14 July 2018

(HD) Pixel Art: Zoom & Fidelity Way

I'm fascinated with pixel art. I'm not good at drawing because I'm unhappy if the drawing isn't perfect. This is what pixel art allows me to do. Unfortunately, pixel art takes a lot of time and can be quite complicated, especially if you start off on zero. Luckily there are some ways on how to start off.

What Is Pixel Art?

In case, someone doesn't know pixel art, this is basically a different technique on doing art, which most often results in the art looking differently. Anyone who has played an SNES, NES or Arcade game you may remember the sweet 8-bit or 16-bit graphics. Maybe you have played Minecraft with standard graphics which is the same thing. Pixel art is usually done by placing pixel after pixel ending up with a full picture at the end. There are multiple techniques included in pixel art to get the results you want and there some more strict or less strict rules on color picking and techniques, but I'm not going into these in this post.   

Starting Off On Something

Now let's see how you can start with pixel art. Of course, it's possible to start off of nothing but it makes things harder, especially for people who are new to pixel art. I've done multiple small pixel arts of sizes up to 64x64. Going higher than that is not as easy anymore, even more, if you haven't gathered any experience. Luckily, I found some ways to get your first bigger art started. Here are some ways to start off I found on the internet:

Using Real-Life Drawing

One strategy I found, starts off on a real drawing that's scanned in or drawn on the computer. Afterward, they use this concept to clean up the lines and thus transform it into the pixel art concept instead. Then all normal techniques can be applied.

Creating Pixel Art Concept

This goes into the direction of starting off without something. Basically what you're doing here is draw a concept pixel for pixel until you get the result you want and then apply all the normal techniques. I can't suggest this to anyone who hasn't gained enough experience. You need to know the techniques and need experience for certain shapes and how to do certain things. Without it you're gonna have a bad time. (Yep, that meme is probably dead... "INVOKE THE DED!")

Zoom & Fidelity Way

Heart using Zoom & Fidelity with
8x8 chunks
By coincidence, I got this weird idea to do it differently. I want to make pixel art and I want it to explode out of proportion. No more 64x64 or smaller. So, what I did was, I created the pixel art using 8x8 chunks of pixels. As you can see, the picture on the right represents a heart drawn out of pixels. However it's not one pixel per black square, it's 64 pixels for each black square. Additionally, this does not look fine or high quality or however you may want to describe it, it looks very very pixelated. It has a low fidelity or amount of detail.



Heart using Zoom & Fidelity with
4x4 chunks
This is the base of the picture representing what I want to make, next up I'm adding more fidelity or detail to it by smoothing the lines with smaller chunks of pixels. This time 4x4. As you can see it looks much smoother but weird. It sometimes happens that it looks weird and that's totally fine. We can still clean up and fix it in the upcoming processes. For now, we just want it to look smoother and have more detail - more fidelity.




Heart using Zoom & Fidelity with
2x2 chunks

Alright, next up we decrease the size of our pixels again. So far I've been using the 8, 4, 2, 1 chain. I expect others to work as well but I'm a fan of binary numbers / the power of 2 chains. Anyways, we're further smoothing out and adding fidelity to our image and you can see the result. We've smoothed out the shape much more it looks much more like a non-pixelated heart now. This is not the end, however.


Heart using Zoom & Fidelity
Last but not least next up we use single pixels to further smooth it out and add fidelity. This is going to be the end result. Now we need to use all the pixel art techniques to make it look the way we want. Obviously, if you see something wrong with the heart that's me showing my inexperience with using the techniques correctly. I just recently started, but you can see how good it looks in comparison to the first one. Additionally, it's now 128x128 and not 15x15 and yet it's still made the same way pixel art is made.

Beautiful.

Conclusion

I've been using these techniques for one of my games and to gain more experience with pixel art as well, whether or not this technique is perfect or can be applied to everything is hard to say. This is something I came up with myself, I don't know if someone else had the same idea. (I'm not claiming anything :P though I could use the money probably haha xD) In the end, this is a technique that did it for me and maybe it helps other people too in either gaining more experience or in making bigger pixel art.
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I'm a junior game developer and software developer and I created this blog to share my ideas, thoughts and whatever I'm working on or doing.