Ken's quasi-pixel art attempts in Blender

kburkhart84

Firehammer Games
This topic is where I will attempt to show off what I'm playing around with in Blender. After using it to make the graphics in my Jam entry(the one with the scary horrible clowns :) ), I'm wanting to have some fun creating some sprites that actually attempt to mimic a pixel art look. My jam entry's sprites were basically 128x128. I feel like I can do 64x64 in Blender and get some good enough results, I'm not sure if I'll be able to go down to 32x32 but I'm sure I'll try soon. The idea here just for starters is to recreate some sprites from elsewhere, so that I'm practicing the creation part, not the design.

So, the first one I've whipped up is a basic goomba.

Screenshot_1.jpg
That's the 3d model as seen in Blender.

Goomba.png

And that one is the 64x64 render.

This is just to get things started. I'm going to set up some actual compositing to go with it and see if I can make things nicer. Of course I'll likely add some simple animations like some walking, but this is enough to get the topic open and eyes on.
 

kburkhart84

Firehammer Games
How long does it take for you to make an image like that?
That one was probably about 30 minutes. The advantage in the 3d pre-render pipeline isn't really in the creation part, rather in the iteration and adjustment part. If I want yellow teeth for example, its a 10 second change. Feet too big, maybe 10 seconds if I made it properly with future iteration in mind. Eyes too big?, quick change.

Once I get the initial model and skeleton done, animation is typically much quicker for me than trying to draw any frames out. And animation tweaking is also much faster once the initial work is done.

The other big advantage in 3d space is that there are so many tricks you can do to make that model creation and animation faster. On this one for example, I used a mirror and a subD modifier, so I only worked on half the model and the other half was automatic, and the subD smoothed things out automatically as well from a lower-poly triangle set. Then there are modifiers for things like displacement maps, which can be applied to spheres to get rocks or asteroids, as another trick example.
 

kburkhart84

Firehammer Games
Honestly I'd cut out the pixelation. Looks out of place the way it was rendered would look better crisp.

Looks good though.
Maybe we misunderstand something between us. "Crisp" IS pixels to me. If I turn on the AA and filtering, it may look smoother but certainly not "crisp" anymore. The goal is 64x64 sizes though, and typically that same filtering makes things lose too much detail, so I'm fiddling with having those off and trying to get something in "pixel" style.

This is very interesting! Curious to see the progress on this.
Thanks. I'm not done with the goomba yet. I'm likely today going to get some other things done post-render in the compositor. I may add more harsh shadows and may composite in some dithering in the shadowed areas too. And of course I have to have at the least a walking animation or it doesn't really prove the workflow.
 

kburkhart84

Firehammer Games
So I added a little bit of compositing over this. The first one is the original with no composition. The second is after I added some curves and tried to liven it up some. The 3rd just adds a really subtle dithering to the dark areas(using the ambient occlusion). The dithering is hard to see without zooming in but it might be more visible in other models.

Comparison.jpg
 

kburkhart84

Firehammer Games
you couldve used composition to make the image render like pixel art
I DID use composition...though the composition was more about adjusting for lighting range and adding dithering. If you meant using it to actually pixelate the art, can you elaborate on it?
 

Schtipadoo

Member

kburkhart84

Firehammer Games
I'll check that method out. Every one I've seen though involves having to duplicate and modify a material making it harder to use. The way I'm doing it now basically uses the same compositor nodes and the material/shader stuff can be unique instead of having to copy around a certain set of nodes. Thanks for the idea though, I'll check it and see if this method is any different.
 

Rayek

Member
Are you familiar with the indexed painting technique?

Goomba Indexed Painting_night.png

Goomba Indexed Painting.png

it has a number of advantages:
  • non-destructive approach (if your image editor supports it - PhotoLine, Krita, and Photoshop do, not sure about Affinity Photo, but I see no reason why it would not work).
  • easily adjustable once set up.
  • compared to your versions, unwanted bright pixels around the edges are avoided
  • works great with 3d rendered sprites.
  • adjustment layers finely control the conversion to an indexed version
  • can be combined with other lighting effects and retains pixel 'fidelity': see the night version above.
I actually improved on the original method: the original version does not retain the original colours. Mine does, and allows for separate control over the number of colours. Best of all: in PhotoLine layers can be instanced, which means the original Goomba rendered sprite may be replaced with different rendered sprite, and the change cascades throughout the layer stack.

The original technique is explained here:

Here is my layer stack in PhotoLine. I also attached the original PLD file, so feel free to download the trial version of PhotoLine and inspect the workflow. https://gofile.io/d/5LVbAW

layerstack.png

PS background is not mine - reference see graffiti :cool:
 
Last edited:

Rayek

Member
PS I use Color Quantizer to finish the final version by reducing to the minimum required colours.
 

kburkhart84

Firehammer Games
Are you familiar with the indexed painting technique?
I was not familiar with that exact technique. I'm familiar with "posterizing" and color reduction to make things fit palettes and the like, but I'd never seen that specific technique done. I've got the page bookmarked to take a look at it more at another time in case it seems like something that would help.
 
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