Tag Archives: design

Skybase – “Take That Thing Off My Couch” Music Video

Music video for myself: “Take That Thing Off My Couch” by me. Used After Effects and Premiere CS6, fractals were achieved using Artmatic 5.

And just on that… here are some screencaps from the animation.

006 005011004008003002012009010

Reflections on Doing Pixel Art and Insipiration

I’ve never really been able to do pixel art but lately I’ve been getting really into it. I guess what appealed was its simplicity at the same time the complexity designing elements within a limited space. Of course I can always expand resolutions and otherwise.

I began drilling away at it after realizing I can just sit down and do it. I honestly find lazy ways of accomplishing complicated tasks but it seems pixel art is one of those genres of digital art that seriously forces you to figure it out by hand. Now, I’m not saying other genres of digital art don’t do that, I’m just saying the limited range of what you can do makes you think twice about where you put your pixels down to correctly portray the thing you’re drawing.

Cosmos

Cosmos the soulless kid. (Enlarged)

It’s only been a while since I dived into the genre and I’ve never really been that interested doing all of this. Personally, I’m not really that much of a huge fan of “games” but I do like playing them anyway. I’ve never really gone super deep into Pokemon, not a real fan of Final Fantasy series (but played it anyway). Half Life (with GMod)… Minecraft… Marathon (and 3rd party scenarios)… Crash Bandicoot… Limbo were all games I really really enjoyed but still never sat down to really think hard about developing games.

ChrisJeff Games Logo pixlated by Skybase (enlarged)

ChrisJeff Games Logo pixlated by Skybase (enlarged)

Though I guess the one game that really really got me into all this pixel goodness was CaveStory. I can’t recommend that game enough to people. It should be a requirement for everybody making games to least play it once (or 3 times depending on what ending you get). Not that I want you to 100% like it, least appreciate it. But what should be observed is the overall, endearing storyline, the lovable characters, 3 possible endings, and a ton of great game play really kicked me to think twice about making games to tell stories.

Alex the God of Concealment - Skybase (Enlarged)

Alex the God of Concealment – Skybase (Enlarged)

There’s nothing new with what I’m doing of course. I’m more like just posting what I’ve done recently. What’s curious is the progression of where I was at initially and where I’m now…. It’s only been two months since I began dealing pixels and I’ve kinda leaned the basic skills. I figured I’ll keep moving on.

NCH Productions Logo - Pixelated by Skybase (enlarged)

NCH Productions Logo – Pixelated by Skybase (enlarged)

The Universe Man, The God of Everything and Nothing - Skybase (Enlarged)

The Universe Man, The God of Everything and Nothing – Skybase (Enlarged)

The Edge of the World - Skybase (Enlarged)

The Edge of the World – Skybase (Enlarged)

So now what? Well… I’m working on something totally fresh and something I’ve never done before fully. I figured I should make a game. I don’t consider myself a full-time game developer nor a professional one so we’ll never know when I can get stuff done by, but I’m on it totally and it’ll be good.

I hope I can write up something in the next post that explains some of the processes for pixel art textures using FilterForge a bit to help detail the pixel textures and well… otherwise help the overall look. I said I’ll write it ages ago and I never did… so I guess its about time!

The End of Everything

Worked on several backgrounds meant for personal purposes for my next project. Used StudioArtist 4 and Photoshop. Images were based on manipulated photographs, which were painted over using StudioArtist 4. Much of the work seen here was created in the manner in which the brush worked, so the brush generated the looks itself, but also I took the semi-manual aspect and aided the process to emphasize basic elements of design.

The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything

The Next End

The Next End

The Death of Everything

The Death of Everything

The Begining of Life

The Begining of Life

The End of Everything

The End of Everything

Everything I Don’t Like: It’s always distorted

Some

Very wavy experimentation using FilterForge.

Ideas and Tricks: Procedural Pixel Art Textures

I’m really not a “pixel art” type of guy. I wish I was, but unfortunately I’m just not as great with it. Now making it more interesting, what about textures? Those are more accessible honestly, and to me they’re a step down from drawings and stuff. So I began investing a bit of time trying to figure out how I can make it happen. After a couple rounds of doing manual pixel art, I realized I can potentially make procedural textures out of it. Of course, it won’t have the same feeling as manually created pixel art textures, but this project was all about how close I can get it. First of all some past things I’ve tried.

This was for my thesis film: The Door to Tomorrow

The things falling apart

I’m not a pixel art artist.

