Creating pixel art

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By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2837)

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12-10-2018, 02:11

hit9918 wrote:
R_Leo_1 wrote:

wow. the MSX version :D

Yeah! I must say the same! Brilliant!

By R_Leo_1

Resident (43)

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12-10-2018, 02:13

sd_snatcher wrote:

Yeah! I must say the same! Brilliant!

Thank you so much! I really appreciate it Big smile I'm working on some MSX2 pixel art now lol

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2837)

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12-10-2018, 04:41

Good to hear! If it can be of help, I can send you GIMP palette files for the MSX1 and MSX2.

Oh! One important tip: the MSX base Pixel Aspect Ratio is 1.138. So its pixels are slightly rectangular.

By R_Leo_1

Resident (43)

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12-10-2018, 05:38

The palette files would be a lot of help, thanks! I'm not sure how I would adjust the pixel aspect ratio, is there a program that can do it?

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2837)

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12-10-2018, 09:42

Here's an excellent article on how to edit with non-square pixels on GIMP. Photoshop has a similar feature.

Here's the table of PPI (Pixels per Inch) settings to configure on the Image->Print Size menu of GIMP, depending on the MSX resolution you want to work:

  • 256x192 or 256x212: X_PPI = 21.089, Y_PPI = 24
  • 512x212: X_PPI = 42.179, Y_PPI = 24
  • 256x424: X_PPI = 21.089, Y_PPI = 48
  • 512x424: X_PPI = 42.179, Y_PPI = 48

For the resolutions supported by each MSX screen mode, please check the list of screen modes I sent you via e-mail.

Important: Do not forget to deactivate the View->Dot-for-dot option on the GIMP to be able to edit with non-square pixels.

By R_Leo_1

Resident (43)

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12-10-2018, 12:57

Thank you so much for the email, all that info will be so useful! Also thanks for the info on non-square pixels, I'll definitely be using all of this. I'm hoping I can finish up my first MSX2 pixel art image today lol

By R_Leo_1

Resident (43)

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13-10-2018, 04:01

sd_snatcher wrote:

Ok, R_Leo_1 will be then.

piroPAINT_9918 is a very good drawing tool. So, you have the native .SC2 files. Could you please send me these files so I don't have to back convert from the PNG images? You can send them to my e-mail: sdsnatcheralpha at that big mail service from google.

I myself use The GIMP with a 8x8 grid enabled and Pixel Polizei running in parallel to alert me whenever I place incorrect pixels.

I took the liberty of putting my crayons in your Kwalgart image, to de-speccy-fy it and make it more MSX looking. I hope you like the result: :)

I'm sorry for the late reply, I had totally missed this response! I'm not actually sure I have any files with a .SC2 extension, I only have .BMP, is there a program that can convert it to the correct filetype? The touched up image looks great BTW!

By JohnHassink

Ambassador (5332)

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13-10-2018, 13:13

R_Leo_1 wrote:

I'm not actually sure I have any files with a .SC2 extension, I only have .BMP, is there a program that can convert it to the correct filetype?

Maybe MSXView:
https://www.msx.org/downloads/related/graphics/msxview
or BMP2MSX:
http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~hra/software/bmptomsx/index.htm

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2837)

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13-10-2018, 15:21

R_Leo_1 wrote:

I'm sorry for the late reply, I had totally missed this response!

I suspected this had happened. No sweat. Smile

Quote:

I'm not actually sure I have any files with a .SC2 extension, I only have .BMP, is there a program that can convert it to the correct filetype?

Don't worry. I can convert those images for the Pixel Art Collection then. This happened many times with some Japanese artists too. A lot of them are willing to create content for the MSX, but have no idea how to save them in native formats.

About the programs, there are many conversion tools, so I'll only list here the ones I got the best results for each type of scenario. They're listed in no specific order:

1) Pixel Polizei

It can convert from PNG->SC2 and vice-versa. Since it doesn't try to smart guess what to do with illegal pixels (instead, it just highlights those), it's the best tool for either help on the creation images from scratch, or for retouches.

