Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Meeting With: Robin Sloan #3


Well today I arranged to meet up with Robin to discuss where I was at.

We discussed more about my aim and stuff and he thinks I have one I just havnt really wrote it out academically but he said that something like "Contemporary pixel art" and doing case studies on games like fez (which I was pretty much doing already) and discussing things like whether there pastiche or a parody how most games that choose pixel art over nostalgic reason over any stylistic reasons.

this is the path I may choose as it interests me quite a bit. but have another meeting with lynn to see if she agrees i like having more than one opinion on these things. hopefully it will get me out of this low point i seem to be in right now.

thanks for reading,

David M

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Concept Development: Fez notes, 3D Dot Game Heroes Editor


Well today I got my new 360 ( which i got because i a. really wanted one and b. i can justify it because it has alot of pixel art based games in the indie market and also always wanted to have a shot with fez)

So I decided to play fez and take notes on its looks and trying to see how the environment is made. first off, my initial response was the somewhat limited response of "wow!" I think its the cleanliness and crisp colours the characters are rather simple in their design but suit the pixel style.

10 minutes in the game gives you a fez this fez has the power to unlock the third dimensions, You would never have thought this game was 3D until this point, it looks like a well polished 2D game beforehand.

Now on the technicality side of things, you may have remembered the fez block i did a couple of posts back and how I wasn't sure in how the geometry was done, if it was modelled or just using a bump/normal map to give the illusion. In close inspection it would appear that most if not all the geometry is modeled.

Thats how far I got before having to go make dinner but I will keep updating this posts when I make more notes.

After, coming back from dinner I had a look into 3D dot game heroes as Alastair reminded me that it had a Voxol editor to create characters in game.

here it is on show:

This was a rather poor attempt at trying to do a voxol version as my profile pic.

what have I learned?

Well most importantly that doing voxol art is a whole new kettle of fish than pixel art and if I want to do any more on that then i would need to look into tutorials. Unfortunately I do not think I have the time with us now on our 7th week. 

Other than that Its been rather quiet been trying to do more personal proposal stuff but I feel like im stuck in a rutt with that. Need to find my motivation that has seemed to have dwindled off recently hoping that either lynn, robin or Ryan will get back to my email about a meeting this week so I can hopefully settle my nerves about my position.

Thats me for now,

David M

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Concept Development: 3D dot game heroes, voxol editors first impressions


Well another day another blog upldoad, so what  have I been upto?

well firstly and mainly I have been worrying alot about my aim or more accurately my lack of one, I think my lack of an aim is making me worried that my practical work (the thing I felt positive about is beginning to suffer)

but moving away from that right now,

well from the wee mini pitch on thursday i got the impression that people wanted to see some 3D stuff so in preperation I have been looking into games with a pixel art style but are 3D.

Ignoring Minecraft and the millions of clones it has out there, and fez mainly because I feel like I have talked about in depth already.

Theres this,

3D Dot Game Heroes

3D Dot Game heroes, Developed by Silicon studio and released on PS3 in 2010. Game heroes uses Voxols (the 3d interpretation of pixel art) this is where the characters and environment are built up of small cubes rather than pixels. Interested in the style I went looking for Voxol editors online and came across; 

  • Sproxol
  • Qubick Constructor
  • Voxol 3D

First impressions are rather negative, the program felt rather clunky and unintuitive completely getting rid of the feeling of control it was hard to create anything that looked recognizable so have given up, I know if I read some tutorials then things might be better but I think it would still be rather infuriating.

Qubick Constructor

Was the most popular in my search but when it came to downloading my anti-virus refused to install due to threats so had to look elsewhere.


Voxol3d gives the impression of being more robust than sproxol, but also looks rather daunting to me but shall be looking up some tutorials. and hopefully be able to show something pretty to look at tomorrow.

Thats all folks,

David M

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Concept Development: chammy texture test, mini-pitch and thoughts.

Hello folks,

Well today has been rather interesting, for our class today we were to show our practical stuff show people what we have done since our presentation.