In these two cases above I’m basing the original texture off of procedural means. I had to do this partly because I had little time to generate nice looking backgrounds for the “game scenes” in the animated film. The textures were first generated in FilterForge, then processed again in FilterForge using a filter called: I Dream in EGA by Mike Blackney. The filter has custom color input, so I can choose a couple colors matching the scheme of the texture provided. This way we don’t just end up with the default 16 colors.

Texture filter by Carl. “Concrete or Damaged” (http://www.filterforge.com/filters/3524.html)

I can then pick and choose what parts of the texture I want to use and also erase bits and pieces of pixels accordingly to have “stuff sticking out.” The method is simple, rapid, and quite good looking as long as you don’t change pixel scales.

But I kinda wanted a bit more. So I began investing some time doing more manual pixel art to learn the little things considered. There are tons obviously, and after studying more pixel-art based textures, I came up with a small method allowing for the style to be achieved while providing the ease in deployment. Of course, this is FAR from being a complete solution to achieving that specific clarity in style, but it’s decent small step forward.

I have a copy of FilterForge 4 beta 1, and they featured groups. I’m using that. Meet the Pixel Shader, the grouped component that takes a color map and height map and spits out pixely textures with shading.

PixelShader! Makes pixely textures.

The method employed here is actauly relatively simple. The output look is what’s difficult to achieve. In creating the little shader there, I basically had to modify the entire texture to suit a nice looking image. So it’s a bit more work than just “plug and play” unfortunately. But the deployment is fairly easy and the adjustments you have to make to the filter are pretty basic.

The internals of this component isn’t impressive at all. It’s in fact stupid simple.

Nothing fancy here… just a couple derivatives doing something

The package contains two derivatives so you can have two directional lights with controllable colors. There’s an ambient lighting, shading bias, and several more options to fill in the goodness. The final stage is the pixelation, which happens via a checker node. I use this because it has two color inputs, so if you input another image into that checker, you get a “checkered” result between two images. This can be useful for a “dithered” look. In this case the filter isn’t needing that effect so the output comes straight out.

The whole filter in action

But in the end, what you ULTIMATELY need to do is design a good texture to begin with. In this case, I designed the filter and had to modify it so it would work with the system I implemented. The idea here is that the little component isn’t doing the entire job, it’s the whole filter that’s giving it the good look and effect of it.

I went around modifying other filters too so to achieve the same effect. A couple months ago I produced a filter that created SciFi Tech walls. It’s a pretty detailed filter and I thought… it can use a bit of pixelation. Here’s a screen cap of the presets after adding the Pixel Shader group component to the filter.

These might be quite visually too much if used practically, but it’s still a good starting point for detailed pixel stuff.

Of course, it’s flawed in that it’s not the true goodness of hand crafted pixel art. I’m not going to state here I’ve made the pixel art machine, but it kinda gets part of the job done. In my mind, the next step after producing the texture is to actually go in and give more context by hand. I made this to help myself a bit along the way and not necessary to finalize a product.

While I don’t want to be too restrictive, I’ll need to keep the filter to myself for now. There’s still a lot of things being developed for it and I’m using it personally in my job as well. This post does expose some of its secrets but doesn’t explain it all.

In part two of this discussion, I’ll talk a bit more about designing the filter so it works around the Pixel Shader.

At the Edge of All Colors

Directly from my Behance page: A small exploration of color continues with fractal-like images. I created a filter using FilterForge and sampled the colors directly from a couple photographs.

- – -

Mr. Rectangle Meets Color

Procedural work using FilterForge in exploring color and design. Each design was derived off of 5 colors I’m interested in. The images were created using  a custom filter in FilterForge and processed by hand using Adobe Camera Raw.

 – – -

Together and Forever Gone

Some generative works using Studio Artist 4 and a bunch of pictures. The one thing about this process is that it’s mostly automatic once you set the brush preset up. I made some minor edits later on using ACR. It’s an interesting effect and not that hard to do either, took a bit of thinking to get the thing working right but the overall process wasn’t too bad.

Each image is around 4000 pixels wide although for web purposes I’m uploading just the small versions.

- – -

Experiments with Lines

Some experiments with patterned lines I tried back in 2011. Never really got to publish them so here they are :)

These were done using Artmatic 5 and edited mildly using ACR.

Just a Thought

Stuff I'm making right now??

Some quickie concept using Studio Artist 4. That program makes things look cool. Anyway this is basically a photograph I took of a district I found in Japan. I manipulated the photograph a bit, and just roughly threw it together. Studio Artist 4 + Photoshop = amazing fun. I don’t know what this will be useful for, but maybe I’ll use it in the future for a project.