For this month’s artist profile I have decided to speak to an online artist who is getting his fair share of work experience by creating sprites for an online Pokemon MMO. He goes by the name Darkshade and his work is concentrated around pixel art. I recently asked a him a few questions and got some great anwers. This article will serve to introduce his artwork and give you an inside look at his work!
I first asked Darkshade about the types of programs he uses for his art. You can often learn a lot about an artist by their program choice! Darkshade, like a lot of sprite artists, uses Microsoft Paint as his starting point. He then will move his sprites to Photoshop to create a transparent background and to add any final touches or colours changes he deems necessary. His non sprite work usually involves Notepad++, but that’s not a tool used as often as MS Paint, I bet.
The best information you can get from a digital artist is through a look inside their motivation for their work. Not only does it help explain their pieces to you but it can also teach you a few things! It’s always entertaining to learn what individuals do to get their work done and it was no different with Darkshade, who openly admits that his passion and love for his work keeps him going. He poetically states that his interest and love for the game he works on encourages him to get his art completed and perfected. Getting to the end product is enough for him! He gets a lot of satisfaction from knowing the players appreciate his artistic efforts in game and that is rewarding enough in itself. He does ultimately admit that a bit of chocolate and some Fanta is pretty useful though! Who doesn’t enjoy a couple treats to get the creative juices flowing?
Whenever speaking to artists I find it interesting to get an idea of what inspires them. It helps myself, and any readers, understand how they work and also is useful to those of us who look up to the individual and wish to improve our own work. When discussing what inspires Darkshade he explained he had been creating sprites since the age of eleven, and was very invested in a Pokemon forum where he actively posted and read the ROM modifications section. He found himself looking up to individuals there for their pixel art talents and felt encouraged to work at his artistic abilities and to get into game design. Darkshade is a self proclaimed Nintendo fanboy at heart, and although he enjoys 3D models he finds himself drawn in by pixels and their ageless charm. Pixel art in itself and its uses in game design inspired Darkshade to begin spriting and to continue with this form of art.
Artists often find themselves at a creative limit. Although the need and want to produce art is there, the creative process may be failing them. Everyone knows what art block is, and most people understand the reality of being unable to communicate their vision to the paper/canvas/screen. Those of us who spend a lot of time perfecting our techniques often find, after taking a breather, that we’re not doing our best on the piece we’re working on. I was curious to get Darkshade’s thoughts on the subject and to learn how he deals with producing an image that doesn’t meet his requirements. His response is sincere and to the point as he bluntly stated when arriving at this point of self-disapproval he (without regret) starts the piece over from the beginning. In reference to the game he works for he says that “[he] cannot stand knowing that [he] could potentially produce something better. When something goes live in game it’s very difficult to go back and change it without people getting angry, so [he tries] to make everything look great before it goes live”. He admits that things don’t always go as planned in this sense and he doesn’t mind revisiting his work to improve the customization of the characters overall. Although most of us do not deal with the pressure of a gaming community to enjoy and approve of our work it can be fairly encouraging to attempt to meet other’s standards when displaying work to others. Possible critiques and revisiting our works of art can often encourage us to do our best work. I’m personally thankful I don’t have to satisfy such a broad audience though!
As always I took some time to ask Darkshade for advice regarding his art of choice. Darkshade proceeded to explain to me that he, and a lot of new pixel artists, begin their art by splicing together already made sprites. He believes this activity is fantastic for learning a basic understanding of how pixel art is created, but he encourages those doing this to venture beyond this. He explains that there are basics you can only develop by actually creating a sprite from scratch. Darkshade, much like a lot of artists I have spoken with, advises not to become frustrated or give up on your art. A lot of practice and the will to learn can go a long way, and accepting that there’s always room for improvement will help you along your way!
Darkshade concludes our talk by letting everyone know he is hopeful that people enjoy his upcoming work (for those of you who recognize the game), and that the character customization that will be put in game next should (hopefully) be the last edition. Of course, judging by his previous comment, he may just find some things to improve upon at a later date. I finally asked Darkshade a couple random questions about his personal preferences and learned he likes the colour red the best, and that he’s got a sweet tooth (especially for chocolate).
I hope you enjoyed this month’s artist profile, below is another example of artwork created by Darkshade.