So You Want To Be A Pixel Artist?
March 21, 2013 7:13 AM   Subscribe

Ah yes, the grass tile...Generally the first tile anyone does, because hey, if you're making an RPG, and you plan to have it take place on a world, you're probably going to need grass. [...] Grass, when you think about it, is millions of tiny blades randomly growing at different upward angles, and unless it's been stamped down flat or mowed to perfection, doesn't look smooth. So why make a tile that does?

A pixel art tutorial by Jeff Hangartner, aka Tsugumo, of Bulletproof Outlaws.
posted by smcg (18 comments total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
I want to read this, but holy crap! Blue font on a darker blue background? Who does that?! And tiny images, too! Sheesh. Control-+++++++.
posted by barnacles at 7:42 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's mirror of the article (not the author's site) with a higher-contrast colour scheme. Images are still the same size, though.
posted by smcg at 7:47 AM on March 21, 2013

Can't wait to read the whole thing. Most pixel art tutorials I've read are focused on icons, but I see that there's another whole set of skills going into game graphics.
posted by scose at 7:49 AM on March 21, 2013

Wait, that's been supposed to be grass all this time? Not Astroturf? *reevaluates life, universe, everything*
posted by jfuller at 8:15 AM on March 21, 2013

Dude's got some solid design principles but he really has to stop putting words in the reader's mouth. It's not a goddamn Socratic dialogue here.
posted by Spatch at 8:19 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Despite my complaining, I did go through the whole thing. Great little tutorial, and it makes me wish I were worth a damn in art so I could fiddle with pixel and have fun (rather than being frustrated).

In particular, I think it's great how he discussed old school GameBoy pixel art design and how modern pixel artists can still learn from that. Four colors! Black, white, darkish grey, lightish grey. And yet it worked out great! Even in video games, you gotta know your art's history. I love it.

And despite it being a bit old ("I use PhotoShop 4.0"!) and ellipsis-heavy, there are some neat things here for people to think about, especially nowadays as people with great ideas but small art budgets are able to get their games to market.

And I suppose it's probably very much because of when I came of age as a gamer, but goddamn I loves me some awesome pixel art in gaming. Or (given that I rank Wind Waker as the best 3D Zelda, and wish Counterstrike had TF2's graphic style) maybe it's just that I like stylish stuff. And nice pixellated art is super stylish.
posted by barnacles at 8:24 AM on March 21, 2013

Man, this would have been useful when I was mucking about with RPG maker tons.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:24 AM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Oh this is awesome.
posted by griphus at 8:31 AM on March 21, 2013

posted by one of these days at 9:13 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I've been looking for this tutorial again for ages, thanks for finding it!
posted by flatluigi at 9:48 AM on March 21, 2013

I haven't had the chance to go through much of this yet, but just from the first couple of pages, it's interesting how many of his design edits, specifically about checkerboards and gradients, are ignored by the original Sonic the Hedgehog, which had a startlingly artificial, yet very distinctive, look.
posted by JHarris at 9:53 AM on March 21, 2013

This is a very interesting read as my hobby is cross stitch. For cross stitch designs like these, each full stitch is a pixel, so there are a lot of similarities in design considerations. For instance, one would also want to get the most 'depth' from the fewest possible thread colors/shades.
posted by of strange foe at 10:30 AM on March 21, 2013

I've always wondered what it would be like if Bevis and Butthead wrote articles on videogame tile design.
posted by jrsnr at 10:39 AM on March 21, 2013

The text colors go all the way back to the Commodore 64. Sigh. Kids today.
posted by rikschell at 10:47 AM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here's another one that I found handy.
posted by destructive cactus at 12:42 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh man, let's take a little trip down memory lane. This will be fun.

Oh hey Secret of Mana... oh Kain... man, you were such a bad ass. Oh hey Locke, oh... and Terra... I'm really sorry about what you went through... I tried... and Celes... get those fish... and sing, oh sing! And Sabin, I'm sorry to walk you through the ghosts of your past, but the music that surrounds us now let's me know the glory of your glory days! Kakfa, I will get you, and Thanatos, I will get you. Flammie, take me to Lavos, for we. Must. Defeat him! To protect... two children dreaming of love, in shadowy dreams, of a fairy kingdom with treasures I cannot reach... Hawkeye, you must do it. Defeat my shadow. I will defeat you, and I will draw forth the mana sword of the paladin, and achieve the dreams of my childhood!



Where am I? I was dreaming... I feel like a little person was observing me, but I couldn't see if he was smiling.

(Part of me wonders if the peak of gaming doesn't exist between Secret of Mana and Seiken Densetu 3. Oh Secret of Mana, just that opening song, with those echoing chords, and a beautiful tree... and... and...)
posted by Alex404 at 1:36 PM on March 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

(Damn, one mistake so far: I confused Sabin with Cyan. I did my best to go off of memory...)
posted by Alex404 at 1:49 PM on March 21, 2013

this is a FANTASTIC set of object lessons.
posted by radiosilents at 7:12 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

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