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Am I tripping? I Always thought "pixel art" was based on those 8-bit old games, with hard pixels and little shapes to form scenes. THis is NO PIXEL ART in my conception, but mere digital images.
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Pixel art is obviously one of the most popular art styles among the indie crowd and there is a countless number of projects that exploit this stylistic tool. Some artists, however, argue that modern pixel art has no connection to the old school visuals that we fell in love with during the Famicom era. We’ve talked with a talented Russian pixel artist Evgeniy Yudin about his take on modern pixel art.
My name is Evgeniy Yudin (@mazokpixels). I’m from Rostov-on-Don (Russia). I’ve been actually trying to get into gamedev for quite some time as a 2D artist, but unfortunately it was not very successful. This is actually when I started working on pixel art. I was surprised to learn that a lot of companies and a lot of developers are actually interested in this style.
My main sources of inspirations are Paul Robertson, Bruno Moraes, Octavi Navarro. The usual suspects. There also a lot of very good pixel artists in Russia. I encourage you to check out the works of Andrey Lyapichev (Андрей Ляпичев), Denis Novikov (Денис Новиков), and Stas Galunise (Стас Гайлюнас). These guys are great. I guess my biggest influence were the Famicom games.
My first pixel art piece was created back in school in simple Paint editor. As far as I remember, what I created was a brutal gnome. This creation actually helped me earn school credits.
Modern Pixel Art
Modern pixel art virtually has no limitations, which a lot of artists faces in the 80s and 90s. There were a lot of limits in terms of color choice, effects, even animation frames. I can’t really agree with the guys from Pixel Joint. Once we got rid of all those limitations, we received an incredible opportunity to create some unique style mixes.
Color plays an important part in all of my works. Usually I don’t restrict myself in terms of palette. It’s cool to challenge myself and make some nice pictures with the Commodore or NES palette. It’s a great way to “understand artists of old”, to get into their shoes sort of. In my understanding pixel art is a great way to achieve big results with small tools.
I’ve heard somewhere that “if you can’t draw, try pixel art”, which is completely wrong, of course. But there’s no denying that working with pixel art is easier for game production. It depends on the type of pixel art though. If you are aiming for the Street Fighter level of detail, you will face a lot of work. Some pretty minimalistic works could be created and animated relatively fast, even if you are not professional.
I believe the art market is so big, that every style can find its audience. Gamers really don’t care about the art style, they care for good games. If your game sucks, no amount of pixel art will save it.
My approach to character creation is pretty straightforward. At first I try to find all the possible references. Then I create the silhouettes and pick up the best one. There’s no sketching. Just the search for the correct silhouette. A great silhouette can help you to show all the peculiarities of the character and describe his particular character. Then I start adding the usual details. I believe the choice of tools is not important. You can create awesome art with your phone. Your skill is the thing that matters.
Pixel Art in Games
Pixel art is an ideal way of underlining classical mechanics and genres. The guys who played those games a while back prefer pixels. But I would not recommend sticking with the old school pixel art. Try to experiment. It’s always nice to work somewhere on the border of different styles. Take risks, try different pixels. It’s just so much fun.