can I get some criticism on these sprites I edited

A long long time ago someone called redhalberd made some MPH sprites. One of these was Sylux. I felt these sprites could be improved and wanted to have sylux as a boss in a fan game I am making so I put these together using his originals as a starting point.

for reference, this was redhalberds final version of the sprite…emix02.png.html

could I get some constructive criticism on my edit of his sprite? I know there are some really good spriters on here and it would be great to get some advice from people who are more experienced.

I don’t do art professionally, but I used to make pixel art for fun, so here are my two cents:* Comparing to Redhalberd’s old sprite (and I want to emphasize ‘old’, because Redhalberd’s technique improved tremendously over time), I can see why you wanted to make your own. You brought out some well-needed darker shading, especially in the back leg, and improved the clarity of the head. These are some good steps in the right direction.

  • Any particular reason why you went with that background color? I am not sure it brings out the best features in the sprite, most notably in the second column of walking frames where the front leg looks bigger because it merges into the background color.
  • There is room for improvement in the color pallet, based on two rules of thumb:
    1.) Every individual color matters and has a reason for being there (this goes with the style of being pixel artwork, where every individual pixel matters and has a reason for being there).
  • For example, many of the green shades are quite close to each other, and the brightest two are nearly indistinguishable. It seems like you can condense these down to only 3 (shadow-green, green, white-green) if not 2 (green, white-green) shades. This will force you to make tougher decisions about every pixel of green, which can only help enhance the final result.
    2.) We want the pallet to be consistent within itself.
  • For example, there are three rows of blue going from dark to bright, but within each row there are some blues leaning toward green or gray, and some blues leaning toward red. Since the rows are not true gradients, it is unclear why there are three separate ones and what their purpose is. These issues are all reflected within the sprite itself, such as the gun having teal outlines which make the highlights look violet in contrast, so settling on a stronger pallet will certainly lead to a direct improvement in the sprite.
  • Some things are outlined, and some things are not. I can’t tell if there is an emphasis or lighting reason for this, but when there are heavy outlines around the torso and shoulders, but not the head or the gun, it actually causes a few perspective issues where it is not clear which things are in front of which things.
  • So, overall, I think the theme of my comments is “clarity”. The toughest (but funnest) part of pixel art is jamming all that info into a tiny grid. Looking forward to seeing your next steps.

thank you for these tips and your response. the background color I just randomly picked so I have changed it to something that works a bit better now.I made some edits and this is definitely better than the last version I made. I have condensed the number of colors down a fair bit and made him a bit bulkier. here it is

are there any more improvements I can make? also, I am not sure if I did the back legs shading. should I go back to having an extra 2-3 dark shades of blue for it?

Hey, nice work! That’s a definite improvement.

The lowest hanging fruit that sticks out to me is the depth perception around the torso. If I didn’t already know what the character looked like, I might have a hard time perceiving which parts are the arm vs. shoulders vs. chest. Like, when I zoom out, it’s possible that the abdomen swells out closer to the camera than the arm, except that I know it definitely doesn’t lol so I choose not to see it that way. I don’t have any exact solutions for this (my lack of proper art training is showing) except to continue tweaking things and keeping an eye on that.

I noticed that the darkest outline color isn’t in the pallet, and the brightest two blues seem interchangeable to me and can probably be merged into just the brightest one. That’s up to you if you want to darken the back leg – could definitely work if done well.

It probably sounds like I’m being really picky, but that’s just because it’s getting harder for me to pick out the flaws since the design is more solid now. At this point you could probably experiment with a few different styles depending on what type of game you were thinking of dropping this sprite into. For example, the new outlines and clearer blues give it more of a cartoon look, so you could flesh that out more, or switch to a serious and gritty tone, or whatever you want. Maybe a Zero Mission vs. Fusion vs. Super style could be fun! Or if you want to get what you have torn apart even more, you could post it on some forums that specialize in pixel art and see what happens. :O_O:

Anyway yeah, keep it up. :stuck_out_tongue:

thank you, I am glad you think it is an improvement :slight_smile: . I have worked on it a bit more now. I condensed the colors a little more and made the abdomen a bit darker, that hopefully will stop it looking like it is closer to the camera than the arm, but it may not have helped much. I have also added some jumping animations and made Sylux’s ship the Delano 7, however, I am editing the design a bit so that it works better in 2D and can have a wider range of custom attacks. It is also being edited because its quite hard to find pictures of the ship at the angles I need it at.

the game I am going to put this in will have zero mission/fusion style graphics, so hopefully, I can make this sprite fit with that if it doesn’t already.

