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Feedback wanted

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So I finally decided to try drawing with pencil and paper after months of mediocre digital art, but then I realized I did not know where to post this new art for feedback, I certainly could not post it in Prophets of Pixel, my favorite group in these forums since drawings of course aren’t pixel art. Since I wasn’t aware of a pre-existing thread where I could post drawings, I decided I might as well make my own topic. I haven’t had any real experience with drawing, so I would appreciate tips.

So I wanted to start off with this drawing I did today based of of a game that I hope to make within the near future. (Sorry about the grainy quality, initially after I scanned it, it looked good but when I uploaded it, well I do not exactly know what happened to it)(FIXED- Turns out it just got converted to jpg for some reason)

That drawing is basically concept art of the new version of a game that I had started working on but then quit on because I deemed the game-play too unoriginal. I will hopefully work on it again with my new ideas, after my current game is finished.

Here are some of the older pieces of art from the game the first time around.

As well as a logo I made.

 
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After not working on art for a time, mainly because I no longer have access to my previous art or favorite art programs, I decided to work on this character that i had also wanted to do a game with.

I had created him when I first started doing art about 8 months ago.

He first appeared as this:

Then in top-down view as this:

And now in side-view again as this:

First as an animation:

Then I began improving on his looks:

Until I ended up with this:

I would really appreciate any feedback on how to improve my most recent version of him. Particularly, I would like some help with the shading, the light source is to the left in the front. Also I am not sure about the head, should the head piece be bigger, since it is a helmet, making his head apparently really small proportionately if it can fit in the helmet the size that his head should probably be? (I worded that weirdly)

 
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First off, sorry for not noticing this right away. Would have commented sooner, but didn’t catch it until now. Whoops!

For the game concept in the first post, honestly, everything done at this point is unoriginal, and there’s no avoiding that. SWTOR was an unoriginal attempt at WoW, but added tiny new features like the conversations in groups to an MMO setting. Or Lollipop Chainsaw, despite being a rather ludicrous setting, is a simple beat-em-up like Splatterhouse 2010 with some score challenges and mini-games tossed into a blender. What I’m trying to say is, even if the gameplay you have seems unoriginal, you can still build off of that. From the looks of it, it reminds me of a sort of Super Meat Boy-esque platformer, but with a ninja character. Why not try and involve some “ninja elements”, like being able to run on the ceiling for a short amount of time? That could make for some interesting level designs. Basically, don’t just scrap it. The shading on the drawing is a bit messy (I can see the lines you first put, even after you attempted to smooth/smudge it). I don’t know if that was your intent, but it comes off a bit sloppy. It’s a nice mid-tone, but there aren’t too many deep shadows or strong highlights, so it comes off a bit flat. A solid start, but just feels like it needs more attention.

As for the character, I think the running cycle looks pretty solid, though the arms move a bit stiffly. They reach the end of their swing, freeze for what looks like a frame, and then move back. If you eliminate that freeze, and can make the ground he runs on not move too fast (so he doesn’t look like he’s skating or gliding), I think it’ll look pretty solid. The front of his jaw, the chin, could probably be more emphasized — as he is, he kind of makes me think of a person with no bottom half of their mouth. Doesn’t have to be much, but keeping it round like that makes him look a bit strange. It shouldn’t make his head seem any bigger, either. I don’t really see a problem with the shading, personally, but then again, there’s only one frame of shading that we can see. Seeing it in motion might give us a better idea of how it looks to see if there are any glaring problems with how the light lands on his body. But the frame you have there looks solid to me at a glance.

 
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Yeah, it is kind of like super meat boy. Since he is a ninja, i gave the ability to shoot shurikens and I am hoping to give it some kind of combat element to make it different from super meat boy, the shuriken also is used to hit certain targets to open doors and such, but I am hoping to add other elements to make it even more different from super meat boy. Also I am hoping to add certain ninja abilities like you mentioned, such as the ability to “vanish” for a second to allow you to pass through certain walls and dodge missiles. However I will not be able to do any type of programming over the summer, so I will just work on new art for the game for now.

As for the drawing, I see what you mean about the shading and I will put up some new drawings in a couple days when ever I have a scanner handy.

I tried to elongate the helmet a bit, is this better or should i probably redo that whole bottom area of the helmet?

Also I only have access to paint for the rest of the summer, so I’m not sure if I will be able to make an animation using the new art.

