Pixel Artist - Gas13

Gas13 joined PixelJoint on January 21, 2005. Since then he has certainly made an impact around here and his gallery shows daring and experimentation worthy of study by all, from the newest to pixelart to seasoned pros.

JAL : Hi Gas, thank you for answering these questions for the PJ community and letting us all know a little more about you.
GAS : Hi Jal and readers! It's my pleasure actually, interviews are fun.

JAL: PJ handles are often so interesting. What are the origins of Gas13?
GAS : It was 1995 or maybe 1996 when I felt like I need some nickname to add to my "Hello world!" programs written in Basic. Most of the coders back then were named like vad_soft, ssk-soft, lassoft and so on. First 3 letters is an abbreviation of a name, surname and patronymic. Soft being a must. Gas has the same origins. 13 is a number that follows me, it was my basketball team number, house number and so on. I added it just to be original, not that these letters were already in use (Numbers at the end of a handle usually means the name was taken, know what I mean). Sometimes I say Gas is short for gasoline and 13 is an octane number.

JAL: Your osmi avatar (shown above) is one of the most successful avatars I've ever seen. Its a solid brand and completely you . The colors, style, animation and humor are so spot on it might as well be a self-portrait. What are the origins of it?
GAS : Someone said I look like my avatar when I posted a photo at livejournal. It was just not the best photo but anyway I was seriously confused. My avatar has an influence on me?!. I'm thinking of having a transparent or blank one now...back to your question. I'm not the only person to credit for the birth of Osmi (It's very common for humans to gather at a birth, right?). BlackEye coded a cute little online game 'gotchi-fighters' and requested sprites at the Pixelation forum. I decided to give it a try as I was new to pixeling on PCs. I started with a circle and then attached tentacles. Three actions were needed for the game so I made him blinking (idle), moving (training) and ... hmmm... showing teeth (attacking). It was never intended to be a self-portrait or something. I just started to use it as an avatar and got so many positive responses, especially how cute it was, it turned out to be my mascot. I use it everywhere and my wife even made me an Osmi-toy . Anticipating possible question - no, you can't turn it inside out :)

JAL: Inspiration and dedication to any art is such a struggle for most. As a married man how do you find time to pixel?
GAS : I don't have a traditional full-time job. I work as a freelancer and I have my small mobile games development company (working remotely). Actually, I wish I pixelled more often.

JAL: Does your wife nag you about it?
GAS : Hehe, sometimes she says I like my computer more than her. It's all about working at night as I prefer to pixel when everyone is sleeping. She has her way of getting me go to bed ;) You know, us men are so dependent.

JAL: What will you name your first-born, 'Dither' or 'Selout'? (Note to reader, 3 retarded question allowed, this is the first :p)
GAS : Oh, we are currently trying hard to make a little Gas. Any name I have suggest is rejected by my wife and of course vice versa. I'm going to try 'Selout' for this evening's battle, thanks.

JAL: Do you have any formal art education? (Note to reader, regardless of the answer, stay in school)
GAS : Nope. And not that I think it's good. I would take some art courses with pleasure as I'm sure I have much still to learn about art. On other hand, these days you can teach yourself so much. The internet is a great thing when you want to learn about something. School is cool. Hehe, read it again, school is cool. Lovely.

JAL: What PA technique do you most rely on? Why?
GAS : It was dithering for way too long. Mostly because of my ZX-Spectrum pixel past (EGA palette, 8 colors + brightness). I had no other option for smoothing but using the dithering technique. I now feel like cell shading with anti-aliasing is the best way to make things eye-catching and cartoony. I suppose it's mostly Fejer's influence. He never uses dithering, if my memory is correct. Selout is always good when it's used wisely. Sadly, this is rarely the case. This applies to any technique. Then again, they are all useful to know and practice.

