Category Archives: Various

Pixel by Pixel- The Sinclair Spectrum

With Pixel by Pixel I’d like to give people little insights into the wonderful world of
enforced minimalism. Low resolutions, limited palettes (CGA anyone?) and other awkward limitations. For a lot of artists this is a tremendous headache, to me it is just delightful as it makes us design and create with a limited toolset, thus giving us challenges to master.
So, spoiled artists of the future, I give you:

The ZX Spectrum
ZXSpectrum48k.jpg

Some while ago I did a demake of Witcher 3 on said device and I want to explain why it
looks the way it looks. There are some pretty hardcore limitations to consider.

witcherScreenshot

Witcher 3 if it had been made in.. say.. 1985

 

 

First off, you start with a resolution of 256 x 192 and a limited color palette of 15 colors.

meteo2

To a pixel enthusiast, even with a rather limited palette like that without any skin tones or even browns that’s kind of okay.  To any other artists, it’s a real pain in the ass.
You don’t use brushes here, you place pixels like a mason would place bricks.
Even more so because of the following limitations.

The 256 x 192 canvas is divided into “attribute blocks” of 8 x 8 pixels:

met1

And here comes the “fun” part. Those attribute blocks are only allowed to have 2 (!)
out of the primary 8 colors. You can use up to 15 by designating the attribute block as “bright”. A bright black is still black, so… 15 colors it is.

Being allowed to use only 2 colors in a block means you get “attribute clashes” like this:

met3

The bloody baron should have a blue brickwall behind him, right?
Well, yes, but, no. That would mean 3 colors in one attribute block.
So, you have to make do with that and give the red guy a plain black block background.

Still, people have managed to create wonderful works of art within these boundaries:

classic_02

Head over Heels title art by F. David Thorpe

With limitations  like that you need to get your shit together and do some serious designing. So let’s raise our 8×8 pixel glasses to those pixeleers in the pioneering days.

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Witcher 3 for ZX Spectrum!

Finally a version for a state-of-the-art personal home computer.
Follow the witcher Geralt on his adventures in this colorful and thrillingaction adventure!

witcherBox
witcherScreenshot

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Doodling in quantity

If you are new to “concept art” or production design this might be interesting for you.
Brace yourselves for some non-native english and more words than pictures.
Concept art is not illustration. Those top images on art platforms like artstation.com are in most cases beautifully rendered illustrations that got polished over days or even weeks.
Illustrations usually are rendered to perfection to be enjoyed by the final consumer, while you should prepare to throw away most concept art doodles you did when you are merely part of a production.
It’s about producing quick doodles and designs and refine those until you have a foundation for those beautifully polished illustrations, 3d models or costumes.
I struggled myself for a while producing a lot of doodles instead of following the 2nd or 3rd idea through and getting lost in rendering what’s actually an illustration. Which can be explained by me coming from illustration and the reluctance to “throw away” most of your approaches that a lot of artists show.
What really helps in enjoying this process is aleatorics.
You can avoid the risk of falling into usual approaches f.ex. to forms or silhouette by going crazy with random brushes or symmetry drawing apps/plugins and rather start to interpret random results. Or at least embrace a certain mount of randomness that might bring in new, fresh ideas.

On a train ride I did a bunch of doodles using an ipad and a stylus for
spacesuits / robots.
(Further down you’ll find a link to what I used in detail)

RobotdoodlesSmall

When you quickly, roughly doodle with a symmetry function, there’s a good amount of randomness involved
that might ideally lead you to cool ideas you haven’t expected. It also puts a lot of fun and adventure into painting/drawing because you just make shit up as you go. Like playing with legos when you were a kid and made do with the bricks you just happen to grab from the box.
That in itself was aleatorics that led you to crazy new ideas while following a basic plan.
For example building / designing a robot.
With a bit of practice you should be able to do dozens of these doodles on a longer (2 to 3 hour) trainride.
I made a selection of silhouettes and threw away a few that really didn’t work before I put them together.

Some ideas just happened by accident, for example the flying-insect-like droid thing with what might be sun collector wings like you see on satellites. Then my mind directly wandered off to images of NASA employing these things as sun powered repair droids. I’ll definitely follow that idea later.

Once you have a silhouette / basic design you like you might do a mid-level concept as a follow-up with some color and moody lighting. Note that this shouldn’t go too far timewise if you are doing concept art in a project. Always be prepared that somebody MIGHT kill the idea before it becomes a finished, polished asset for the final user. Be it because of design issues, technical limitations or marketing reasons.

I picked this silhouette for a next-level step…
suit1

…and put in some coloring and feel for the metallic, sci-fi material in around 40 minutes.
Later I added some lighting and some dust around it to put it into a very basic environment mood.

suit2

What did I use?

I used an Ipad Mini along with the Sensu Artist Brush (using the stylus tip), although I’d recommend the Maglus Stylus. I didn’t have that with me on that weekend but I like it more. The brush tip on the sensu is pretty unnecessary on an ipad that lacks the precision of professional drawing tablets.
https://itunes.apple.com/de/app/symmetry-drawing/id878569046?mt=8
is the symmetry drawing application for IOS that I used.
Its usability is a bit awkward but you’ll get used to it.
It’s cheap and very effective for symmetrical doodling.

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Hello.

Hello.

I could have posted this as the first post on my new portfolio blog,
but I guess I forgot. Oh, what to say.
It was time to give my portfolio a rework that needs littlest possible maintenance.
So a blog it shall be. I’ll try to keep it art portfolio-ish and informative
about the little games I do in my sparetime.

Whatever, grab a coke, do whatever the fuck you want
and do what I say when I’m telling you people:
Watch more Hammer Horror Films! They’re awesome.

pixelguy11