avoid yourself..

Obviously, a person can't always be so self absorbed, but a person who learns to understand themselves better, I think that process is valuable.
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Quote Cyangmou Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 5:08pm

Pj's view on „pixel art“ is rather the mods view on what pixel art should contain and what pixel art shouldn't contain.

This view on the subject is given to new people through the whole design of the site which won't change and stalls development (worse balanced rating, HoF cycles mainly pieces from 2005-2007).


There are some acknowledged techniques which make up a certain pixel art style direction which is monopolized as „pixel art“ for PJ's understanding.

Everything which don't follows these guidelines just isn't „pixel art“ (but just for the Pixel-Joint perspective).


To PJ's set of acknowledged tools counts amongst others: low amount of colors per ramp, interconnected palettes, dither, AA and recently cluster-tech found it's way.


Of course that techniques just cover a really little amount of the overall art which could be seen as pixel-art which is aroundy and it excludes a lot more art, which was produced before PJ's time or is produced today.


Techniques like 50% overlays, which can be crafted through simple math by hand aren't seen as „true“ by the ideals of PJ. Index-painting is untrue. Demoscene stuff is untrue. Popular Game Stuf fis untrue and so on.


Is PJ a place for art or a place for graphics - made with big visible pixels?

Are pixels good for „art“ as the art scene sees it (gallerists, museums, art market etc.) or are they just good for graphics (the drawn graphics have purposeful meaning in the context of a immersive interactive experience)

I don't think pj has a lot of acknowledged art-scene artists here.

I also don't think PJ has a lot of really established game artists as members who produced the art PJ took as inspiration for their underlying style-schemata? I don't know for sure, but I haven't found a lot of them here posting their pieces.


Can professional artists who are a cost-factor, since they have to make a living, keep up with a strange view on the subject of an art-style which is stamped by a single website?

From what I read: You surely don't any more after working for Gameloft and it seems we share some experiences. PJ's definition of pixel art don't matches with game-development reality as I experienced it.


Do professional artists and their audience who have a different background or approach to the idea of pixel-art will be fitting to PJ style guidelines?

IMO: They don't match in a lot of cases. PJ is just a small site and doesn't even acknowledge some pixel art which is seen as pixel-art worlwide just by the strict style guidelines. On the other hand PJ definitely holds up it's own idea of an art style.

Not pixel art, maybe the style is called pixel-purism?



Edited by Cyangmou - 11 April 2014 at 5:18pm
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 6:15pm
Cyangmou, businesses are usually structured a specific way where the employees act more like expendable resources. It wasn't always like that in the past, but it is more prevalent nowadays. If you're going to work at a studio that knocks out products as quickly as possible, and promotes techniques for speeding up workflow all at the expense of those doing the work, then it's obvious they're looking for results without caring about anyone in the process.
If you're trying to find shortcuts to a solution, a shortcut is a shortcut no matter how you try to frame it. If a person comes to me and expects a result without acknowledging me, they've now created a big problem.
If they expect me to conform to a faster method at my own expense, it shows they are inconsiderate of me because they choose to disregard my own process. If I can't use my own process, then someone else must be using me..
Lesson to be taken here, is to do your own thing if you want your results to lead back to yourself.
If you want to be lost, or controlled, then use shortcuts other people have made- in other words.. use the results of others if you haven't learn to create your own results yet.
Using results from other people is perfectly okay if you're learning. I think Indigo is just sick of using other people's results, so he is making his own now. Good for him.

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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 6:34pm
This is a great thread because any convo and discussion is always good. All the PJ Mods follow and read too. We don't have a set definition or view.

Like all, we evolve too and learn. Professionals learn all the time even gameart professionals. There is something always new. PJ has evolved as a collective and will continue to do so. It just may not go at the same speed as one would like.

Many pros are here all the time. Being quiet does not mean inexistance.

Pixelart is both a graphic medium and an 'art' medium. Its the individual artist and the viewer that makes the distinction.

PJ simply cannot allow some to add hybrids or 'unconventional' pixelart because not every PJer is on the same 'skill' level. Telling someone that their piece is a 'no' when others get 'yes' is chaos.

If Pixeljoint were a bartending school it would not be showcasing whatever the new lushes are drinking these days or throwing whatever is liquid because thats what drunks drink. It would be showcasing the basic of cocktails, the techniques that make for good mixes, the classic drinks noone drinks anymore.

Lastly, Wether PJ is small or big is not very important. What is important is that PJ is the longest one standing without a hitch. There is one reason why PJ has never spoiled. We fight the urge to move away from purism and only inch forward when it absolutely must. Preserving and extending the medium is the mission.
---
*PJ is not only big, its huge in traffic and advertisers beg on a daily basis to be here. PJ gets offers to be bought or traded every week. In the art site category PJ is Top10 in the google database, Top5 in Yahoo and Top7 in Bing. That's worldwide. PJ is one of those rare sites that is even allowed in areas where other sites are not. PJ is in countries where viewers cannot even join, post or anything but look and read. In some places PJ is seen without any words at all only images. PJ holds on tight to purism for them, for aliens and for posterity.

Edited by jalonso - 11 April 2014 at 6:38pm
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Quote AlcopopStar Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 7:26pm
I feel like the overarching "mission" of pixel art has changed. As a broad generalization, the goal used to be to trick your way past the technical limitations of your medium in order to create "more advanced" higher resolution feeling art.

That was always a dead end goal though, as it was emulating higher graphics while not recognizing itself as a valid art form. I remember once wondering if pixel art would persist after the mobile phone generation grew towards more advanced graphics and fortunately it has. In part this is because of a culture obsessed with nostalgia, but it is also because pixel art has a strong aesthetic quality of it's own. I now feel like the art is evolving to reflect those strengths.

Techniques that once seemed necessary for pixel art such as dithering and aa can often get in the way of a cleaner more obviously pixeled style; One that focuses on sharp lines and clusters, one that is obviously trying to be pixel art and nothing else. (where as arguably dithering and aa can be seen as an attempt to emulate higher resolution art)

These new styles put the pixel at the forefront rather then hiding it or attempting to blend it away.

Now it's not for me to say what is pixel art and what isn't, but if I had to throw out a casual definition it would be as follows:

A subsection of digital art focused on examining the distillation of basic digital art elements such as colour and resolution, and the channeling these now simplified elements into a controlled aesthetic.

