How does one get into making pixel art?

Discussion in 'Resource Support' started by vansunet, May 19, 2019.

  1. vansunet

    vansunet Warper Member

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    I don't know if this is where a question like this would go, but I am just curious; how do you go into making pixel art for something like RPG Maker? For example, how would you get started in making, say, walls, floors, or statues for a tileset? Or making a set of character sprites?


    I just want hear how others got started in doing these since I decided to try my hand at making a game, but since I'm a one man crew, I kind of am having to learn some of these skills by myself, but I just don't know where to start.


    Again, I apologize if this is in the wrong part of the forum, and thanks in advance!
     
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  2. slimmmeiske2

    slimmmeiske2 Little Red Riding Hood Moderator

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    General Resources is where you share resources.

    I've moved this thread to Resource Support. Please be sure to post your threads in the correct forum next time. Thank you.

     
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  3. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

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    Generally, it's not a bad idea to begin by simply making edits to existing graphics. Most people I know tend to start out this way. This lets you figure out the general shapes and sizes of the graphics, the colors, etc. After that, maybe start out by making some simple graphics, things that utilize primarily just very basic shapes like squares. A great example would be to make your own floor tile and see how that goes. Then try a wall, since that is only slightly more complicated with the addition of an extra plane (the top of the wall plus the front face of the wall versus the singular plane of the floor tile). The tricky part is making them so that these tiles can be placed next to each other seamlessly and you can't tell where one ends and the other begins. Then build up from there!

    It takes a lot of practice, but if you're not afraid of the time investment, you can come up with some really great stuff!
     
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  4. Animebryan

    Animebryan Feels like I'm slowly dying! Veteran

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    It's important to have a proper image editing program first. Just don't bother with MS Paint, it doesn't support transparency, which is ironic considering that you can save files in .png format, which does support transparency. The top programs you want would be either;
    Photoshop (If you have it already or can afford it) https://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html
    GIMP (Basically the poor man's Photoshop. Does most of the things PS does & its free. It has a steep learning curve though) https://www.gimp.org/downloads/
    Paint.net (Good for actual pixel art & is free & noob friendly) https://www.getpaint.net/download.html

    Like Jessie said, its best to start with recoloring existing graphics (like the RTP). Then start making tiles for floors & walls from scratch. The tricky part is shading. Without proper shading your graphics will look mono-colored & plain. Will they look like old NES 8-bit sprites, SNES 16-bit sprites, or something much better like the RTP graphics, that depends on using different shades of the same color to give it a realistic texture.
    Some image editors provide 'effects' such as Gradient to provide shading, but require lots of trial & error to get the hang of it.

    Here's another program that was recommended by some users called Tiled https://www.mapeditor.org/
     
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  5. Sharm

    Sharm Pixel Tile Artist Veteran

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    Okay, so all of my advice is based on taking you at your word that you want to make pixel art. However, I've seen a lot of people confuse the concept of pixel art with anything made on the computer that isn't 3D or vector art, in other words, anything made with pixels. That isn't actually what the term means. Pixel art is the retro stuff, the stuff with very clear pixels that are placed purposefully to create the best impact in the smallest space. It can be very simple and small like the art for the original nintendo, or huge, highly detailed, and complex like the backgrounds for the arcade King of Fighters or the entirety of Owlboy. The common point is the crisp and purposeful placement of each pixel, no blurry edged brushes allowed. This also means that something that started out painted and was then reduced in colors is also not pixel art, since the placement isn't purposeful. Those pieces would be called pixelated, not pixel art. So anyway, I hope my advice is still useful. If not, let me know what your goal is and I can give you better advice.

    I did a lot of floundering around when I first started out. I kept making stuff first and figuring out what art I wanted second, which meant a lot of wasted effort and a lot of not useful art. If you're wanting to learn how to do pixel art for the purposes of using it in your game, I actually suggest you start out by just making a game and ignoring the art for now. It doesn't have to be a good one, or one that you let anyone else see, but there's a lot of things about making an RM game that you can only learn by doing and even some that you can only learn by finishing. It can be as short and as dumb as you like, it's just for practice after all. Once you've made a game you'll have a much better understanding of how the resources work, so when you go into the help file and learn the resource standards for RM, it won't be as confusing.

    Jesse's suggestion of starting out with editing is also a really good idea, it's a good way to learn an existing style and a great way to learn things like autotiles and the sheet layouts, but because you want to make pixel art it might not be quite so straightforward. The default art in the last three versions of RPG Maker isn't pixel art, so if you have one of those you can't really start by editing the defaults to get the right end result. You might want to start by finding something closer to what you're trying for. There are some good pixel resources out there depending on what you want to make. Just be aware that the free stuff doesn't always have the best quality, mimicking the style for them might teach you some bad habits. Free stuff also has the problem of often not being completely formatted for use in RPG Maker, so that's also a barrier. If you can give me some examples of the styles you like and would like to create, I can better help point out resources that would be good to start out mimicking or editing.

    For places to learn the artistry of pixel art, I suggest checking out lospec.com . It's got links to a ton of pixel art tutorials, with a brief note on what the tutorial covers. When I was starting out I found "So you want to be a Pixel Artist" extremely useful, and the tutorial from pixeljoint is really great for learning the common mistakes and how to fix them, and the short tutorials by Pedro Medeiros are fantastic once you've got the basics down.

    So, for any pixel artist creating tilesets, I always recommend Pyxel Edit. It's pixel only, but if you're doing pixels it's so very, very useful. It does cost money, but it's cheap and there isn't really anything else quite like it. Check out the page to see how it works, it's hard to explain in words just why it's so useful. For animations I personally like to use Aseprite but Pixel Edit, Graphics Gale, and even GIMP have some good animation tools, so you get more choices and can do whatever works best for you.

    Lets see, what's left? Oh, advice for actually making game art, right. No matter what part of the game you're making, you're going to want to start out with a mockup. This keeps things visually cohesive, the right scale, and if you've got a program with a grid, helps you get a good idea how many tiles something is going to use to put together. You can take it apart and clean it up later, but starting with a mockup helps a ton. Next, using blobs of color instead of actual art can be a good way to quickly test if you understand the setup of the art, if it will actually work the way you think it does in the engine. I used this to figure out autotiles, no tutorial was quite as useful. Later, when you have some work done but before you finalize anything, bring it here to the WIP thread and get some feedback. Feedback was the single most important tool I've ever had as an artist, especially if you're lucky enough to get feedback from a pro. It can be rough, of course, it's hard on the ego and you have to spit out revisions pretty quick to show you're taking the advice seriously, but you'll grow so much more quickly that way.

    I think that's it for now. Good luck!

    @Jesse - PVGames I wasn't aware you made pixel art. I've only ever seen you make 3D renders and computer painted stuff.
     
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  6. Jesse - PVGames

    Jesse - PVGames Game and Graphics Developer Veteran

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    @Sharm - I've done some actual pixel art (like the kind you described in your post), but you're right, I mostly do computer painting for my tiles (just drawing them by hand on the computer) and use 3D for characters and such - it would be suicidal to try and hand draw 2000+ frames of animation per character! My pixel art wasn't horrible, but it was nowhere near as good as your stuff, Sharm (looking at you, Pixel Myth!)

    @vansunet - And Sharm is right, the graphics in the RTP for RPG Maker are not pixel art, which is a term that gets tossed around a lot and people tend to use interchangeably with "retro graphics". So the method of creating something like the RTP style graphics would be different than creating actual pixel art graphics, like what Sharm has created. So maybe a bit more information regarding the style you want to express would be helpful!
     
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