Best method of digitizing graphics

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Bucket Mouse
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Best method of digitizing graphics

Post by Bucket Mouse » Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:09 am

As any gamer in the 90s will will you, digitized pre-rendered graphics are radical, dude. And good news -- we're not in the 90s anymore, so digitized graphics no longer require expensive workstations. Anyone can use their average, common computer to drop a piece of art, a photo or a CGI model into a retro game.

The only question is....how? What's the best method?

When dealing with the NES, there's an unavoidable loss due to its color limitations. Digitizing scenes with a lot of details and shadows -- basically any photo, but also some art -- won't look nearly as impressive when the colors are limited to 3 out of 64. That's why digitized graphics are best rendered in black and white, at least to start out with. I believe this is what Mugi did with his Dimension Drive title screen. To my eye it even looks like most of the background tiles and sprites are imports.:



This is the way I know of: Photoshop has a filter called "Posterize" that reduces an image down to the number of colors you select. Fortunately for us, it can be as few as 3. I used Posterize to get the image of a human face into my game (no spoilers yet as to which one). I advise that you convert the image to Grayscale before you Posterize.

This is the best method I know of, but there are two problems with it:
1) Not everyone has access to Photoshop; there have to be some less expensive options out there
2) This filter doesn't do dithering (breaking shades up into dots and patterns to create in-between shades).

What is you preferred method for digitzing graphics?
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Mugi
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Re: Best method of digitizing graphics

Post by Mugi » Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:34 am

everything in dimension drive expect for the title screen girl has been hand-drawn one pixel at a time (including the text logo on the title screen), thank you.

as for doing this, the base idea is the same pretty much as far as my work flow goes, i take an image, i grayscale it, then i run it through a color reduction algorithm, and clean up any misbehaving pixels by hand.
Im using a paint program meant for developing graphics for ps2 games, which generally used 256color images for most of it's things (desipite supporting full color, 256 was quite effective for performance reasons)

the program i use is more or less out of the reach for common people as it's a first hand development tool, and even if you were a licenced developer, a single licence costs 4-digit sums of dollars.

at any rate, photoshop, gimp, paint shop pro or an equivalent should have a color reduction function, which i recommend using over posterize, due to aforementioned reasons.
of course, it depends on what you want, but generally, dithering produces better results in such work than the clean "banding" that happens from reducing pixel depth as it is (what posterize does.)

random fact of the day: my title screen doesnt exactly use dithering either, it's using what's called adaptive error diffusion, and produces less repeating patterns than generic dither patterns do.
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dale_coop
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Re: Best method of digitizing graphics

Post by dale_coop » Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:24 am

Mugi wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 7:34 am
Im using a paint program meant for developing graphics for ps2 games, which generally used 256color images for most of it's things (desipite supporting full color, 256 was quite effective for performance reasons)
the program i use is more or less out of the reach for common people as it's a first hand development tool, and even if you were a licenced developer, a single licence costs 4-digit sums of dollars.
Oh cool! What is the name of this program?
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Redherring32
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Re: Best method of digitizing graphics

Post by Redherring32 » Mon Jan 14, 2019 2:26 pm

Gimp is a good solution.
My current WIP game: Shadow: An Adventure In Monochrome, you can also find me over at the Community Discord.
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dale_coop
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Re: Best method of digitizing graphics

Post by dale_coop » Mon Jan 14, 2019 3:07 pm

Use gimp years ago... (it was a pain in the a**) I will give a try, again. We all changed with years, for better I hope ;)
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Mugi
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Re: Best method of digitizing graphics

Post by Mugi » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:20 pm

dale_coop wrote:
Mon Jan 14, 2019 9:24 am
Oh cool! What is the name of this program?

It's called OptPix ImageStudio.
There is a "normal" variant of it too, I believe a "lite" version can even be downloaded for free, but the edition I'm using was specifically designed for playstation development, as such it comes with some extra gimmics, such as the out-of-this-world good color reduction engine. That's more or less the main reason I've stuck with it for the years pass.
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dale_coop
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Re: Best method of digitizing graphics

Post by dale_coop » Mon Jan 14, 2019 4:21 pm

Cool, thanks for the info, Mugi <3
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MistSonata
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Re: Best method of digitizing graphics

Post by MistSonata » Mon Jan 14, 2019 6:07 pm

PixaTool is a program I really like. I haven't used it too much, but it's great and has a lot of options for digitizing graphics, including dithering.

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