A little clumsy, but I think that covers the pixel, low pallet, and attention to detail I associate with the art.

sorry if that was a bit off topic.


Edited by AlcopopStar - 11 April 2014 at 7:41pm
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Quote cure Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 7:41pm
Originally posted by Cyangmou

Pj's view on „pixel art“ is rather the mods view on what pixel art should contain and what pixel art shouldn't contain.


It really has more to do with practicality. Pixel art bleeds into oekaki and regular digital painting, and moderation is a bitch without any parameters. Whether those parameters are placed correctly is a matter of debate, but claiming the rules were created in order to enforce personal tastes and marginalize entartete Kunst is a stretch. Personally I don't know that I'd change any of the submission rules, but I do think there should be more exceptions to the rules (and consistent collab rules).

Originally posted by Cyangmou

This view on the subject is given to new people through the whole design of the site which won't change and stalls development (worse balanced rating, HoF cycles mainly pieces from 2005-2007).

The Hall of Fame is undeniably f**ked, the only one who can change it is Sedge, and he seems to be a busy man. At this point you're probably better off building a more ideal site and leading an Exodus than waiting for PJv3. I agree that the HoF, due to poor design, propagates a dated idea of what "good" pixel art looks like.

Originally posted by Cyangmou


Are pixels good for „art“ as the art scene sees it (gallerists, museums, art market etc.) or are they just good for graphics (the drawn graphics have purposeful meaning in the context of a immersive interactive experience)

I don't think pj has a lot of acknowledged art-scene artists here.

I have seen very, VERY little pixel art that I think is even close to be museum-worthy. It isn't just a problem with the public not taking pixel art seriously, I don't think most pixel artists take the medium seriously. Not that they don't care about their art, but that they don't see it as a viable medium for expressing anything profound or deeply moving.

Incidentally my studio is in an art center that houses 100+ artists, an art supply store, a restaurant, etc., and is also a concert venue. There are two large flat-panel monitors on each of the three floors. I've been toying with the idea of organizing a pixel art exhibit at this location. I did a similar thing back in high school, but this is a much larger venue that is a regional center for the arts, and we get a lot more traffic here.




Edited by cure - 11 April 2014 at 11:02pm
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Quote jeremy Replybullet Posted: 11 April 2014 at 10:14pm
In my view the rules around automatic tools serve as great fundamentals to the artform. Someone totally new to pixel art needs to get a handle on basic stuff like colour conservation, aa, etc. first; if they've got this vast access to stuff like partial transparencies or colour reduction they'll inevitably get bogged down. It's the difference between cure's works where colour reduction is used and a touched up colour-reduced photo by pixelartfan1999 I guess.

The only successful integration of pa and gradients I've seen comes from people who have a good grasp on "pure" pixel art. Like these from Hyper Light Drifter (which big brother worked on I think):




Originally posted by Christoballs

Kiwi wrote up a few tutorials relevant to this discussion, which you can find here: http://2dwillneverdie.com/tutorial/
He uses PS effectively to get pixel art results fast, as seen in the El Zombo process for example. I highly recommend checking these tutorials out!


This is really cool. Getting good shapes and shading down by using an organic medium. Gonna have to experiment w/ this


Edited by jeremy - 11 April 2014 at 10:15pm
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Quote Cyangmou Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 3:02am

@AlexHW: the question is if a shortcut is skill or provides the same quality, just faster than what you can do with hand.

It's not skill to make a piece of art and it takes months, because you have to fix basic stuff like perspective, proportions or anatomy just because you don't understood it well enough. Although you could do it in let's say in a week without limiting yourself on time if you would have understood the basics and it's kjust the painting left.

Of course something get's bad, if you have to limit yourself that much on time, that it really has visible impact on the quality you provide.

If you must force yourself to spend less time, although you are already working as fast as you have the feeling that something is half-finished it gets bad. YOu also will feel bad. Sometimes that's a necessarity, but it definitely shouldn't be like that all time.

If you have a live-saving operation, no one wants to makes the surgeons hurry.


But Tools which just help you to increase efficiency aren't bad, if the result looks the same. They are just more powerful and will lead to changes in the workflow.


@Jal:

Compared to places like reddit where everything of importance reaches multiple thousands of views in sometimes even a glimpse of an hour pj is definitely small.

But Pj is also highly specific – for that it is quite big in relation.

However size indeed doesn't add anything to our discussion, sorry for dragging the topic away.


I think skill level definitely should have an impact on the medium.

It makes a huge difference, if artists do something because they don't know better and lack in-depth understanding on a subject or if artists do something because they solve a problem quite clever in a different way.


In the end there is the idea which counts. For that we have a piece description I suppose. Ideas can turn something which looks bland on firs tsight into something great and novel.

I can take a photograph of whatever, color reduce it and polish up the posterized image and it can look like mediocre pixel art with very exact proportions.

Or I can take a photograph, look at it, debuild it, build it up differently from the ground with various techniques, enhance details and light and come up with something which looks more interesting than the photo.


The visual impact of the second example is, if well executed visually in every case much more striking. Mainly because the artist had an idea of what he was doing and what he wanted to express at every time and the result showcases just what the artist is capable of.

The first example is more of a crutch to reach a goal, but you can see right away that it's a crutch because you can see the incertainities in every spot and other more basic techniques are completely neglected than the technique which is executed to mastery, through simple ripping off but not understanding.

So the question is if something adds or subtracts to the overall visual impression.

Artists who work hard, understand their subject, can explain what the idea was of a particular choice should definitely be considered differently than artists who just use a simple shortcut and don't take the time to learn and understand all the basics needed.

Now the experienced artist takes a more advanced tool and makes a similar piece with the very exact thought process in 1/3rd of the time, he would have needed with the earlier tool. That's not bad at all, it improves on efficiency and productivity and is ok for me, as long as the end result looks the same.

If the layman uses the same tools, he also is faster, however since he isn't at the same skill level as the artist and can't do the things as the artist does, because his sense of observation isn't trained as much.


The artists which are considered great all had a very deep insight in observation, which was the very basis for their art.

Observational skill level therefore should count too.


Modern tools like cameras and computer manipulation might suggest that observation isn't as important today. However it is. If stuff feels odd it feels odd, despite the tools we used. Time only can help to make things not feel odd, if you know why it looks odd in first instance.

