Author Topic: Background Workshop II - Concluded  (Read 35941 times)

ThreeOhFour

  • Wild colonial boy.
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • ThreeOhFour worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • ThreeOhFour worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #160 on: 01 Jul 2015, 11:11 »
Selmiak: Yeah, I'm using an Intuos at the moment, though I hope to some day get myself a Cintiq. I like the Intuos a lot, though, it's served me pretty well over the last year or so, and it's functionally identical to the Bamboo I had without one or two annoyances of shape etc. (less accidental pressing of buttons and stuff)

Misj': Yeah, wild variances in hue are the hardest for me to make look "good" so I mostly like to trick the eye into seeing different hues rather than actually using them. Part of cutting my teeth on pixel art, really! I wanna write a bit about this (still haven't gotten around to it :cry:) but it's definitely an intentional thing. I find I get the "tightest" designs when I rely more on value & saturation contrast. Also means I can save new hues for little detail objects (though in honesty I rarely do this haha) Really interesting to see the different approaches.

Here's my progress - at this point I'm mostly just adding detail and cleaning up the loads of mess I made in the planning phase. This is the slowest part, but also the most enjoyable because it's less about trying to work out how to solve the problems in my image and more about refining all the groundwork. I'm enjoying cleaning up this piece, and making steady progress. :smiley:


Lasca

  • Rottwheelers
    • I can help with story design
    • I can help with translating
    • I can help with voice acting
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #161 on: 01 Jul 2015, 22:30 »
Dear friends. I have to forfeit. I have not had time to work since stage 1, nor will I have more time in the following weeks. I mean to complete this is a later stage, but will not be able to this summer. This is where I ended up:



The reason for me not being able to complete is that I spend all day with my kids and all night playing in THIS
If your swedish or visiting Sweden, and more specifically Gotland, this summer, come see the show and say hello afterwards. I'm the tall guy in green tights.
(sorry for shameless advertising). Have a great summer everyone!

ThreeOhFour

  • Wild colonial boy.
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • ThreeOhFour worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • ThreeOhFour worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #162 on: 02 Jul 2015, 10:01 »
Very sorry to see you bowing out of the activity, I've really enjoyed following your progress and your piece as it is now is really shaping up nicely.

Another update from me, with another hour's painting or so. At this stage I'm mostly just rendering detail. I've still got a post about colour ideas coming, I promise!


cat

  • Mittens Baronet
    • cat worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • cat worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #163 on: 02 Jul 2015, 10:09 »
I have to admit, my progress is very slow now, but my background is not abandoned!

At this stage I'm mostly just rendering detail.
Could you elaborate a bit on that? I'd be interested in how you are working here - what kind of brushes you use (hard/soft edge, opacity,...) and your use of layers.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #164 on: 02 Jul 2015, 15:37 »
Kinda messed up the progress saving, so I had to go back n find the changes, so it took a while.. but here's some progress:





Animated gif:



Still image:



--

Regarding wacom tablets, my advice is always to just go for as big as you can find/afford, the model isn't important really, any of the intuos series should be fine, as long as they haven't been scratched badly.
Looking for a writer

ThreeOhFour

  • Wild colonial boy.
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • ThreeOhFour worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • ThreeOhFour worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #165 on: 03 Jul 2015, 03:20 »
At this stage I'm mostly just rendering detail.
Could you elaborate a bit on that? I'd be interested in how you are working here - what kind of brushes you use (hard/soft edge, opacity,...) and your use of layers.

Yeah! Here's a look at my "workhorse" brushes, that I use for 99% of everything:



With all three of these I have the tablet's pressure sensitivity to affect both opacity and size. I also use the mouse quite a lot, for things that need more precision. I also always modify the size and opacity of the brushes manually constantly with the [ and ] keys (size) and the 1 to 0 keys (opacity).

The hard round brush is great for clear edge definition and precision work. I usually work with it quite small, for cleaning up messes, but it's also reliable for filling in large areas of flat colour and things. The best thing about it is that it never "spills" outside your edges. The worst thing is that it takes ages to blend and look natural, you end up with a lot of flat strokes you need to blend out if you're using it for shading and colouring.