So, people seemed to like my stuff which is good generally got given ideas of what I already had bubbling away in my head but its good hearing it from other people.

Lynn also pointed out Abstraction through pixel art, which is interested because I was thinking my project could be based on abstractism. anyways the tests and thoughts had led to more of a breakthrough...

Why choose pixel art, why do i like it?

my usual response to these FAQs was "because its awesome and cool" which isnt exactly something i should put in my dissertation/project proposal, thing was that i never really thought about it in any great depth but it randomly jumped into my head when i was doing my texture test for chammy.

what i came up with are, 
"how you can make things look more detailed and more complex just with adding a few pixels" which leads onto...

 "you are in complete control there isn't any computer trickery and since you have been adding things pixel by pixel and controlling the image in this way you have complete ownership, people can ask how you did that and you can answer exactly? without being told "oh i used a filter or copied a tutorial"

so now onto the chammy texture so here he is, 

i think the armor (the purply stuff) looks pretty good, chammy is like a mash-up of animal his skin(green) an tongue came from a chameleon, his lower jaw a whale, his vail from a bat wing and his armoured skin from a crocodile.

I used these as they all had different textures, he looks detailed but lets take a closer look, 

as the pixels become more clear the detail begins to go away however certain textures such as the armour/eye retain the texture however the skin doesn't this is because i used a pixel art technique called "dithering" this technique is effective further away because the human eye cant pick out the individual pixels so they colours begin to blur, when I zoom in the pixels are clearer so the blurring technique no longer works.

I shall do the full animation of him at a later date but i feel I have more important media tests and project related things to do right now but i shall keep coming back to him every now and then.

anyways until next time,

David M

Monday, 22 October 2012

concept development: 4th year mini project COMPLETE!


Well you may have noticed but my bloggers background has changed so yeah thats everyone that wanted to take part + others

so this was the last line up;

from left : kayleigh, wally,indy, mario, daft, punk and generic dude

so heres the finished tile,

The reason why I did this method and how it benefited me is that the more limited the pixels you use the cleverer you have to be in the placement of each to get the necessary detail. however i did take a few shortcuts to make things quicker as i didnt want to spend too much time in doing this.

  • everyones outline is based off of 3 characters : Me, Rory or Angie
  • each character has atleast 6 copies apart from wally indy mario daft and punk who only have 1 per tile
So overall I did 22 unique low pixel characters so I think I am sorted in that side of pixel art for a while anyways going to finish off the chammy and woman and the moon images next and experiment in 3D stuff.

I have started my personal proposal but havnt gotten far since i appear to need to know what my Aim is to do any decent amount for it, despite what the lecturers keep saying =/

ahwells, until next time!

David M

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Concept Development: 4th year mini project Part.2, trip to the library

Hello, so last post for today.

Well after the cube test me and angie decided to take a trip to the library to get some books, I found some that I wanted and couldn't find others.

  • Art in theory 1900-1990, big book I am hoping it might have a few useful quotes a book this big should do surely!
  • Designing Arcade computer games and graphics just found this in the library looks like it might be useful has a few tutorials that talk about pixel art techniques.
  • Aesthetic theory, with a name like that its bound to say something useful about aesthetics.
  • Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction. I am hoping that since pixel art has links to traditional art that cubism may give me a couble of ideas behind both the art style.
  • Cubism and its histories same reason as above  

books i didnt manage to get were:

  • Key themes in media theory
  • An introduction to game studies
  • Aesthetic theory and the video game

So yeah, will probably be reading these for most of tomorrow, and hopefully get down some stuff for my personal proposal.

but moving onto my project...

So I have done more fellow uni compadres,

Top from left: Ritatsu, Lynn, Neil, Adam, Eilis
Bottom from left: Dan, Nikita, Ceren, Stuart

The same rules apply to you guys as the group before.

With 15 people I have started to make a start on the actual final thing ( the tileable background for my blogger)

so heres the tile on its own,

each person has atleast 2 duplicates

and thats me done for today....