JAL: What was the catalyst for saying to yourself, 'I want to try pixelart'?
GAS : The story starts back in 1997. The only computer I had was ZX-Spectrum and I was more interested in demoscene than playing games. There were lots of different e-zines and one of them started a contest "The best cover for the magazine". Next issue's cover for the winner! Since my coding abilities were quite poor and my music was even worse, I decided to give it a try. My entry was nothing special. Still it wasn't that bad - I got the next issue's cover. I am an artist, a pixelartist! Well, to be honest - all the contestants entries were on the next cover. Anyway, that's how it started. Next work I made was for gfx compo. I'm a contest whore, this is true. If you mean PC pixelling it was the Pixelation forum that made me want to try to pixel like all those 'cool kids' © do.

JAL: Do you feel you still have things to learn in pixelart or are you on the mountain top?
GAS : jalonso is a nice and kind person : )

JAL: How long have you been at the top? Is it cold and lonely? (Note to reader, he probably lied on my previous question)
GAS : OK, I'll be honest this time. I feel like I'm on the top every time I finish a pixel, I really do, I can't do anything about it. How can I ever feel lonely reading all the nice comments? It's a great place, I swear! It takes a while to get how low this top is though. It's a question of time.

JAL : What applications do you use to create your pixel art and animations? Mouse or pen/tablet/stylus? PC or Mac?
GAS : What's Mac? Is it some retro computer? XD, I use a PC, Photoshop 7 for pixeling and Gif Movie Gear 4 for animations. When I was pixeling on Speccy I was using keys 6, 7, 8, 9 for directions and 0 - fire. Now I'm finally getting used to the mouse. And it's getting used to my rage fits. Little bitch. I do have a tablet but pixeling with it is something beyond my understanding. I have tried pixeling with stylus on my Pocket PC, No fun.
JAL: How do you define pixelart? Or rather, what defines pixelart?
GAS : I hate it when someone asks me about pixelart's definition. I don't know, Period. Well, the best definition I've heard and the one I like most is "Pixelart is controlling every single pixel". Of course, using dither brushes, paint bucket or anything else that speeds you up but doesn't define coords or colors of the pixels for you, is OK. Anything that can put pixels for you faster than you would could but with the same precision as you would place them by hand. This definition does leave a room for 1-pixel-pencil-painters to call their doodles pixelart. That's why I think PJ queue is such a good and smart idea as it sets minimum quality limitations as fairly as possible. Pixelart without subjective limits is what we sadly see at deviantArt. Tons of huge 'pixel by pixel' paintings. And no chance not to let them go according to any definition. And no chance for them to learn. Sad. So sad.

JAL: How militant are you against the use of, dirty tools, iffy techniques and retouched index paintings?
GAS : Dirty tools and iffy techniques are subjective notions as they are based on one's definition of pixelart. Something I do find dirty is using of Pro Motion's anti-aliasing feature. Unlike Photoshop it uses selected palette to AA and places pixels where you normally wouldn't put them. I suspect several good artists at PJ sadly use it. Retouched index paintings... Oh... Not art.

JAL :  Color choices are such a difficulty for many. How do you handle this? All your colors are always so fantastic, (Note to reader, this is only to insure he says yes when I ask to borrow palettes)
GAS : Speccy used very saturated colors, I still try to use very saturated colors, close to standard EGA palette. I never start work with a defined palette. Colors appear as I need them. Basic formula is:
1. Selecting main color; 2. Highlight color; 3. Shadow color; 4. Reflection color if needed. Sometimes I use main color here for color conservation. I'm still thankful to ptoing for the best crit ever. Now it's known as 'hue shifting'. A must know thing. For example if I have something orange, I move closer to yellow on step 2 and closer to red on step 3.

JAL: Your site is such a great source for new pixelartists. Even the more experienced can be entertained there, I know I am. I now understand you merely translated all those tutorials into Russian. I think 'your' tutorials are all well written and was a little disappointed to find you did not write them. This leads to my question. Having translated them, are you responsible for the Russian overtake of PixelJoint and in particular the Serbian Mob? Do you deserve punishment for this?(Note to reader, suggest punishment in your comment)
GAS : You have just ruined my secret! I shouldn't have told you, damn. Translating into Russian wasn't easy for me back then (5 years ago). I was looking up every other word, so I finally decided to just write what I was getting from them. A friend, Demiurge Ash, had (well, he still has) a great Russian tutorial resource page, so I was translating for his site. As I translated enough of them I made my own site focusing on just pixelart. The Serbian mob speaks English better than Russian, don't blame me.

