Creative designer TipTut created a video tutorial on how to create pixel art inside of Hexels. Using Squares mode, TipTut delves into the intricacies and theories of what it takes to create a pixel character with a solid palette and proper layering.
By Mark Knight
One of the many opportunities of creating art using Hexels is the ability to design eye-catching posters, book covers and art for branding purposes. Using various grids and vector based tools, graphic designers and illustrators can build up striking art for nearly any design project.
Lettuce Get Started
My intentions for this design were to create a Mexican food themed, action romance poster for a fake movie entitled “Guacboy and the Habanero Desert“. The image would include bold use of color, an unusual perspective, as well as original and imported text elements.
I’m going to start with the Trixels template, which uses a crisp vector based triangular grid.
I enlarged the canvas to 100×100 Hexels in the Canvas tab (top right) to allow room for moving elements around later. The poster will have a Mexican flair, so I’m changing the background color to a bold yellow (hex: e4f75f).
You Juan To Start Simple
With an isometric view in mind, I roughly sketched the Guacboy and Burrito babe characters on a new vector layer using the standard trixel grid (alt+1). Try to keep the level of detail low and simple. In this case, the lower legs are one trixel wide while the ankles have no trixel width.
I refined the sketch further using the Shards sub-grid (alt+5). Shards combines all trixel grids into one fine grid.
To make shapes and angles more defined, I added highlights and shadows to the characters by adjusting the Value slider (circled) in the Color tab.
Garnishing with Outlines
After adding some trixel texture to the Burrito filling, the Outline tool (O) was used to create salad elements, extend the avocado peel around the edge and add ankle width to the Burrito babe character.
Consider the versatility of the Outline tool when the shard grid doesn’t accommodate your trixel requirements.
An A-maize-ing Effect
Creating gloopy hot sauce couldn’t be simpler. On a new vector layer, I drew an S curve using the Shards sub-grid. To improve the look of the sauce, I navigated to Effect > Add Layer Effect > Distort > Blob.
This adds Blob to the post effects stack. Adjustable sliders allow for real-time control of the effect. Additional post effects can be found with the + icon (circled) to spice up your art.
The next step was to create cactus shadows. I drew elongated cactus silhouettes on a new vector layer using the Ramp Right grid (alt+2). Using the Magic Wand tool (S), I selected the first cactus and held down the Shift key to add additional selections. Pressing the Delete key (on keyboard) left the selection empty ready for the next step.
Using the Gradient tool (G) and selecting Foreground to Transparent from the gradient controls (top center), I dragged out the gradient and released the mouse once I was happy with the position. I lowered the layer’s opacity using the Opacity slider at the bottom of the Layers tab.
Let’s Taco ’Bout Composition
The Frame Tool (F) was used with a standard poster ratio of 27:41. This allows for composition and management of elements.
With the poster area defined, additional gradient layers were applied using the same technique as before. An orange radial gradient was applied behind the characters to distinguish the avocado core from the yellow background and add warmth to the image. Elements were arranged using the Transform tool (T).
Cornstructing A Title
The main title text was created on a new vector layer using the Shards grid (alt+5). With the exception of the letter ‘G’, lettering was created at the same scale. Once the text was complete, it was cut and pasted into 3 layers then resized and positioned with the Transform tool (T).
A simple backdrop was drawn using the Line tool (L) on the standard Trixels grid (alt+1) to help the title pop.
Additional text was created in Photoshop and saved as a transparent .png file. Hexels allows external graphics to be dragged and dropped onto the canvas. The image is instantly converted to a Pixel Layer and can be resized with the Transform tool (T). Finally, the Marquee Selection tool (S) was used to re-arrange the text elements and a chilli pepper silhouette was created for the Scoville heat rating.
Serrano Limits To Your Imagination
Hexels’ vector based documents allow for exporting at multiple resolutions, making designs scalable for any need. With clever use of grids and effects, Hexels’ distinctive style means artwork can really stand out from the crowd. Create your own designs and illustrations using the Hexels 14 day free trial today.