The idea is that you can use any modern image editor like described in this article, then keep Pixel Polizei running in parallel with the "Auto check" option enabled. Every time you save the PNG file, Pixel Polizei will automatically check it and highlight any illegal pixels. Once you have finished your image, you can just click on the "Save SC2" button on Pixel Polizei and you're done.

Note: Pixel Polizei supports many different platforms, but on the MSX it only supports screen-2. I really wish it could support screen-10 and screen-12 too, since it would be a great help for retouching images in these modes, as it's so hard to find tools to create content for them.

2) MIFui

MIFui is the best all round MSX image conversion tool I have ever used. It supports all MSX1/2/2+ graphic modes and has plenty of different conversion algorithms. It uses very clever algorithms to find the best solutions on the screen modes that have color clash. The only thing I really miss on it is a bayer dithering.

It's best scenario is to act as an advanced modern replacement for a scanner or digitiser. So, as any respectable artist never consider a straight scan as a finished digital work because they will still be very "dirty", this means that you will still have to retouch/cleanup the image after the conversion. But MIFui takes a lot of the burden of the initial hard work from your shoulders, leaving you with more free time to be creative with the content itself. Preprocessing and retouching the image before/after the conversion is enough hard work on itself.

Bonus tip: It's only dithering algorithm nowadays is error diffusion. As you know, this isn't considered adequate for Pixel Art, and should only be used for photos. So, for drawings, just leave the dithering set to zero, unless you really want your drawings to have a sand-like effect.

3) Janonne's online MSX Screen Converter

Before MIFui, I used to use this tool a lot. They're pretty similar and MIFui has surpassed it in many ways, but Janonne's is still useful when you don't have a way to easily run or install MIFui.

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To view images in legacy native formats, your best choice is to use RECOIL. It supports a plethora of native formats from a multitude of classic platforms.

Why use native formats? Because when Pixel Art for legacy systems is converted to modern formats, it tends to be damaged. It inevitably ends up either being:

  • Saved with lossy compression like JPG
  • Saved on PNG/GIF but it's stretched to try to match the original aspect ratio, damaging it beyond repair when the Pixel Aspect Ratio isn't an integer number.
  • Having some sort of gamma or color "correction" applied that results in out-of-gamut colors that the original system wasn't able to reproduce

Keeping them in native formats assure that they can be viewed on its intended hardware, and that no such damage will occur.

By sd_snatcher

Prophet (2837)

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13-10-2018, 15:57

Quote:

The touched up image looks great BTW!

Thank you! This only happened because the original source material was already great, you know. Smile

I just treated it as a raw scan that needed cleanup/post-processing, and tried my best to achieve what I thought it was be best possible representation of the artist original intention, under the heavy constraints of the screen-2.

As you already noticed, modes with color clash like the MSX screens 2, 10 and 12 are very tricky and require some special technics (many of them illusion tricks) to achieve good results.

I also reworked your SplashScreen.png image to clean up the "piroPAINTness" from it. What I mean by that is that piroPAINT (like any other screen-2 conversion tool) have some algorithm to try to solve conflicts when it converts from a source material that has illegal pixels. This is funny, because it also means that each of those tools leave behind a "signature" for those areas where it had to decide what to do with the color clash.

PiroPAINT does a very clear pattern of 8-pixel wide dithering that makes the color clash very evident in those areas. It just try to preserve the black lines and fills the background color with these 8-pixel-wide bleeds.

If you wish, I can post the reworked SplashScreen image here, so you can see yourself what I did to post-process the image after the conversion, kinda like a pack of tips in a single image. Wink
Again, screen-2 just can't perfectly reproduce your drawings, so the post-processing is a matter of trying the best to represent the artist intention while choosing what and how will be discarded/modified.

OTOH, the MSX2 leaves you with way more freedom to have your material fully represented. Screen-8 is by far one of the best pixel art modes amongst any of the 80's 8-bit platforms, allowing the artist to have more creative freedom to achieve incredible results.

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