David M

Concept Development: 3D cubes pixelated

Hello quick short post for you,

So today I have decided to have another shot at pixel art in 3D after my previous failings.

So what I decided to do was start off with something simple, in this case a cube, and create pixel art textures for them I decided to choose Fez and minecraft just because they are recognizable.

I the produced tiny 16x16 pixel textures,

totty wee texture(this was created by me entirely only using minecraft as a reference)

then scaled up the file in photoshop so that it would fit the cube and my finishing result are these:

left mouse to rotate, middle to zoom in/out and right to move

for these turn arounds i used www.p3d.in .

What I am thinking next in my practicing is to create, texture for cylinders then sepheres before maybe using pre made characters and texturing them but we shall see. Also thinking about making more cubes of older games that were around in the 80s-90s would do 70s but that would just be a plain white cube.

David M

Friday, 19 October 2012

Concept Development: 4th year mini-project part.1


So as a wee side project next to the other ones I have mentioned in previous posts, I have decided to do low pixel characters like the one of me in my profile pic for some/most/all of the people in my fourth year class i did this because I felt it would help me in my time of artist block then I dont have to think about some crazy character to draw and pixelate and just get on with pixelating some of the crazy characters I bump into at university.

Might be able to spice up my blog a little bit more in the end...

From left: me, Alastair Low, Angie Mulligan, Rory Jobson, George Johnston, Robin Griffiths

If you are wondering "why in the devil am I waring that?" then its because I either A. Drew what I usually see you in either at uni (George) or at the flat (Al & Angie ) or B. used your profile pic (Rory & Robin).

so thats six of my fellow uni peers done rest to follow when I have the time/bored/taking a break from a more "important" project.

so thats the end of my spree of blog updates, until tomorrow, thats me done for today.

David M

Concept Development: Yuriy Gusev


This and the previous post were supposed to be together but it was getting rather long so thought it should be split into two.

Realism In Pixel Art

So through my research into Minecraft and the thought of it losing some of its pixel art character through trying to be realistic I decided to search into realistic Pixel art. 

I stumbled onto this guys website Yuriy Gusev website and was blown away by his work:

I have to say when I seen these my jaw dropped in amazement "surely that cant be pixel art" i muttered to myself..

Each of his work is super detailed but also full of the cartoony character that pixel art has look closely and you can see the trademark pixel art lines and the dithering used to created effective gradiant effects by hand. I really have to look into this guy more.

Concept Development: Games/review analysis


Earlier on today i posted up my meeting with Lynn, where I had a few tasks I wanted to do for today so here is what I have done. (its going to be a rather big post today so sit down and grab a brew)

Games Analysis


pong(1972), Asteroids(1979),space invaders(1978)

Games in the 70s were very basic due to the computers limitations most of them only consisted of very basic sprites (16 pixels give or take ) and only white as a colour. "0" counted as an inactive pixel so shoed up black and "1" indicated that the pixel active showing up in white. This remained the norm until space invaders came out with a brand new colour "green" due to the developers working on a new engine from the ground up. Sprites remained limited to the same pixel size and the computer struggled to keep up but it was an early sign of what was to come.


Donkey kong (1981) ,Alex Kidd (1986) ,PacMan (1980), MegaMan 2 (1988)

In the 80s with the introduction of 8-bit consoles games could have more colour and more pixels giving sprtes more detail and depth, now and up to the early 1990s is what inspires the nostalgic games of today.


Doom(1993), Prince of persia (1990), super mario bros.3 (1991)

Early 90s and the introduction of 16 - bit consoles brought more shades/colours and also more pixel adding more detail than before but the real movement was on PC where games could be more detailed pseudo 3D games such as doom appeared paving the way too 3D. pixel based games decreased from then on.

Reviews Analysis

So I have decided to read into reviews of games that use pixel art as the visual style and see what is said of the game purely on its aesthetics.


