Modding Discussion Portrait Modders, What's Your Process?

Discussion in 'Mods' started by Seismothesaurus, Jun 1, 2017.

  1. Seismothesaurus

    Seismothesaurus Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    I'm kind of new to pixel graphic editing (finished 2.5 portrait/sprite mods plus my avatar) and have started to develop my process, but I'm curious how other people go about it. Let's share tips and strategies!

    Here's my setup:
    -Program: Photoshop CS6
    -Hardware: Just a mouse and my damaged wrist begging me to stop
    -PNG Canvas: Generally blown up to 700/800% so the pixel grid is visible to do the blocking and rough work, and brought down to 400/500% (no grid) to do shading and check that transition points make sense (hair to skin, skin to clothes, etc.)
    -Editing: Layers, layers, layers, layers, layers--for copy/pasting and for experimenting (I think my last sprite had 28 layers by the end)

    I'm playing around with summer looks for Kent right now, and I decided to periodically snapshot the work so I could actually see what I was doing and if it seemed to be progressing. It's not done, but here's what I've got so far (cutting out a couple that look extremely similar).

    Part 1: Military t-shirt (based on what he wears under his coat) - blocking, shading, shadow refining, texturing
    stage 2.PNG stage 3.PNG stage 4.PNG stage 6.PNG

    Part 2: Crew cut (first time doing hair, if you can't tell, lol) - blocking, retexturing, recolouring, highlight/shading, trying to make him look less like a Vulcan
    hair stage 2.PNG hair stage 4.PNG hair stage 5.PNG hair stage 7.PNG

    So, portrait modders, how do you work? What do your portraits look like along the way? What programs do you use? Have you had any experience with working on a phone/tablet (I imagine the touchscreen would be really nice, but Photoshop is so versatile it would be hard for me to use something else). Any super-secret, super-amazing tips for the rest of us?
    • SarahSyna

      SarahSyna Subatomic Cosmonaut

      I use Paint Tool SAI (I find Photoshop very hard to use), but before that I had several years experience doing 'dolling' with just MS Paint. Needles to say, getting to use layers was a godsend.

      Usually, my first objective is to find a colour palette. It can be either the same palette as the original, or inspired by it, but it's seriously such an important step.

      I generally start off with editing the skin and features, and I tweak those as I go along to make sure I'm still getting the effect I want, and to fix weird proportions. After that, I make a solid shape of colour and edit that until I have an outline I like, then fill it in with shading. There's a ton of zooming in and out, turning layers on and off to see if this shade is more suitable than this other subtly different shade.

      I don't have many tips. except that it really, really helps to get a second pair of eyes. Also, it holds true for traditional art and it holds true here; references are gifts from on high. You may know what you want something to be, but it doesn't mean you know what it should look like, y'know?
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      • Alvadea

        Alvadea Pangalactic Porcupine

        My "super-amazing" tip for photoshop would be the use of posterize. :D I did it not every time, but sometimes its a good basic. For example:

        You see, it doesn't make your work with one step, you still have to play around with the colours and make it look organic, but If you have a good photo-reference, it's always a help, in my opinion. And yeah... very much zooming in and out. ^^
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        • Karmylla

          Karmylla Space Kumquat

          @Alvadea that is actually a pretty good tip, thanks for sharing! It'll help a lot, since finding a correct colour palette is so hard, at least for me!
          Honestly, that is where I waste most of my time, finding the right colours, ufff
          • Seismothesaurus

            Seismothesaurus Scruffy Nerf-Herder

            Very true about the palette. Even if we like a certain colour, it can clash with the character and be hard on the eyes. And I hear you about going back and forth on two very similar shades, lol. How many times have we hit undo, redo, undo, redo, on a single pixel? It could be a very critical pixel!

            A second pair of eyes is good. Also stepping away from it for a few days. I try to throw a mostly-complete edit into the actual game as well for a test run just to make sure that it isn't jarring alongside the other game elements. I'm also zooming in and out with my body, probably looking ridiculous leaning back as far as my chair will allow and then smushing my face up near the monitor. :rofl:

            That truly is an amazing tip! One of my biggest struggles is with deciding on creasing and working dimension into fabric in a way that looks natural. I will definitely try that one next time, thank you!

            (By the way, is that for the flower dance? He looks so cute--and he brushed his hair!)
            • Alvadea

              Alvadea Pangalactic Porcupine

              It is. xD I thought it's the one opportunity to make him look a bit cultivated. Perhaps Marnie forced him to use the brush. xD

              I'm glad, I could help! :DD
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              • Seismothesaurus

                Seismothesaurus Scruffy Nerf-Herder

                Just realized something useful!

                I'm working on two different looks using the same vest: one open and one closed. I made the open version first, so the collar blocks the original shoulder line that I want to follow in the closed version. However, it's possible to see the original and work on the clothing layer at the same time by pulling the opacity of the working layer down (60% in this case).


                I wish I knew this earlier, lol.
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