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Why does this look so flat?

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I've been working on a pixel art piece to help myself get better. I am trying to draw an anchor. I am not finished yet, but I have noticed something. With the exception of the edges, it looks very flat. I tried to add some shading, but then it looks just plain bad. Can you guys tell me how to make it more 3d looking? Or can you help me out with the art itself? I've attached the image I am using as a reference, and my actual piece. Thanks.

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I guess I should be asking, "how should I shade this so that it looks good?" Especially on the top part of the anchor. Sorry I don't have any examples, I saved over my work dry.png

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If you're not yet skilled at pixel art, one trick you can do is to draw it several times larger than you want it to be, then scale it down to the size you need. If you are not good with form, you can try modeling with simple 3D shapes in something like Blender, then tracing over it with pen tools in Gimp to provide strokes and outlines. A quick (and pretty crappy) example of both techniques:

d3dNA.png

The anchor was quickly modeled by dragging some points in Blender and doing a Skin modifier plus a subdivision surface, then rendered and quickly traced with some outline, then scaled down. Working from a 3D render like this can also help you to work on your own hand-shading if that is the way you really want to go. The 3D render gives you a template to work from, and you can draw and shade on a layer over the top of it to practice your skills.

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