Ah, I have a cool trick for improving your Delano 7 quite a bit! There’s a not-so-good thing we all do when we start making pixel art, so people came up with a name for it: pillow shading. The name implies that the shapes in an image look like they are sewn together around the edges and then stuffed with cotton, producing an overall flat and lumpy appearance. I found a few examples and put them in order that hopefully demonstrates the concept well:

Example 1: Nice introduction with some tips for avoiding it
Example 2: Simple but effective example built from scratch
Example 3: Some more shading ideas, applied to a larger scene
Example 4: Huge amazing pixel art reference page with a mention of Pillow Shading in section 4

I remember examples like these feeling really daunting when I was trying to improve my shading methods, because I felt like I was just lacking some part of my brain that would help me put shadows in the right spot. It does take actual practice, constant thought, studying/copying the world, etc. to get better at visualizing objects in 3D space and how lighting would interact. But the amount of effort you put in shows up eventually for sure!

Anyway, I see the pillow shading technique used all around the Delano 7, such as where the dark shadows hug around the edges at equal spacing. If you work on fixing this, it might also help even more with that minor depth perception quirk in Sylux himself.

Sorry if this is a huge info dump haha, but I had fun finding those examples and hope this is encouraging.

ah ok I see. I have started to make some edits to fix the pillow shading. would you say this is an ok first step?

I also have now started to do some more work on sylux but only have the idle animation edited so far

Definitely a small step in the right direction with the Delano – looking forward to seeing your progress on that. The colors might be a bit on the saturated side.

I like the new lighting on Sylux! The only thing to be aware of now is that the outlines got emphasized again, which is totally fine by itself, except that I think the upper half doesn’t quite match the lower half when it comes to the outline style/amount.

By the way, were you manually reworking the entire sprite sheet for every update before? Not sure what software you’re using and how automatic that process is, but it might be worth it to do what you did for the last post here, and just iterate on the idle animation for a while first. Probably saves a ton of time…

Anyway keep it up. :slight_smile:

ok so I made some more edits to Sylux and the Delano. I haven’t changed the saturation on the Delano yet but I have made some changes to the shading etc. I have also experimented with editing the outline on sylux so it matches the lower half more but I don’t think its quite done yet.
also I was manually reworking the entire sheet all the other times. I am using MS paint which isn’t very fast so I will stick to just iterating on the idle animations until they are done to save time, but I will try and do the idle animations for all the different directions you can aim in :slight_smile:

So… I think we’re beginning to reach the part where I can’t really be of much more help because of my limited experience in visual art. I want to be able to point out like, specific clusters of pixels and objectively better ways to do them, or texturing tricks that are easy and look really good, or anything specific that you could pick up and use that would make a dramatic difference… But I don’t have any of that up my sleeve. :slight_smile:

If I was in your shoes, my next steps would probably be to search around for examples of other pixel art spaceships and robo-suits and Zero Mission/Fusion sprites, zoom in and study them, and steal lots of ideas and techniques that seem to work well. I would also seek out people who do visual art more regularly, even if it’s not pixel art, because I’m sure they will have more immediate reactions to point you in the right direction.

Anyway good luck and keep it up!

I can comment on the ship a little bit, but I’m by no means an expert. It looks very flat, and I can’t really tell where the light source is coming from. On first investigation, I thought it might be coming from the upper-right or somewhere beyond the ship (in depth) and above due to the shading on the pod/cylinder part and front, close wing. However, after examining the shadow on the rear wing that is further away, it seems to be coming from slightly closer (in depth) and to the right, otherwise the pod/cylinder part wouldn’t be able to cast a shadow on that wing. This is a problem; it means the shading is inconsistent. You can keep the line art, but I would recommend taking a second look at the shading. Pick a light source and stick with it. Mess with objects in real life, move them around, and see how the light plays on them. Specifically, look at somewhat shiny cylinders and cones to get a feel for how the light should interact with the pod/cylinder part of the ship. The wings should be fairly easy because they are basically flat sheets. Just be constantly thinking about the light-source in your works and how to shade based off of that.