JAL: I find, that often enough, members are hesitant to PM me and ask questions, or ask in a timid manner, as if their head will be bitten off. You are especially friendly and PMing with you is always a pleasure. Here's my question then. Do you get crazy PM questions too? (Note to reader, Stop doing that! >:(  )
GAS : Hehe not really often and mostly from other Russians. Having translated those tutorials, I'm an English guru. The most FAQ is what tools do I use and will I work for free. Since I answered the first already, I'll answer the other one. No. All other questions are welcome :)

JAL: In general gallery comments and the forum you write almost perfectly and express yourself in a completely comprehensive and Western way. Why then are PMs from you such a grammatical nightmare. The accent is so thick it comes through the monitor and just whacks you, huh, huh?
GAS : Just laughed, thanks! I don't really know but I can guess. Either it's my wife who send you PMs or I care and read before submitting comments. PMs are more like chatting for me where I translate my Russian thoughts word by word.  Perhaps, Sedge coded some kind of grammatical check script for PJ. Could it be? Sounds too mysterious to me, I have to speak with my wife now. (Note to reader: What you read here is translated Gasglish to English.)

JAL: What inspires you? Which artists, pixel or otherwise inspire you?
GAS : Nothing inspires me more than other's art. Many pixel artists inspire me, lots. Naming names wouldn't be fair. Music too, from Aphex Twin to System of a Down but Radiohead-Muse-Killers-Placebo (in no particular order) kind of music preferred. Every time I pixel I listen to the music.

JAL: You occasionally make isometric pixels. Real good ones too. If you also think iso gets no respect, as I do. Why is that, you think?(Note to reader, this is #2)
GAS : I'm surprised. I think isometric art is the most admired and well-known pixelart ever. In PJ, yeah, isometric pixels are not as popular. Probably because good isometric art is such a rare thing.

JAL: What advice do you offer an aspiring pixel artist seeking to be a working professional? Portfolio? Website?
GAS : Having an online portfolio is a must for freelance pixel artist. In my experience you will not ever need to look for commissions. Also, a good idea is to show your best works at PJ and deviantArt as they seem like the places recruiters start from when seeking help with their projects.

JAL: Any last thoughts, words or anything else you'd care to say that I failed to get into? (Note to self, get another Mod to do the next interview, I fail :'(, now Gas will think I'm stooopid and hate me :'( ...be assertive, act cool...smile dammit * sweats profusely)
GAS : Since my wife said she has no idea what PMs I'm talking about, please be so kind as to and correct my grammatical mistakes. Thanks in advance. That's something I do care about. (Note to reader: Trust me we had to 9.9)

JAL: One last thing, Vodka or Borscht? (#3)
GAS : McDonald's these days. Our region is fighting this infection for too long and losing according to the most recent news. You may not believe it, but I was having borscht for dinner yesterday and 50 grams of vodka with St.-John's wort infusion just several minutes ago to fight with my flu (Note to reader from Gas, it doesn't help). (Note to reader from jal, omg, he can see my notes o.O)

JAL: Pixel On!

Make sure you visit Gas' pixelstamps project, if you haven't already done so.
This kick-ass project is a great showcase for your pixels.

This interview with Gas was submitted to him in a PM as a questionnaire to fill out and was not a conversation, some editing has taken place but mostly translation related things. (Huge props to me for letting his jab at Macs slide :p)

Posted by pixelblink @ 10/3/2007 13:15  |    25


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Official-NeoSoft (Level 5 Sniper) @ 7/17/2008 07:47

Cool interview

Isometric isn't so hard..is it..?

zi-double (Level 9 Necrophiliac) @ 2/28/2008 03:56
heh nice interview :)

when I start to make pixels and join DA you was my first watcher hehehe and many times your work and posts keep my interest in pixel art

cheers GAS !

Metaru (Level 8 Brigadier General) @ 10/14/2007 22:17
PM'ing jal with crazy questions... heh..

