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BubbleFish

Pixel Art software

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I appreciate that you can set up just about any imaging software to make pixel art but does anyone have any recommendations for any dedicated software? Is Pro Motion any good?

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I tend to stick to Pro-Motion for pixel related work. (I am using 4.7 which is probably way old now) I don't know how up to date it is as a package but that version I use can feel very alien coming off the back of a lot of Adobe programs.

It's very configurable with your own hotkeys though and despite it's idiosyncrasies the easiest way to knock up pixel art (particularly for animating) for me.

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You're welcome to use my HTML5 pixel editor, but I should warn people that I extrapolated this from the workflow of Shigeru Miyamoto when making Super Mario Bros; you get some graph-paper and an army of data inputters.

 

It worked very well because my design output started to match Miyamoto and productivity shot up by a large factor. Having had the chance to psycho-analyse why this occurs, it seems to be the case that Miyamoto got an evil head-teacher thrill from dumping boring homework onto his data team, who themselves got a kick out of doing all of this overnight, staying up well past their bed-time.

 

My upgrade is more merciful, since their team is simulated. Even so you get a karmic rush from enacting abstract revenge on your old teachers, apparently based in the irony that you're making slacker doodles. Miyamoto himself as a cartoonist that emerged from a very authoritarian and inflexible school system no doubt constantly got told he would never accomplish anything.

 

It isn't very heroic, and you can also argue that the old ladies who ran their Famicom production-line were a kind of modern slave, but my experience of factory work and 1950's housewives is that they really want to be dinnerlady minions.

 

There's an added difference to Miyamoto which is generational; playing games on school computers or browsing IGN was the modernist equivalent to doodles, because teachers considered it acceptable even when I started drawing naked girls - they simply laughed and critisised that my drawing had ugly looking breasts. In order for this cycle to continue, my version of Miyamoto's workflow resembles slacking off on school computers, and the energy which helps drive a robotic production-line is you successfully avoid being punished by the system admin, since the subroutines are perfect friends and never betray you. It gives the sensation of being prom queen and terminal velocity in regard to popularity; it can't be improved.

Based on that analysis, Miyamoto Method needs to be remade on a generational basis according to whatever feels like abstract highschool revenge, except you inherit a self-referencial rebellion stack; I spent most of my slacker time reading hyperbole sites for Ocarina of Time, so you get a time-slice roleplay war between Miyamoto and his peers who decided to take the role of pushy teachers. The exact same thing also happens now, because modern curriculum resembles assembler coding subverted into cognitive poison, and kids have to learn endless syntax or three letter acronyms to the point of insanity. In order to rebel against this, they're driven towards the emulator scene which created Mupen64; itself a rebellion against parents that wouldn't buy you an N64 for Christmas, because it didn't have Powerpoint or Excel and so you wouldn't accomplish anything with your pathetic life.

 

The culture I grew up in is fading away and my own personal bias increasingly obscured, but growing up in the 90's was much like the video for Thriller, if the zombies were behind a glass wall or wearing a muzzle. It doesn't sound so bad, but signals they emitted stressed you out and this species was like omni-present Victorian pollution. Resultingly, we developed a very strong ability to disregard the self proclaimed priority of things, which is ultimately what resulted in Ocarina of Time; cold disregard that the zombie isn't worth any attention since they make the same old groaning noises as the others - the zombie collective then get organised and make supremacy jesters, that you might climb over the glass and get eaten to death. Except history proves that Miyamoto can be pretty dull, because Pikmin or Nintendogs are about the same level of excitement as Antiques Roadshow. In order to make anything cool you need to lock him back up in the basement with graph-paper, and no pudding until the next Super Mario Bros is ready.

 

Miyamoto really needs to dissapear for 6 months on some kind of samurai soul-quest in the countryside with a solar-powered netbook, screaming to himself in the depths of some ancient cave that the battery depleted and destroyed his latest masterpiece... which then subjects him to his own 'tea table' policy of building the whole thing again. He's then crawled up in the corner of a tree like a squirrel, balancing said netbook on his knee and praying to the lords of Shinto that the wind won't blow it off onto a rock and smash the motherboard to peices. Then go crazy for 2 months drawing cliff paintings of his old teachers on canyon walls that he argues with over wether his new design is pathetic rubbish, or that his Jedi skills are in flow. Obviously he loses it and throws several stones at their head to defy these lies, which they magically survive, and then possess a racoon or howler monkey which they utilise to laugh him into a state of kamikaze despair. After which he survives for two weeks attempting to eat grass and become the true soul of a cow... mooooo.

 

My version of doing this is to execute Pixur on an old eMac running Ubuntu and first generation HTML5 Firefox, which is the pixel artist equivalent of encasing yourself in carbonite except for a few fingers. In order to make this fatalistic I do that later at night while leaving my electricity meter with hardly any credit. The eMac is power hungry and you suddenly get an evil cave blackout destroying all your unsaved work without mercy. Tea table mofo -- and you then have to sleep it off in pitch blackness waking up to an Ocarina dawn of shame that you failed at life and have to do much better - also a sort of abstract gratitude that Link didn't use this opportunity to rob you of all your rupees during the night, the SOB.
 

Pixur is generally more reliable and sanitised than Miyamoto. It has some rather sadistic bugs left in there which would only take 5 minutes to fix, so they're essentially designed. One of these is a failure to latch the mouse button properly when leaving the drawing area, so it results in masses of pixel junk for a few seconds before you notice and hit the button again. The robotic Sensei laughs at your overly hurried and non-mindful shame, even if it results in a mortal blood-wound of your artwork -- there's no undo feature, and you can either blank the image away or fix the injury pixel by shameful pixel, including the awkward rebuilding of over-written parts from memory; Miyamoto's classic tea table. Japanese kids still get taught written characters this way, and I've re-invented the wheel somewhat, but it definitely worked in making me more focused.

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Nice one, I don't know if I'll ever use it as a technique but after messing around with it for 20 minutes I'm pretty blown away!

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