Must... Run... Faster

Must... Run... Faster

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Pixel Art Details

Must... Run... Faster

Title: Must... Run... Faster
Pixel Artist: James McCarter  (Level 5 Lieutenant :: 5057 points)
Posted: 6/17/2010 05:35
Palette: 20 colors
Statistics:  43 comments    101 faves    0 avatars

Weekly Challenge: Tetris VisionWeekly Challenge: Tetris Vision
Top Pixel Art - June 2010 (#5)Top Pixel Art - June 2010 (#5)


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Intheflesh (Level 1 Rookie) @ 8/30/2011 15:47

ohemgeee awesome !!!

Cilein (Level 5 Irish Elk) @ 11/9/2010 12:42

Totally deserved the 1st place :D

TKNy (Level 1 Depressed) @ 8/5/2010 01:47

nice scene and great animation :)

Dinofly (Level 2 Flatfoot) @ 7/20/2010 01:26

I think you should have used the grey used in the forums ;) on this site so it would fit perfectly.Other than that, oau, that is awesome work :) .

ev149 (Level 4 Button Man) @ 7/2/2010 09:26

Cool!  The person seems a bit too simple, or maybe he just contrasts too much with the background.  Anyway, it's a great piece. 

Webus (Level 3 Stalker) @ 7/1/2010 17:43

This is awesome. Some animation in the background would make it perfect.

Congratulations :) 

lander (Level 4 Deputy) @ 7/1/2010 11:50

He is not gonna make it. Sad 

JSoup (Level 1 Intern) @ 6/28/2010 02:54

 That's crazy awesome and a bit scary too.

st0ven (Level 2 Dealer) @ 6/26/2010 19:04

this is gorgous. awesome work. im a bit sad the guy is grey though, he stands out so much against all that nice juicy black-ness going on.

Mr. Matti (Level 5 Sniper) @ 6/26/2010 06:55

This is SO cool. And yeah, it totally reminds me of Another World which is a good thing.

I sure would love to play a game in that style.

InvaderOz (Level 2 Petty Officer) @ 6/25/2010 22:19

Creates this "Another World - Flashback"-feeling, fantastic work!

Luke_00126 (Level 1 Private) @ 6/25/2010 06:55

wtf? this is awesome! 

Nightmare Maker (Level 8 Regional Boss) @ 6/24/2010 13:02

That is exactly what I was going to say.

This looks so much like Heart of Darkness, dude XD

ui_ (Level 4 Deputy) @ 6/23/2010 22:50

 waaahh!! :OOO delicious~!

stonewall (Level 1 Thug) @ 6/23/2010 12:29

Great job, thos is lovely

Mathias (Level 6 Garbage) @ 6/23/2010 08:11

Dear lord you didn't?! Oh man. Go look up Photoshop shortcuts, now! There's tons of them. If it weren't for Photoshop shortcuts, I wouldn't be the wise man of integrity I am today!

James McCarter (Level 5 Lieutenant) @ 6/23/2010 07:53

Mathias: cool!  I didn't know about the ALT+[ & ALT+] hotkeys - those are really helpful. Thanks!


vampireslug (Level 5 Detective) @ 6/21/2010 08:54

Gorgeous background, very reminiscent of "Out of this World"... sort of a roto-scoped feel.  I'm also loving the palette choice, it really works well.

Kaze (Level 1 Rookie) @ 6/21/2010 00:08

Very nice BUT:

There is one frame with no black pixels at right end of the picture  and the jump is horrible;p

Nether (Level 5 NES) @ 6/20/2010 22:37

Ok, the background is just simply beautiful. At first glance I couldn't believe it uses only 20 colors since it seems to have so many slight variations in hue, but at a closer glance I realized you've just used your colors very cleverly.

I immediately thought of Out of This World when I saw it. Great homage.

smk (Level 6 Hitman) @ 6/20/2010 22:01

It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

TheChan (Level 1 Rookie) @ 6/20/2010 13:35

The little guy would be better black than gray I think.


The background looks amazing.

