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Skyward4d
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Quote Skyward4d Replybullet Topic: [Feedback] Weekly Challenge - Clean Your SDD 2021
    Posted: 04 January 2022 at 4:00am


I was after feedback on my WIP for the Clean Your SDD 2021 Challenge, for which I'm attempting the Link to the Present challenge from last year.

The specs of the original challenge were to redraw the original NES Link to the following specs:

Canvas size: Max 48x 48.
Colours: Max 8.
Transparency: Required, don't forget it counts as a colour!
Animation: Optional.

I'm relatively new to pixel art, and art in general (This is my first post on this forum) so feedback of all kinds is welcome.

But specifically I'm still trying to get my head around anti-aliasing and whether i've applied it correctly around his hat to soften up the curves of the lines.
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SeDiceBisonte
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Quote SeDiceBisonte Replybullet Posted: 07 January 2022 at 3:31am
Hi! This is looking pretty good already. The forms are all clear and I think it's only in the details of the face that things are a little difficult to read.

Before typing anything else, I must point out that I am not a sprite artist, but I have a few thoughts that are hopefully useful.

Firstly, although I overuse anti-aliasing (I am trying to cut back), my advice at this scale is that you probably don't need it at all. To answer whether you're understanding it or not, I'd say that it's generally applied correctly albeit inconsistently.

It isn't necessary on a 45 degree line of pixels at all (i.e. ) because that already reads as a neat line, although you may have intended that as shading instead (my edit has similarly placed pixels for that reason). What it's useful for is suggesting a sub-pixel level of detail (i.e lines and curves that appear to lie between the pixel grid). What this generally means is anti-aliasing at points where a sudden change of direction in a line is unavoidable or where you want a line to look more curved. If you're anti-aliasing on a long line of pixels then you want a longer line of anti-aliasing, and a shorter line requires shorter anti-aliasing. Here's a quick edit of the sprite with red pixels where I'd add anti-aliasing on the hat:


I've added a pixel on the bottom left of the hat because the line goes from 2 pixels to 4, and so a single pixel of anti-aliasing doesn't quite smooth out the transition. The other additions were simply adding consistency to what you'd already done so, as I say, I do think you're pretty much getting it!

That said, here's my full edit where I've removed the anti-aliasing:


At this scale, I think anti-aliasing risks muddying a sprite a bit. With so few pixels to use to create detail, it seems a shame to use them to smooth out lines. I feel like the better approach is to create smoother lines in the first place, so I've tried to make more gradual transitions in the lines of the hat.

I've also tried to make the lighting more uniform. In the original, there were some lighter pixels under the arm even though the light source is above. I've also tried to make his torso more three-dimensional by adding in shading under the head and above the belt. I've also tried something similar with the legs. See also the changes to the hat, where I've tried to suggest volume by adding a highlight and shading the underside of it.

I've also altered the position of the sword because it isn't too clear in the original what the pose is. His arm is raised, but the sword appears behind his hat. Is it a resting pose, or an attacking one? If it's a resting pose then you might want to choose something less tiring, e.g. resting on his shoulder, held with the arm down, or even sheathed and if it's an attacking pose then I think you could maybe alter the position of the legs (I'd recommend finding reference images of sword fighting stances) to suggest he's ready to strike. If he is attacking then I'd definitely move the sword to a position that's unambiguously in front of the hat. I haven't touched his right arm due to the ambiguity of the pose, but I'd probably lower it if he's at rest.

I've altered the face slightly because I found some of the details a little noisy. I'm assuming the lightest pixels are all intended to be hair, so I've joined them up so they read as a uniform object, and I've shaded under them to suggest volume. I was a little confused by what the mouth was doing, so I've made it a single-coloured line of pixels as that's clearer.

Finally, I changed the outlines to the darkest colour. I'm not a sprite artist so I can't say much about the wisdom of this, but the two darkest colours didn't really read as different when used as outlines, and I thought the light outlines on the sword made it appear like it was in the background. I could be way off with that, though!

I hope that helps a bit. I'm looking forward to seeing the final entry!

Edit: one last thing occurred to me. The way the neck reads is a little strange and it might be worth thinking how to make it clearer. The palette is definitely big enough for it be in shadow (both to create volume and so it doesn't have equal prominence with the face), although my experiments mostly resulted in Link having a double chin rather than a neck...
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Skyward4d
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Quote Skyward4d Replybullet Posted: 08 January 2022 at 6:39am
Thanks for taking the time to check out my first pass and even do a manual edit. I appreciate all the feedback.

I think the shading + noise issues you adressed were spot on, so I applied similar fixes to the sprite.

I'd sort of intended for a triumphant pose, but I see now that doesn't read well at all with the sword behind his head and I've redrawn it entirely at a different angle to emphasise this.
I've also redrawn/shaded his legs and right arm so that he's now stepping forward and rotating his body slightly instead of raising his sword from an upright position. I think this makes it more clear that he's not just resting with the sword on his shoulder.

I agree the two darkest colours don't look that different as outlines. I originally used black for the inline as well, but felt the way I'd done it seperated his head too much from his hat, so went with a lighter border around his hair/hat. I suspect you may be right, but I didn't get to playing with the outlines tonight. I'll spend more time looking into that tomorrow before I submit. In any case, I agree the lighter border breaks the illusion of depth on the sword so I've fixed that.

I'm much happier with my second pass, I plan to clean it up tomorrow before I submit it (outlines, fix up the right arm, etc.), but the final entry will likely be very similar:



Thanks again for the help!
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SeDiceBisonte
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Quote SeDiceBisonte Replybullet Posted: 09 January 2022 at 4:15am
That's a much clearer and more dynamic pose. Nice one!
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