Scored highly in reviews and sold well come release reviews from eurogamer said;

"The games unique artwork its perspective shift mechanic its nostalgia for the 16-bit years and its bewitchingly strange setting all exist in harmony and make a single deliberate statement. Maybe its about perception, reality and subjectivity like the old man said. But i think its about something else: what games were to us in there charged infancy, what they have expanded into in the 30 years since and how to fold these things together into a signle beautiful whole." - Oli Welsh (2012)

Edge said;

"Fez blends 2D and 3D spaces at will, strings a series of otherworldly puzzles acorss dainty hovering islands and and delivers a pastels and pixels visual style that manages to feel voguish as well as sweetly nostalgic" - Edge staff, (2012)

What I think,

Both reviewers make excellent points and to praise the game for its visual style. Both of them mention nostalgia in their reviews but if you look back to the 16-bit consoles of yesteryear you will see alot of significant changes mainly the colour is super clear rather than the bold colours back then the environment also seems more detailed. I would say Fez is the image you get in your head when you think back to a game you loved when you were younger but when you see it again you realise you have tricked yourself. but what i would also say is that I would think even a non gamer would appreciate Fez for its own simplistic merit.

Scott Pilgrim Vs The World: The Game (2009)

IGN - Review

" an awesome design style gives an old school vibe without at all seeming outdated" Hilary Goldstein (2010)

Joystiq - Review

"Scot pilgrim is almost "hyper 8-bit" somehow managing to be insanely detailed and all within a pixelated reviews"

What I think...

Oddly the reviewers pretty much summed up my thoughts on Fez, which is strange because I would have said that scott pilgrim was more of a nostalgic trip as its more 8-bit than fez and it was built and made for the very reason of remembering the games of old. 

minecraft (2010)

Minecrafts a weird one mainly because none of the reviewing sites have mentioned the graphics atall focusing entirely on the gameplay which is odd ( however i do realise there are many review websites out there and i have just scratched the surface so there might be mention of it yet ) but I will update when I hear anymore on it.

What I think...

Minecraft is 3D made up of blocks each block has a pixel art texture however, I feel they are trying to be realistic in the sense that they have realistic colouring/shading which looses the character that the previous games have in droves.

This Gave me an idea of another 3D project I choose games through the decades from pong all the way up to games today making a 3D cube textured the same way blocks were made then.

Meeting with: Lynn Parker #3

Hello again,

Well it turns out my worries I had in the previous post were all in my head and im back to feeling like I am on track which is good.

So here is what we talked about,

  • For 3D pixel art my UV textures have to be spot on so practice that. might start this next week as I feel I still have things 2D to do
  • look into the indie game movie take note of things I find important to pixel art so mainly Phill fish and his motivations
  • research into cubism and pointilism and try and recognize any similarities they have when compared to pixel art
  • look into the area of aesthetics
  • look into the area of nostalgia read reviews on games that use pixel art and discover where the game gets its merit from. 

What do i have planned for today then?

  1. I want to do more low pixel stuff, so was planning on doing people from my course so shall do 3 or 4 today ( then I dont have to constantly draw sketches of characters that I make up dont want to use up all my ideas on media tests.
  2. watch the indie game movie and take notes!
  3. loook for books on cubism, pointilism and art theory
  4. read reviews and take quotes of what the reviewer makes on the games graphic style.

David M

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Personal Development Portfolio: Ctrl + W and some more work


well I am panicking a bit, not really sure what I am doing seems like I have too much going about my head right now and being ill isnt helping.

however I have another meeting with lynn tomorrow so hoepfully can settle some nerves then.

anyways, the passed couple of days I have been working on some more pixel art stuff,

Started off with this picture, 

My plan was to have a short animated Gif wind blowing the hair etc but I somehow managed to press Ctrl W instead of E unknowingly to me that is a shortcut to close the window losing my hours worth of work and putting me back to the beginning so I decided to leave it for now and get back to it when I feel less drugged up in medicine.

however I did decide to start something fresh and came up with this guy,

the idol frame looks a bit odd right now but i shall get round to it tomorrow.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

presentation: slides

Hello, sorry for the delay internet has been a bit funny thanks to the builders coming in to fix our kitchen roof.
anyways should be back to regular posts now so heres the presentation slides as promised.

