Pixel art

Introduction

Since I have been a gamer since the golden years of pixel art (the early 90s) and have always loved drawing, you may expect me to be a pro pixel artist. In verity, I am not, but since 2016 I have practiced it and aim to become highly skilled at it soon. The practice I have been doing has mostly been for my own hobby project, a Mega Drive RPG called The Viking & The Ninja. I have drawn everything myself. I use a program called Aseprite when I draw on the computer, and an app called Pixel Art editor when I draw on the phone, for example when I commute to school.

When I draw, I like to use bright and colourful palettes. My palettes usually consist of two colour ramps of 7-8 colours each, often with hue shifting for the sake of variety.

Here is my main character palette, which since it will be used at all times in the game needs to have quite neutral colours to not stick out too much. Greyscale can be used for text, reds to highlight important things and the oranges for skin colour. The pink is the colour for transparency. The lack of green is a system limitation, but since there are a lot of green environments in the game I can live without it.

 

Tilesets

When creating tilesets, I start by figuring out what kind of tiles the level needs. And that is done by looking at the gameplay and the story. I overview the game design document to see what sizes are appropriate for the tiles and what assets are needed. The graphics also need to match the story in tone and content, so I write that down. Last, but not least, I think of what kind of art tiles can fit the environment. I add them last because the core is most important and I think a few art tiles can get the job done in worst case. Then I start making palettes. I then look again at the story to get the right feel (for example, pastelle colours don’t fit well at an medieval, gritty castle) and also at other levels in the game to make sure this one feels new and fresh. And then I start drawing the tiles, beginning with ground and walls and then moving on to gameplay and art tiles, often adjusting the palette as the work goes on.

Here are a few tile sets and mock-ups using them from my upcoming game:

 

Sprites

Here is a collage of some sprites:

These are a few sprites I made for a school assignment. The concept, which I came up with myself, was a steampunk Metroidvania called Panzerkraft. You start at the bottom of the society, as a broken robot in the garbage refuse. Then you find and fight yourself to get new body parts, so you can climb the ladder of the society. Many of the abilities you get are themed around that as well, for example the jet pack. Eventually, you become a human again and will have to find out who put you in the trash, and why.

Cutscenes

Here are a few full screen cut-scenes of forests.

Portraits

A collage of portraits in 48×48 pixels size using 15 colours each. When I make the portraits, I use the exact same palette as when I made their corresponding full body sprites, as it would look odd if they used different colours. I start by shaping out the head in a rough way, then add the eyes, nose and mouth. They are then adjusted to get the right look, to match the character traits. I continue with the hair and start to polish, removing jaggies and add more colour. The added colours brings in shading, which is the final polish. Each portrait took about three hours to make.

 

And here is a piece of melting butter, just because I want to show you my great animation skillz: