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Pixel Art Details

Title: Geovonni VS. Tyranus, NES style
Pixel Artist: jamesmorrow07  (Level 1 Jukyu :: 2378 points)
Posted: 8/14/2009 20:08
Palette: 17 colors
Statistics:  29 comments    7 faves    0 avatars

--UPDATE-- 8/6/09

  • Thinned out the pink lines in background making them dark
  • Put an outline around character sprites
  • Took away dithering of purple columns and adding etchings
  • Minor fix in HUD
  • New NES palette (by me) used for this piece 

Thanks to Blackbeltdude and Manupix for suggestions.


It has been a long fight for Geovonni Maximus. He has fought powerful minions of Atheons. In numbers they came, but their forces were unmatched by Geovonni's determination.

As Geovonni goes into the depths, through the tiers and corridors, deep in the heart of the Atheon Federation, he finds Tyranus, the War Monger, the Lord of Atheons, in a fight to end the terrifying regime that has plagued the land.


A conceptual NES game screen done in MS Paint. NTSC resolution at 256 x 224 px. Everything was made with 8x8 and 16x16 tiles (background, HUD, objects).

Reference and inspiration here.


--Constructive Criticism Needed--

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mitch968 (Level 1 Rookie) @ 8/29/2009 10:19

only if this was for NES

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/19/2009 20:59

@ilomoonkay - No problem!

ilomoonkay (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/19/2009 20:48

 thanks for the link it looks great now.

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/17/2009 13:25

@Kindred - Why thank ya!

I have it at double resolution here. I hope this helps.

Kindred (Level 2 Quiet One) @ 8/17/2009 13:19

I'm having a hard time reading the yellow sprite even zoomed in, but I don't think this isn't a big issue because of the restrictions.

This is one of the few mock-ups that looks like a real game so it got my vote.

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/17/2009 10:40

@inphy - Ahh. Gotcha. Thanks for the input! =D

inphy (Level 7 Sheriff) @ 8/17/2009 10:27

Looks cool!

One thing though, goes close to what Levi was saying. Not adhering to the 8x8 grid with the text in the HUD/background tiles (since that would have to be background tiles, with sprites that would be too many on a scanline) would be really wasteful on a NES. You'd have to pre-render all text and spill it over tile boundaries, and with dynamic text like the point counter, things start becoming technically unfeasible. Something bening like numbers from 0 to 9 would not be 10 tiles, it would be in hundreds of tiles.

Still, great work. :D

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/17/2009 10:21

@Badasbill - Thanks buddy.

Badassbill (Level 11 Psychopath) @ 8/17/2009 05:07

I just noticed the fixes. Looks miles better.

royser (Level 1 Rookie) @ 8/17/2009 01:04



jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/16/2009 10:28

@Levi - Have you studied the NES's 6502 architecture? If you have, how hard is it?

Levi (Level 1 Thug) @ 8/16/2009 10:18

then there lies the only problem here; tiles in NES games aren't transparent!  Only sprites have the alpha channel; tiles have 4 colors, sprites have 3+alpha.  You can animate tiles in the game, something that I think has to be done with code, in a similar manner as two sprites making up one character.  However, even if you can use different palettes per frame (which I think you might be able to do), it would still limit each frame to having only one palette per tile.

I just went through crazy NES study to do my Mega Man 2 Box mock-up.  I spent way more time making sure it's all legitimate than in the art itself.  That's probably the only reason I have a lot to offer for your piece :P  When it comes to any other pixel art thing though, selout, dithering, etc, I'll let everyone else handle it lol..

*EDIT* I just noticed you did a revision.  It does look a bit better with the outlines on the sprites and the toned down background.  Really great work with those sprites dude.  You should learn to program for NES and truly finish this :D

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/15/2009 22:36

@Blackbeltdude - Cool. That sound good. I have the stuff ready.

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/15/2009 11:35

@Levi - Thank you for sharing this! This is by far the best comment I've gotten from anyone who's critiqued anything of mine.

I did whatever capacity I had to stay within the palette and color limits. The background and foreground (sprites, objects) each have 4 sets of 3 colors (with transparency as 4). The background is black, and I used 3 colors for each set of background tiles. Same with the sprites, the sprites here use two sets of colors.

The editing should be easy, considering I have each background tileset seperately, so it won't much to fixed the booboos on here. And really, thanks again for your comment!

Badassbill (Level 11 Psychopath) @ 8/15/2009 11:01

I think the pink in the background takes all the attention away form the character, which is a shame, because those are some great 8bit sprites.

Levi (Level 1 Thug) @ 8/15/2009 10:31

Well, here's the thing about NES style mock-ups: the palette management is a bit dizzying to actually get right.  Background tiles are made from 4 8x8 tiles.  This means that you do actually have room to change up the scenery, as each 16x16 tile can be made up of any combination of 8x8 tiles.  The trick is that each 8x8 tile that makes up a 16x16 tile must share the same palette.  You can only have 4 palettes for tiles (non-sprites), each consisting of 4 colors, so each 16x16 tile needs to *only* have colors included in one palette.  If you take the top-left most 16x16 tile, it appears to have black, 3 shades of purple, and two shades of pink, for a total of 6 colors, or two colors too many.  In this mock-up, to fix it would be pretty simple: in any 16x16 tile, you would simply make sure that you have no more than 4 colors that make up each background tile.  You might do this by separating the purple columns from the pink wires; don't have both in any given 16x16 tile.

