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Pixel Art Help

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I have been messing with game design, programming, art for awhile now but I always run into a snag where I am not a good artist and can never get something worth putting up on the screen to even continue playing around with in the game development process. I understand there are a lot of sprite sheets out there, but I prefer to use my own things because I feel it helps me learn and understand things better. I am trying to start out small with 16 bit, don't wanta even try 8 bit, pixel art characters. I've found lots of tutorials and books but they all mainly cover shading and the such.

The problem I run into is I can not figure out how to transform what I see in my head, say a boar, into something even closely resembling that on paper, screen, any medium. Anyone know of any good guides, tutorials, or books that would help me with my block on ideas?

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You need to learn it in several steps. Digital art is just an other medium for more traditional art skills like painting, drawing, sculpting etc.

I would sugguest to start with drawing on paper. You need to get a feeling for forms and lot of practise. There're several books on drawing, buy yourself a beginner book, some paper and some pens and start drawing. You need lot of practise. It is important to be able to bring the forms you've in mind to paper.

The next step would be painting, once you can pin down a form you need to learn how to paint. When painting you need to get a feel for light and shadow to give your image mood, material and depth.

Believe me, once you get some practise you will see progress, but it needs some time.

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I have tried that many times, but I do not like the art books way of going about it. They have you look at things and draw them as you see them. This has helped me greatly with shading and drawing things that I see, but I still end up with the block where I can not take a idea I have in my head and place it on paper or screen. I start to draw some lines and either they come out to squiggly or it ends up getting morphed into something completly different after I get the first line down.

Do you think tracing with paper/ using low opacity layers to copy pictures may help me learn to put my own ideas onto paper or the screen?

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Practise, practise, practise.

You need to put confidence in your linework to be able to draw nicely and that can only be achieved by doing things hundreds of times. Start simple, buy a sketch book and fill it up with basic shapes like rounds, triangles, etc. Put 20 to 40 of these on a single side, if you feel inspired try making something out of these simple shapes, doodle away! Everything can be made of simple shapes and lines and these exercises train you in your linework. If you practise this enough your simple lines will look a lot nicer since they where drawn with confidence and this helps you when you want to draw anything else.

Now you should start shading these objects, pick a light source for each page and shade all your 2D shapes to make 'm look 3D. This will train you rendering skills as well as you skills in a 3D application since you will learn a lot about forms and think more in 3D.

Once you end up with a sketch book filled with basic shapes and some funny doodles you can start practising on other things. Pick something like eyes, lips, chairs, windows, barrels. Get some good reference, also sketched versions will help, and scramble them in your next sketch book again. Just pick simple/small things and practise them, i mean, if you can't draw an eye or a arm how are you supposed to draw a boar?

Eventually you want to look at almost naked bodybuilder pictures and start drawing bodies and shade in anatomy like muscles and bones. This does not only help you draw muscular man but helps you draw a convincing boar or alien as well. Without basic knowledge of anatomy you won't be able to draw any breathing thing.

Yup, this takes a long time to learn. But like everything, you need to practise a damn lot. You just need to stay dedicated, if you want this enough you will end up being a good artist.

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They have you look at things and draw them as you see them. This has helped me greatly with shading and drawing things that I see, but I still end up with the block where I can not take a idea I have in my head and place it on paper or screen.

Use reference images! If you're creating something that exists in the real world or which is very similar to something from the real world, then look for a picture or two of it and refer to them when creating your artwork. If you're creating something that doesn't exist in the real world, find real-world things that have parts you can use -- you might get the claws for a monster from an eagle's talons, scales from a lizard, gaping tooth-filled mouth from a komodo dragon, etc.

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I doubt if there are any guides to help with the problem of transforming the ideas in your head into images on paper (much less into pixels). I think your best bet is as others have said -- find some reference images and try to convert them to pixel art. They don't have to be identical, but use the image, or a small portion of it, as inspiration.

Also, its been awhile, but I recall Tsugumo's pixel art tutorials to be pretty good -- http://www.petesqbsite.com/sections/tutorials/tuts/tsugumo/

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Drawing/sketching on existing images is an interesting way to get in. Draw something, anything! Pick up a newspaper and draw mustaches on women or swords in people's hands. Sketching is fun too, and doodling over existing images helps break the "starting barrier" present when you start with a blank sheet.

The same applies to pixel art. Open some pixel art from the games of previous decades (even MS Paint is enough, if you're on Windows) and try adding your own touches and modifications to them.

As others have pointed out, the key is to get confidence and practice, and draw whenever you can, as much as you can.

Cheers
~dd~

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Hi there. I'm artist but not expert in pixel art but I think you should take some ref. photos and trace it with basic lineart (this will help you to learn how to draw) .. and after you are happy with you drawing trace it again with the pixels >> check this tutorial and at the end you will see example with Squirrel
>>> http://psd.tutsplus.com/articles/techniques/learn-how-to-draw-hand-crafted-pixel-art-in-photoshop/
--- (note you don't need to have photoshop - but you will need prog. with the leyers)
or you can trace straight from the image (without the linework)
>>>

- but this is a bit harder
!!! I'm not saying that you should copy and trace others art or photos for commercial use - just to train your skills - this will help you to understand things better :)
I'm not sure this will work for you but I know a lot of the 'art teachers' or books say -look and draw what you see-.. (which is really great but not for the beginers) -
and people struggling because thay can't do it !
For me tracing was always boring because I wanted to create my own ideas .. so after years of the freestyle draw :) I'm able to create things from my head >>
but this really takes years !!
So try to trace first but always freestyle too ( also when you making rough freestyle sketch and you want to polish it you need to trace it anyway to corect all mistakes and make it look pro - so you will learn everytime this way to ) ..

Hope this will help you somehow :)

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There are some inherent differences between pixel art and sketching though. The overall issues are the same but the techniques can differ. Try to find a tileset for a classic game that has low resolution, but great pixel art. Here's some for Super Metroid I just found. Then go back and forth and try to replicate the tiles, not necessarily by tracing (although that's good too) but by comparing back and forth and noticing details. I think that working on a 16X16 tile as opposed to a large project really helps you focus on the tricks one can use to give things depth properly. Also, expect to spend a lot of time per drawing getting it right. Finally, pick a good pixel art program. I really like aseprite. Being able to quickly change things and save layers can really make a difference in learning curves.

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