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    Perihelion
  Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:28 am
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Peri's Tree Walkthrough

Let me say one thing first: this isn't a tutorial. The aim of this walkthrough isn't to teach you how to draw trees exactly like meâ ‚¬ €it's to give you some insight into how I do pixel art. I often find it useful to look at how other artists approach their work, and plus it's interesting, so to that end, I've compiled some screenshots of a WIP and briefly explained what I do at each step. I strongly encourage you not to try to mimic what I do exactly but rather to get whatever it is you can from this and make it your own. So with that in mind, this isn't really geared towards total beginners, but of course I'll be happy if you find it helpful.

Basically, I blob stuff on and poke at it till it works right. Unless it's something tiny like a sprite or I'm working from a template, I can't do art by drawing perfect outlines and then filling them in. I tend to do this instead:




A More Detailed Explanation


Sketched out the skeleton of the tree. You'll notice it's not very clean; I just scribbled it on with the mouse. I find that my art turns out best when I first rough in the structure of the object I'm trying to portray, and I tend to do this with everything. My avatar, for example, started as a stick person. It's easier to fix things like proportions when you're working with a scribble instead of a beautifully shaded work of art or whatever. In fact, this is actually more detailed than my initial sketches generally are, and I also refined it a little bit from the initial scribble. I didn't save an image of that, though, so oh well.


Just colored it in, not too exciting. This is a medium-dark shade in the wood palette I'm using.


Blobbed in the basic shapes of the leaf clusters. I tried to concentrate around the branches and get a good distribution while still leaving some room for the trunk to show through.


Blobbed in the basic shape of the leaves on the other side of the tree, because of course you aren't going to have huge holes in the foliage like that.


Started defining the major highlight areas I intend going to work with. I'm not too worried about getting it perfect at this point; I just want to figure out the approximate shapes of the leaf clusters and also determine what main base colors I'm going to use where. I decided the tree should be lighter towards the top, so the bright color is concentrated up there.


Started refining the shapes of the leaf clusters. At this point, it's still pretty random; I'm just making them make more random, natural shapes. My eventual goal is to have small, uneven bubble-type things to mimic bunches of leaves.


Kept refining and added some highlights. This is still rough, but I'm starting to pay more attention to the shapes of the leaves and the details I want to end up with. I also stuck a bit of shadow on the trunk while I was at it.


This is the poking until it looks right part. I kept refining the leaves until I had more or less what I wanted to end up with, adding more highlights and shadows and drawing a few small leaf clusters between the big ones. It's just more of what I was doing beforeâ ‚¬ €splitting the big highlights up into smaller clusters and highlighting the clusters. One point to note is that I have bright highlights in areas I'd originally designated as dark, but that's okay because they're a lot sparser than they are in the bright areas; having a few speckles of highlight around makes it look more three-dimensional. I also added some dark purple shading around the trunk and under the leaf clusters.


Tweaked the leaves a bit more and shaded the trunk. Basically I went over everything again and made sure all the pixels were more or less in the right place, smoothing stuff out and tweaking lighting and details where necessary.

I just noticed that the top of the tree is cut off in most of those images, but I'm too lazy/busy to fix it now, so maybe later.

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Last edited by Perihelion on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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    Despain
  Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:28 pm
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Seriously good shit bro.

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    Perihelion
  Wed Oct 15, 2008 4:32 pm
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Thanks, Despain. :3

Okay, so it won't let me edit this stuff into my other post I think because it's too long (but I'm confused because there definitely wasn't a post limit of like 5000 characters before), so I'm putting it here instead.


Notes on Color
I'm not gonna claim to be an expert palette-maker by any means, but maybe I can offer a little insight.

Color Selection for the Tree: I think I used nine colors for the foliage and six for the trunk, which is a bit more than I originally wanted; I could've probably gotten away with one or two fewer on the foliage, at least, but this is the way it turned out. In any case, the shades on the outside of the palette aren't green: the brightest is yellow, and the darkest is purple or blue. The saturation is mid to low in general (except for the last couple highlights), and as I went darker, I picked grayer and bluer colors. Again, for the trunk, the lighter shades are considerably yellower and more saturated than the darker shades. And finally, the darkest shade on both the trunk and the foliage is the same, a grayish blue-purple that fits with both the brown and the green. I was trying to make it look more unified or something by shading both parts with this color. In general, shadows are bluer and grayer than highlights, which tend to be bright and yellowish.

Analyzing Palette Construction: One way to figure out how pixel artists pick good palettes is to open Photoshop or something with a nice color picker, paste something you like into a document, format their colors into a palette, and then go through them and really look at the values they picked. (In Photoshop, I'd sample the shades with the color picker open so I could see exactly where the little circle is and where it goes as I move through the palette.) How do saturation and hue change as the brightness changes? Look for trends and think about how you can use similar ones when picking your own colors.