Mathias (Level 6 Garbage) @ 6/20/2010 11:37

"I do really wish there was a hot key in Photoshop to slide around the colour swatches palette without having to constantly go over to the swatches to choose a colour."   (James McCarter)

Fellow advanced Photoshop pixeller here.
Once most or all colors are on the canvas it's very fast to have the Pencil tool selected and hold ALT to temporarily get the eyedropper and color-pick an existing color. You got 20 colors here. If there was a color index cycling key in PS you might have to hit it 10 times in a row to get the right color. That sounds worse to me than the ALT eyedropper trick.

Additionally, you can load a small image of just your palette and have that open as a second document and color-pick from it without having to switch to it to do so. Just have it visible at all times, set to whatever zoom you like so it's as large on your dispaly as you want.

And similarly you can momentarily hold CTRL to manually select any layer with pixels visible. Doing so gets you the Move tool (turn on the "Auto-Select" Move tool feature, too). Alternatively you can use ALT+[      &     ALT+] to cycle through visible layers. CTRL+0 to hide/unhide selected layers (may have to set that shortcut yourself; I forget if it's default).


Flaskback rules.


Ambient (Level 6 Major) @ 6/20/2010 11:32

I think that with a ramp like that you should have at least given the monster/guy anti-aliasing.

Jarlaxe (Level 1 Rookie) @ 6/20/2010 04:21

Nice piece!

And nice 20 colors choiced.

Im not doubt about you...

6dof (Level 3 Corporate Drone) @ 6/19/2010 19:15

This reminds me of the game Heart of Darkness. It's really cool but as Rostii said the animation of the grey guy doesn't fit.

Ipsen (Level 4 Team Leader) @ 6/19/2010 14:11


jamesmorrow07 (Level 1 Jukyu) @ 6/19/2010 13:48

Instant win for sure.

Rostii (Level 3 Corporate Drone) @ 6/19/2010 13:27

I think that the grey man could use some of animation work. The take off seems strange, (although its not a big deal) it almost looks like he begins floating right before he jumps. Maybe try to make his knees bend? Also, after the take off his legs and arms remain to move as if he were still running on the ground. I would suggest having one of his legs reaching towards the ground, kinda like bracing/anticipating the jump.

other than that it looks okay.

lander (Level 4 Deputy) @ 6/19/2010 13:20

Super! Reminds me of Another World =) +fav

d9nis (Level 5 Assistant Manager) @ 6/19/2010 12:15

the forest is awesome oO ! fav+

dumbo (Level 4 Mercenary) @ 6/19/2010 11:09

This one has my vote for sure! Wonderful work here indeed!

Faved as well.

Hiuru (Level 5 Killer Klown) @ 6/19/2010 11:07

 I agree with Manjaman. Great peice overall but the grey guy really throws it down.

James McCarter (Level 5 Lieutenant) @ 6/19/2010 10:22

 Manjaman, I was a bit stumped with the grey man as I didn't leave any spare colours for him.  So I tried making his feet black to give some detail, but you're right, they might have been better just grey.

James McCarter (Level 5 Lieutenant) @ 6/19/2010 10:19

 Thank you, skamocore.

Manjaman (Level 8 Cannibal) @ 6/19/2010 10:05

Well this is gorgeous.

The solid grey character looks unfinished though, and maybe make his foot grey too would clarify the animation.

You win

skamocore (Level 11 Dolphin) @ 6/19/2010 09:48

Alright, look, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and put this through.

James McCarter (Level 5 Lieutenant) @ 6/19/2010 01:50

I completely agree about the blurry/jaggy issue.  The right side isn't the only area that is too jaggy, either.  :'( Both the left and the bottom are as well - I started in the middle and then realised I'd spent much more time than I had wanted, so did slightly rush towards the end.  I would have also liked to have put some more anti-aliasing on the beast, especially as it passes the bright areas, but again I had started to spend too much time and wanted to finish.  The vines were a last minute addition as I'd done the background, but without a foreground element on the right the composition was lopsided.  Ultimately, I think the effect of this painting is simpler to do at this tiny resolution with such a monochromatic palette.  Had the resolution been double with still only 20 colours it would have involved a lot more dithering and time, then wouldn't have looked so blurry.

As this wasn't a professional piece and I hadn't intended to spend as much time on it as I did, I didn't save multiple versions.  My Time Machine saved one, so I've exported that for you.  I'll try to save more versions for future submissions.