The oil medium wet flow brush is one I've only been using a few months, I switched from the chalk 36 pixels to this because I used to have to set the chalk brush's "scatter" to 2% manually to get the edges to wander how I wanted, and this does it automatically. This is great for both dabbing down in a series of pokes to make textures form and for making more "natural" looking strokes than the hard round brush. I use this for the majority of the work in a piece like this where I want a less smooth, clean look. It can be a little hard to use at lower resolutions (320x200, basically) because it works better the bigger it is, but it's still probably my most favorite brush at the moment.

The soft round brush is one that I use at low opacity, and really big. I drop the brush down to 2% opacity and make it much bigger than the target surface, and that allows me to let the light bounce out and this makes stuff like light sources or areas of light colour being hit directly with a strong light really glow. Often I'll use this with an overlay layer (for making something lighter) or a multiply layer (for making something darker). I flatten those down as soon as I've put the colour onto them, so I don't get confused.

Other than that, I mostly just keep it to a single layer that I paint on, fixing up things just by painting over the mistakes, really. I always have my grid of thirds and my perspective grid on separate layers so I can refer back to them, to fix up the inevitable mistakes, and sometimes I'll keep my earlier version on a separate layer to refer back to it and make sure the changes I've made are ones that look better to me. I also convert back to greyscale now and then just to check and make sure my hues and saturations aren't throwing out my values. Because my early versions are so messy, it doesn't really help me to use many layers, and using a single layer for the painting itself means I never get lost and paint on the incorrect layer.

Let me know if I missed anything!

Misj'

  • To lazy to add an avatar...
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #166 on: 03 Jul 2015, 08:31 »
Misj': Yeah, wild variances in hue are the hardest for me to make look "good" so I mostly like to trick the eye into seeing different hues rather than actually using them. Part of cutting my teeth on pixel art, really! I wanna write a bit about this (still haven't gotten around to it :cry:) but it's definitely an intentional thing. I find I get the "tightest" designs when I rely more on value & saturation contrast.
This is something that I found often with people using the value-first approach. And faking colors can be great, and relying solely on value and saturation will often create a unified look and feel.

I've taken the liberty of throwing Loominous' piece through the same analysis:


As you can see - like you - Loominous relies heavily on value and saturation for contrast and color, while hue is largely within the same range. This is one of the reasons for his dreamy trademark look. When you look at the parasol you see that the blue is actually fake since it's simply a very desaturated red that - within the context - looks blue. Values are great, saturation is used very effectively, but from a hue perspective it's very bland.

Bear in mind, I'm not going to say that this approach is wrong (I love the results it can create, and no workflow that creates great results can be wrong now can it). It's more that it relies solely on two out of three properties of color to guide the viewer. It's like creating a song and relying - for the base - only on full chords at the first and third beat. You can still great a great song, but you will never get a memorable baseline like the theme from Peter Gunn or the Pink Panther.

The difficulty is, that each approach makes people afraid to loose their 'starting point'. Value-first-artists tend to be afraid to loose the feel of their values when they go bold with hues, line-artist are afraid to loose line-details when adding shadows or values that may obscure them. People relying on a color-first approach are afraid to use saturation because it will mess up their predefined colors.

That's why I think you should have each of them early on in your design. Try to set up a limited palette of complementary hues: I use a single hue for all my wood and leather, with four hue and saturation variations to set my base colors, I do the same for stone, but with a different hue, don't be afraid to loose certain aspects if it makes the piece stronger. And if it doesn't work out the way you want, try and try again. :)




cat

  • Mittens Baronet
    • cat worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • cat worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #167 on: 03 Jul 2015, 08:38 »
Thank you, Ben, for the detailed explanation - this is very insightful. It is always interesting to see how other people work. Usually I use tons of layers but this time I will probably try to use only a few as well.

@loominous: I'd also be interested in the tools you are using for coloring, because your workflow seems to be completely different.
One thing I noticed in your picture: The green stands out a lot. While this is good for the tree in the foreground, which is relevant for gameplay, this is maybe not so good for the trees in the background, because they draw a lot of attention.

Edit:
@Misj': Thank you for your insightful explanations about color. I'm currently trying to think about the hues for my pic as well and not just randomly color items :)
« Last Edit: 03 Jul 2015, 08:44 by cat »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #168 on: 03 Jul 2015, 10:59 »
Misj:

I don't think the sort of biased palettes of mine and Ben's entries are necessarily part of this workflow, though I think it encourages you to think more in terms of "looks" (called 'grading' in movies), than realism.