No tool alone will ever lead to a great result – it's always the man (or woman) behind the tool. Tools are just means to an end to create an impression.

Are techniques tools? I assume techniques are tools as well.


@Cure:

Yeah indeed it's practicality as well what's pixel art and what's not, in some spots I definitely agree with the mods here, however not with everything, especially with the „gray zone“

You can't deny that the site design has it's impact on the view of pixel-art which is taught to newbies.


Example:

The Hall of Fame is filled up with ~90% pieces of „pixel art“ of decent quality and is definitely one of the first things every newbie here sees because the name implies it's utterly importance.

And so that newbie starts thinking that this is great pixel art and they try to do it the same way to make good quality.

But the same pieces there cycling again and again and every newbie here is confronted mainly with art from 2005-2008. Art which was made with different monitors, different technique, in a different time as pj was much smaller, had an overall lower level of skill and some of the pieces there also use „dirty techniques“ despite being in the HoF.

But the newbies don't know of that, they think that is the greatest pixel art around, take it as inspiration and come up with theories why that art is great and that's the way how we get to PJ's vision of pixel-art and that some people obviously feel bad (opener) if they use a gradient then, although it would make things so much better looking and so much faster if you posterize it and clean it up and it looks the same.


If a person does something several years a fixed way, it's really hard to change those behaviours, even if they are bad.

That's true for every aspect of life.

The site's design just supports that evolution won't happen as quick as it could. I can't say if it's good or bad. For me it's not feeling completely right how it works, that's all.


If I'd be as decent with coding as with drawing, I'd recode the system or make a new site. It's not possible for me with my coding knowledge and learning coding just for that reason most probably would lead to a bad layman's result. Getting with coding to a level where i could do it fast, efficient with a decent quality and with ease currently crosses with the way how I want to spend my time.

Usually if a site has successful advertisment there is also some money given away to skilled professionals for development next to server costs to maintain the standards needed.

Originally posted by cure

I have seen very, VERY little pixel art that I think is even close to be museum-worthy. It isn't just a problem with the public not taking pixel art seriously, I don't think most pixel artists take the medium seriously. Not that they don't care about their art, but that they don't see it as a viable medium for expressing anything profound or deeply moving.

I agree with that. However it's definitely our own fault.

We are probably just not capable of figuring out the exact way of how we should do it and how the medium is used best to display „art“.


Also people are scared of new revolutionary things and pixel art in the art-landscape most probably would be something new and something which won't be understood by part of the audience. Others might find it great.


Same goes for videogames which is a similar new medium. Lots of things are untested there. But Lots of progress was made, just within the last years. Video games are fighting for the same artistic acknowledgment as films do.

But back in time films were a new, unestablished medium and today we consider films as pieces of art which deeply move our feelings.

The same thing most likely will happen for the medium of games.



Edited by Cyangmou - 12 April 2014 at 3:08am
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Quote inphy Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 6:31am
Originally posted by Cyangmou

Also people are scared of new revolutionary things and pixel art in the art-landscape most probably would be something new and something which won't be understood by part of the audience. Others might find it great.

Same goes for videogames which is a similar new medium. Lots of things are untested there. But Lots of progress was made, just within the last years. Video games are fighting for the same artistic acknowledgment as films do.

But back in time films were a new, unestablished medium and today we consider films as pieces of art which deeply move our feelings.

The same thing most likely will happen for the medium of games.



I'd add "some" to "we consider films as pieces...", because not even two films are equal, just like two paintings and two games are not equal. Depending a bit on the criteria of inclusion to a museum, of course (not saying that "thought-provoking" is some magical property by which works should be included), but-

Something like Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan is super powerful and thought-provoking painting, but a still life of apples - while it too may technically be top notch - isn't a very thought-provoking piece.

While it's a still nascent development in video games, games like Nier, Last of Us, Journey, Spec Ops: The Lines, etc can be powerful and thought-provoking, while Flappy Bappy Happy Birdie: The Birdening II - Bird Harder isn't.

Same with movies - Forgotten Marvel Hero: The Summer Blockbuster Movie very likely isn't going to evoke the same response as, say, Black Swan, Full Metal Jacket, or a von Trier movie.

With that..

Originally posted by Cyangmou

We are probably just not capable of figuring out the exact way of how we should do it and how the medium is used best to display „art“.


I don't think the problem is in pixel art itself, it seems to be far more universal than that - lack of an idea. You get that killer idea for a painting, I don't see how it wouldn't work just as well in pixel art. Like cure's awesome Grishkin. But if that killer idea is proving to be elusive in the first place...

edit: My layman disclaimer still applies


Edited by inphy - 12 April 2014 at 7:59am
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 8:01am
Originally posted by Cyangmou

@AlexHW: the question is if a shortcut is skill or provides the same quality, just faster than what you can do with hand.


No, the question is process versus results. For you, maybe your question is about whether there is skill involved, in which case, you can only consider your self because you can't control the skill of someone else.

Also, there takes a level of skill in anything you do. So having favoritism over a level of skill is a bit extreme in my opinion, and it makes me think that you are more likely to disregard someone with lesser skill simply because they haven't spent enough time developing it- that because they haven't, that time isn't useful because they can just speed up the process and get the results that you have without thinking about what they did.

Originally posted by Cyangmou


It's not skill to make a piece of art and it takes months, because you have to fix basic stuff like perspective, proportions or anatomy just because you don't understood it well enough.

NO.. you are absolutely wrong here. It does take skill, but you wouldn't recognize that because you're looking at your own skill level, not the skill level of someone else. You were once in their shoes, and everyone must use their skill to fix basic stuff like perspective, etc. That is how your skill becomes "better".

Originally posted by Cyangmou


Although you could do it in let's say in a week without limiting yourself on time if you would have understood the basics and it's kjust the painting left.

You are confusing your self with that statement, suggesting that the time it takes to make something determines your skill level, which it doesn't. Sure, if a person knows how to reach a result quicker, they have the choice to do that, but saying that it is better to get quicker results is questionable when results all happen in the same amount of time. A person with less skill will get instant results the moment they begin anything. But somehow you are disregarding those results and preferring an ideology of a result.






