Tag Archives: pixel art

Interview on Quote Unquote

A clip from a screenshot of my unreleased OssuarySteve Cook interviewed me for his great quotation and interview site Quote Unquote. In it he asks some good questions, including putting me on the spot regarding the pixelly aesthetic of a lot of my games.

I go back and forth on pixel art. A lot of people regard it as amateurish: a way to compensate for lack of drawing ability. Others dismiss it as nostalgia for childhood games. I think that there’s bad pixel art and amazing pixel art, and while there’s definitely nostalgia there, that very nostalgia can be useful for artistic purposes. My own pixel art isn’t anywhere close to the quality that many artists achieve, of course, but I think it’s passable for my purposes.

Pixel art is visual video game shorthand for an array of things: childishness, simplicity, or even a sort of wisdom born from history. It’s also the video game equivalent of cartooning. Pixel art stylizes and pointillizes, making its subjects more universal and accessible. It’s also a deliberate acknowledgement of the artificiality of the device being used. In a time where the iPhone’s Retina display resolution is at the upper limits of the human eye, pixel art exposes the underlying structure of the screen.

Anyway, enough rambling. Check out the interview, and read some of the other stuff on the site; there are a lot of cool things there! He also included some previously-unseen pieces of concept art and miscellany behind a link at the end of the article, if you’re interested.

On Pixel Art and Design Decisions

I got a comment from David that I’d like to highlight and address, because I believe it highlights a misconception folks have about pixel art and the style of my games. I’ll cut the comment for length, but try to retain the intent.

Iā€™m a visual artist, so critiquing your visuals is all I feel arrogant enough to do. They were well executed and suited their purpose in “Bars of Black and White” and in Exploit (and in the “Majesty of Colors” they were exquisite), but in “Sugarcore” and “How to Raise a Dragon” they cause the games to suffer. In “How to Raise a Dragon”, the pixels are not a bad idea, but they are also sort of sloppy looking. They are used in lieu of more detailed graphics to avoid having to draw, right? They are probably better than the alternative, but the use of pixels should not become your crutch. Instead it should be used to artistic effect.

The art style in “Dragon” was definitely chosen for artistic effect, not to avoid making art. Continue reading On Pixel Art and Design Decisions