Also, the color choices could use some more contrast. I could hardly see any difference in the shades on the larger part of the ship unless I zoomed in. This is assuming that my monitor isn’t shit at displaying colors.

I will see if I can whip something up to show you what I mean about the shading.

I spent way too little time on this and didn’t mess with the color choice at all (because frankly I’m terrible at picking colors). The wings will look flat because they’re, well, flat geometrically, as far as I can tell. Maybe you can come up with something to make them more interesting though. (Add panels and rivets potentially? I’m just throwing out ideas.)

yeah, those are some good ideas. I will definately be looking at some zm and fusion stuff to see what techniques they used and use them myself. I have started posting them in more places but haven’t got any responses yet

yeah I thats true, the light source is unclear so I will redo the shading. as for the colors, I think the darkest and 2nd darkest shades of blue may be a bit too similar so I will change the darkest one a bit. other than those 2 are there any other colors you would say are too similar?

Well, I think it could use some more contrast, so make the darks darker and the lights lighter. I don’t recall exactly, but isn’t Sylux’s ship supposed to be metallic? You want really high contrast with metals. Again, I’m not the best at picking colors, so I’m struggling to say exactly what’s wrong with them other than they seem off, dull almost.

It’s late so I can’t write a lot but a few pointers (I haven’t done this in a long time)-

  • Always use references
  • Less is more. Start with one color and only put down more colors where they’re necessary, which is probably less than you first expect. This isn’t so much about how many colors to use, but how to use them (although it’ll probably naturally result in using less colors)
  • Light colors come forward and dark colors go back. Similarly, contrast and how much space you put between differing colors can be used to represent different kinds of shapes. Compare the middle section of the ship to the tail wing thing-

    in the middle, there are a lot of hard angles and distinct geometry, so it needs chunks of light and dark to sculpt those out. In the tail, aside from the highlights on the edges, it’s just dark blue on the left with a blob of mid blue on the right, to give it that gradual roundedness.
  • (The model is actually pretty good about all this on its own which is part of why I kind of just copied the textures on it)
  • Lines are just a way to make the boundaries between things more clear. You should try to ignore the shapes between your lines, because even though they seem accurate, they’re not the actual shapes of the object, just of the 2D, out of context boundaries that you’ve put down. What can help with learning this is working without lines, starting with the whole shape in the darkest color and then putting more colors on top of that, kind of like clay. But that’s a broader topic.

ah I get what you mean. I think they may be too plain and at the same time somewhat glowy if that makes sense and that’s why they don’t look right. that and the contrast is too low as you said.

wow. that’s a really fucking good Delano. hopefully, with enough practice, I can get that good. for a sprite of the Delano 7 that is probably as good as one can get so could I use it, please? also thank you for the pointers, I will bear those in mind in the future.

as I want the Delano and Sylux to fit together in the way Samus and her ship do I have changed Sylux’s pallet to the Delano’s one and it looks much better. here is a pic of your Delano above the newly colored Sylux.

Yeah it looks like the model’s shading is pretty consistent too (with a light source coming directly above it). Good catch.

yeah, Phlakes found some pretty good pics of the Delano’s model

also I updated Sylux’s walking animation

Just made a quick edit. Don’t even remember what he looks like.
Didn’t fix all the shading but the lightsource is now above him and I played around with some of the colors a bit.

When you’re working with small stuff like this you really should try to zoom in and out a lot. It’s possible that stuff that looks OK when zoomed 800% will look like a mess in 100% or 200% if you try to cram in as much details as you can.

My advice is to work with less details and focus more on visibility.

ah ok, thank you for the advice. that sprite looks pretty good with the lighting from the top