My #1 tip for the artistically challenged

Monkey Archive Forums/Monkey Discussion/My #1 tip for the artistically challenged

Supertino(Posted 2014) [#1]
If you're like me and cannot draw for toffee I want to share a little trick I use.

Tools I use is Tile Studio and ImageResizer I also use Paintshop Pro for touching up.

I first of all use a restricted colour palette of 32 colours or so, and typically stick to 16x16 tile size. Once I have created my tiles in Tile Studio I export them as a strip and then import them into ImageResiser and apply the XBR 4x shader and you'll get result like below. I might then go on and touch up any oddities in Paintshop Pro. The final image will have been up scaled from 16 to 64 pixels and from there I can down scale with very little lose of quality to produce different asset sets.

I have used this method in the graphics for my Perry penguin and Treasure trap game and using it for the game I am currently working on.

Here is the visual evolution of my current game I thought was interesting.

marksibly(Posted 2014) [#2]

Although I kinda like the gameboy look...

JaviCervera(Posted 2014) [#3]
Very, very nice.

MikeHart(Posted 2014) [#4]
Thanks for sharing.

Gerry Quinn(Posted 2014) [#5]
Very nice, I will give it a whirl with my current project!

Derron(Posted 2014) [#6]
Please consider that the "rounding" effect destroys certain details. Eg. the bricks... bricks are normally "sharp creased". After your scaling the brick-texture is more like made of plastics (because plastic items tend to be round in every corner :D).

My personal opinion: you either do it the manual way (with assistance from your tools) or just don't do it. Automatic 4x scaling is making everything more blurry - just keep an eye on the SNES/Genesis-Emulators using the same approach. There are of course sprites having a benefit from such operation (especially "characters") but in many cases important details (your brain upscales more perfectly) get lost when doing this intermediate step.

I have done the tedious way a hundred times for my game: original resolution 320x240 - rescaled to 800x600, repixeled every "blocky" corner and if wanted, added color blends. Once you know where to look and what to do, this is just a time consuming job. As we are talking about some small game assets here, this job should be done within minutes for a not that big tileset. This is in no way a thing requiring artistic skills... it is just a matter of understanding how to convert a 3x3 solid pixel pblock into a diagonal line (1,1; 2,2; 3,3). If you add curves you will of course have to use blended pixel colors - you might even use a "circle tool" of your paint programm and hide the other 3/4 of the circle.


Snader(Posted 2014) [#7]
Thanks, I will have a look at this.

Supertino(Posted 2014) [#8]
@Derron - yes ofc you need to make sure your art style is in keeping with the effect that is applied, manually rescaling is always the better solution but if like me you can only really manage 16x16 sprites at a competent level I think it's a nice trade off. I do often have to touch up the images especially around lines that are not not straight or at 45 degrees.

There are different variants of the xBR filter that do retain sharp edges though it's not included with ImageResizer.

Gerry Quinn(Posted 2014) [#9]
Your points are valid Derron, but facts don't lie and it works nicely for the pipes in the original post. In my experience making nicely rounded contours is not all that easy, so I am happy to leverage any trick that will help!