If you have a person just pick colors, they tend to be quite random, and it's often this randomness that you suppress when you want to go for "looks".

I think this is what many appreciate in pixelart, since, because of the color limitation, you often end up picking the same color for objects/areas that you wouldn't have if you could've just picked any color, causing a kind of forced color consistency, which becomes an inadvertent boon. So it's more about creating a nice palette, like a color designer, rather than adhering to realism.

It is true though that it can easily become a crutch, but I don't think it's part of the workflow, it's more that you already start out with a look, rather than nothing, and get to choose how much of it to keep. And once you're inside a look, it's often tempting to keep it rather than to keep pushing towards what often feels like dull realism.

For me it's about getting enough variation in there for it to not become too tiresome, while still evoking the mood I'm after, and this most often means keeping the hue variation rather limited, while still trying to get as much richness as possible in there. So it's a matter of finding the sweet spot between relieving realism and "instagram".
Looking for a writer

Misj'

  • To lazy to add an avatar...
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #169 on: 03 Jul 2015, 12:03 »
...
If you have a person just pick colors, they tend to be quite random, and it's often this randomness that you suppress when you want to go for "looks".

I think this is what many appreciate in pixelart, since, because of the color limitation, you often end up picking the same color for objects/areas that you wouldn't have if you could've just picked any color, causing a kind of forced color consistency, which becomes an inadvertent boon. So it's more about creating a nice palette, like a color designer, rather than adhering to realism.
I don't think it's randomness. At least not for me.

Whether I design a background of a character I always stick to a very limited base palette. For this image I've got three base hues (I've changed the ground-color I showed my image last), each base hue has - at the most - five variations (for characters that would be much lower of course), and each of them is very much thought out and stylized. I also (try to) make sure that a single hue is dominant in the piece, while others are important but less prominent. I never strive for realism with my hues though; and I think very few people using hues are (I know some who do, but they are really just starting out).

Of course the fake hue (or more correctly: perceived hue) is something that you will often miss when you have a pre-selected palette, and I consider that an important miss. But it's not about using every hue in the spectrum, but about using a broader range to increase the impact.

One of your own pieces show this quite nicely:

Without the broader range of hues (not the number of hues, only its range!) this image would have much less impact. Remove the hues and you have an okay piece. But with the hues you create a strong impact. Sure, this is an extreme example, you have to be more conservative with other backgrounds, but I found that most people where I know they use a value-first approach are overly cautious are conservative. Their work is good, great even, but you know what impact small changes in values or perspective can have. The same goes for hues, and I really urge people not to have it as an afterthought.

Al that being said: restricting your palette is always a good idea; but that is also a reason why hue should come early in the design process, because it's a lot more difficult to break out of certain preconceived ideas...or more correctly: you run the risk of falling in love with certain designs and are afraid to lose them (when experimenting) with them in late stages of a piece.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #170 on: 03 Jul 2015, 12:50 »
I agree that colors shouldn't be a mere afterthought, it's just that they're easy to alter later (well, depending on your approach). Values on the other hand, are less flexible - if I was to change the angle of the light at this point, it would be a major undertaking. If I wanted to change the hue of the stand parasol, it's a 5 second operation (my setup is focused on flexibility though, so with a less flexible setup it would take longer).

So it's more about getting the heavy duty stuff done first, like the layout/composition and lighting (values), which are very inflexible, and then experiment with the colors.

Again, this doesn't mean that the first thought about the piece's colors comes at the end, it's like with most things in a piece, you need to sort of project it onto the sketch in your mind while you're working, and I usually have a fair idea of how I want the colors to look, so even in the initial stages of the layout, I try to make sure that the layout will support it.

About hue contrast, I think it's like contrast in general, some moods are better evoked with milder contrast, some with higher. So I just let the mood I want dictate the amount of color contrast. Putting in some "real" cyans in my current piece would make them pop like crazy against all the warms, but it would also kill the mood.

So it's all about experimenting and learning what palettes you like by doing, so I think having as flexible setups as possible is very important, to allow for as much experimentation as possible, so instead of making some choices, get complacent, hoping the next piece will be better, you keep fiddling.

