Pixel art, 1 year of learning

    Hello, my name is Curtis Krommenhoek and I am an artist and game developer at Metahobby. I started programming in my senior year of highschool, where I developed a love for coding. I’ve learned the tools over the past two years of becoming a Software Engineer at a school in Silicon Valley called 42. During my time at this school, roughly one year ago actually, a friend and mentor of mine sparked my interest in creating pixel art. 

    Living my life as an artist and an avid gamer, pixel art has always intrigued me with its unique retro style. I have always felt like I wanted to create pixel art, but never felt I had the specific tools or even the need to use that specific art style. The little research I did on the topic showed me that a lot of people just use Photoshop for pixel art, and I knew before even trying that I did not want to use Photoshop workflow to create pixel art. I lost motivation and never even considered trying pixel art until a friend of mine was building a small platformer game in an engine called Godot 3.0. He showed me not only the Godot IDE and its ease of use, but the program that I have been using to this day called Aseprite.

    Aseprite immediately felt natural for creating sprites and pixel art. The interface lends itself to the simplicity, but the tools go as deep as you want to go for creating art (not to mention the scripting portion). Finally I found the tool that I had always dreamed about and started creating pixel art. I knew bits of animation techniques which helped me jumpstart my drawings into actually moving sprites. I started out small, as I do with most things I learn, and tried to hone in the base knowledge of what pixel art was all about. I started with small canvas’, only drawing sprites of objects and even my friends around me. I started to grow more comfortable with the workflow of the program, and this allowed me to start branching out into more colorful scenery and backdrops. I discovered that the best place to learn pixel art was from observing other pixel artists and using the tutorials and different techniques that they use.

    About a year after and a humble mastery of the program, I began creating sprites and art for actual games at Metahobby. The jump from casual pixel art to game art showed me that I still had much more to learn. Needing to format art in a programmatic way, I began using Gamemaker Studio 2 after joining Metahobby. The development of our first game allowed me to embrace short comings and use shortcuts to produce art faster. Art has always taken time. It typically takes longer than the actual development in most cases. The pressure of needing assets in a game as well as needing to produce them with quality allowed me to learn some very important things very quickly. Game art must be done to specific aspect ratios in order to keep the game continuous. This means that you must pick a size to draw one sprite, and every other sprite should be proportional to that one. I started to really try to push myself to learn different lighting effects and see everything that you can do with smaller palettes. I started drawing sprites and landscapes using 5 colors in a pallete to really challenge myself with new effects and better detail.