Exploring Art Styles

Despite the fact that I’ve built a few pixel art games in my life, spent a few years actively developing a pixel art editor, and even wrote an article about creating retro-style games, I’ve never felt that confident in my pixel art skills. The fact that the Playdate screen is only 1-bit (black or white), made creating art for it even more daunting.

I had struggled through some sketches and false starts in Aseprite, when one day I happened into a chat with Neven from Panic about comic art. I sent a link to my Walter Hale book and a few minutes later Neven posted a photo of one of my drawings on the Playdate.

It looked surprisingly good for a non-pixel-art drawing:

Drawing from Walter Hale comic on Playdate

Seeing this inspired me to try out some more hand-drawn art styles in my Playdate emulator. This first thing I tried was to load in on of my daily drawings, which were all drawn with pen on paper:

Drawing of me and my cat floating in space

I think this looks great, it just needs a little refinement to recover some of the details. This really inspired me to think about how I might bring some of my drawings and comics to the Playdate, instead of trying to build a traditional pixel art game.

I drew up one more new picture, in Procreate this time, making sure to keep clean lines and clear areas of light and dark to better handle the conversion to 1-bit:

Drawing of a spaceman

I’m really happy with how this looks. I like how the drawing retains some of the hand-drawn qualities and thick and thin lines, even after it’s been converted to 1-bit. I’m going to try using this style with some other drawings and see if I can come up with a good workflow for creating these drawings and prepping them for Playdate.