 
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That’s looking better, for sure. He’s got enough room for a jaw now, so I have no other complaints with him as a sprite. Pretty much just the animation of the arms that needs work, so just something to tuck away in the back of your mind for when you have access to something better to work with.

 
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I have been trying to develop a new style for me that uses simple shapes, less colors, and is overall easy to make in a relatively short amount of time.

I like the simple, cartoonish look and I often feel that I try to make it more complicated than it should be.

I first made this a while back when I first tried to make this new style for me but kind of forgot about it.

Then as a tried again to develop this desired style earlier I made this:

I realized that it was absolutely terrible and everything about it was just wrong, so I focused and actually thought about it for a second and then proceeded to make this:

Its definitely a step in the right direction, but its still not how I think it should be. I would really appreciate some tips on how to make it less flat and look better in general. Also some tips on colors would also be really great because I seem to not be able to get them right.

(This style is something that I would hope to use for things such as animated videos, so I guess the details in it may not be all that important, since generally in animated videos you aren’t focused as much on the art as to whats going on) If that information will shape your feedback at all.

EDIT: Yeah I definitely need more help with the colors. I don’t know if I need to make it more saturated or what, or really anything about the colors.

 
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Dealing with the colors, I brightened up the yellow and made it less orange and I think it made it a lot better.

 
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Well, I have some tips.

If you’re going for a whimsical, off-kilter house with odd angles, I’d make ALL the angles odd.

What’s characterizing this drawing is the inverted perspective. However, you can really go crazy with the shapes if you like… blow them out! Nothing should be directly horizontal or vertical or parallel.

I’d stick to either clean, crisp shapes or textured shapes, but not both. Your house has clean shapes, but the grass is textured, and the mountains are organically shaped.

Zigzag the walk like a lightning bolt, lower (or raise) the horizon line to a more pleasant proportion (and angle or slope it), move the house to the left or right so it’s not directly in the center of the frame, and redo the mountains or just haze out the background sky. I actually prefer the first version.

Frankly, I’d like to see you sketch it by hand rather than in illustrator or GIMP or whatever.

Your couch is rockin’. I like the fat outlines. If I were commissioning this piece, I’d say you nailed it in some places and not others. The darker inner stroke around some areas works excellently. The thick black line around the cushions not so much. (It’s the same weight you’ve used for the main contour shapes… I’d ONLY use that thickness on the underside of the seat cushions and not the top.) And I’d ask that you lose the thin black outline on the armrest decorations. (It doesn’t add much.) And maybe square up the bottom of the couch slightly… or replace the bottom with delicate, goofy little wooden legs to contrast the top-heaviness of the shape. If you’re feeling ambitious, throw a yellow or gold cushion on it.

 
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Thanks for the feedback.

After reading it, I’m not sure exactly how I want the house anymore. I will probably just make several types of houses, such as a more odd-angled house, since this is a learning experience, and just see which one works best.

I had also made this less textured version with brighter colors if it looks any better or maybe worse.

EDIT: Yeah, I still need some help with color choice.

Since I hope to use this in animated videos, I need to think about the style of the videos and match the style of art with it. If the style of the videos is whimsical then the oddly angled house would be great, while a different style house might work better for a different style video.

I definitely need to work on sticking with a certain style throughout pieces of my art, I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to be clean and crisp or textured so i ended up doing both kind of.

The couch was also a planned part in the video series with the idea being that backgrounds would be plainer, while more central and focused items (such as the couch,people, etc) would have thick outlines and bolder colors. I’m not entirely sure how great that idea is, but I guess I’ll see whether it works good or not in due time.

I see what you mean about the thickness of the lines in some parts and will try to fix that in a little bit because I’m working on the couch scene’s background and other things right now. I’ll see what else I try with the couch based on your suggestions.

I did have a much better and thought-out response but my computer shut off while I was typing it and then the internet wouldn’t work for a couple hours and I forgot some of what I was going to say. But right now I will work on the couch more as well as the house and will post further versions as they come up.

 
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Here is another house, I think that making the house more oddly angled was a good idea:

As well as a living room scene, with slightly improved couch. Anyone have suggestions for what I should put to fill up space on the wall or if I should even put things on the wall. (That thing in the top-left is a placeholder painting thing, I don’t know what I should draw in it or where I should place it, I may just draw fruit in it or something

Edit: Im not sure if small legs on the couch might look better.

