I still suck at pixel art

I suck so bad at it that I’m still at the phase where I can hardly know where to begin. Finally I decided to kickstart the process and appropriated some artwork from OpenGameArt.org. It’s a very pixelated terrain tileset with an 8×8 base resolution. It looks like this:

Sadly, the author packaged it with 2 pixels of padding between tiles, which means that my own tileset padder can’t work with it. It also can’t be imported for editing with PyxelEdit. This is a perfect example of how everything always takes longer than you think it will, even when you know that everything will always take longer than you think it will.

I had a few options to get the tileset into the game:

  1. Modify the tileset padder tool to accept a padding argument. This seemed like a lot of work for such a small task.
  2. Edit the image in a paint program, eliminating the padding. This too seemed way too complicated.
  3. Import the individual sprites one by one into PyxelEdit, then import all those .pyxel files into one merged tileset.

The last option was tedious, but still way faster than either of the other two. But I have a feeling in another few weeks I’ll have to do this again and I’ll wish I had modified the tool in the first place.

Anyway, I finally got the tiles imported into the map, and you can see them in action below:

I must say, I’m kind of liking the super pixelated look of this tileset! But I’m torn. The tiles I drew for the ship have an effective 16×16 base resolution, or 4 times the ones outside. Keep in mind that the game uses a 64×64 tile size, so it’s the difference between an effective 4X pixelation factor and an 8X pixelation factor. It’s a huge difference, and something I probably need to standardize on to avoid any jarring contrast. Any thoughts on which resolution is better? Let me know in the comments!

I’m excited to really start filling the world in and populating it with enemies. It’s still so small!

gameWorldSoFar

But it looks even smaller in the context of the game world’s scope. Each of the boxes in the map below represents one screen width and height of the game world.

RoomGridSoFar

Phew. Long way to go.

8 thoughts on “I still suck at pixel art

  1. Other than for nostalgia I don’t think emulating a low resolution serves any purpose. So unless you’re going for an 8 or 16-bit look I’d use a texture size with minimal pixelation (128×128 would be nice). The drawback is that you’ll need to make sure they look nice and mesh together seamlessly moreso than with 8×8 or 16×16 pixel textures. In any case you’re right; being consistent is extremely important.

    What sorts or textures do you need, and could you give me access to your current texture sets? Are you using any programming tricks to add additional visual properties to individual tiles or are they static? I’m actually pretty good at texture art and could help you out if you like. Seeing my work in your game would actually be pretty satisfying.

  2. I think what I really like about the 8×8 tile set is how vibrant it is, not the pixelation of it.

    But I do think I’m going for an old-school pixelated aesthetic. It suits the game type really well — it’s about being able to recognize individual tiles as a fundamental unit of the game world, which makes it simpler to think about how to explore that world by finding gaps in those tiles. 16×16 (upscaled to 64×64) is more or less the look I want to go for.

    I welcome any artistic contributions! In fact, I’m going to put up a page about contributing art and get back to you.

    • Awesome, I checked out the tilesets on github and will be cooking up some stuff. I’ll make a subdirectory on my web site where I can dump them so you may access them easily.

      One more question: are you using a fixed palette or does anything go as far as what colors I use?

      • That’s great! I can’t wait to see what you can come up with!

        There’s no overall palette for the game, so use whatever you like. I updated the contribution FAQ with that info too.

    • Nice work! I featured it in a new blog post.

      For future reference, my map editor and game engine support rotation and mirroring, so there’s no need to include more than two tiles (corner and flat) in a case like this (unless you really want to).

      Thanks again! Looking forward to what you come up with down the road!

      • Thanks. The reason I have separate tiles for each possible orientation is because the base texture is tileable. If it were rotated it would no longer be seamless with adjacent tiles of differing orientations. That’s still a useful feature to have though.

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