I’m Mark Knight from Marmoset and I’ve always been fascinated with rotoscope animation. From classics like Bakshi’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ to modern anime production, rotoscope can be used in many interesting ways.
Being told Hexels was getting Pixel Mode, with the ability to combine Pixel Layers and Trixel Layers in the same document I saw this as a real game-changer for the software. With the new Pixel Layers allowing me to draw curves and lines in any direction, I wanted to see if it was possible to Rotoscope over imported images using the new mode.
I started by creating a short 180° turn amination with a 3d model of the Hexels monkey head Logo in a 3D package. I exported the frames of the animation and then imported the entire sequence of images into Hexels, all at once, by simply dragging it onto my hexels canvas. This gives the option to add each image on its own layer of the entire sequence as a single layer animation.
Choosing the latter meant I could see the full animation like a flip book and I now had my rotoscoping reference.
I lowered the opacity of the reference animation to make painting above, on a new pixel layer, more visible. I used the line tool to trace the outline around each colour ignoring shade altogether. Next, I used the paint bucket to fill each outlined area. I carried on using this technique for every frame, and once finished extended the cube down to the bottom of the canvas to give the creature a body.
This is how my animation looked once I was happy the blocking of some of the main shapes.
The next step was to animate glowing yellow eyes. This effect was created by creating a new pixel layer for the eyes. I filled each new selection with a strong yellow colour then added a directional motion blur effect to each cell. This allowed me to animate the intensity and direction of the blur without impacting upon any other scene elements. Effects like this can be found in the dedicated ‘Effects’ drop down menu or from the layer properties window.
I wanted to add more shape to the creature so the next logical step was tentacles, because I love all things Lovecraftian. To give the illusion of the tentacles rotating along with the creature reveal I required two pixel layers. Layer ordering is important here. One tentacle layer is below the creature Layer, the other is above it. By having each of the two layers transform across the length of my timeline, and having the intersection point at the midpoint of the creatures rotation, I could simplify a potentially complex sequence.
The tentacle layer behind the creature has a reduced opacity to help convey distance.
From this point I added a white gradient layer rising from the bottom of the canvas. I lowered the opacity to give a hazy look and create distance between the creature and the foreground. For the top edge of the image I added a black gradient to give the impression of darkness above the scene. I also added a pixel layer with a few vertical freehand lines with an animated distortion and blob effect to smooth away the pixel edges. This gives a look of rising smoke like wisps. It’s worthwhile experimenting with effects. They can really add a level of polish to an element or scene. It’s good practice to create each element, of your scene, on a new layer to allow for more creative control when applying transforms and effects.
The final element in the scene is a small silhouette foreground character with some environmental detail. I added a little movement using traditional keyframe animation, on a new pixel layer, and added some architectural ruins to put it all together.
To create the effect of a smooth panning camera movement, I applied a Transform to the whole document. This essentially means I can move and scale all layers at once. I created a frame with a 16×9 aspect ratio so that anything inside the frame will be included in the final export. Using the Transform tool (T), I reduced the scale of the whole document towards the end of my timeline. Hexels automates the change in scale to create a camera pan away from the scene. For any camera like movement the frame tool (F on keyboard) is essential. You can still export your images full size with the options available in the export window.
With the introduction of Pixel Layers the possibilities for animation are substantially increased. It’ll be really exciting to see what the community comes up with now that Hexels 3 is released.
Fresh off the grid, it’s your weekly dose of Hexels Feature Friday!
- Welcome to Hanamura by France Mansiaux.
- Pixel lemon cake by chlumy.
- Mo Money Mo Problems by inomnom.
- Floating Isometric Tree by Keiiros.
Join the Hexels User Group on Facebook to download the all-new pixel art beta build. If you own Hexels on Steam, find the instructions for installing the beta on the Hexels Steam Community.
Video game developer TairaGames has created a video highlighting a series of art tools to paint with, including Hexels! Hexels has provided TairaGames an extremely easy workflow with a swift learning curve for creating pixel art for his games. He also discovered Trixels and the ability to create isometric wonderlands.
Get your fresh pixels from this week’s Feature Friday.