Edit:
For the record, I rarely introduce colors at the very end, I usually add sketchy colors after I've worked out the main lighting in the sketch, and then refine the values and colors simultaneously, with the focus on getting the values down first, but still knowing how it'll sort of look.
« Last Edit: 03 Jul 2015, 15:55 by loominous »
Looking for a writer

Cassiebsg

  • Cavefish
  • Fleeing the Cylon tyrrany...
    • Cassiebsg worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Cassiebsg worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #171 on: 03 Jul 2015, 22:12 »
Managed to sit and do a bit of work on this today, still not happy... but am happy that I managed to inadvertently do a "scary cylon face" while experimenting with shape and materials... (laugh)

Just for the fun of it:
Spoiler: ShowHide

(roll)(laugh)(laugh)
There are those who believe that life here began out there...

cat

  • Mittens Baronet
    • cat worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • cat worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #172 on: 03 Jul 2015, 22:58 »
@Cassiebsg Scary indeed 8-0

Here is some progress from me:

Click image for link to main post.

I tried to follow the advice of using the hues to guide the player. Now the foreground should be towards yellow while the background is towards blue.
I couldn't imagine how to fit a hugh tree in the scene, so I added the sail of a ship to the upper right corner.

ThreeOhFour

  • Wild colonial boy.
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • ThreeOhFour worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • ThreeOhFour worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #173 on: 03 Jul 2015, 23:00 »
This is something that I found often with people using the value-first approach. And faking colors can be great, and relying solely on value and saturation will often create a unified look and feel.

...

The difficulty is, that each approach makes people afraid to loose their 'starting point'. Value-first-artists tend to be afraid to loose the feel of their values when they go bold with hues, line-artist are afraid to loose line-details when adding shadows or values that may obscure them. People relying on a color-first approach are afraid to use saturation because it will mess up their predefined colors.

I actually very, very rarely go with a values first approach, I start with all three and work as I go (I didn't for the sake of joining in this workshop) because I like to plan out my hues & saturations very carefully at the start. Means I always get a tight palette that gives a unified look. Look at James Gurney's thoughts on gamut mapping for an example of the sort of idea kept in mind when I start working.

Therefore, rather than being afraid to use saturation, I incorporate it into the planning of the piece, despite picking my colours first. That's not to say I don't make big changes along the way (obviously, as you can see by my progress in this piece :D).

I've done some more refining and tweaking. More tidying up. As I saw Daniel say earlier, rendering really is the biggest part of working on a scene, putting in all the details and trying to get it all consistent. You can see down the bottom I've made some decisions about shapes that I put in just to put some nice forms in that area, here they become setting appropriate objects without losing too much of the form. I do this quite a lot, put down a design without thinking about what it will actually be and then decide on the actual object once I have the form looking kinda how I want.



edit And I spent another hour working on detail, texture and stuff. Ilyich reminded me that my ground was a big boring flat plane, so I've sketched in some paving to break it up some and gone over it with a multiply layer and a dark colour to drop the value down a little bit and push more focus onto the harbor master's building. Darkened the sign to make it pop more against that big, bright wall, and just various texture painting.



There's no real secret to this part, I don't think. If I planned everything pretty well then the texturing bit is the relaxing bit at the end where I can just put on some nice music and paint away with a tiny brush, making nice patterns and stuff. It's more reliant on being patient than problem solving. Sometimes for work (where I spent 1 day on most backgrounds, as opposed to 1 month like here, because I usually have 70-80 to do per game) I'll use photo textures instead of painting texture in, just to speed the rather painstaking process up. The end result is never quite as quaint or handpainted, but it's a decent way to make the most time consuming part go a lot quicker.

I'm right on track to be done by the 6th. Still have to work that boat into the scene much better and go round and tweak everything more, but it's shaping up how I want it and the road to the end piece seems pretty clear at this point.
« Last Edit: 04 Jul 2015, 13:43 by ThreeOhFour »

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #174 on: 04 Jul 2015, 15:41 »
Look at James Gurney's thoughts on gamut mapping for an example of the sort of idea kept in mind when I start working.

Interesting video. It sounds like the kind of stuff you hear about in color theory but never really incorporate (speaking for myself), so it was cool to see in practice.

Curious about the gamut of my image, I ran my above version through a vectorscope, and then did the same with Ben's and Misj's entries.