Edited by AlexHW - 12 April 2014 at 8:07am
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Quote Cyangmou Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 10:15am
@Inphy
add "some". However what's seen as art is objective, so different people prefer different films and some peoples ideas might differ greatly.

"Ivan the terrible and his son" evokes on my side more emphaty than apples do. I assume it's the same for every person.
Perfect drawn apples might satisfy my artistical side, but not my human one.
After all I see humans all day long and after all a bowl of apples is just a bowl of apples which might make me hungry. I can't even eat them if they are painted.
But making a bowl of apples is good practice, but not a product of expressive art which evokes feeling.
If a painting evokes feeling it needs to be believable.
Drawing a believable apple is much easier than drawing a snapshot of an expressive face.
It's possible for us to see the slightest differencies in facial expressions really well.
So a believable face always is more impressive then a believable static object, because it can affect our emotions really effectively.




@AlexHW

Originally posted by AlexHW

Cyangmou, businesses are usually structured a specific way where the employees act more like expendable resources. It wasn't always like that in the past, but it is more prevalent nowadays. If you're going to work at a studio that knocks out products as quickly as possible, and promotes techniques for speeding up workflow all at the expense of those doing the work, then it's obvious they're looking for results without caring about anyone in the process.
If you're trying to find shortcuts to a solution, a shortcut is a shortcut no matter how you try to frame it. If a person comes to me and expects a result without acknowledging me, they've now created a big problem.
If they expect me to conform to a faster method at my own expense, it shows they are inconsiderate of me because they choose to disregard my own process. If I can't use my own process, then someone else must be using me..
Lesson to be taken here, is to do your own thing if you want your results to lead back to yourself.
If you want to be lost, or controlled, then use shortcuts other people have made- in other words.. use the results of others if you haven't learn to create your own results yet.
Using results from other people is perfectly okay if you're learning. I think Indigo is just sick of using other people's results, so he is making his own now. Good for him.



yeah process vs. results.
But I was thinking you talked about business.
process don't matters as long as the result looks exactly the same at least in digital art.
For traditional media it matters, since colors shine through, so a different process looks always different.
With exactly the same result, I mean indeed 100% the same, since we just have some values (rgb, hsl or whatever) per pixel you can't say how something was made without wip-gif.
You can guess on what would have been the most effective way but your guess can be wrong.

Someone could make a perfect gradient by hand and eye which takes a while, or he can use the gradient tool to fasten up that process. In the end there will be a gradient. It's impossible to say afterwards if the gradient tool was used or not - for the case of a business scenario that counts because making a gradient in the glimpse of a second instead of half an hour is more efficient.

Of course you could say wow, person x made that gradient by hand. Artists will be interested in that, the artists audience, if they are not artists will see a gradient and won't see any difference.



If you are scared to use others results and you want to do something which is truly yourself, and you take it really strictly that way, you mustn't use a computer, because a computer was invented by someone else.

Every human is stamped by his acknowledgment of the past. (Just look around how much stuff is named after certain humans) Humans always build on top of other humans and human does this as far as memory leads back - learning and adapting is the way how human became what he is now. You don't have a choice, it's just how humans work and humans are the only species which is creating art for arts sake.

Enough philosophy within this thread from my side.
It's really hard for me to even grasp what you are saying a lot of times, so it's extremely hard for me to have a conversation this way. 






For a business scenario getting stuff done in time matters.
For a hobby scenario or art for arts sake of course not.

Getting stuff done in a good time requires knowledge and skill.



There are limitations you can improve on and limitations you can't overcome.
The mechanical work you have to do will always take a certain amount of time.










A simplified example for an artwork (of course it's not 1:1 realistic, but the idea behind it is):

Let's say you paint something with 7 strokes.
for the example Every stroke or try will take the same time.

1)
every stroke you make is perfect.
it will take you 7 strokes

2)
you are forced to do it with 5 strokes
the result will show the incompleteness, because 2 strokes are not there.

No one should force one to do that, even not in business.

3)
If you need for every of those 7 strokes 5 tries to get it right, it will take you 35 strokes although just 7 would be necessary.

That's practically one's skill level then.


For business let's say the limitation is 3 tries for every stroke because that's what the person who gives you money expects from you.

If you are in this tolerance it's fine.

But someone who mastered the 7 strokes will outdo the common person definitely in terms of time.
In the best case the master is as much worth as 3 common people which hit the tolerance.

Now a tool is introduced, which makes 3 strokes perfectly. Only 4 strokes are left to do.
If the tolerancy stays the same, a lot more people will be able to craft the 4 strokes.
Most probably the tolerancy will get smaller then, because all artists will work a lot faster.
The minimum of work required then won't change it's still 7 strokes.
Other people maybe can reach with the 3 stroke tool something while they won't be able to do it without the tool at all. But since everyone can do this, it's not special any more.
For the master it's possible to reach the result. With or without the tool - this doesn't matter.
With the tool he is just much faster.
Without the tool the result would look the same but just take longer.

You can admire that one did it without the tool (process purism). But the admiration of this usually just comes from people who are doing the same things and not from people who just see the end result (consuments, non-artists).

So in an artists community the process might matter for artists because they admire the craft.
Outside the artists community, everyone could shake the head and through their observation with their common sense they won't find out what's so great about not using the tool which would make stuff simpler.

For the person who pays you time counts and an artistic perspective as in an art community not at all.

A matter of perspective?
Process vs. Result?


Edited by Cyangmou - 12 April 2014 at 10:30am
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 10:49am
When you become a master, it's not about how fast you get to the result, because you have the results already by that point (you've mastered them). Promoting quicker results is not the way of a master. If you're trying to find a way to get quicker results (because you aren't satisfied with your own), then you are a pupil who is being taught a lesson. That's perfectly fine, but realize that it becomes disrespectful to speak over the master.
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Quote cure Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 5:05pm
y'all just some apple-hatin' motherf**kers.



A painting doesn't have to be some complex narrative full of romanticism and bloodshed to be interesting. Hell, van Gogh could paint a pair of shoes and make a masterpiece.


Going even further, a painting can represent absolutely nothing and be a very moving and engaging piece of art.



