Halloween Tutorial: Pixel-Art with Andrew Scaife
Halloween is getting closer and closer. Lucky for us that we recently stumbled across Andrew Scaife’s fantastic pixel artworks of famous Horror-TV-Shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “The Walking Dead”. That’s why we gave him a call and asked him if he could show us how to create such fantastic LucasArts-style pixel images. And he said “Yes!” Enjoy this step-by-step tutorial and make sure to check Andrew’s blog for more of his wonderful work!
This picture is part of an ongoing project called Point & Click, where I take episodes of my favourite TV shows and re-imagine them as classic LucasArts point and click adventure games, like Monkey Island. I use the large Wacom Intuos Pen & Touch and create in Photoshop CC.
Step 1: Setting up the canvas & rough layout
I use reference pictures from the episode to help me design the layout and colour pallet.
The Photoshop canvas I set up is tiny; just 320x200 pixels – the same resolution used in old Amiga games. When the canvas is this small, everything looks pixelated.
I use the Pencil tool in Photoshop, which enables me to select individual pixels without any blurring at the edges.
I enable the pressure sensitivity of the tablet so I can be ‘looser’ when roughing out the layout, until I’m happy with the perspective and where everything needs to be.
Step 2: Filling the shapes
I deselect the pressure sensitivity and fill in all the shapes with colour. Each one in its own layer, starting with the sky at the back, then the tree line, buildings etc., eventually working my way to the front of the picture.
Step 3: Rendering each layer
I set up a new layer on top of each of the shapes. Then right click on the layer in Photoshop and set it as a clipping mask. This means that anything I draw in that layer will only show within the boundaries of the shape underneath it. This basically means I no longer need to worry about colouring in over the edges.
I enable the pressure sensitivity and then paint in each shape. For the trees, I started with a darker green and shaded the tones of the branches. I did this quite quickly; it didn’t need to be too precise. I then went a bit darker and reduced the pencil size, adding more detail each time. Finally, I picked out the highlights with a lighter green following the same process.
Step 4: Adding the characters
I always think this step is going to be the quickest and always ends up taking the longest.
The characters are roughed in the same way as the background. I then set up a layer behind them and draw in a bright blue colour. This makes them easier to see against the background.
I deselect the pressure sensitivity (this needs to be precise). There’s lots of trial and error and not many pixels to use as I try to make the faces and body shapes work.
Step 5: Shading the characters and adding final details
I set up clipping masks over the character layer, but set it to Multiply and change the opacity to around 30%. Using black, I add shadows. I then set up another layer, set to Overlay at a 50% opacity and use white to add highlights. The items in the inventory at the bottom are added in this same way.
For the wire fence here, I picked a mid-grey tone and drew in the criss-cross lines. I then lowered the layer opacity to 20%, set up a clipping mask and shaded the fence in relation to what was behind it; darker in front of the sky, lighter in front of the trees.
After flattening the image, I changed the image size and made sure that ‘Nearest Neighbour (hard edges)’ was selected. This made sure all the pixelated edges stayed, no matter how big I made the final image.
And that’s all folks – Happy Halloween!
For more free tutorials and eBooks from skilled artists visit www.wacom.com/createmore.
Andrew Scaife is an UK based writer/illustrator/comic-drawer. He published his first comic “New York Park” last year which is now available on Comixology or in print from his web store: andrewscaife.tumblr.com / @andrewscaife.