 
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I decided to hand-draw a version of the house and I decided I wanted to draw it using a pen, the problem is, I have never really tried drawing with a pen before. I made several mistakes off the bat but I decided to just go with it and see how it turned out……. I can’t say I like it. However I decided it couldn’t hurt to post it anyways so I decided to go ahead and do that.

I would really appreciate some tips on drawing in general and also maybe some tips specifically for drawing with pens. I would really like some help with shading using a pen (or just shading in general).

EDIT: I’m not sure why I didn’t at least shade the lower right a little bit so it wouldn’t just be white. Also the path wasn’t actually supposed to be like that but due to a mistake it ended up being that way.

 
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This was the first version I did, I wasn’t going to upload it but I realized that besides the shading on it, I like this versions house and path better. So I figured I would go ahead and upload it so yall could see a bit more how I wanted it to turn out, besides the shading which I still need help with.

 
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Tips for drawing with pens? If you need tips on drawing in general, then stay away from pens and stick with a pencil. I don’t even know how old you are exactly, but I’m sure you are being/were taught how to draw in school at some point even if it were the basics. If you want skill, then you pick it up with practice and everything else is just common sense, like pressing lightly, etc.

 
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I really wouldn’t discourage him from using ink. Ink is really fantastic in a lot of ways, not the least of which being how it forces you to work around ‘mistakes’ and live with them. You can get really correction-happy with pencil or charcoal, especially when starting out.

@Kentieno: Good hatching is pretty necessary for most ink illustrations (obviously you can shade without hatching, but it’s a fantastic place to start). It looks like you’re shading like you would with charcoal or pencil, where you build up blocks of shade density and then make gradient transitions to lighter areas. Since you can’t deal with varying shades with ink like you can with charcoal or pencil, work with tiny parallel lines (hatches) with them crossing in 2 to 4 directions in the darkest areas. There are some good guides out there online and you could definitely find fantastic guides and examples in books. Here’s one that I found after a quick google search and seems to be an ok starting point.

 
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@TWA Yeah that makes sense, but I was going off some other tips I’ve seen before like what rawismojo said:

Originally posted by rawismojo:

Ink is really fantastic in a lot of ways, not the least of which being how it forces you to work around ‘mistakes’ and live with them. You can get really correction-happy with pencil or charcoal, especially when starting out.

and I figured I might as well try using pens a bit. Though pencil would be simpler for me I wanted to try using pens. Thanks for the thought anyways.

@rawismojo Thanks for that, I had been thinking about using that because I had seen it before however I could not recall what it was called nor did I know how to use it. I made a little sketch using hatching and I’m pleased with the results. I will probably post some work in a week or so if I can’t do it tomorrow (since I am going out of town tomorrow). Thanks.

 
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Pens are awesome. I encourage you to draw in pen often. I’m not a fan of ballpoints, however. There are few artists that can really pull ballpoint off… but Sharpies provide a strong, thick line that you HAVE to own, if that makes sense.

I was thinking about your house. When I was talking about crazy proportions, I was hoping for REALLY goofy proportions. I went ahead and drew what I was talking about. (If you want to look at it, it’s in my art dump. It was drawn in Sharpie, then the color slapped down in Photoshop. http://www.kongregate.com/forums/5-the-arts/topics/274455-petes-art-dump?page=2#posts-6093428 )

You’ll notice, if you look at that drawing, that you can use pen loosely without it really screwing up the drawing. (I drew the basic house shape in pencil, very lightly, so that my main forms were more or less considered before picking up the pen.)

 
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Okay well I’m back with little to show for the time I’ve been gone.

I sketched a few things trying to use hatching and so far I’ve been happy with the results. Here is one of a squid-like creature. No reference was used. Also I didn’t actually use pen because I was drawing this in a moving vehicle and I figured it would mess up a lot from bumps so I went ahead and used a pencil so I could erase. However, the scanner I used didn’t pick up the pencil that well so it doesn’t look as good as the actual version.

Any feedback would be appreciated on pretty much any aspect of the drawing. Especially more help with shading, I wasn’t sure how to get rid of that big white space.

@Pete, I see what you mean now about the house. I will try drawing a new house in a little bit. Thanks.