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Quote Indigo Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 5:35pm
Originally posted by AlexHW

I like your thinking, inphy.
I think anyone who believes the process doesn't matter, and that only the result does, is fooling themselves.
The process happens inside yourself. If you believe the process doesn't matter, than you aren't believing in your self. Instead, you are believing that you've created something that is disconnected from you.
You can believe in the process and still have results! You can't really separate them. You can think of them separately, but that is because both are a reality that is explorable. To say one is better or worse, well, that depends on what you're doing.
A process inside yourself can't express itself without showing some form of result. The results are what others can see. Others can't see your process. You can record your results, which people believe is a process, but it isn't a true process because it is just different versions of a result. You can't find any process other than yourself!
The process is very important... the results are very important too.


I just want to point out that I never meant to say that process wasn't important.  What I meant to say was regulated process isn't important.  I grow as an artist just as much by learning new ways of doing things as much as I do by actually doing them.  I love process.  It's actually what drives me mostly - and is the reason why I created the HD Index Painting Method.  But in terms of what is classified as "Pixel Art" I would say is nothing more than the end result.


Originally posted by AlcopopStar

I agree, but not entirely.

These advanced techniques are only good to the point that they mimic styles that adhere to the more traditional processes pixel art developed from. That envelope can be pushed certainly, and there is room for intersectionality between pixel art and a more homogeneously defined digital art. But for pixel art to exist categorically it requires a certain adherence to a collectively understood set of aesthetics and procedural rules.

That is to say, the use of advanced techniques are well and good but without due attention risk breaking the "rules" that make pixel art a separate and coherent artistic entity unto itself.

Would rotoscoping or colour reducing video footage of fighters be pure pixel art?

What about making low poly models with a pixel shader?

For me the answer is in how these assets are treated after there conception. And how much effort is put into adhering to pixel arts unwritten aesthetic tradition (low colour counts, hand aliased, what have you)

Ultimately I think the destination is important. And accepting these advanced techniques might push us towards more interesting and more economical art. But I don't think the traditional process should be disregarded, as this more methodological pixel by pixel approach serves both as the point of impetus from which many of the defining traditions of pixel art arose from while also providing the core foundational skills to people learning the craft.


I totally agree with this.  While my post suggests that the intent of pixel art in the olden days were about pushing the boundries, I do understand that is a dead-end road since that will naturally blend with other mediums as it has historically done.  In order for pixel art to exist as a medium today, it needs to have general stylistic understandings of what pixel art is.  I'm not against this.  I'm not against the notion of teaching pixel artists about clean AA, color conservation, pixel clusters, and whatnot.  But what I AM against is teaching them how to achieve it in a specific way - telling them that's the ONLY way.


Related to this topic - and the reason I chose to write about this topic to begin with - Is a process I've been developing allowing you to Index Paint in Photoshop with high resolution data.  You can read about the process here:
http://danfessler.com/blog/hd-index-painting-in-photoshop

Here's what you can do with it:

Pixel-bush, AA-brush, Soft-brush


Procedural Dithering


Dither Sampling


Smudge


Gradient


AA transforms


Alpha-blending


Blend Modes


Fixed index Adjustments


Dynamic index Adjustments


Dynamic re-indexing






Edited by Indigo - 12 April 2014 at 5:40pm
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 5:50pm
I agree with you cure, except what's apple-hatin?
I eat my apples, and wear my shoes.
People see and love what they fear to lose.

Rhyming can be fun.
In all seriousness though, as to seeing pixel-art in a greater form, more people must become involved in the medium. They have to feel the workings of what it consists of in order to foster it. It's not about expanding something, rather it's about strengthening what is already out there.
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 6:05pm
I have no qualms with what you're doing, Indigo, but just felt compelled to mention one thing.. I'm having a bit of fun here, so don't take it the wrong way. ;) Take it my way..
Originally posted by Indigo

But what I AM against is teaching them how to achieve it in a specific way - telling them that's the ONLY way.

If you teach something one way, in actuality there can be only one way that it is taught. Forget your pride, for lack of a better word.. Everything can only do one thing, otherwise it is in multiple places all doing different things, right?
So if a person doesn't like the fact that they can only do one thing, then they'll go off and do something else that wasn't taught. That doesn't change the fact that the thing they ran away from can only be done one way.
I'm pulling your leg here, but I do believe what I say because it makes sense.

btw, I tried your indexed-painting thing in photoshop, and it's pretty interesting.



Edited by AlexHW - 12 April 2014 at 6:06pm
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 6:09pm
@Indigo, That is awesome. Of course the key on that tutorial, I'll sure study and experiment with, is the conclusion paragraph.

Will you please send it in as a link in the gallery.

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Quote Indigo Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 6:35pm
already did I believe
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 12 April 2014 at 6:46pm
Thanks.

OT: I remember having a discussion years ago and everything said is your tutorial come to life of course its was just wishful thinking and day dreaming. So much so that it felt like a deja vu. We had been wanting to spend quality time with sprites and assets but were stuck pixelling monochromatic BG skies.

Edited by jalonso - 12 April 2014 at 6:47pm
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Quote StoneStephenT Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 2:29am
As a pixel art newbie, I take the same approach to this as I would to any other form of artistic expression (chiefly writing, in my case): once you learn the rules, you can figure out why people think of them as ‘rules’ — and where you can either bend or break said ‘rules’ to achieve the results you want from your art.

In regards to pixel art, learning how to create it ‘properly’ (i.e. the ‘manual’ method) gave me an appreciation for the limits and ‘rules’ of pixel art. Once I learned enough about the general ‘rules’ of pixel art, I started looking into (and learning about) advanced techniques and other ideas on how to create pixel art. The second ‘Cluster Study’ thread over on Pixelation serves as a good example of what I mean: before I found that thread, I’d use single (i.e. ‘stray’) pixels all the time in the sprites I made without nary a thought as to placement or overall effect on the image. After reading through that thread, my mindset changed in regards to stray pixels; I later went back over my older works to see how they’d look if I got rid of as many stray pixels as I could (all of them if possible) and used nothing but clusters to craft my pixel art. (You can see one such example of this ‘renewal’ output over on my personal Tumblr account.)

If I happened upon a technique or method that could make my artistic process easier, I’d see how it worked in relation to my current method and try to figure out a way to merge the new method into my old process without sacrificing the ‘purity’ of the final product vis-á-vis the submission guidelines of Pixeljoint/my own personal definition of pixel art.
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Quote inphy Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 2:30am
Originally posted by cure

y'all just some apple-hatin' motherf**kers.


pears or bust

Seriously though, you're right of course, I picked a bad example. I was trying to say that even though some works in the medium are considered great works and masterpieces, the medium itself does not automatically guarantee artistic qualities or make it something that moves our feelings, as opposed to the statement "today we consider films as pieces of art which deeply move our feelings".

