Exercise 4 – Pixel art
I wasn’t entirely sure where to begin with this idea so I researched some ideas online and reviewed some art that honours gaming from the 80s and 90s. The simple pixels of Pacman and Donkey Kong in the upright gaming console were engaging enough and the play and competitiveness in an arcade helped while away a summer.
This gave way to the early 90’s games console, a game you could play in the comfort of your own home if you had the patience to upload it. These were not mine, but avidly used by roommates in college. The artwork was detailed but the actual images for the game were 8bit images.
The first real quality images came about from Final Fantasy 7, when the pixels went up and the quality of the play went way up. The consoles, Xbox and PlayStation, created a frenzy each time they released a new console. The movie cuts within the games were astonishing and well ahead of its time.
Since then, digital games have gone from strength to strength and the level of detail within games can be more than realistic. First person play can get a little too real with a virtual headset and can be quite disorientating, but the experience in relation to graphics seems so far away from the original games from the early 90’s.
Nowadays pixels are more of a vintage nod to gaming, for effect and artistic style. There are more choices out there now rather than just games that are geared towards winning, cars or military style team operative objectives. There are indie games geared towards provoking thought about relevant current social issues. ‘Unmanned’ a game released in 2012 and with limited polygons, is a game that outlines the real challenge of becoming a solider, sitting in a cockpit and manning a drone for hours. It has moral queries in it and actions and outcomes.
Gris, another indie game, was created as a way to express how to deal with grief and loss. It focuses on the journey of a young girl as she processes her emotions across a beautiful and sometimes harsh landscape.
These games are aimed at addressing mental health issues and are vastly different from the games I played in the 90s. From an illustration perspective they’re completely different. Unmanned is a great example of simple art, almost pixel like, while Gris is finely detailed.
From here I tried to envision what type of pixel art I could make that would reflect something of an early 90s vibe while still having some of the flavour of an interesting illustration. I had some resistance to the exercise at first, but then proceeded to try and understand how to create the art in a pixel-by-pixel moment.
I downloaded an app for the pixel art as I found that it had the grids mapped out for me so I could fill them in and see the results quicker. Doing the graph paper wasn’t working for me and for some reason I simply couldn’t envision things. It was a weird feeling, almost like trying to rub your head and stomach at the same time. My coordination with it was off.
The app helped me to get past that and I created a number of assets in what turned out to be an expression of frustration with a neighbour. This exercise was actually helping my mental health, unknown to myself at the time.
So, the frustration with my neighbour became the focus for my sequential art and I chose to express it as a silent comic over 2 pages.
Background for story:
My neighbour’s friend parked his car at the end of my driveway while I was in my kitchen looking out, and proceeded to talk at the end of my drive with my neighbour. It was blatantly rude, and I didn’t like it, so I went outside and told him to move his car. They constantly infringe on my space, and it drives me nuts.
Instagram art – Pixel Pete – image of two assets and a bit of texture added in a colour burn layer in Procreate.
Alternative art for Instagram:
Drawing tool for pixel art (2021)