 
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The actual hatch-work looks really awesome. It’s a really great start. Next I’d start on lighting and picking your light sources. The squid is lit in a pretty unrealistic way (pixel artists call it pillow-shading) with a light directly in front that doesn’t cast any realistic shadows. You created the sense of three-dimensions pretty well with your two levels of hatching, but I’d recommend you work on different lighting conditions. Try to draw the same squid with strong lighting from the upper left, or equal lighting on both the left and the right. If you have a printer, it’d might be a neat exercise to draw the shape of the squid (without shading) scan it, make a sheet with 8 squids on it and hatch in 8 different lighting scenarios. Even if you don’t do something that literal, learning how to control your shading to respond to different lighting situations is the next step, but this is a great start.

 
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Kantieno, I know you can draw pretty well, and that you ENJOY drawing. Frankly, I would much rather critique a drawing that didn’t come with excuses.

I think you should draw in a sketchbook. You don’t need to be drawing on lined paper.

Why do you think you need to “get rid of that big white space”? There’s a term for that: Horror Vacui. It’s basically when you feel the need to fill up a space with detail. Yeah, I’m guilty of it too.

There are three ways to address all that “white space.” From best to worse, they are…

1. Consider your composition so that white space is intended and provides solace.
2. Arrange the composition so that the “white space” can be an area to present interesting detail that you feel is critical to the piece.
3. Fill the space with texture so that the drawing looks finished.

You don’t NEED to fill an area. A contour drawing focuses on the outer shapes of the object, (like a cartoon). Any color or texture is mostly ignored.

If you want to do a full, fleshed out pencil rendering, you shouldn’t generally have a dark outline around everything… and instead you’d focus on the very lightest values (in the watery reflections) and the very darkest values (the eyes), then fill in all the values between WITHOUT heavy strokes.

There are lots of techniques, and each produces a different effect. You should take a look at these methods… they’re easier than you might think.

CONTOUR DRAWING:

CLASSICALDRAWING:

 
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@rawismojo Yeah when I started doing pixel art I tended to pillow-shade when I wasn’t exactly sure what I should be doing and I guess that carried over into this.

I drew two things to work on hatching with a light source, which is located to the right and a little in the front.

I will probably do what you suggested about printing the outline and working each with a different light source.

Originally posted by petesahooligan:

Kantieno, I know you can draw pretty well, and that you ENJOY drawing. Frankly, I would much rather critique a drawing that didn’t come with excuses.

Noted.

Originally posted by petesahooligan:

then fill in all the values between WITHOUT heavy strokes

I need to work on that, I had looked up some other examples of hatching and I saw that for the most part they all used lighter strokes, which I think is what bothered me about mine since I tend to use heavier strokes. Thanks.

Also I think the reason the white space bothered me so much was how the rest of my drawings were so dark and then there was the sudden brightness of the white space, with no real in-between, but I think using lighter strokes may help with that problem.

I will probably get a sketchbook this weekend since prices will be lower because of school starting soon. For now I’m just drawing small drawings on the back of index cards. Also college classes won’t start for another two weeks or so, so I have time right now to work on drawing.

 
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In approximately one week, I will get my laptop back. This will mean that I will get to work on my games again as well as have other art programs besides MSPaint at my disposal, so I am going to start working on art for my games again so that I can finally finish a game. (While I could have been making some art for the games over the summer, I didn’t like doing it since I couldn’t actually test it in-game.)

My main concern right now is finding a good theme for this game:

I would keep with that theme however I really liked the original menu I made for it:

using bright colors and somewhat simpler shapes, but that style doesn’t really fit with Jetpac Man (or aliens really).

So I want to find a new theme for the game that fits the style of the menu more. I was planning on using the original character:

however, if I can think of a good theme that would require a new character then I will do that.

Although I really don’t think the aliens look that bad and I kind of like them but they just don’t fit with the UI style. So I have to change either the UI or the enemies. However, UI is typically harder for me so it would be harder for me to redo it than the enemies, plus I like the simple style a lot anyways.

Maybe I could just have brightly colored bubble/slime looking things be the enemies and it could be called “Bubble Buster” or something. I think I would have the enemies made out of bubble material, but in more complex shapes. I will try making some examples to show what I mean.

In the meantime any thoughts or suggestions are appreciated.

EDIT: Also I need to redo the grass, I already have an idea for that and I will try to make a mockup of that also.

