Monday, September 1, 2014

TIAM: Slow starts and palettes

I spent most of the day camping and only came home early because I was sick.  So my first day, while early, was still very short.  All I managed to make was a few pumpkins and an attempt at a garden patch.  I mostly used the day to get myself used to the way the original pack puts things together.  That's a fancy way of saying I spent too much time messing around with test maps and not enough time actually drawing.

The Old School set has a very limited and unusual palette.  Most limited palettes I've worked with were either bright and colorful or monotone.  This one is both, mostly brown and blue-grey with a few bright and bold colors.  It is not a palette for anyone new to pixel art.  It's going to be a bit of a challenge.  I'm doing a Halloween set without a proper orange.

A limited palette is absolutely essential for a set like this.  It not only gives the tiles a visual unity and identity, but it also a main element in making something look properly Old School.  The early generations of computers, consoles, and handhelds were all about limitations, which is what the Old School set is representing without directly referencing any of them.

Limited palettes are a great way to practice pixel art.  Ugly palettes are great for getting out of color choosing ruts and learning how to better use the colors at hand.  Fine tuned palettes are great for people who want to get right to drawing without worrying about things like color theory or making good ramps.  Some of them are also tuned for a specific mood.  A really good palette can make bad pixel art look a lot less so, and a bad palette can turn beautiful art into something unattractive.

Tip of the day:  8-bit does not mean 8 colors, just like 16-bit doesn't mean 16 colors.  It's a pretty common misconception, 8 bit games often had very low color counts and it's the name used for the NES era of gaming.  Most of the time when people are talking about 8 bits they're talking about processing power.  8-bit consoles and handhelds had very limited colors, but the exact color count varied widely between them.  The Gameboy, for example, was limited to 4 colors (2-bit color) and the Atari 7800 had 256 (which actually is 8-bit color).  Both of those are 8-bit systems.  When talking pixel art it's usually better to refer to the actual color count or name the system that the color count is meant to emulate.

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