Edited by inphy - 13 April 2014 at 2:41am
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Quote AtskaHeart Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 3:36am
Very interesting read.

However, I'm not pretty convinced even though I find quite reasonable the opinions that support that results are what defines a work as pixel art, and not process.

I see a complete control over colors and the overall palette in HD index painting, but I somehow feel that control over process (pixel-level) isn't present when someone like me who didn't develop the tool uses it (without expecting what's going to happen). The pixel art style is present, as well as the qualities a pixel art piece would have. This definitely leads me to the original question of this thread, process/results, which makes a piece pixel art?

---------
As a side note, I currently believe that process is as important as results when it comes to consider what makes a piece pixel art.

Edited by AtskaHeart - 13 April 2014 at 3:53am
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Quote albertov Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 3:59am
Hello people!

I joined PJ back in 2010, but I've been doing pixel art since 2004 (mostly for my own game projects). I joined this site because PJ seemed to preserve pixel art in its purest form.

Frankly, to me, process matter. What I value from pixel art works is the tech and skill, the manual palette choice, the small scale work. If you take those factors away, all you have is mere digital art. Pixel art should have some rules in order to differentiate it from other digital drawing thechniques, that's why we call it Pixel Art. Personally, I'm not here to see how good people can draw, but how good pleople can draw pixel by pixel, and this is best shown in small size works.

Reducing colors of drawings? Paint with automated tools? 235 color palettes? That's fo sure not my ideal of pixel art.

If I want to see high quality common digital drawings, I visit ConceptArt.org and similar sites. In PJ, I expect to see pixels placed by hand, and color palettes created by hand from scratch. I expect to see a pixel art result, not a digital drawing like result obtained via shortcuts and automated tools.

As Cure's work has been used to illustrate this thread, I must admit that I admire him when doing stuff like this:



That screen (among lots of other stuff here in PJ) represents my ideal of pixel art.

Things that I enjoy (and learn from) when looking at PJ uploaded works:

- The low count color palette. To me, this is a key factor.
- The tech when representing small stuff.
- The readability. In pure pixel art stuff you easily recognize the pixels and the colors, even at 1x.

Obviously, this is my opinion, based on my influences and interests. But I really think that PJ should preserve and promote pixel art in its purest form. Artist interests change over time, but PJ should maintain an identity and a purpose.

Thanks for reading!
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Quote jalonso Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 5:17am
Originally posted by albertov

... I really think that PJ should preserve and promote pixel art in its purest form. Artist interests change over time, but PJ should maintain an identity and a purpose...


We promise to remain stubborn and fight every inch of the way.
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Quote manxana Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 6:53am
For me there are two types of pixel art. Production and technical.
For the production pixel art, it doesn't matter how you get the final result. It just needs to be good, and give you the feel of pixel art. The technical pixel art is kind of the one you find in Pixel Joint, where the process matters. Where other artist value the process as much as the result. I believe both are completely valid.
You can see this in other arts, like music, movies and even programming.
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Quote AlcopopStar Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 7:52am
This may be semantics but I would characterize the divide as being more between commercial and high art. I also think of it as more of two points on a spectrum over a direct binary dichotomy.

On the commercial side the art is made in service to a product. That product could be "art" in it's own right (like a narrative) but here the assets are made with limited artistic value in and of themselves instead serving as a tool, a means to an end over an end of it's own. If art is in service the product then by extension the process is also in service to the product. And in such endeavors, seeing that money is involved by definition and loosely, money = time, an economic usage of time and effort are usually considered to be among the most important things.

Of course, some artistic projects may respect the art more, and allow it to stand out as something special and singular. I believe it is usually these commercial products that tend to be the most worthwhile, the projects where there is a harmony between the art and intent, where one is not sacrificed for the sake of the other. In this way process, traditional or experimental are best used to serve both project and art. And both art and project are in reciprocal service to each other.

This bridges the gap to the other end of the spectrum, the point where the product (game, animation, story) is removed entirely and the art exists purely for either it's own sake or for the intent of the creator. The respectability of this artistic intent is subject to another debate entirely; we live in a post modern art world, one where purely figurative or illustrative art is often considered trite at best. (retro video game inspired art would barely even register) In this space contemporary art acts more like something akin to a visual self referential philosophy. There is a big gap here in pixel art. No one has quite broken that barrier. But that's also exciting. Regardless, here process can be as important as the art itself, or potentially even as important. or even THE art itself. It's a messy space and one likely to change but it's what we've got at the moment.

As an aside, an interesting parallel debate would be photo realists vs photography.

Take the following work, BOB (1970) by Chuck Close.



The work is synthetic polymer paint on canvas and is almost 3 meters high. However, being photo realistic (and trust me you can see every pore up close) the image may as well be a large high resolution print of the photo it was based on. The process here is what's important and acts as a narrative that gives meaning to the image. And even then many contemporary artist consider photo realism to be largely a pointless field. (a different debate, once again)

As A further aside in my aside I thought it was interesting that this

http://www.reddit.com/r/pics/comments/22qy23/i_drew_this_on_ms_paint_one_pixel_at_a_time/

was brought up in the chatterbox today. As a pretty unquestionably horrible piece of art makes it to the front page of Reddit presumably on the premise of it's narrative; that it took 5 years to make (doubtful as well, as others have expressed).

I guess that brings us to question what points of artistic value process can have in a work. Automated and dirty tools are fine to a point, but what are they in service to and why? Is a more traditional process important to a piece? an artist? why? these are all questions that can only be answered by the artist on a piece by piece bases.

And I guess as a final question, at what point do the definitions of pixel art disintegrate? and is this a bad thing? (I address this a little in an above post, just trying to keep the ball rolling)

I think I went on a few tangents there but hopefully I added something to the conversation.

Oh also thanks Indigo for the tutorial, that technique looks exciting and I can't wait to try it out once i get some time!