Slide 1

Slide 2

Slide 3

Slide 4

Slide 5

Slide 6

Slide 7

Slide 8

Slide 9

Slide 10

Slide 11

Slide 12

Slide 13

Slide 14

So thats my presentation slides minus the accompanying notes that i have appeared to have misplaced somewhere.

David M

Meeting with: Robin Sloan #2

Well on monday I arranged to have a meeting with Robin to discuss a couple of things mainly just what am i going to do for research (I have arranged to also talk to lynn and Ryan but havnt got any reply)

So the meeting I found very helpful we discussed;

  • Looking into the history of game art ( there is a useful youtube channel of people discussing such things that i might find useful).
  • Very early pixel art pre. 1985 
  • Varying pixel art styles
  • pros and cons compared to things such as vector and 3d graphics
  • Gamasutra - has various entries about things that may be related
  • game studies books (introduction to game studies)
  • the aesthetics of pixel art and nostalgia 

So, after the meeting I feel like I understand what things I can research into.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Presentation: Reflection


Well this entry is just my looking back on the presentation reflecting on what i got right/wrong and also about the feedback from the lecturers.

First off, the bad

Unfortunately although I have improved after each pitch i have done throughout my academics I still suffer from stage fright, however I do felt like I talked more clearly and confidently about my actual work but my determination of not trying to look at my notes may have made me run through the presentation part a bit too quickly, however I do felt I managed to say the main points, I also said a forbidden word answering Ryans question of "because its cool" however I did state prior that the reason i chose pixel art was because " Firstly I chosen it because I have always been interested in it and that the popularity of games such as minecraft prove that there is a lot of people out there that are interested in it aswell, also the fact that there is a lack of books and journals makes me want to explore it more"

lastly, the good

Well I think the lecturers enjoyed my timelapse and media tests showing them what has gone wrong and what has gone right. which is definitely a boost to the confidence.

However they feel like my objective on pixel art could change focusing on that more than trying to bring it to 3D. which I am quite taken back by the ethusiasm towards my project making me think that 3D pixel art might not be as important as i first thought?

anyways thats my thoughts so far I will keep adding things about the pitch when I remember them in the update section below.

Lastly, I will post up the slides of my presentation for everyone to read and give feedback to tomorrow.

thanks for reading,

David M

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Meeting with: Lynn Parker #2

Hello, short entry but there will be another presentation post up later on

Well this morning I met with Lynn, with my presentation tomorrow that is what we focused on. I am not good with talking in front of people so this year I wanted to go in prepared if i know what I am talking about it should alleviate some nerves.

So I showed her what I have done, what gone wrong what I have researched and what I need to do next.

The feedback I recieved was good and Lynn seemed pleased about where abouts I am, which has given me a boost in confidence.

Since I shall be posting up my presentation soon, I shall keep this as the notes I took during the meeting:

  • Pixel art brief info
  • people are doing it a very large following
  • Minecraft and Fez what they have right what they have wrong
  • why my project will help
  • what i have done
  • what has gone right
  • what has gone wrong
  • what i am doing next
Thats all I took during the meeting, full presentation will be posted up later

David M

Monday, 8 October 2012

Personal Development Portfolio: pixel art timelapse


Well this is the beginning of week 4 and preparation for presentation is well under way, so what have I been up to today...

Well firstly I had another attempt in looking for literature to research into, unfortunately couldn't find anything of interest finding it really hard to know where to look and what to look for.

I joined a pixel art forum called http://www.pixeljoint.com/ and posted up a post to see if any of these guys would know anything, unfortunately they responded with a rather negative,

"Honestly I doubt you'll find anything. I don't mean to be discouraging but I've never seen, heard of, or expected any academic material on pixel art."


