Ok, let me preface this with an explanation. I felt like I hadn't been fair in my post The Limited Palette, Death Of A Tyrant. What I did was try to apply their palettes to my sprite to show their palette style is flawed and mine is superior. I've decided I need to revisit the matter and be as fair as possible.
This time, I've taken a drawing from one of them. In this case, Kaiseto, because his style is closest to mine. I'll be putting my palette style to the test on his pixel art. The following image is not my art.
Shared without permission, because I don't need permission. If Kaiseto wants to put it on the internet, then he has to live with reposts. At the very least, I told you who it was, and credited the source, so I don't want to hear whining from those artists who love to whine.
Now, check that pixel art out. It looks amazing, right? I'm not going to lie, it's a gorgeous piece..... when you first look at it, and when you don't understand pixel art the way I do.
If you've been fooled by these pixel artists, and their army of browbeating sheep, you'll think that pixel art is beautiful, next level, divine, top-shelf. You'd quack along with the other ducks in the pond, praising it as the best pixel art you've ever seen.
But I'm not so easily fooled. Watch what happens after I apply my style to it.
On the left is my edit. All I did was adjust a few of the colors and add a few more, plus one darker shade to define areas that were weak. On the right, completely unedited original.
Doesn't look so good anymore, side by side with my palette adjustment, does it? The original now looks muddy and dull, making mine appear to be the original.
Now, the piece was called Jade Guardian, so I left a lot of green in there to give him a foresty kind of look, so that's why some areas, like his claws and the insides of his ears, remained mostly untouched.
My edit isn't perfect. Probably made some mistakes as a result of too much of the image being the same color and hard to pick out what is what. I'd definitely work on it more if it were my piece. But most notable among the improvements are that he looks better defined and his eyes are greatly more expressive.
I'm going to stop picking on Kaiseto now and focus on one that's a little more egregious. Kaiseto isn't the worst of these idolized pixel artists I've seen. He's actually among the best of them.
This one's also not my art. I actually have no idea who did this one. It's been on my computer for years. And I don't care to look it up, so..... suffer.
Yeah, because color just disappears in the shadow, doesn't it? Why does he turn purple and blue? And why does all the detail seem to vanish in the darkest regions of his body?
This is why I think professionals are just idiots who know nothing. "The world is washed out and color all fades away in the shade! I know what I'm talking about because I'm a professional!" If it were just professional pixel artists who have no idea what they're doing, I might be more lenient with the rest of the world's professionals, but it seems to be writing professionals who give terrible advice as well.
I'm afraid "professionals" have it wrong. Colors aren't faded and dull like that. The world is a vibrant, colorful place. Plus, there's a such thing as shadows within shadows. You'd still be able to make out details in the dark blue crevasses of his body. Light doesn't just hit a surface and die. It scatters all over. Objects reflect light which is why, even when sitting in the shade, shapes still have darker shadows.
This is best demonstrated when you're in your room in the middle of the night. You know how your closet looks extra dark inside? There's still light in your room, but less of that light is reaching your closet, making it extra dark. Full black, #000000 exists in real life, people. Light doesn't stop existing where something casts a shadow, otherwise your eyes wouldn't be able to adjust to dark environments and still make out shapes and details. If the above image were how things really worked, we'd be totally blind in low light conditions.
I saw one person claim some pixel artist understood color more than anyone else. We'll call them AssKisser and KnowNothing respectively, for fairly obvious reasons.
AssKisser claimed KnowNothing had some kind of profound knowledge of colors that few other people know, and attempted to prove it by posting some quote from him.
KnowNothing claimed verbatim: "The important thing about neutralizing colors is that the added color should be the exact opposite hue as the color it is meant to kill. If you only use gray to neutralize, you won't ever achieve gray unless the piece is 100% gray. Neutralizing colors must be far enough away that they balance TO gray. If your second color is exactly opposite from the other, it should occupy 50% of the space (equal parts) because neutral gray will be exactly halfway." AssKisser then showed this example from KnowNothing.
Ok, KnowNothing, cute illusion. You figured out a neat parlor trick. Am I meant to be impressed? Here's something that will blow your mind.
See, you can painstakingly checker together two perfectly opposite colors, or... here's the crazy part... you can just use grey and achieve the exact same result in less time, using less colors. Seriously, I don't know what KnowNothing is talking about. "If you only use gray to neutralize, you won't ever achieve gray"
What the hell kind of hipster-ass bullcrap is that?
I went to KnowNothing's gallery. I had to know what kind of artwork the supposed god of color was capable of.
I'm not impressed...
First of all, that black outline looks too messy.
Second, anyone notice the major issue with this one?
That's with the yellow on the skin?
Left are the colors of the character's skin pulled straight from sprite.
Right, real life billiard balls.
Here's a rubber ball with less gloss. I still don't see yellow.
Now you understand why they got their nicknames. KnowNothing, you're hopelessly, hopelessly ignorant. AssKisser, you're so blind, you wouldn't know a good pixel artist if you were forced to watch one bang your mom in 2D.
Here's another common one I see that really pisses me off.
This one frustrates me because it's how "professionals" justify their dull, lifeless pixel drawings. "You gotta connect the colors! That way everything has the same shades and it looks bland and muddy! Because that's how it looks the best!" It even says "To be like the professionals, you must use the connected palette like on the right" underneath this graphic in the tutorial.
Well, do you know what style of palette this sprite uses?
Oh! It's the bad one! I used the bad everybody! I did the wrong!
