Dig.lit

A Pixel Part

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This screenshot (and definition) brought to you by Google.

I am inclined, for reasons not fully understood by myself, to bite off far more than I can chew. Sure, I have a few guesses, explanations gleaned from combing childhood development articles and psychological tidbits over the years. Compounding this with the fact that I cannot function without an immediate deadline overhead, that cocktail of patchily-defined mental health becomes something of a Molotov cocktail.

One of the best insights into myself anyone has ever given me, was when a professor once told me, “You have all the energy and enthusiasm, but what you lack is discipline.” I’ve been trying to track down discipline for the years since, and I’d like to think I’m a little closer, that I’m more willing to break down tasks.

These past few weeks, I’ve mainly focused on animation. Reasons being: a) funnily enough, you can’t make a game without components, and b) I’m really enjoying it. It’s gotten easier; renovating my concept – and subsequently having to renovate each sprite for each direction of movement; each fully mobile character is composed of four separate images – has provided repetition, and therefore practice. And while practice doesn’t (and in my opinion cannot) make perfect, it does make better.

For example, this took me half the time of the one I’d made previously:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’ve even almost caught up on the walking animations; like last time, however, I’m procrastinating on the up and down animations simply because of the fact that I don’t like them.

So instead I’ve worked on other aspects. I finally got around to practicing pixel art, and it went better than I expected.

It was also more difficult endeavor than I sort of anticipated. I started out by attempting to tackle an entire background scene — an office for the protagonist — and failed dismally.

Why?

Because I took on way more than I was able to handle and ended up overwhelmed.

So I took a deep breath. And I took a step back. I did some reading. And I came back and worked on something smaller.

I texted a friend asking for a random object, and she texted back with “chair.” Okay, I thought. I’ve seen a chair before. I know its basic shapes. I know how to draw a chair.

And so I drew a chair.

I got frustrated when it didn’t immediately turn out like I wanted. Art is, like all creative endeavors, a process, and like all processes there are parts that are messy, that don’t look quite right, especially when you’re drawing something for the first time. It’s that space between the first lines on paper and the moment when you sit up and say, “Got it!” And that middle place is the worst, because that “Got it!” moment isn’t a guarantee. Sometimes you have to settle for an “Okay, good enough.” And then you have to try again. And again.

Most importantly you have to stick through the middle to reach something of an end, which is easier said than done. I don’t always do that, whether that’s because of time, energy, whatever. But this time I stuck with it.

And, through persistence and time, I somewhat figured it out (the key is to break up blocks of colors), and ended up with this, which looks somewhat like the style it’s supposed to:

chair
The green chair.
chair2
The same green chair, which I scaled up to a more useful size.

 

I don’t know if this means I’m going to have to build the background piece-by-piece, but hey, I accomplished something that I’m satisfied with, and for right now that’s all that matters. I learned something.

While writing this I realized that I haven’t discussed what software I’ve been using. Which is like, a massive oversight, because I’m using open source, free software and part of this class is based on sharing resources.

So.

I’m using a program called GIMP 2 (Gnu Image Manipulation Program). It’s kinda like Photoshop for people who aren’t really all that excited about selling their organs on the black market.

I personally wouldn’t call it that intuitive for digital art as a whole, but that’s because in the past I haven’t really done as much of this type of work, and I’m therefore more comfortable with programs that replicate traditional media (pencils, paper, paints) better. However, GIMP 2 also isn’t over-complicated, and there are a lot of resources and tutorials for guidance. It is, however, the most best program I’ve come across as far as 2D animation (gif-making) software goes.

Maybe one of these days I’ll actually remember to take progress shots, and I can share a tutorial or something. After all, we often learn best when teaching others. Any thoughts on that?

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