Sabata (Level 3 Hatchikyu) @ 10/6/2007 08:00
Is iso pixels so hard? All of my sprites are iso (well almost)...

mikl3 (Level 7 Sheriff) @ 10/5/2007 14:05

Fool (Level 6 SWAT) @ 10/5/2007 05:59
Hehe, they've got you nailed, man.=))

Blackbeltdude (Level 7 Ichikyu) @ 10/4/2007 13:21
I love these interviews. It's always cool to see how these top pixel artists work.

Personally, I love the dithering and colors in Gas's "Eye Ache" pixel piece. :)

Circa (Level 1 Rookie) @ 10/4/2007 13:05
Great Interview! :3

Skull (Level 11 CEO) @ 10/4/2007 10:55
I do admire Gas' bold use of colour. :)

Larwick (Level 8 Regional Boss) @ 10/4/2007 07:00
Well i listen to SOAD, Muse & Placebo.. i used to be really into SOAD but lately i haven't been listening to them as much. But still, they're one of my favourite bands. Coolies.

Gas 13 (Level 9 Boss) @ 10/4/2007 06:46
I'm glad it was fun not only for me :) The B.O.B. jokes are something I would love to understand one day. Why does he speak of Mail and delivery?

dogmeat, "gasoline" is a long story short. Who really cares if it's true story or not? :) It's just that the whole story is longer than I want it to be.

Larwick, I suppose "kinda" because of SoaD, right? Usually I don't listen attentively to foreign lirycs so their songs is kind of drive for me. Several people said I have a really bad taste since I listen to it. It's a matter of taste anyway.

iSTVAN, that's details, not a dithering! :)

raynoa, my tablet is covered with dust :)

BlackEye, how couldn't I? :)

BlackEye (Level 2 Quiet One) @ 10/4/2007 06:18
very good interview
i would have never expected he would mention me =)

best wishes for you and your wife!

ps: girl's name "pixie"? eh? got it? :D

FrankieSmileShow (Level 6 Manager) @ 10/4/2007 03:08
Very interesting interview! Cant wait for the next. Though interviews should be kept RARE AND MYSTERIOUS, so people keep anticipating the next, secretly hoping they will be the interviewee... and thus pixelling harder, in hope that their work will stand out...


raynoa (Level 5 Soldier) @ 10/3/2007 22:27
It was very interesting to read this interview,Alexey! And... you are still using a mouse? It was surprise to me to read that=)

iSTVAN (Level 8 Cannibal) @ 10/3/2007 20:43
I didn't say it was significant! ; ) I just wanted to catch him out.

jalonso (Level 11 Godfather) @ 10/3/2007 20:22
That is the most minimal use of dithering ever. 5 total pixels o.O

iSTVAN (Level 8 Cannibal) @ 10/3/2007 19:19
Ooh! Ooh! I think I also spotted an instance of Fejer using dithering. I knew I'd seen it before. Although I agree with Gas, he's been a huge influence on my attempts at clean, cel shaded pixel art. 

iSTVAN (Level 8 Cannibal) @ 10/3/2007 19:12
Nice interview. I had no idea gas13 was Russian, so Jal was right about his grammar!

Larwick (Level 8 Regional Boss) @ 10/3/2007 16:38
OMG YES. *hands in the air* Awesome.
And ooh you have similar music tastes. Kinda. Yay. :D

MashPotato (Level 7 Underboss) @ 10/3/2007 16:13
A terrific interview for a terrific artist!

Circa (Level 1 Rookie) @ 10/3/2007 16:06
Great Interview! :3

The B.O.B. (Level 11 Master Assassin) @ 10/3/2007 16:01
   I'd throw my undies at Gas if he was physically near me. That's how awesome he is. I guess Mail and delivery is the next best thing....

   Also, my regards to you and your wifey's child. Teach him/her in the ways of the proper pixel technique, so that he/she may continue the Gas legacy!!

skeddles (Level 11 Sphinx) @ 10/3/2007 15:59
I love reading interveiws. Nice job.

Hapiel (Level 11 Pixellite) @ 10/3/2007 14:20
Nice interview!
Im still waiting forward to my turn!

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