All except the one single color are completely independent from each other. Why did I bother connecting those two ramps? Because the two colors were so close to each other that having them separate would have been pointless. And why do I make them individual? Because like I said above, colors don't just vanish in the shadow, and I can't bring myself to pretend like they do.
These people.... no, I'm not going to be nice. If they're going to walk around and act like thugs so they can be the grand gatekeepers of pixel art, they don't deserve my respect.
These idiots don't seem to understand how color and light work.
No, that's not very fair. I said I was going to be as fair as possible this time. It's not entirely their fault they were mislead, so I can't call them idiots. It's like a cult. I bet ya this started with some crap pixel artist who somehow got it in his head that colors just fade blue in the shadow, but rather than face criticism and learn to improve, he decided to fool people into believing he was good at pixel art. Maybe his images didn't look so bad, so it was easy for him to fool more gullible, less talented, aspiring pixel artists, and eventually as more people who loved his pixel art started to adopt his style, it spread like the plague.
That's just speculation I pulled out of my ass, whole cloth, though.
The better I get at sprite art, the more I start to realize "professional" and "the best" aren't synonymous. I used to think professionals were the greatest. I looked up to them until I became an expert and realized I was no longer looking up to masters, but now down at a bunch of journeymen who believe they're masters. It's a vicious cycle: Journeymen praising other journeymen, reinforcing the lie that they have the greatest talent. Beginners then see them praising each other and calling themselves the masters, and the beginners start to aim for their level, to be a "master" too. You end up with more and more blind ducks perpetuating the delusion that they see more than normal pixel artists, when in reality, they see less.
And when I look back up from where I've gotten, I realize so few actually reach expert status that there never really were any masters.
These are Earth's mightiest pixel artists?
"But Bastendorf, it's a challenging style!"
Is it? Any pixel artists reading this, I want you to ask yourselves this: Is it a challenge, or is "it's challenging" just an excuse/lie you tell yourself and others?
Now let me ask you a question. What's more challenging? Restricting the number of colors you're allowed to use and staying exactly as you are, or pushing what you can do and what you know, and questioning your abilities and methods, to see what new heights you can reach?
And what's more rewarding? Doing the same thing over and over because it's what you know and what gets you praise, or striving for better, even though it may mean you're no longer able to call yourself the best there is?
Take another look.
Keep in mind, I was never afraid to question my skill and change my style. I questioned everything that came my way, including the style on the right. I think it's better to not get stuck to one style too firmly. It makes you stagnate. My style is always evolving, always improving, always under the most intense self-scrutiny. I'm not willing to consider myself a master pixel artist, yet.
I might not ever.
I can never know if there's nothing above a certain skill level. And deciding that a skill level is the best means I'll stop trying to improve.
For any pixel artists that come my way who have never been to my blog before, I want to share this image again.
For those unfamiliar with this image, it's one of my favorites. It's all sprite art I did, and all of the same character. I show this one a lot, but I think this post in particular justifies showing it off again.
First of all, it shows I never adopted the style everyone approved of, and second it shows my point perfectly. Each step of the way, I thought I was such a good pixel artist. If I had convinced myself to stop trying to improve at any point on this scale, I would never have reached where I am now.
Actually, I recently noticed that my image may be wrong. The way the color pattern of the character has evolved suggests that the first and second ones are probably in the wrong order. The rest is accurate, though.
But that's besides the point. ...Actually, I forgot my point. It's late at the time of writing this. I've been working on this one for hours, trying to make sure I explained myself well and gave Earth's Mightiest Pixel Artists™ a fair shake this time.
Wait, now I remember! Good thing I stopped to do some proofreading. Jogged my memory. I never wasted my time trying to challenge myself with dumb limits. It's pointless. "Oh boy gais, look what I did! I drewed a pitchur with only a few colors! Gibs me cookie!"
It's not exactly something I consider worth being proud of. At least not something worth being proud of more than on occasion. I know I'm able to take the challenge and complete the challenge. It's why I don't do it. It's like the bronze trophies on PS3, or the PC game achievements you get for doing something that takes little effort.
To me, the real challenge is challenging my style. Like I said above, I question everything. If the point of a challenge is for it to be tough and make you think and show your ability, then what could be more tough and thought-provoking than constantly calling into question your own style?
Maybe it is all just a challenge to them. In which case, they challenged themselves to copy another style and limit their own ability and stay that way. I challenged myself to build my own style my own way, different from the pre-approved style Earth's Mightiest Pixel Artists™ all base theirs on.
I know that this all probably seems petty. But there are two things in this world I'm hardcore passionate about. 1) Dragons. 2) Pixel Art. It's bugged me for years that these people hold tyrannical control over the art form, and have gone totally uncontested for who-knows-how-long. I've been waiting a long time for someone to come and show them that they're wrong, to prove that there's another way, that you don't need to bow to their style to be a great pixel artist. But no one ever did.
Now that my ability has grown quite a bit and I've refined my style, I've decided I'll be the one to stand up to them. I'll be the one to prove that their style isn't the only way, and certainly isn't the best way.
And besides, I did learn a few things while recoloring Kaiseto's art. Some just from the practice, and some from Kaiseto's style. So thanks, Kai. And hopefully aspiring pixel artists among my readers have learned something from this long rant.
Remember, just because a bunch of people agree that someone's the best, that doesn't always mean its true. Maybe one day I'll do a tutorial... when I'm not feeling so lazy. I've actually been meaning to do this one for weeks now. Almost ended up putting it off longer.