Sprites are a bit different.  *Many* NES games, even simpler looking ones like MegaMan, actually use multiple sprites for each character.  Mega Man himself has light blue, dark blue, black, white, and transparent (yes it counts as a color).  This face is actually a separate sprite from his body, and the code matches them up in the game so they appear to be the same character.  So your sprites are fine the way they are.

All of this is considering you actually care about the validity of your mock-up, or to put it a different way, if you care whether or not the NES would actually be able to display this as if it were a real screen shot of a real game.  Right now, it looks a bit closer to an SNES game because of the colors in the tiles.  If you are just going for a NES stylized piece, and you are just looking for artistic criticism, I'll say that the mock-up looks really nice, the characters are very well done, and although the background is nice as well, it is a *bit* too loud, and could use a little variety.  An occasional electric box, or futuristic pointless computer or something :P

Having said all of that, it's a great pixel art :P

Blackbeltdude (Level 7 Ichikyu) @ 8/15/2009 07:58

Well, I would suggest the fallowing things to experiment with.

Consider removing the dithering from MOST of the backdrop. Like I said, I think it makes the background look a bit too busy, and you should be able to see what everything is a bit clearer. I would consider keeping some dithering for the farthest details, but that's about it. Also, you can show better depth, by using a spamatto effect (possible I spelt that technical term wrong :P). Basically, it's when objects start to blend into the sky, which tends to mean lower contrast, and light colors the further something is in the background.

Either way, this is something that's explained a lot better by edits! XD If you've got an MSN Messenger account, we can chat about it there and toss back some edits... or I could edit a few parts of the background to show what I mean (if you don't mind me doing that).

In any event, it's always a good idea to experiment. Do several different takes on the background, and see where it takes you.

Manupix (Level 11 Godfather) @ 8/15/2009 03:39

Well, I love the bg as it is, so I wouldn't think of changing anything in it... whence my idea of outlining the sprites.

But there certainly must be ways to tone down the bg without losing it too, I just have no idea how!

Carnivac (Level 8 Shodan) @ 8/15/2009 02:57

I would so play this game if it were real.  Love your sprite designs especially.

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/15/2009 02:35

@cima - Thanks. I might make the red lines thinner, so it's not so distracting.

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/15/2009 02:32

@Manupix - Well, it is possible. I need to know what needs to be improved, either the floor/bridge, purple columns, or the red lines/ hexagons behind them. I'm thinkin of re-editing the floor. I might change the red lines so it'll be thinner. I'm not sure what to do about the purple colums, though. What do you think?

cima (Level 1 Depressed) @ 8/15/2009 02:29

nice BG, i'd try to add something to it thought, so the sprites would be easier to see.

you have two strong  edges going on there so i would work the bg thinking on that.


Prustel (Level 1 Rookie) @ 8/15/2009 02:10

What I not like is at the shooting flash light thing. This blue line at the beginning (or ending).

Sry it's hard to explain with my english.

You know what I mean?:/

Manupix (Level 11 Godfather) @ 8/15/2009 01:53

Wow! I love this background!

But the sprites are a bit difficult to read on it, what about giving them a white gamelike outline?

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/15/2009 00:59

@Prustel - Thanks. The player's inpsired by Samus Aran, Optimus Prime and Iron Man. It's in "super mode" in this scene. I have a sprite like this one, but with normal colors.

Prustel (Level 1 Rookie) @ 8/15/2009 00:52

Your player looks like metroid prime , but it is nice ^^

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/14/2009 22:37

@Blackbeltdude - OR... Should I take away the purple columns and leave the floor and background part with the red lines, while adding the floor or wall fading into the background? Whaddya say?

jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 8/14/2009 21:01

@Blackbeltdude - Thanks! The area is pretty large, so the walls are quite some meters away in this scene. I could make the red lines darker and thinner. I don't know if I should make Tyranus (the boss) more dark or not, but I could do a wall tile or something where the floor will go towards the horizon.

Now for the floor. Would the floor look better if it had lines to show fading toward the background or leave it as is? What can I do to change the purple colums?

Blackbeltdude (Level 7 Ichikyu) @ 8/14/2009 20:45

Very nice, I like it!

I would suggest NOT dithering the background though. I think it makes it look more busy than it needs to, and with those small detailed characters, it doesn't help show off that detail. Like, those purple "wall lines" don't show up so great back there, thanks to all the other details.

Though, that could also be a result of the red lines in the back; try using them a bit more sparingly, because it's a pretty bright color.

You could also pull a Megaman, and add a "wall" to the ground... if you know what I mean. I guess you could mean for it to be a bridge, but I think adding a "wall" to the floor will help the background standout too.

Looks like it'd be a fun game. :)

Related & Tags

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