I just wanted to add that I started painting pixels on a homemade Apple IIe in the early 80s.  Both Waterfalls and Forest were painted 17 years ago on a 286 in DPIIe.  I've been off doing VFX for films since, and have recently rediscovered my love for pixel art.  So I'm trying to bring back to my pixel art what I've learned in the intervening years.  I'm also still trying to figure out the best workflow - I love layers & Photoshop is great, but not so much at pixel art and especially not at animation.  I'm starting to bounce between Photoshop & Deluxe Paint in a DOSBox - though that's not ideal as Photoshop often messes with the palette.  I'm sorry this image has caused such controversy, it was just meant to be my return to pixel art backgrounds.

skamocore (Level 11 Dolphin) @ 6/18/2010 08:03

Just to clarify on the blurry/jaggy issue. When the characters are running past it is clear that both of those areas are on the same plane, yet one side is very blurry, the other side jaggy.

Did you save any work in progress stages for the image? Failing that, any layer dumps from Photoshop. Anything like that would be very helpful for me. I appologise for the guilty-until-proven-innocent thing; you do seem to raise some valid points, but some indication of your working process would be much appreciated here.

As an aside, if you do reply to this comment please use the reply button.

James McCarter (Level 5 Lieutenant) @ 6/17/2010 09:38

I used Photoshop (as I'm not hugely into Pixen yet).  I setup 19 colours in my swatches palette (preserving the 20th for a magenta for transparency), then used the Pencil tool to avoid any transparency or introduction of other colours.  I did use layers so that I could draw the foreground, background, beast and human separately.  Then, with a single pixel sized brush I painted it in.  I do really wish there was a hot key in Photoshop to slide around the colour swatches palette without having to constantly go over to the swatches to choose a colour.

The idea behind some areas being more detailed than others was for depth.  The idea was to give the further away areas more fog and less detail.  Closer to the viewer we get more detail and edges become visible and harsh.  While drawing in the less detailed area I would be more haphazard in my pixel placement to give a more natural feel, while closer to the viewer I would pay much more attention to where each pixel was placed, and precisely which colour pixel was placed (like with the anti-aliasing of the vines).  The idea behind having slight fluctuations in hue is an idea I first learned while working with Marc Gabbana.  He showed me that slight variations in hue really make an image feel more natural.  Computer's typically just multiply a colour down to get darker, but often we'll perceive a colour differently as it gets darker.  So it was this I was attempting to simulate as I created the palette.

I wasn't attempting to shoehorn this image into the site, it was an image I created specifically for Pixel Joint, inspired by this Tetris shape from the homepage and by the vector characters of Our of This World

skamocore (Level 11 Dolphin) @ 6/17/2010 08:50

What do you mean by painted? Are we talking index painting, whereby one essentially creates a digital painting with a very limited palette range? Or was this actually hand pixeled, with attention given to each and every pixel?

Do you have any WIP stages that show the process? The reasons why I am asking (and highly sceptical) - A lot of similar colours with seemingly inexplicable fluctuations in hue; extreme smudginess, yet large inconsistencies in detail; some parts appear very blurry, yet similar areas are incredibly jaggy. The majority of this image doesn't seem to demonstrate any attention on a pixel level, nor does it seem to demonstrate any sort of pixel art technique. What I am seeing is a lot of inconsistent and haphazard pixel placement, at best.

I guess what I am saying is, this is not *bad*, per se; but to me, it isn't something that belongs on the site. You are probably better off taking the theme of this challenge entry and creating a fully fledged digital painting/animation. That appears to be what you are aiming for and it would probably be a better solution for you (artistically), than attempting to shoehorn this image into a site based around actual manipulation of single pixels.

James McCarter (Level 5 Lieutenant) @ 6/17/2010 06:44

"colour reduction"... sorry?  I thought the limit was 20 colours, so I painted this with 20 colours (with the 20th colour being a hideous purple used for transparency) 

skamocore (Level 11 Dolphin) @ 6/17/2010 06:09

Nice idea and animation, but please don't submit colour reductions.

Related & Tags

running, beast, forest, sinister, dark, jungle, Must... Run... Faster avatars, Must... Run... Faster icons, Must... Run... Faster pixel art, Must... Run... Faster forum avatars, Must... Run... Faster AOL Buddy Icons

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