Early pixel art trials of Atlas (before their final design had been decided) were very much experimenting with colour, line and the amount of pixels used for the character sprite.
The first is very visually unappealing. There were not enough pixels for the face to have charm, and the face length was too pointy. Additionally, not having much definition for the outlines was not effective.
The second experiment worked much better. Although there is a similar amount of pixels, the black lines really help the sprite to pop. The minimal detail (no mouth, big pixels) also works in communicating a very classic video game feel. It is only problematic in that with no room for eyebrows or a mouth, it is harder for any facial emotion to be present. While a sprite can communicate emotions through body language, it's still something I should consider. It should also be noted however that this sprite will be considerably small and details like this would probably not be possible to create successfully regardless.
While I'm unsure if this is better for the purpose that it is to serve, the third version of Atlas definitely captures the spirit of the character the most. I'm unsure if it may be too detailed (too many pixels) for a very small sprite, but this also allows for more expression. If it is small, will it need such levels of expression, though?
For the process of creating the final version of the Atlas sprite, I bought the popular (one time payment) pixel art application Aseprite and did some test versions to get a hang of the controls. However, with some experimenting I understood that I still prefer what I can achieve with Photoshop, and at this time at least, it is more efficient to use a program I already know how to use very well.
This was another attempt at creating the final Atlas sprite. I worked in Photoshop this time, and it was definitely much faster and I was able to easily also use the official palette from the comic. I learnt that the black lines may be a little bit harsh, but an overlay filter on the lineart proved effective at softening the design while still having it be distinctive.
I also had the idea of using noise to create a glitch transition when the sprite is generated into the game, but I'm going to leave experimenting with this animation concept until priorities are completed.
This design was also the most adept at communicating a variety of facial expressions:
While I think this sprite turned out really well, and would work for pixel illustration generally, when reduced back to it's original, smaller size, I realised it might be better to use a 'chibi' style design, more like some of the smaller sprites looked at in my research. As a stand alone, it would be acceptable, but considering I have to animate this sprite, and also alter its design for different character choices, it would be sensible to simplify the design.
Here, I redesigned the previous sprite to be much more minimal. I have definitely been influenced the most by Omori's sprites and Pokemon's map version of sprites, as I felt that this stylisation is the most appealing for young children, since it is 'cute'. Drawing like this also allows for the sprite to really take Atlas' characteristics, while also being alike to my usual illustration 'style'. The blue tinted lineart is definitely still less harsh than the pure black and I will be using this going forward for the other frames of the sprite animation.
The original size of the sprite image (25 pixels wide) is too small for its intended purpose. To upscale this sprite with accuracy, I compared possible sizes with the final dimensions of the comic illustration pages.
The original sprite was created on a canvas only 25 pixels wide, but even upscaling to 100 pixels wide was extremely small. 200 pixels is a suitable size, but it aligned awkwardly with the borders of the comic. 180 pixels works out just right. This sizing is easily adjusted though, and may be revised later on when compared directly to the final images.
Development compilation for Pixel Plasters.