Edited by AlcopopStar - 13 April 2014 at 7:01pm
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 8:08am
I completely agree with albertov.
This hd-index painting thing Indigo has shown, I believe is not a pixel-art technique. It is something completely different, and also good. It shouldn't be used to determine whether a piece is pixel-art.
It's possible to use it and not have it get in your way of making pixel-art, but I can also see how it can be used in ways that make your piece not classified as pixel-art. In fact, I think it is more likely to make your work not be considered pixel-art because it pulls your focus away from the pixel-level process constantly when you use this technique. Especially if you are still learning how to make pixel-art.
This technique is more useful to people who know how to get results already, and are looking for results without having to think of the process.
If you aren't thinking/doing the process of pixel-art, then you're stepping away from the process of pixel-art, and only your results can be judged, so the results better look like pixel-art, otherwise is isn't.

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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 8:30am
Would like to add..

If you don't think of the process, and your results look like pixel-art. It is pixel-art.
If you think of the process, and your results don't look like pixel-art. It's not pixel-art.

But understand this.. Process works with the results, and even though you may not be thinking about something, you always are doing something with a result. The result is always there, but what you do changes it.
Change your process, whether you're aware of your actions or not, you'll change the result. Is that result the same as it was before without the new process? If it's a different process, then it's not the same. If the process you make is the same, then it is the same..

So you can use a technique for the sake of the technique, but unless you're going/using the process of pixel-art, you're not making pixel-art.
Don't get me wrong.. You have to use techniques to get any kind of result, but in order to get a pixel-art result, you need a pixel-art process foremost! even if you aren't aware you are doing it.
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Quote Mr.Fahrenheit Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 9:52am
Back to apple-hatin and the topic of pixel art in museums.

I'm probably really shallow, but am I the only one who thinks that a white canvas with a single black line running vertically should by no means have precedence over basically anything in our gallery today. To me this phase of modern art of blank canvases and various lines doesnt evoke emotion, it doesnt tell a story, it doesnt display technical ability. If it does tell a story it comes from the little index card hanging next to it with the artist's description pinned to it. To be honest if your piece of art can only stand on its own because of a completely different medium such as the written word, something is wrong. The only reason that bird on reddit became famous is because of the story attached to it. I dont doubt that if it actually took 5 years it had some impressive meaning to to artist, but i don't think it should be placed in a museum and lead people to believe that that is what art is.
Everything about this whole phase of modern art annoys me :c. Anything by anyone who has commented in this thread deserves to be in a museum way more then a rope lain on the ground or something like that./incoherantrant

Also I've been reading the other things and I definitely think that both efficiency and process is important so I dont even know what I think.

Edited by Mr.Fahrenheit - 13 April 2014 at 9:54am
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Quote Cyangmou Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 2:53pm
After overthinking it all in-depth I finally came to the conclusion

Pixel joint should hold up a purist style or at least all which is purist enough from the idea-side.
So the process for some gallery pieces is definitely is important.

Skill level and hitting styles is just important to make a living from art. 
Employers will take the person which is the cheapest for the needs or which is above the needs, but still affordable.
Getting to a result there doesn't matter.

Tools showed here will definitely have impact on the professional field and the freelance market.
Tools shown here might be a controversity for the purist approach of pixel joint.

However we shouldn't compare those hobby art products with commercial products.
For Pixeljoint it maybe would be a benefit if commercial pixel art and artistic pixel art would be treated different, since both of those things are utterly different and rarely overlap 100%.
If we have art which follows both, idealistic purist pixel art ideas and commercial needs Pixel-Joint should consider some of those pieces too on a case by case basis (and also some more tolerance), just that the site don't lives completely in the past.



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@Mr.F.:

Most Medieval and Renaissance paintings were just commercial products ordered beforehand and crafted especially for the needs of the surrounding to complement the space.
Some paintings were practice objects
Most drawings were just notes or practice subjects. In the spirits of the time back then, they were really similar to architecture or furniture and the paintings were in products made in workshops, very few artists had a 1-man workshop without any assistants.

Art back then was also a status symbol to showcase the wealth of secular and spiritual representants.
The more expensive, complex and breathtaking something was, the bigger was the impact on the people if they visited the place.

On top of that the "history painting" which was mainly ordered to decorate churches and chapels also had a educative and story telling purpose, not only a demonstrative one.

History paintings were really well paid given to their complexity size and purpose.
Means that only the best or most popular artists or artists workshops were even asked to produce those things to make sure that they will pull off the job.
Of course in medieval times journeying around was really exhausting and moving from one place to another was so too.
So some artists which definitely would have been able to paint history pieces, just chose another subject which was suited better to make a living from in their adjacencies.

The influence of the church and the nobility changed from medieval to renaissance and so did the needs for art. A lot of Renaissance palasts were decorated with still lifes and portraits, rather than with history pieces, just because it had to fulfill other needs.
However, art stayed exclusive for the rich people, because it was expensive.

As time and science moved on, the lense was invented around 1550 and deflexion mirrors, which were able to deflect an image on a paper which came up 1685 of course all that tools strongly changed the art landscape.

While most of the well-known Medieval and  Renaissance painters (Van Eyck, Michelangelo Buonarroti, Michelangelo Caravaggio, Raffael, Rubens, Rembrandt, Dürer ...)
Are so well known because they were really skillful, got the right jobs and left works which gained popularity over time and so their art got timeless. Their art is absolutely related to the skill level and their popularity back at their time - top notch art so to say, perceived as great while they lived and far beyond all of em made a very good living from their art.
Many of people which were about as good and some of them which were about as popular at their lifetime got lost or forgotten.

Some artists artwork got famous because their person, Da Vinci is for this scenario the best example, there it's more about the overall person.

Other painters, like Hieronymus Bosch were brought up later as source of inspiration by modern painters and their art got famous that way, but much later.






@Mr.F Cure:

People like van Gogh are out of a different time than the apple stillife and the history piece. Maybe modern artists take objects out of their still-life box, because still live is today an established form of art, before ~1650 a single still life without human was rather a rarity to find as a final painting. The difference between "insert name of medieval painter here" still life elements and "insert modern artists still life here" that the art landscape just completely changed. Apples looked about the same.

Van Gogh barely sold anything during his lifetime, he "just got famous" because later artists took his paintings as a source of inspiration for a new style of art and so his work boomed and received worth, as basic idea for a later style.
Some people like his art, some people don't, some people dislike stuff, others perceive as masterpieces. But that's unimportant since that's just taste.






