Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pixel Art

I remember when I started to sprite. I was... young, I don't remember how many years old I was. It was on a Pokemon site, a Pokemon spriting site called "PMF Inc." The most common practice was "mutating" Pokemon sprites, which meant taking features and colors from two different Pokemon and splicing them together. Sound easy? I was horrible at it. Even as I got older, even when I tried really hard, I was awful. Awful, awful, awful.

The unlikely hero of pixel artists everywhere (except those who don't use Paint.)

But it was fun. It was so much fun! And it introduced me to pixel art. These mutations taught me how to sprite. At first, my disturbingly bad works looked like a 3-year old's scribbles on a page; I remember a Golem/Charizard splice that really looked like neither of those Pokemon in the end. (Note: These sprites were on a computer I had a long time ago, so I unfortunately can't share these disasters with you all.) Over time, my sprites got cleaner. I still didn't understand how to make a color palette, I still didn't understand shading, I still sucked.

Later on I finally began to understand shading. Now, shading was at first something that I would dread, something that would make my sprites look just plain awful. And it was something I never could understand, no matter how many times someone tried to explain it to me. And then one day... it just came to me. I just understood it.

It all started with balls. I would practice shading spheres, trying different styles on for size. And that introduced me to shading properly and making things look good. I'm still not a great pixel artist, but I've improved and (I think) I continue to do so. I still have a ton to learn.

Anyway, enough about me. Pixel art in general is very attractive to me for a number of reasons. If you were to show someone a picture made up of pixel artwork (that wasn't made for a game) it's likely that they would say something along the lines of "oh, it looks like Mario," or "looks like a Gameboy!"

Smells like it's from a videogame.

If you were to show someone vector graphics, or like a logo or something, they probably wouldn't give you a similar answer. They might think about comic books or cartoons, maybe sports logos, and they might possibly relate it to Flash games. But they wouldn't think of games as quickly as they would if they were viewing pixel art.

So that's what I love about pixel art. You could almost call it video game's art, something you associate with games like you would with graffiti and urban culture, or a fresco and the Renaissance. (Note: The point of those examples is that they are not exclusive to these time periods or locations, but are regularly associated with them.)

If I were making comics, it's highly unlikely that I'd look to pixel art to do the job (but that would be really cool now that I think about it, and I'm sure it's been done.) If I were making a logo for a sports team (which I wish I could do) I wouldn't use pixel art. If I were making a website- wait a second, we used some pixel art for the Abscure website design. That might not be the best example.

Anyway, you get the point. Pixel art= videogames. And that's why it's something that I frequently enjoy and use.

Thanks for reading.

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