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Pixel Art Process by Cyangmou Pixel Art Process by Cyangmou
Garlic WIP-gif

related tutorials:

If you don't read those tutos so far, you definitely should, I think they are great and they also explain a lot of common knowledge.

What is Pixelart (by *Pix3M) explains differences between styles and resolutions and the general approach of pixel art, really easy to understand.
Ramblethread (Pixelation) Focuses on a lot of interesting techniques, especially Clusters, Helm was really gentle to provide that much of his great and insightful „half assed theories“ everyone should enjoy.
The Pixel Art Tutorial (by Cure) extensive overview about pixel art (put in a nutshell), definitely worth a read, but it's maybe here and there hard to understand if you are a beginner, since it's really on point and don't gives a lot additional information.

If something is unclear or needs more explanation, please write it in the comments.
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Turtlekisskiss Featured By Owner Dec 18, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
THANKS X10000000000 for real though I made some pixel art that WASN'T terrible!!
Plamenator Featured By Owner Sep 23, 2014  Student Interface Designer
MAN... Pumba sure has changed!
Fanicom Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Never I have seen an onion so magnificent :v thanks for the tutorial!
JoryRFerrell Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Professional Artist
How much would you charge for an image like the bull?

How much for an animated version?
JoryRFerrell Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014  Professional Artist
"image like the *boar*" rather....
ShoeboxSymphony Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2014
Wow, I really could use this. I think I should fave this rather to help myself than anything else. I think this should help me a lot!
Lazydays-Studios Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
When I clicked on this I didn't expect a garlic... or onion. Ya know I can't tell the difference XD. Nice work though.
Banished-Dreams Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014
Excellent work! This is incredibly helpful, especially on step 7 with anti aliasing and touching up jagged linework.
trajectorymodifier Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2014
Fantastic work, very inspiring -- I love how the pixel looks better than the real thing in the end.
thanewdude07 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Holy crap! Thanks for the tutorial! I have been in and out latel but once i get back in the loop again i am gonna be giving this a shot!
TehAngelsCry Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Hey there! :wave: 
Your tutorial has been featured in my weekly journal: Tutorial Tuesday #26!
I'd love if you could take a look and support your fellow deviants through comments on their tutorials :la:
AzKai Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2013  Professional Interface Designer
Awesome as always, Cyan! Thank you for this wonderful tutorial!
Calbak Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks so much!
Rookie141 Featured By Owner Nov 17, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
fail. the pixel onion looks more realistic than the photo xDD
shanenopolis Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
Really great work! I've always preferred the "shape & cluster" approach myself, because I hate cartoony outlines. Great job, good advice!
petiteUlis Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013
Thank you ! I will recommand this tutorial !
MissMort-Bases Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013
whoa even though I saw it happen I still can't believe it!!!
hklg Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013
But isn't it what we would all instinctively do?
TeenyTinyTentacles Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013   General Artist
Great tutorial but the main issue I have with this is that this appears to heavily rely on references, down to color, pose, and lighting. I'm sure this is just and example to show how this method can be used. However when it comes to pixeling say, original characters, or a variety of food concepts, the right references just can't be found, or if the artist is using multiple references for one image, this method doesn't seem  like it would work. This method feels rather limiting in both creativity and variety and feels like it's limiting a pixeler to just pixelizing images that already exist.

If you could maybe elaborate as what advantages other than "this is way faster" this method has?
Cyangmou Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I thought a lot which piece of art I should use and I came to the conclusion that it's maybe best to go with a realistic approach and something common.
Why? Because you can see the effectiveness of the process against something valid you experienced already in life and you can compare it to that experience.

If you are going for an original design, like sprites you can explain things with "that's the style" "that's wanted like this" and so on.
When it starts with getting really complex like small scale human sprites optimized for animation and you have to explain that a cluster looks best like a given form because the underlying form of anatomy and what you have to keep in mind for animating it leads you to that choice needs a far more advanced artistical background and a much higher level of experience.

The tutorial is absolutely not about the subject, it's about the effectiveness of the workflow and when it's best to tackle certain problems.
colors are as stated picked out of the photo - to keep it simple. I don't even talk about them, since they are irrelevant for the process - you will anyways have a given palette or adjust and optimize them during the workflow.