Picking Colors: I don't generally do it this way, but check out this idea if you think it'll help you. Try not starting in the middle and moving outward a little when you decide you need more shading. Since level of contrast is important in making things look good and keeping your graphics consistent-looking, you might want to pick the most extreme shades right after the midtone you're using as a base (or at least try, but this sort of thing does change as you're working). Picking colors this way also lets you determine how many intermediate shades you want, which is important for stylistic consistency and color conservation if you're into that.



When I Have Problems
If I can't get something to look right, I do two things.

1. Google reference pictures or just look at the world around me. The importance of this cannot be understated; you can't draw something if you don't know what it looks like.
2. Look at other people's pixel art and try to figure out how they do it (but it should be noted that I always try to draw from real things first). I find this especially useful for textures, which I think is one of the hardest things about good pixel art. Off the top of my head, this guy is insanely good at pixel art, and there's tons of other great stuff around the Internet if you look.

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Last edited by Perihelion on Wed Oct 15, 2008 7:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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    006
  Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:44 pm
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Oh yes! I've been looking for a tree tutorial for ages, thank you Peri(Don't mind it if I call you that?), when I get a chance to try it out I'll post my outcome!


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    Venetia
  Wed Oct 15, 2008 11:52 pm
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Oh, isn't Fool amazing?? I've been following his work for a long time.

You're quite the pixel artist, Peri. And that's a beautiful tree.
It's nice to see someone come along and actually KNOW what they're talking about!

This gets Venetia's Super Secret Sauce Awesome Omega Seal of Approval (with a smallcake)!

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    Sonata
  Thu Oct 16, 2008 2:49 am
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This is really good. I've always had trouble with trees so this helps.


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    Toshi
  Sun Oct 19, 2008 8:15 am
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Woah, this tree rocks! Great tutorial btw. I love it. Keep up the great word.


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    Makasu
  Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:15 am
Peri did my avatar! <3
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Will you be doing more tuts or is it just a tree?

Thats a sexy tree for reals. :3

Most excellent. :3

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    Perihelion
  Tue Oct 21, 2008 6:29 am
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Glad you guys like it. If people are interested, I might do more walkthroughs, but it depends on how much pixel art I do in the near future. I think I've officially decided to do NaNoWriMo this November, which means I'm going to be doing basically nothing but writing in my spare time for the next month.

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    Scribblette
  Wed Oct 22, 2008 12:00 pm
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Whenever you do throw in more pixel art tutorials, though, people will love it. They're incredibly helpful and there's a serious dearth of tutorials on more complex items. People may start off mimicking you, but they'll find their way from there.

A big thank you for putting this one together. I wouldn't have minded seeing it for something half again or twice the size, as is more common now with RMXP & Kaisers, and to see how you deal with detail there, but it's still plenty helpful. I've been focusing on trees as is - finding that looking up bonsai trees helps more than looking at trees outright.

If you're looking for another topic, as you've mentioned, something I've seen mentioned often (and mentioned often myself) would be CLIFFS. They're rather something!

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    Perihelion
  Wed Oct 22, 2008 4:25 pm
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Hmm, I'd approach a bigger tree the same way; there's just more of it. I'd draw more leaves and make the trunk more intricate, maybe make the shapes of the leaf clusters more irregular and put more small gaps in the foliage, perhaps add a couple more colors, but I'd use the same process. I guess I could try doing bigger things if there's demand for it, but my current intent is to just save WIPs of the tiles I draw for my own game, which is gonna use my small Paradigm template.

As for cliffs, that's a good idea. I'll give it a shot at some point and turn it into a walkthrough if it doesn't suck, but you also have to remember that I haven't been drawing tiles for very long. :P I actually only got good at pixel art recently, so I'm still not sure what I'm capable of, but I want to help if I can. Anyone have any requests?

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Last edited by Perihelion on Wed Oct 22, 2008 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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    Walina
  Fri Oct 24, 2008 4:20 pm
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Which tool are you using for : refining ?

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    Perihelion
  Mon Oct 27, 2008 1:23 pm
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GraphicsGale's pen tool, which is the pencil in other programs. So it's the same as everything else. I'm not doing anything special and rarely do when making pixel art; hell, I almost never use the curved line tool, even.

Also, sorry for the late response; didn't see you there.

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    danyo34
  Fri Oct 31, 2008 9:08 pm
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Wow, that walkthrough was amazing, and it is the best (and only) tree tutorial I've seen here (of course I didn't look very thoroughly). I'm looking forward to more of these, and cliffs would be great!

P.S. I am also using GraphicsGale

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    Dean
  Sat Nov 01, 2008 2:45 pm
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This step here actually wouldn't make a bad shading style for a game.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v325/ ... /tree6.png[/img]

Oh right, mad pimp tut dude.

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    Balian
  Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:19 am
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Anyone have sunglasses? My eyes are burning at the amazingness of this tree. This is the tree the bible talked about with Adam and Eve.

Good work.

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