 
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Here’s my unsolicited advice. I’m fond of giving it, even if you’re tired of hearing it.

STAGE

Your stage is certainly struggling with foreground/background issues. Desaturating and lightening the background, (your “ground”), would help a lot.

A minimap is always appreciated, especially when the range of the weapon exceeds the viewable area.

The meaning of the yellow and red bars is probably apparent after one starts playing, but I’d still consider defining them with some initial abbreviations. They also may be a bit large.

Your purchasable buttons along the bottom are also very large. It’s kind of UI designers to have those buttons gray when they can’t be afforded, then full intensity when they’re available. This helps having to glance at the price, then back up to the funds, and make a calculation… all while the action is happening. You could also move the buttons up top… that would help. (Then make that entire dashboard as small as possible.)

MENU

I like your menu typeface.

I’d encourage you to look at everything that is clickable and consider treating it in exactly the same way. If it’s a rounded-corner container “button”, then your arrow and each of the upgrade purchaseables should be treated that way. Clickable squares, text, and glyphs (like an arrow shape) all on one menu is a potential usability disaster. Remember: People don’t want to explore how an interface works… they want to buy their stuff and get back to the game.

To reduce number overload, you can use other kinds of codes for upgrade levels. You don’t need to use numerical values. Lots of games use hash marks or ticks.

Providing an area for upgrade description will engage your min-maxers. That can be a rollover, of course.

No need for dash marks. It’s apparent what the number belongs to.

If you can, I’d encourage you to combine the Weapon and Character upgrades on one panel. This allows players to compare more easily… unless they use different commodities for purchase. (E.g., weapons use dropped coin; player uses XP.)

Might look at the colors in the stage and the colors in the menus and apply some constraint. Say, pick five core colors that work well together. (Might consider taking a look at Kuler Palettes, http://kuler.adobe.com/.) Once you have your color motif, the whole thing will start really feeling cohesive and slick. I guarantee it.

 
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First off, I made this mockup of how a scene might look, without extra details in grass and how the grass would interact with things like rocks and path-stones.

I’ve been meaning to create a little piece up top to house the health and special bar (that would show what each is), but I kept on forgetting to do it, so I will try making right now. What you said about possibly moving the buttons at the bottom made me think that I may either:

A. Incorporate the buttons into the piece that will show the health and special bars.

Or

B.Create a small strip at the bottom that will show them (Just so its balanced with a dashboard piece at the top and bottom).

I will probably change the stat counters to use hash marks or something, it would work better and won’t take long to implement.

Also the weapon screen does use a different kind of “payment” to upgrade stats, so that’s okay.

Right now I want to make several kinds of in-level UI designs and see which one works best.

I’m going to try using a palette I have in mind based off of that website and see how it works.

 
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For your screenshot of your prototype, Pete had some good criticism about getting the characters/etc to pop more out of the background. An easy fix would be to make a grass tile with less dark colors in it (instead of a dark tile with a few bits of highlight in it, make a more even balance of highlight, mid-tone, and shadow. You can do a very effective grass tile with just one mid-tone color and one highlight color ) and make sure you pick your outlines for your characters/obstacles/items etc so they pop from the background. However, this doesn’t mean you need a thick black line. Look at these screenshots from Warcraft II. They don’t use super dark or thick outlines for any of the characters or buildings, but they all pop out of the background and are instantly recognizable. Even when it’s green orcs standing in a green field surrounded by green trees.

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2
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4

 
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The WoW sprites appear to use lots of sparkly bits, too. The backdrop is somewhat plain, then the sprites have lots of high-contrast detail. (Plus, they move… I think even when they’re standing still, if I recall.)

If you want to get real clinical about it, there’s lots of graphical ways to make something stand out:

• Low contrast / High contrast
• Dark value / Bright value
• Repetitive contour / Anomalous contour
• Horizontal pattern / Vertical pattern
• Static / Animated
• Muted color / Intense color

In platform and sequence puzzlers, it’s common to see silhouetted foregrounds with lighter, muted backgrounds. (Little Wheel is a terrific example.) I’d love to see a top-down shooter bring this kind of elegant aesthetic to the genre.

EDIT: It just occurred to me, Kantieno. When you do your stage background and will be using elements that can be collided with by the player’s avatar, you should differentiate those somehow. Map elements (“flavor”) should be clearly distinguished from obstacle (“terrain”) elements.