This process also let's you also create a piece in different stages, but let's it look unified at the same time. It's faster while it also gives you a lot of control, supports forms and shading much better and you aren't restricted by an earlier drawn line anymore. I think this are some serious advantages everybody should consider.

like lineart it works for everything.
I don't say it's the easiest or best approach on tackling every thing. It's mainly a different concept one can consider and should know of and most probably 99% (if not more) of deviantarts pixel art is made with underlying line art and it's the only approach shown all ove rthe place.
If I have to do strict line stuff like architecture, I'd also go for lines (like the bg in the darksouls piece was made with underlying line art)

If anyone feels limited with that technique than maybe because the person don't understood the concepts I talked of, it don't makes sense to that person, or the person can't think with forms, clusters and shapes.
The intention of the tutorial is not to learn how to think with shapes (this is not possible through a smple tut). It's purpose is to show that it's possible to work this way.

another example for you, from imagination:…
TeenyTinyTentacles Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013   General Artist
Thank you! It makes a lot more sense now. :)
Nebelstern Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013   Digital Artist
how come nobody can explain how palettes work tho? ; P
Cyangmou Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
there are dozens of tuts on deviantart which concentrate solely on the use of colors for nearly everything.
Not for pixelart, rather for digital art.
However as long as you have 2 contrasting colors this workflow will be possible.
Nebelstern Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013   Digital Artist
mmh, well none of the tutorials about colors i have read so far, in the last few years, could help me answer the question ( especially in pixel art ) how to know which colors to pick - for example how did you know which color you had to pick - how come you didn't pick the color an inch left or an inch right of it? there are like millions of colors to chose from.
caradecunha2 Featured By Owner Oct 28, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You could also think that besides the explanation a big part to help you know which color to pick from is to just constantly practicing and getting some feedback on what you did. The color theory tutorials on deviantart all helped me understand the effect that each color has with each other, and how the colors work together - I think this all helps you when you start picking your colors.

I know I'm not great - heck, I know I'm not good - but I also know that I'm better than people who haven't read on color theory and who have practiced less than me. OH and yea I don't think I've done any pixel art - but I think the guiding principles are really the same :3

And wow. Just noticed I'm replying to something super old xD
Cyangmou Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
you can't look at single colors.  You have the feel overall impression.
I picked the colors which seemed to be appropriate as overall color of a cluster area - the middle so to say.
In step 4 I chose those colors which value and hue seemed to be appropriate for the big areas. There would have been a lot of possibilities, but I just went with a midtone.
In step 5 I put a lot more thoughts in which clusters I want to illustrate.
In step 6 I wanted to have ramps with similar contrasts between all colors.
to achieve ramps with similar contrast level you have to pick your colors and adjust the contrast manually. Once some ramps intersect you maybe have to adjust parts of both ramps with a focus on the intersecting color. I adjusted lots of colors during the process slightly.

In the organized palette (step 8) you can see the contrasting levels and the colors sorted by ramps. There'd be potential for tweaking some of them.
Nebelstern Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013   Digital Artist
I thought that was a REAL garlic at first ; D amazing!
LuneDreamer Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
awesome ;u;
Celvas Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013
Oh my God. I'd rather eat yours. The amount of detail blows my mind. Just look at the stem. :o Which translates as: Very nice. Thank you for sharing. I am trying my hand at pixel art and found myself in want of an explanation my brain could pick up. Found it.
FinoRaptor Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
MamaELM Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Professional General Artist
Too bad you just got a DD 2 weeks ago, cause this one is just, completely amazing. :wow:

I love this style so much more, and I'm totally going to try it out.
Pix3M Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013   Digital Artist
From experience, I also find the line approach to make people work at enormous scales especially if you're the artist who falls into the trap of reading how-to tutorials. I've started with this as well and it results in making pixel art much bigger than needed as I *have* to use a resolution large enough to make guidelines tidy enough to be read. I would not be surprised if a lot of pixel art comes off as oversized oekaki for this reason alone.
Cyangmou Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
I think nearly everyone who starts with pixel art starts with lines.
And yeah, it's true, you are getting much bigger with the line approach, which is a great observation as well.
I can't remember how many tuts I have seen which are suggesting that technique as best solution.

The "Shape & Cluster" technique however can be executed to point 5 on a higher resolution and since you have already fixed all action lines and proportions you can effectively make a piece smaller. This works also nice with a lot of stuff and leads to good looking smaller sprites.

I don't get why "huge" pixels are usually "great" pixels.
Size seems to imply working time. Maybe that's what makes the stuff good for a lot of people.
Pix3M Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2013   Digital Artist
I don't think the size issue is necessarily a particular mystery.

I remember that Michelangelo's David was intended to represent a very idealized figure. It makes the right impact at its size as it makes people literally look up to the statue, so they're looking up to an idealized figure. It would not make the same impact if the statue was a mere figurine placed on the ground.

I guess it depends on the piece. Sometimes the size and scale is the part of the art itself.
0shawn0 Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I really like this approach better, I find trying to follow the outline first approach makes things take far too long. I definitely will keep this technique in mind next time I attempt pixel. c:

Thanks for the awesome tutorial!
Xeshaire Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
For some reason you made the photo look like an HD version with your skills, definitely a well done piece! ^_^
Frankzo Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2013
Hey man, thanks alot for showing us your process!
I'm gonna fav this tutorial right now. :)
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