Pixel Art Course 2

    This is a translation of the publication Les Forges Pixel Art Course .

    Part 1: The right tools
    Part 2: Lines and curves
    Part 3: Perspectives
    Part 4: Shadow and light
    Part 5: Color palettes
    Part 6: Smoothing
    Part 7: Textures and blur
    Part 8: World of tiles

    Part 2: Lines and Curves

    If you are not an accomplished artist, the best way to start drawing is to do it with a pencil, and then ink, then colorize. The same applies to pixel art: the first step in the image is to outline the contours - this step is called “line art”. Line art is a very important step to achieve a good result. A few pixels of your image can be a large part of it (as opposed to drawing, where the scale allows more assumptions) so an error of one or two pixels can make your character look distorted. For clarity, the precision of the line art is R-E-W-A-Y-U-SC-E-Y for pixel art success.

    1. Direct


    The line drawing consists mainly of lines and curves, and we begin the discussion with straight lines. Those of you who have studied in a math class know that a line is characterized by its slope. This is the coefficient of “change y”, to “change x”. In this course, we will present this coefficient as y: x. Thus, the ideal diagonal line from “bottom left” to “top right” is a straight line 1: 1. Here are some simple rules and their ratios illustrating this idea.


    In pixel art, lines that use these simple coefficients (0: 1, 1: 2, 1: 1, 2: 1, and 1: 0) are called "ideal lines." They make your image look good, because the eye can easily follow it. They, this is not all that you can draw, you can use for example “auxiliary” lines, alternating segments with a length of 2, with segments of a length of 1 (to simulate segments with a length of 1.5 - see the example image). The result is much less aesthetic (especially since the image is 4 times enlarged so you can see what happened) and shows why this is so important, use these types of lines carefully. They are still useful, and you will learn how to decorate in the following sections of this course.

    2. Curves

    Okay, now you know how to draw lines, but you will not go far, only with straight lines. Let then consider curves that are more complex. Unlike lines, curves can be good or bad.


    There is only one rule to achieve a smooth curve: the length of the segments will change in a progressive manner, and you should avoid right angles. Okay, these are two rules, but in fact, the second is part of the first. For example: in Green you can see a good curve that follows this rule perfectly. (From left to right, length 5 4 3 2 2 1 1 1 2 3 3 3 2 1 1 2 2 1 2 1 2 1 1). The red curve, on the other hand, shamelessly neglects (notice the right angle that appears in the curve). In the end, a good technique for drawing a curve is to draw a curve with your hand (we will get something like a red curve) and then correct it until it follows the “rule”. This ensures that the curve will look as you need. That's all about the curves. In conclusion, I will leave you some simple examples of this course. The first is the dragon with curves illustrating the principles outlined above; the second is the sword, which shows that sometimes more angular lines (look at the tip and hilt) can also be useful in some cases.


    I highly recommend that you practice your line art before you continue reading - you need this to complete the rest of the course (for example, I'll use the dragon pictured above). If you have problems, you can always use a scanned drawing.

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