Looking for a writer

Misj'

  • To lazy to add an avatar...
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #175 on: 04 Jul 2015, 20:16 »
Curious about the gamut of my image, I ran my above version through a vectorscope, and then did the same with Ben's and Misj's entries.
For the record, I did change several colors since that post because - as I said earlier - certain hues really didn't fit within my limited palette. :)

I was very much bothered by the color of the ground and the trees, I felt they clashed too much with the primary and secondary color (red, and turquoise), so I pulled the ship and trees together, and matched the ground to the wood. That made the piece a bit more even hue-wise. I still wanted to keep a cool and warm base color, adding a lot of desaturated colors in the middle. This was part of my one of my original ideas where the palette reflects the way a character views the world.

I did like the video, and it really makes me think I should experiment a bit more with the color mixer (rather than the color-wheel) in Painter.

I've finally gotten around to work on details, and yes - for this workshop - I'm actually doing all that in values. So I'm running behind, but I will slowly get there.



Top to Bottom:
- Getting the base hues for my 'flats' (and redesigning my trees because I really disliked them)
- Getting into details. Specifically working on a less line-art approach for this workshop. I use my lines as references, but I wanted to try my hand on a much more painterly approach (which is one of the reasons why it takes longer, because I have to figure out a workflow that suits me). I'm really out of my comfort-zone here, since I always preferred pencils over brushes.
- Quick and dirty experiment with the colors on the details.

A lot might still change later on, but I know where I want my piece to go, and it's slowly moving there.

selmiak

  • ǝsıɔɹǝxǝ ʞɔǝu puɐ uıɐɹq
    • I can help with play testing
    • I can help with proof reading
    • I can help with translating
    • I can help with web design
    • selmiak worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • selmiak worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #176 on: 04 Jul 2015, 20:57 »
It's great to see all this come together. I feel so naked without a tablet :P

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #177 on: 04 Jul 2015, 21:16 »
For the record, I did change several colors since that post because - as I said earlier - certain hues really didn't fit within my limited palette. :)

Yea, I figured (but had to take what was available).

I do like the new palette much more, so I pulled out the vectorscope (it's just a viewing mode in Adobe Premiere, if anyone is curious), and this is what it yielded:



So by the looks of it, the green range has been suppressed, and the warm (orange to magenta) and cool (cyans to purples) ranges have been expanded. So a more focused palette, as you said.

So in comparison to Ben's n my piece, you have two ranges, one warmer, though still rather cool, and the other plain cool, with both ranges being pretty much equally dominant, whereas we have a dominant warm range, with single peak of cools.

This equal dominance (sounds like an oxymoron) might be an issue, perhaps try pushing one of them more? I rarely deal with those kind of palettes though, so perhaps it's common.
Looking for a writer

Misj'

  • To lazy to add an avatar...
Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #178 on: 04 Jul 2015, 21:57 »
This equal dominance (sounds like an oxymoron) might be an issue, perhaps try pushing one of them more? I rarely deal with those kind of palettes though, so perhaps it's common.
I don't expect it to be that much of a problem, but I would normally want to have a clear primary color and a clear secondary color (this is - I find - much easier in character-design, because you simply have to deal with fewer 'objects'). I'm not yet entirely sure whether I want to push it towards a warmer tone or towards a colder. Warm colors would be more adventurous while cold colors might be a bit too sterile (for the setting).

So yeah, while I hammered on the importance of 'early' hues, everything (especially the tone) is in flux and open to re-interpretation.


ps. I know this talk about colors, gamuts, etc. is quite technical almost to a non-artistic level, but I really like it, and I think it helps people - at least it helps me - to understand the basic concepts of certain techniques that you can't really see from simple tutorials or progress-images. So I really like this part of the workshop.

Re: Background Workshop II - Stage III
« Reply #179 on: 04 Jul 2015, 22:18 »
ps. I know this talk about colors, gamuts, etc. is quite technical almost to a non-artistic level, but I really like it, and I think it helps people - at least it helps me - to understand the basic concepts of certain techniques that you can't really see from simple tutorials or progress-images. So I really like this part of the workshop.

I'm always torn in these cases - this kind of technical dissection does lead to a clearer grasp of why stuff does n doesn't work - but I do treasure the romantic side of painting. The scientist in me does tend to get his way in the end though.
Looking for a writer