Practice your skills !

Since the beginning of 2015 I’ve been participating on a somewhat regular basis to the @Pixel_Dailies challenge over Twitter.
It is basically a Twitter account that once a day will post a theme and ask you to reply/tweet with a specific set of hashtags posting a pixel art image you made according to the theme.

The account is ran by Ben Porter and Dario, pixel artists/enthusiasts who started the challenge originally for their own practice.

As the above linked article mentions:

[…]doing pixel art every day. Under such huge time constraints, you can’t afford to endlessly iterate on a piece, rather you just have to get it done and move on to the next day.

And it works.
I had never (and still don’t) considered myself a graphic artist, and somewhat have let that fact hinder me down to some extent. I knew about basic technique I had gathered through several tutorials and programs (Art attack, Dereck Yu’s guide to pixel art, 2D art for game programmers, and far many others over the years) but never really at took the time to apply it “seriously”. I was OK on theory but was always postponing the practice part to later.

Lava Lamp Earthbound comet
Click the images to see them bigger and go to their Deviant Art page

And surprisingly, since I started posting pixel art creations on a regular basis, I’ve found more confidence in those skills, have started getting attention from people who followed/retweeted/favorited me on Twitter and even got notations on my Deviant Art page that finally has some content. All that out of images I spent between a couple of hours to 20 minutes a day doing.

It is really funny to me to see the feedback I get on some images. I’ve always been extremely critical of anything I do, I’m aware of it. Most of the time, I don’t release anything I feel won’t be of good enough quality to survive public inspection.
I want the audience to “get their money worth”. Anyway, for some of those images, I just went quickly about it and did “the bare minimum” in my opinion, and did not expect much praise for it but still got some.

Alien Portrait Castle of sand
Click the images to see them bigger and go to their Deviant Art page

The opposite is also true though. Spending much time and attention on some details and only getting “negative” critics about those. But that’s part of the game, I’m OK with it, and especially more with my “graphic art skills”.
Anyway, this is new found “skills” that will be of use for my game making so it’s all good.

Bat Gargoyle
Click the images to see them bigger and go to their Deviant Art page

There’s nothing to win in those challenges. Well, at least there is no extrinsic price delivered by an outside jury.
Nevertheless, like a game jam, depending on the mindset you are approaching each challenge with, you actually win the fact of having produced something.
It is invaluable in my line of work. Having an asset produced, an idea implemented and code working or even shipping a complete game, all those are steps that takes you further.

And challenges like game jams, #1GAM or Pixel Dailies help you getting towards those goals while practising your making skills in a fulfilling manner.

I am no master at pixel art. I don’t think I’ll ever be (it is not one of my goals).
Nonetheless, taking on this challenge made me realize I can do pretty decent art if I put time into it, and as such made me realize I had one less barrier in order to make complete and good games.

Practice helps, so now go and practice !

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