Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pixel Art Lesson Companion: Editing Splug's "Taming The Beast" Step-By-Step

Much of Imagine Dragons' album Night Visions doesn't quite imprint very strongly on me, but this one is fuckin' awesome.

Hey there, check it out, time to see how I go about an edit! This is of Splug's "Taming The Beast," the original image's post on PixelJoint is HERE, and this is meant as a companion piece to the PIXEL ART LESSON I wrote about Splug today. Before reading this, you should familiarize yourself with that lesson, because this edit is how I found my way to a lot of those critiques.

This is the original! Congrats to Splug for making something inspiring enough that I could do a full edit. If you want to know on a mechanical level how I would improve this piece, read the lesson. That's not what this is. This is what *I* would do if I was in charge of this image. It involves a major dose of my own personal style, and I'll point out where that is. It's important to me that if you use this as a tool to learn from, DO NOT simply attempt to copy the sort of moves I do but understand WHY I make those moves. I try not to share the full edits I do when I can help it because I feel that when you go back to revise you are too affected by the style of the editor to allow your own creativity to shine through in the edit.Let's go!
This first edit was a color alteraton. As I say in the Lesson, flat grey is dangerous and loses a lot of power in the presence of other colors, and even a mild infusion of colors helps that. If you wanted the man to pop out most he's still brown (which is low-value orange btw), so it's a contrasting color to blue and perhaps will pop out even more.

Woah, what's that? This is color blocking, a strategy for determining the framework for a piece. I discussed these in another Lesson, and I think it's a valuable editing tool because you can block out their major shapes without the interference of shading. It's a bit muddy to pick out sections in a poorly-defined image, but you try your best. This color-blocking isn't a perfect blocking though, but the first stage of editing! I rounded out some of the curves to make it generally more pleasant.
Now let's just talk about the beast for a while.

This is the silhouette of that color-blocked beast! Looking at an object's silhouette is important to composition, letting you get a feel for the general gestures of an object. Looking at it like this, I interpreted that it actually looks too rounded, almost cuddly, like a stuffed bison rather than a stubborn beast.

To reflect this, I made some modifications, taking more advantage of straight lines rather than swooping curves - something I emphasized in the Lesson's posing section.

Looking at the silhouette of that new blocking, I think it definitely looks more aggressive. That's much better.

So I decided to begin the rendering process, making things the same color, with lines to define separate objects that would overlap in the silhouette. The paste of the color-shifted original was a quick way to have that whole palette available to me since I wasn't immediately using the whole thing.

And rendering continues with a first draft of the face! I wanted to preserve that striation thing as well as the raised section of the forehead. The thin and tightly-angled eyes added to the expression and gives it an angrier look.

This is a refinement, with the addition of some darker colors. It's more angular and aggressive, which was a small-scale implementation of the gesturing and tone. Oh, and I added the mane.

This is a detail view of the face, showing how the eye ridge is much more angular rather than curved, showing how it alters the expression.
If you're astute, you'll notice that I did some smooth-line rounding off of the curves, like on the mane, using anti-aliasing. That's a thing of mine. You'll also notice that there's banding toward the left side of the face. That's me not catching my mistakes yet.

More refinement, but more importantly I shifted the palette again! It's more blue now, less cyan. I confess, as a general thing I'm not fond of cyan as a major color in pieces. It's just me.

These two are about mapping the posing! This is a general sketch of what the current posing is. Kinda docile pose on the beast.

This is what I decided to go with, a much more resistant (and much more angular) shape, with more of the weight shifted toward the back.

Here I used a sharp color to re-define the outlines.

Same thing, with the sharp color redefined.

 I'm changing the ears! I feel like they were in a crazy place on the original.

 I remembered to keep a layer of just the color-blocking for an ear.

 Head's complete!

For this, I decided that just squaring off the feet could make my life easier. Since I'm gonna make the feet sink into the snow a bit that worked out great.
Nearing the final stretch of the beast. From here on out, I basically just started rending the rest. I started with just round color regions, but nothing felt right till I did that staggered thing to make it look like fur. The foot gets modified several times over the next few steps.

This next leg I made  couple decisions. For one, I made an odd decision in highlighting on the knee. It still looks a bit odd to me, but I think I like the look. It didn't work out otherwise.
I also decided that I'd use the background's bright snow color inside the body.

There's the rest!

I switched out the very neutral brown background for a brighter color so I could measure my sel-out and anti-aliasing.Oh, and added a bit of hair texture to the mane, though I'm still not sure about that at all.

Tried a different palette. Looks too dark.

That's better!

 Let's get onto the dude! Here he is, isolated from the beast.

 Color-blocked him too!

And checked out my silhouette of him.

 This is the silhouette of the whole thing, along with the beast.

 Gestures reiterated.

I re-blocked him, trying to emphasize the strong straight gestures wherever possible.

 And the silhouette of that. Even better!

I forgot to save intermediate frames of my rendering of the guy. I again had the original guy there for color reference. It also serves as a good comparison! You can see that mine is darker overall.

An important thing to me was to make the contrast on the guy compare to the strong contrast on the  beast. This is the completed man and beast together.

Compared to the original! I admit, the original has this, I dunno, RAWness that's pretty cool. There were definitely other ways I could have gone about it, but I feel very confident in the pixel integrity of my edit.

I added a gentle curve to the background. You'll notice all those lines are gone, and I'm letting more sky shine through.

This is the final image! I added some mountains in the back, but made sure they felt very far away and to give the beast and the man a fair berth of background around them to enhance that "barren" feel.

So there you have it! The creation of an edit. Let me know if you learned anything out of this. This was one of the more intense pixel-editing jobs I've done lately, so it was nice to stretch out and throw around my own pixelling ability again. I rarely have the inspiration to do my own pieces, so having the idea already there is really nice.
Anyway, later folks!

End Recording,

No comments :

Post a Comment