Good Artists Borrow; Great Artists…

I admit it; I’m not actually a very good pixel artist. Unlike Neo or Jetryl or Wayfarer or the others, I am unable to create a single decent-looking sprite from scratch, and if there are no existing units that at least somewhat resemble the one I’m trying to make, I won’t succeed.

However, I do make one boast. I’m the best damn frankensteiner in the Wesnoth world.

If there exists a combination of sprites each of which has some part that looks similar to what I want – say, the helmet from one, the body and legs from another, the arms and weapon from yet another – I can cut’n’paste them together, with some recolorization and a modicum of new material, and make what looks pretty much like a brand new unit. Most frankensteiners can’t do this, and for them it remains embarassingly obvious where each part came from.

Why have I cultivated this skill? It’s mainly because I do have some artistic talent, but developing it would use up too much of my time, and pixeling isn’t a skill I want to possess for its own worth – I want to sprite in order to make units for my factions, not so that I can be a good pixel artist. So, instead of becoming a good pixel artist, I learn to spend as little time and effort creating something that isn’t as high quality, but that’s pretty damn close, to the untrained observer at least.

(I wouldn’t fool anyone who knew what they were about, though, because the devil’s in the details, and I would have most of them wrong. The shading would all be slightly off, for example, because I wouldn’t redo it when moving pieces around.)

Still, I enjoy art, and even if I don’t really have any incentive to be a good pixel artist, that’s a talent I would like to cultivate eventually. Even cooler would be learning how to actually draw – with paper and pencil. I’m decent at that right now, but not really any better than I was four years ago, which is kind of irritating.

The problem is I have other, more pressing tasks to see to (most self-imposed, but whatever). I never seem to have time to just sit down and draw – I’ll only do that when I have an idea I want to make a sketch of, and sketching ideas isn’t good practice, because the focus is more on the idea than on the technique.

So when will I actually get serious about drawing? I don’t know. I’m thinking of starting this summer – actually practicing, learning the technique, etc, instead of just winging it and being good enough to make concept sketches, but nothing worth using. It would be cool to actually be good enough to see a picture of a Marauder Warlord in my mind, and then put it on paper looking as good as it does in my imagination.

I’ll post back if this project actually gets anywhere.


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