@Cure:

We could have there a basic debate about styles and different times now and compare those things, which will lead to nothing because all parameters are so utterly different. We of course can rate it by todays standards, but then our taste gets in our way.

I also can't put a medieval history piece from van Eyck, a Still Life from the Renaissance like one from Juan de Espinosa and a painting from Van Gogh in the same line and rate them with the same approach as we are trying, since the technical abilities, the needs and the surroundings for each of those artists were way different.

That's why I think the comparison you made there, is a bit adventurous, because you show pieces without context and you rate all pieces with a modern approach "what's interesting to look at" (whatever this is for everyone - this will differ a lot) and without the context of the time and their production.

We can rate similar art with similar measurements.




@Mr.F, Cure:

Another thing we should keep in mind of old stuff is definitely survivorship bias, which is the reason why we say "there is so much sh*t around today, but earlier stuff was so much better"

Today art needs to be interesting to look at, maybe it even serves as thing to play or to play around. Actionism, single lines on white canvas and
pour-out-your-paint-bucket artworks are the things of contemporary interest in the "art market" while in the illustration market the biggest projects currently are game projects - virtual or physical.

We can't say what will be around in 200 years. Maybe Call of Duty will be showcased in a museum because it's so popular. Maybe one of those white canvas black line pieces will be representative for the avaerage mentality. A lot of art will get lost (draw the parallel line from the HoF art and the monthly top art of the last years - exactly the same principle).
The most representative pieces will stay because they get exposure


What's maybe worthwhile to discuss there is if pixel art could be perceived as a important aspect of art styles of today. Dunno if we need another discussion thread for that though.



Edited by Cyangmou - 13 April 2014 at 2:58pm
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Quote cure Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 3:56pm
The historical context is not relevant to my point, I was only showing that the subject of a painting can be subordinate to the technique, and that a hierarchy of subject matter is false. Figurative work is not necessarily more 'high art' or meaningful than still-life. Also, van Eyck is a painter of the Northern Renaissance, not medieval. I have an education in art history so I understand what you're saying in those responses, but I can't exactly see how it relates to what I've posted.


Edited by cure - 13 April 2014 at 4:11pm
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Quote Cyangmou Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 5:27pm
Figurative work isn't necessarily more 'high art' or meaningful than still life.
I agree with that, BUT it's much easier due to empathy to get meaning and story out of painted humans.
our perception is naturally trained to see human shape and human emotions, humans feel empathy to humans or things with human likeness.
We naturally don't feel any deep empathy towards apples or dynamic lines.


Edited by Cyangmou - 13 April 2014 at 5:37pm
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Quote cure Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 5:42pm
Non-figurative art is equally capable of expressing emotion (even non-representational art is capable of this, and is arguably a more direct means of doing so). Emotion can be conveyed through expressive line work and gesture (technique), or through realistic and more literal depiction of emotion via the human figure (subject), or it can evoke emotion by means other than the figure. You might be right that figurative work has a wider appeal and, as a more literal and concrete image, is easier to understand for many people, but that doesn't make it the be-all and end-all.

Van Gogh's work, for instance, has more to do with the psychological state of the artist and his personal experience of reality, and he can paint a cypress tree with more foreboding, terror, and presence than many figurative artists can do with a face. Or look at the very moving landscapes of Bierstadt of Caspar David Friedrich.
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Quote AlexHW Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 6:29pm

I figured out a way to remove the AA from the Alpha Transparency in the layers. It requires running an Action while your layer is selected, and all the clipping masks above the layer must be linked together (the clipping masks aren't linked to the layer. just each other.)... as shown below.

Here is a link to the Action: http://alexhw.com/art/Remove AA from Alpha.atn



Edited by AlexHW - 13 April 2014 at 6:29pm
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Quote Cyangmou Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 6:34pm
I don't talked about a emotion something can or might give us, i talked of meaning and story.
A view of a landscape gives us one feeling like looking out of a window.
Maybe there is a tad more there, like dark clouds in the background or something similar. But It usually gives us one feeling, not a story.
Except some painters preferred to use metaphers, but this is then like solving a puzzle and not clear to most people who just look at the piece.


However being led through a composition and watching various human shapes and faces through gives us lots of emotions in the way how the artist composed the painting. Through this we experience a clear story or we can make up one - we basically live through the image.
And more important. The feeling of a face or a pose isn't ambiguous.
We see fear on a face, we can depict fear.
We see happiness on a persons face, we just know it.
We see something pointing at something and we will follow the hand.
We see the shape of the pose and we know what's up
through empathy. Due to how our impressions work. Even through a quick glance we are capable of rating situations with many humans. But we need to look at the details to fully understand and proove our first impression. That's a live saving ability of the human cognition.
Artists just use it to their own advantage.

Looking at a dawn in the woods or what scene ever can be a very personal feeling, stamped by your very personal experiences.
It's much more personal than a crowd of humans will ever be.

Your drawn line between van Gogh's cypress tree and many figurative artists is a very personal observation too. Other persons might feel different things if they look at the tree.
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Quote cure Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 8:45pm
I think we just have different ideas about what good art can be, you tend to emphasize narrative much more than I do, with a preference for illustrative rather than expressive work. That's fine, but there's no real science or biology that points to one opinion being superior to the other. I don't believe that good art must necessarily be narrative, or that good narrative art must necessarily be figurative. I also don't believe that ambiguity is necessarily a negative trait.


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Quote AlcopopStar Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 10:53pm
Also congrats are in order for Dan's tech getting 10K+ (and growing) notes on tumblr!

http://h-a-r-p-o.tumblr.com/post/82642003567/dan-fesslers-hd-index-painting-technique-lets

Edited by AlcopopStar - 13 April 2014 at 10:53pm
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Quote Indigo Replybullet Posted: 13 April 2014 at 11:44pm
Thanks! The one downside to this is I may have accidentally created an army of new pixel artists who will think they're amazing but won't adhere to pixel-level technique since they don't have a proper community to guide and teach them about it.    But then again, indie gaming has been full of that sort of loose pixel art for quite some time now... Maybe this will actually help drive indie game dev to a more purist look by enforcing limited color ranges and cleaner dither. 

Not sure which way the coin will flip.


Edited by Indigo - 13 April 2014 at 11:52pm
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