I have an idea pixel art draws parallels with alot of other traditional art and its theories so i think i should look for books on them instead

also, because I was unhappy with the work I did, I decided to take a timelapse video of the 
pipeline i go through to produce my work, had to condense a 2hour and 45 mins down to just 10mins but its still rather cool to look back on.

anyways it is rendering as i type this so i shall discuss some things, 

after reading derek yus tutorial again and looking at his animated pipeline:

lucha evolution by Derek Yu

I decided to do one myself:

That doesnt show my entire process if you want to see an in depth video heres my timelapse  it is about 10mins long so put on some tunes or something:

here is stills of the finished dude,

So yeah i think what i ended up with was rather good piece, reduced the amount of abnormal lines "jaggies" and kept my colours down too 10..

however hes not perfect but definitely an improvement from even my last piece "devil" i posted earlier. going to make more timelapses as they help me see my technique, what I am doing right but more importantly what I am doing wrong.

David M

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Presentation: introduction


Well tomorrow will be our 4th week and that means preparation for presentation is underway my presentation is on the 11th Thursday at 2:30pm, looking forward to getting some feedback and hopefully some help.

Anyways in preparation we have given a list of helpful guidelines we need to talk about for the presentation these are:

Intro: discuss what your area of research is,

Project based on Pixel art


the industry of games and film are falling into the same artistic style games are heavy realistic focus, whilst animation are all trying to adopt the pixar look, I chosen pixel art as it has been forgotten although there are a few people out there that still use it and the characters even environments have personality that appears to be lost.
Attempt to produce 3D work that use pixel art as inspiration

What I am looking at?
Examples of pixel art (mainly games)
art by Paul Robertson
art by derek Yu
and lots and lots of tutorials

Explain your thoughts

  • Pixel art seems to get most of its appeal through nostalgia
  • but it still has artistic merit however might be hard to get people interested in it who havnt grown up with games especially if i try to seperate the two
  • A pixel art animation done entirely on my own will be way to much work even in a year
  • Enjoying doing pixel art alot
  • although the books to research are rather limited pixel art does have a very ethusiastic and dedicated community


  • low pixel work
  • high pixel work
  • looking into the history of pixel art
  • animation
  • attempted 3D (failed)
  • sketches some original by me some fan art
  • life drawing classes to help improve my drawing technique

Whats next?

Pin point what my research question asap
 improve my pixel art
make my work more efficient
get on to making 3D pixel art work

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Concept Development: Failures, low pixel and high pixel


Havn't made a post in a while so heres a wee catch up of what I have been upto, 


been reading the tutorials I have posted previously and highlighting things i felt useful down in my notebook.

also found a few books, but with £85 for the cheapest £150 for the most expensive i have passed it on to Lynn in the hope that the library can get them instead so fingers crossed.


I have been upto a couple of practical things recently some good, some bad and some ok. so we shall kick things off with the bad:

After studying into the pixel art theories and practices, I fell into one pit fall of being far too ambitious. what i decided to do was create a 3D fan art image of FEZ (a 3D game but with looks of a 16-bit console) 

Fez gameplay screenshot

and heres where I got too before deciding I was in way over my head,

as you can see i didnt get far but things weren't going to well when it came to the texturing, if the UV was to high in resolution getting the pixels to look right was causing problems. if the uv resolution was to low then the texture would appear blurred.

So 3D environments with pixel art textures are out of reach for me at this stage so instead I decided to go back and do some 2D stuff using what I learned from the tutorials,
 Low pixel image of a devil character i sketched in my sketchbook ( an image of which will be updated when i can get my scanner to work)

And here is a high pixel count of the same devil character, I am not too happy with some of the shading and outline but i think its an approvement from the running banner 

heres an animated gif of the pipeline 

  1. First I drew a sketh using the brush tool, of the character directly into photoshop using my tablet referencing the image in my sketchbook.
  2. I then traced over using the pencil tool to get the outline of the character
  3. *Then i tidied up the outline getting rid of uneven pixels and defined the shape of the character*
  4. *I added base colours for the characted*
  5. then used shades and highlights to define the character

* these stages are missed out in the gif due to my own poor layer management in photoshop, another area I need to improve*

But yeah thats what I have done for the past few days, expect to see more practical work posted up in preparation for my presentation.

David M