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Joined: 02 November 2005
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Quote ice9 Replybullet Topic: Pixel Art in Linux
    Posted: 03 November 2005 at 4:10am
This is my workflow setup in linux, for doing pixel art. This not a complete guide to pixelart in linux, though, ust some ideas on how I do things, that I hope someone will find useful.

Software I use :

Mtpaint is a really nice app, with almost everything you need to do pixel art. Or should I say : it has everything, if you are a "purist". If you are not, then probably you'll miss a gradient fill tool, or a toggle for antialias on brushes and lines. Apart from those lackings, we can say mtpaint is enough to do great and good pixel art. As I said somewhere else, it has not a nice gui : you can fix this by changing the gtk theme. You can also change the icons, since they are just images in a directory of the software (I'm currently working on a new iconset, more "pixelart" looking).

Here's my dark-themed mtpaint in action (with the original ugly iconset):

It can work in indexed mode or in rgb, and it has a very handy and cool palette management. For instance, in paint mode you can use cursor keys to change the current color used, for foreground and background : up/down scrolls the palette for fg color, while left/right does it for the bg color. Left click of mouse will use fg color, right click bg color. That's pretty handy and reminds me of Deluxe Paint.

I suggest you reading the small manual for the software : it's a nice small text file about basics of the tool, and it'll show you a lot of possibilities. And by the way, learn all the hotkeys you can, they'll help you to save time and work faster.

You can also do animations using mtpaint : since it has layers, you can put every frame in a layer, and change the opacity/visibility to gain onion skinning. You can then save each frame as a separate image, and pass it to imagemagick to convert it to an animation.

One limitation of the software is that it can use only 25 layers for every image, but there are easy workarounds for this. The simpler one is to copy the last frame/layer of the image to a new one, and continue the animation there. I'm pretty sure the programmer will fix it soon, if the software will become more popular. I already wrote to him, explaining some useful changes to the program. Let's see what happens.

I usually save my images in png, with or without transparent color. Then I use imagemagick for converting the pngs to an animation.

With imagemagick command line tools, you can do an huge variety of actions on images. If you want a graphical frontent, just type


with no arguments, and the gui will start. Anyway, for animating my pixel art i use the command line, and i do this : i create a folder where i save all the frames/layers from mtpaint, in png format, with a progressive numeric naming, like "prova001.png" "prova002.png" etc. Then I start up the terminal console, I go to the folder where i have the pngs, and i type something like :

animate -delay 10 *.png

this command will play all pngs in the folder, in ordered by name(numer) way, with a delay of 10 between each frame. In this way an animation can be tested without actually creating it.

When I'm happy with the results, I convert the animation to gif :

convert -delay 10 *.png final-anim.gif

where the supplied gif filename is the one of the animation we will get. It's that simple!

Imagemagick has tons of options. Just type

convert --help

to see a couple of the options you can pass to the convert command!

As you can see, linux has enough tools to do great pixel art, even animated one, using just free software. If you always used windows, you could be a bit scared by the command line usage : don't be, sometimes graphical interfaces are not so useful like they seem. Otherwise, if you (like me) started using computers far before windows 3.1 started approaching the mainstream pc user base, and you got your hands dirty with basic based "operating systems" or ms-dos, then you'll have no probs, and you could even have fun typing in the console :P

I hope this small mini-mini-guide was useful to someone trying to do pixel art in linux. I searched for something like this for a lot, when I wanted to migrate to linux, but never found anything. Right now I realized I can not complitely migrate to linux, but it's nice having tools to do my pixel art when I'm using it.

ice9 /

NOTE : by the way, someone could argue that thegimp is all you need to do pixel art. Actually I used gimp for it, before discovering mtpaint, and i must admit gimp has good tools for pixel art, but i find mtpaint/imagemagick a more coherent choice with what pixel art is. And having less instruments helps my creativity when looking for a way to get what i want in my image. It's all about personal attitutes I think.

Edited by ice9
its' a wonder tall trees ain't layin down /
there comes a time / (neil young)
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Quote Fhqwhgads Replybullet Posted: 15 November 2005 at 4:28pm
oo..sounds great! I'm starting to use linux, so I shall give it a try!
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Quote avo Replybullet Posted: 10 February 2011 at 12:10pm
mtPaint is very nice, actually its major apps in linux for pixel art... I also love GrafX2 for its retro feel and look cause i miss dos and all those great pixel games 
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Quote Hatch Replybullet Posted: 10 February 2011 at 4:14pm
Please don't bump ancient threads.
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