In this report I will be analysing what I have discovered about my chosen discipline throughout Unit 12; Pixel art. I will be covering what I have learnt about the contextual perspectives of pixel art, such as the historical, social, cultural and industrial factors that have had an effect on the development of my specialist area. I will discuss how researching the contextual perspectives of pixel art have influenced the work that I have created. I shall also be covering what I have learnt from the research tasks I have undertaken and how they have helped me develop my ideas in practice for my Final Major Project. I will also be reviewing the techniques I used in order to do my work.
I started at the basics of simply listing down on a mind map the things I love and some of my key interests. Although this did not help with discovering my chosen discipline, it has given some pointers of the topics/themes I could use for my Final Major Project. I already had a chosen discipline that I want to do for my Final Major Project by this time so a lot of the work for the first 2 weeks was really more about self discovery in general.
In the same couple of weeks I did other forms of research so that I could be more comfortable with different methods of gathering information from different sources. The methods I used to learn more about myself were the Myers Briggs test and interviews. These techniques did allow for me to learn a lot more about myself which was really useful, however these techniques had obvious downsides to them. The Myers Briggs test is conducted on a 1-5 scale and doesn’t allow for personality to come out well enough in answers, despite this it can be quite accurate. Interviews are much more personal which is good but if the interviewer or the interviewee aren’t open enough with their questions/answers then the information can be lacking in quality.
Neither of these methods proved useful in developing any ideas for my Final Major Project or in learning more about the contextual perspectives of my chosen discipline.
What did help when researching was the use of Boolean Operators which I covered in week 3. Boolean Operators can be extremely useful in pinpointing information and reducing search results to what I was after. I first used it in when developing my research skills by doing a group project on Skateboards.
As can be soon the simple elimination of the word “culture” got rid of anything to do with skateboarding culture and pinpointed the results down the development of the decks themselves by removing over 5 million results. This helped greatly with all my research after that.
After I did this, I used the techniques I had learned to research into some of the historical and industrial factors that affected the development of pixel art, focusing on the origin and some of the more traditional that pixel art can relate to. This allowed me to understand the industry a bit better as I now know about the system that pretty much gave birth to modern systems such as Adobe Photoshop. I also looked at how pixel art, pixel by pixel style can relate back to arts such as Mosaics and Cross Stitching, this was to allow myself the opportunity to take influence from much more historical pieces of art.
Following up from that I decided to develop my skills within the area via experimentation. To start I looked into modern examples of how pixel art games play around the theme of fear. The first game I looked into was Teddy Terror which draws from social ideas of childhood fears such as bullying, eating healthy/vegetables, the dentist/teeth falling out and more. I realised I could also use people’s real world fears and exaggerate them within a game or a piece of art.
The second game I looked into was Lone Survivor which portrays fear through mental instability and most importantly, the environment. The game uses extremely dark environment both colour and setting wise to create a sense of the unknown/being unable to see what’s coming. This gave me a perspective of how important environment can be when creating specific settings.
These both inspired my experimentation of fear greatly in which I played around the ideas of both the unknown and conspiracy theories (real world fears to some) in my piece of Area 51.
Although I used a limited pixel amount due to a lack of time to make this a larger piece, this successfully helped me to develop my skills with pixel art in which I used it as a gateway to do more experimentation in something I’m more interested, character/item pixel art.
Before I started creating my own characters I looked for references/inspirations. My most prominent one being the original final fantasy game which I used for design inspirations when creating the character but I found an extremely useful guide by Glauber Kotaki which covers recommended pixel grid sizes for creating characters on as well as that it is always best to work on a grid size that falls in the power of 2 as most engines will be able to run it, the issue I did find with the guide was that it is a few years old and could fall out of date with current industry practices if they have changed, something which is key to keep in mind when researching.
My first character design was inspired by a character from World of Warcraft (Uther) who himself is inspired directly by the historical Legend of King Arthur. It always good to have inspiration when creating a piece of work otherwise you can find yourself stuck at times with how to design something. Above are the 3 references I used and my finished product.
However for my second piece I used a character who is quite cemented into pop culture nowadays after the extremely Lord of the Rings trilogy (Gandalf). Although he is a character from books and films, he is extremely well-known in the Western World and anyone who has seen him would be able recognise where I got my inspiration from. This was also an experimentation of recreating something from an image into pixel art. It was also in this piece where I heavily focused on not using a variety of colours but instead different tones of one to portray shading.
For my last experimentation piece I created a holy spell book which went through a different approach of creating it as the other were done straight on computer but for this I started off on paper. Doing it this way helped me greatly in determining which production process I preferred so that when I come to my Final Major Project I’ll know that I don’t want to create it on paper first.
