This week we sent SeldomBlood out to interview a fellow talented NGS-er, Zenaki, to pick his brain for wisdom and insight on pixel art and to get a sense of where his pixels come from. Examples of his work can be seen below, please enjoy!
SB: What got you started pixelling?
ZEN: Well, it was around 13 years ago. I was a big Sonic fan and discovered a French website about sprite comics, which introduced me to the wonderful world of sprites and pixels. It had a pretty big community and almost everyone had their own character (made with Sonic edits of course) so I made my own. I had lots of fun recolouring and editing sprites back then, and I made some comics too. Some friends would ask me to sprite their characters and stuff. And as time went on, I realized I enjoyed making sprites a lot more than making comics (I've always been more into drawing than telling stories), so I kept fooling around with MS Paint and ditched sprite comics, and here we are !
SB: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
ZEN: As I mainly do fanarts, I draw inspiration from basically anything I enjoy. Mainly characters from videogames surprisingly, but also movies, TV shows and animation.
As for particular artists : Daniel Oliver (Ahruon/Abysswolf) is obviously a pixel artist I've admired for a stupidly long time for his portrayal of characters and his choice of colours. I've learned so much just by eyeballing his pixels for years. Then, for more mainstream artists, Stanley Lau (Artgerm) always mesmerizes me with the way he draws faces, anatomy, details and shades everything and Patrick Brown for his complex scenes and dynamic poses. With them as inspirations, my works tend to be pretty big with a colour count that goes through the roof as I try to cram a stupid amount of details while still trying to make a readable pixel art piece.
SB: Well damn. To be honest I've only recently discovered Abysswolf and have been jealous of his work seeing as how I couldn't top that kind of work. I also see that the both of us are major Sonic fans and maybe you don't have a Sonic FC anymore, but I do, though it is mainly custom made with somewhat style of Sonic Advance. (I keep trying to make a new look but unfortunately I can't top the one I have currently TwT).
ZEN: Hah yeah, but I highly doubt we've been pixelling nearly as long as he has. Keep on practicing, and you'll get there (you've already made quite a lot of progress !). Oh didn't know you had a Sonic FC ! What does he look like ??
SB: What pixel artist/s do you look up to the most?
ZEN: Oooh that's a tough one. There're just so many ! While Abysswolf is the one I identify with the most, there are some other artists that I probably look up to even more. Mostly pixel artists that can actually create scenes. Trick27, Elk Darkshire, HealTheIll and fool consistenly make my draw hit the floor. And JINNdev for his style and use of desaturated colours is definitely in there too.
SB: How do you go about creating your palette?
ZEN: My work process is a complete utter mess, and the way I create my palette is probably the most chaotic part of it. Once I am done with guidelines and lineart, I tackle the shading and come up with the colours on the go. I usually render stuff part by part progressively because I am impatient and seeing some rendered parts encourages me to keep going.
As for how I pick my colours... My darker shades are usually hueshifted towards purple and the highlights the opposite way. I like to have really high contrast between shades, so I usually start out with two shades (base colour and shadow) and end up adding highlights and mid-tones to smooth out the transition through anti-aliasing mostly.
Saturation-wise I like to work with vibrant colours, so they usually have mid to high saturation unless the object is white/grey/black. My shadows are often my most saturated colours and the saturation either consistently goes down as I work my way to the highlights or raises back up for the highlights.
To be honest my colour choosing process is not well defined and involves a lot of trial and error as I don't know much about colour theory, but that's basically how I go about it.
SB: To be quite honest, my work ethic and process is a complete mess as well. Although I try to fix that, let's hope we can get stuff done and improve better than we are now. qwq
SB: Do you do other forms of art or just pixel art?
ZEN: I've been drawing since my childhood. I have had a drawing tablet for a few years now but I've still not bothered to learn how to use it to make proper digital art, but I'll come around eventually... I do some painting for various projects every now and then. But pixel art and traditional drawing remain what I'm the most comfortable with. (really wish I could play music though)
SB: If you could give one piece of advice for beginning pixel artists what would it be?
ZEN: Ooh I'd have quite a few, but if I'd have to narrow it down to one piece of advice... Get out of your comfort zone, be bold, try new, challenging things while remaining methodical (Train your eye by looking up other artists, look up references, tutorials, anatomy and try to understand how and why they did something).
I feel like too many pixellers basically do the same edits over and over again, usually because they got into pixel art via a fandom. There's so much you can learn via pixel art that is also applicable to other mediums, it's a shame to miss out on that by doing the same things again and again.
And so ends our first NGS interview, if you haven't yet be sure to visit Zenaki's work
Examples of Zens beautiful work;
Thank you for reading, if you would like to volunteer to be interviewed about your pixel work, sprite comics or animation send @rhlpixels a message.