The Joker has come a long way since Cesar Romero’s day, now over fifty years ago – and even his incarnation changed over the course of the TV series. While not my absolute favourite, it’s hard not to enjoy Cesar’s Joker. I note that neither Jack Nicholson nor Heath Ledger had the balls to challenge Batman to a surfing contest.
The new film, of course, gives Joaquin Phoenix the luxury of no Caped Crusader to steal his airtime (though, having re-watched the 1989 film recently, you could argue Nicholson was almost there himself). The characters are so inter-twined, it’ll be interesting just to see what exactly he gets up to and where the film goes with no yang to his yin. One thing is for sure, though: Joker is the Bat villain who should be able to pull such an exploration off, and Phoenix’s interpretation of the character certainly piques interest from the trailer, even if I do still wish someone would give the classic comic book/1989 Joker another serious shot.
This portrait was a something of a botched experiment, really – as well as a desperate attempt to shut out the unholy row of Strictly Come Dancing. I was going for a glitch effect between the two Jokers, but my attempts at the effect really did not work, so I separated the two and gave them a clean relief. That’s why I love digital: easy re-purposing. Maybe it should be grittier and maybe I should have spent some time planning the composition instead of rushing in. I suppose there are a few more Jokers to choose, should I want a second go.
Well well, hasn’t it been a while since my last post here? Almost half a year, in fact. I’ve mostly been too busy to keep this place going, and, if you’re wondering what would cause such a frightful thing, I kindly direct you to the top of my sidebar. Exciting stuff.
Anyway, I’m on a little break from that and the weather had me finally back in the mood for drawing. Usually when weather is the driving force, it’s winter and freezing; today, it’s 33C just on the coast, and that’s forecast to rise over the next couple of days. I cannot wait. Naturally I chose a sunset – the sign that it’s now safe to head outside – playing behind the old faithful.
And here’s something a little different, which I’ve been meaning to try for some time: a more ‘printerly’ aesthetic with a smock mill, in this case Horning Ferry Mill before it was converted to residential property. It’s not perfect and Illustrator might have been the wiser choice for this one, but I’m too pleased with my productivity today to worry that much.
It has been a while, so it was nice to find my way around Photoshop again.
So, how you doin’?
Having done a few pure pixel pictures lately, I ventured into three dimensions to look at transferring objects into the pixel realm; reducing resolutions, avoiding anti-aliasing and trying to create as authentic a visual as I can.
I began playing with some simple shapes and animations, limiting colour.
Happy results, and certainly a time saver for designs like those above and below.
And, having played around with hexagons, it was time for the obligatory detour to Blockbusters, which then spilled into other game shows for good measure. After all, what do pixels make?
Blockbusters is set to return on Comedy Central (yes, seriously) at some point this year. By my count, this will be the fifth time since the golden Bob era that this format has been dredged back up. Will it take off this time, I wonder? You have to admire the perseverance.
While there’s nothing especially ground-breaking here, it’s nice to have it confirmed that pixel art doesn’t have to be restricted to just Photoshop painting; the 3D alternative for reference is equally effective, and a handy cheat. Cheating is good when it saves you time!
In looking at turning people into a bunch of pixels, I found my way to Batman rather quickly. More interesting than most people, right? Especially the Joker.
There are certainly plenty of old games from which to take inspiration. To that end, I should give sizable credit to the Batman Doom mod for the above, as my Joker sprites here are inspired by the model in that game – my attempt was to bring him into 1989, and the more chequered Jack Nicholson incarnation. That will always be the quintessential Joker look for me.
And, to follow up, a modification in the style of the ZX Spectrum and the bloody frustrating Batman The Movie; somewhat surprisingly, the Joker himself is only ever seen in the final seconds of the game, where the player must thwart his attempt to get away in true Batman style: murder. Maybe this is how he might have looked with a prominent role? Or, maybe, he’d have looked a lot better than that. Ah well!
“No, I’m Batman.”
You can’t have one without the other! Here’s Batman, in both classic and 1989 attire, achieved almost exclusively via pallette swap. This one is essentially another character for WrestleFest as it uses the same base, only I’ve had a go at beefing the thighs up somewhat. Perhaps the torso could do with similar treatment, especially on the Keaton side, but this was really experimenting with swapping colours.
Again, this was lots of fun. I may have a go at some of the other Bat nemeses in the future, and perhaps even Robin, though I’ll have to think of a different title for that one now.
More practise with pixels! This time I went a tad more ambitious, with the previous industrial vein moving toward the coast.
The landscape with Happisburgh Lighthouse above was a blast! I started out studying the trees, and, when they turned out okay, the buzz started to kick in. I ended up completing the scene in a couple of hours. There’s still some more experimentation required I think, especially with the sky and clouds, whose gradients are perhaps a little too steep, but I think on the whole it looks alright.
And here we have some imaginary gas platform, not an unfamiliar sight here on the coast, though indeed more imaginary than they used to be. This was mostly looking at light, reflection… reflected light. I think this exercise reinforced that, when working with a brush the size of a single pixel, patience is most definitely the key. I’ve been tempted by some examples of pallette cycling in old computer games. It should be a fun technique to explore – using it to suggest flowing water looks particularly beautiful. More to come, hopefully soon.
With all the stuff I’ve done on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire previously, you’re probably not surprised in the least to see this, an attempt at modelling the revival set.
Like most game shows these days, it’s predominantly spotlights and LED screens. The video floor replacing the old ‘bowl’ was something I was initially unsure of, but they proved me wrong – it’s used to great effect throughout the show.
There might not be all the glass and shine of the predecessor, but there are those video panels. I’d done some basic video integration with my Million Pound Drop screens, but this required rather a lot more. The results are somewhat basic, mostly cobbled together from previous or abandoned projects; it’s not nearly so impressive as the real deal, but it’s nice to know it works.
I’m pleasantly surprised to be enjoying the new Millionaire as much as I am. I thought it was finished a decade or so ago, so the fact that it feels even remotely special again is testament to not Jeremy Clarkson but the overall production. The show is back in March, I understand; let’s hope ITV keep it as an occasional event, stripped over a few days, and aren’t tempted to water it down (no celebrities!!) or overexpose it. As it is, it should be an attraction for some time.
Pixel art is going to be big for me in 2019. Just before Christmas, I was snapped up to work on a game firmly rooted in this retro aesthetic. My role there is mostly to create individual likenesses for the cast, but I thought it would be beneficial to take a step back and, in my free time, look at some broader arenas. Hopefully, I’ll pick up a few tricks along the way.
With the pylons going up on Sunday, I thought a general industrial theme was a good place to begin. The quick pipe lettering above was not only an excuse for more letters but a warm-up tiling exercise. Tiling allows for quick and clean creation of environments. Most platform games of old used this technique for their scenery.
These crates and barrels were mostly studying texture and dithering.
You can’t spell industrial without corrugated iron:
If I’ve learnt one thing from my work so far, it’s that size really doesn’t matter. Working on a small grid of pixels can be just as time-consuming as the most detailed sketch – sometimes more so, as I start to panic about the sharpness of certain edges, the pallette, and whether I should introduce more colours or even reduce them. Hopefully these are the sort of hurdles that will be overcome with just making as much stuff as possible. Saying this about time, perhaps the two industrial stations below could have done with a little more TLC, but it’s a start:
Once the pixels start to look happy (and like things) it’s quite a lot of fun, and the time whizzes by. Like the web address says, onward I go!