These were all effective primary research techniques used in helping me understand character design, the importance of shading, and how to create pixel art in isometric view.
In order to get a better understanding of industry practices I decided to do a report on a contemporary and an early practitioner. I firstly did a report on Glauber Kotaki and a game he worked on called Rogue Legacy. I looked at how narrative played a role in that game without being told directly through the story but rather optionally through journals that could be found around the map. This way of telling story can be quite effective as it is there for those who are interested but doesn’t draw the player from the gameplay which is definitely a method I could use in my Final Major Project if I attempt to make an environment or a small game demo. The narrative of the story is also used to tackle hard-hitting real world issues such loss and pressure to continue what the predecessor started/continued, is loyalty always worth it and most possibly the biggest twist of the game, deceit. I could use real world events/issues in my work as well and tell them through the use of my chosen discipline.
While researching into the game I found out a bit about the processes they undertook, I learned a lot about how things don’t always go to plan and that sometimes it’s better to not add a feature even if I think it’s good. They went through many ideas and spent hundreds of hours just trying to found artists for the game. It reminded me that despite the fact it can be long and hard work it really can be worth it as Rogue Legacy was a huge success.
I found an article by Glauber Kotaki while doing my research that talks about some of the techniques he used and as he is pixel artist, it was quite useful. In the article he talks about how he created each body part as a group of many different layers, this meant he could create animations just by changing positions of the body parts instead of drawing more frames. Having the body parts layered in this way meant that he could also make slight changes to armour pieces separately so that each new character would look different from the last.
While researching more into Glauber I found his YouTube channel where he has uploaded time lapses of him creating pixel art. I watched a few of them and from that I saw how I could improve my own creative progress when it comes to fleshing out the base of the character. When he silhouettes he makes sure to choose a colour that allows him to add depth so when he comes around to each body part, he knows if it’s in front or behind and if it needs shading or not. I think I will definitely do this with my pieces from now on because I have had some trouble remembering the exact shape of limbs when they overlap other parts of the body. Glauber was already a huge influence on my work and will continue to be the main influence in my designs.
Although they are still creating work today I chose eBoy as my early practitioner as their story is a surprising one and I could learn a lot from it, both creatively and personally. I decided to focus on Steffen Sauerteig from the group of three. From my research I learned about how Steffen grew up in East Berlin as the son of a General in the East German army, which in turn caused him to be active within politics when he was a teen. After he had finished high school he became an electrician for East German TV but gave up that job after a year as he got bored with creating state propaganda. He spent his whole life wanting to go to West Berlin and see the wonders of the Western World that he only ever heard about on the radio. By the age of 21 the wall had fallen and I didn’t notice till he spoke about it in an interview about how much colour there is supermarkets, he talks about how he was amazed by all the colour which is definitely reflected in the work he produces as eBoy make very colourful pieces.
“All the buildings were worn down. No billboards, not even that many trees. In the West it was shiny, everything was colorful.” – Sauerteig.
After writing the report of Glauber I decided to try creating a more visual way of representing data as a jungle of information can be too much, especially when trying to find a specific piece of information within it. I decided to create an infographic on Steffen and eBoy, I was after a balance of eye-catching visuals and key points of information.
I definitely prefer this as a way to represent data as it’s aesthetically appealing as well as useful for any who are trying to research into Steffen or eBoy.
Everything done in Unit 12 was preparation for my Final Major Project by learning more about my chosen discipline and how both personal and industrial influences can/will affect my work. I started from the ground up, progressing step by step by starting from my interests/passions and who am I as a person before moving onto researching pixel art. I reviewed and discussed the key/relevant pieces of the work conducted in order to explain what I learned about my chosen discipline, as well as analyse the factors that influenced my work and me as a person. I also analysed how I could use the information I gathered to inform my creative processes and the different methods of primary and secondary research I used. I found many ways to use art to convey colour, emotion, societal, cultural and historical factors. I learned a good amount about these contextual perspectives in the few weeks I have had and how they affect the industry and my work. In my experimentation I got to apply the knowledge I have gathered in my work and hope to continue to do so with all of my future pieces. Everything I have learned through Unit 12 will be helpful even if it doesn’t affect my work directly as it will be in the back of my mind and will continue to inspire me in my work. I learned a lot about visual representation as well which hopefully has been reflected within this report through my use of images to both support my work and keep the report appealing to whomever reads it. The key thing that Unit 12 has taught me is to use Boolean Operators as much as possible when researching anything as it can clear away so much of the unwanted results and I quickly found myself using for work both in and outside of college.
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