Gallery Restructure - Pixel Art

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ClefairyKid's avatar
By ClefairyKid
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Hello everyone! Yes, you heard right, it's that time... Gallery.... Restructure!!

Yes I know what you're thinking, sounds scary, and at the very least complicated right? Well, that's why we have this journal, as a place to talk about what we think of the current structure of Pixel Art, and what we can do to clear out redundant sub cats etc. Nothing's going to happen right this second, so let's relax, and take a minute to review where we are at. You can read the announcement from Moonbeam13 here.

Here are the branches currently:

Each of these then leads to Iso and Non-Iso options.

Whilst this isn't an overly convoluted category compared to others, I think it still has lots of room for improvement. We have a very large number of miscats, and this is for a variety of reasons, including;

:bulletred: being one of the few categories that accepts .gif files
:bulletred: being a place where a lot of screen shots end up
:bulletred: a place where things that are pixel like end up (Minecraft screen shots and beading for example)
:bulletred: misconceptions/misunderstandings about the definition of Pixel Art (the new definition has been made live if you want to check it out)
:bulletred: the structure of the categories

Whilst the category structure is not the biggest issue on the list, it can certainly be something we can work on to help improve the way people access and use the Pixel Art section.

Here are my thoughts on the current structure:

:bulletred: Text is perhaps almost entirely redundant now, as we have a place in Typography where you can find pixel fonts, and ascii art also has it's own place, leaving very little actual text art in the gallery. If you take a look, you can get a gauge for how many miscats there are in there. If you have examples of what you feel are really valid and strong pieces that represent what Text Art should be for, please do share them, or if you think it's redundant, feel free to mention so.

:bulletred: The current names reflect a focus that seems almost entirely centred on game art, and nothing else. This may have been appropriate for way back when the site began and the category was added, but now, we know that the medium can be and is used for a whole range of types of art. However, what is tricky, is that I'm not sure how we would specifically change this focus, rename things? Add things? It might be a bit much to go for a list like the major categories (fantasy, emotional, so on), but at the same time, this is very game centred and could maybe be broadened.

:bulletred: I think that the main sections coming before the iso/non iso options are good, but perhaps, we might even *tentatively* consider whether it's now needed? Isometric art is much less common than non-iso, so perhaps, a single Isometric category on it's own would be sufficient for those who want to browse that type of art? I'm not personally as experienced in Iso art, so it would be good to hear from those who are. I'm not trying to devalue the art, but rather to make it simpler for people to access. I've noticed that putting the iso option on every single level has made people wonder if what they have made might be iso, and a lot of people tend to guess between the two, meaning more miscats. Although I have the experience to assume that most things will be non-iso, others hear the negative in the name and assume that it's more likely iso.

:bulletred: Some people have been asking me about the pieces in Pixel Art that may look like Pixel Art, but actually don't come under the definition. Things like Oekaki (scribbly and undefined, as in no individual pixel placement, but rather just drawing with the pencil tool) and pieces that use a mix of Pixel and Digital effects (like the soft edged brush or gradient tool and therefore have massive colour counts). I don't want people to freak out and think I don't value these types of art works as much as actual Pixel Art works, I personally really enjoy some of the mixed pieces, but sadly, I don't DD either of these types of pieces, which means they aren't being given the exposure they deserve, and this isn't fair. I would like to make it fair, but it's very hard trying to figure out where these pieces should go. Oekaki has it's own sub category hidden away, which might be better placed after these restructures, and really, I think that the only place that makes sense for the mixed pieces is Digital Art > Mixed Media. I'd like to attempt to name a new category for these types of artworks, but I don't know if I can think of a name that effectively encapsulates what they are, and I can't call them Pixel Art because either something is or it isn't. Also, what needs to be kept in mind here is that I'm not ever trying to say they aren't art, or aren't as good, just that I know they don't fit the definition, and therefore there'd be no point in having one if I didn't try to follow it. It's for the best of both types of art that we find places where each fits and gets it's own attention.

Ok, so now that you've got some ideas and points for discussion, I'd like to hear your views and ideas! We need to know what you as the community think is needed and/or no longer needed, and what we could merge or rename to make things easier. Even if it's something I haven't already brought up here, let me know, it might be something a lot of other people want to discuss. Something I should point out is that I can't guarantee any and/or all changes will occur, no matter how much we might discuss them, and that we are really looking to delete and/or merge categories, rather than create new ones right now, so it would need to be an exceptional case for us to think about adding new ones (which the mixed pieces may or may not turn out to be).


© 2013 - 2021 ClefairyKid
anonymous's avatar
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delfos1's avatar
Perhaps the 8-bit category could be called "Technical Limitations", in order to converge other types of palette and pixel ratio limitations that derive from past technologies into a separate group.
It's a rather specific field in the pixel art, with artists that specialize in such limitations.
ClefairyKid's avatar
Yes, this is a very good point and I really like you use of the phrase "technical limitations" - it offers a nice way to describe the traditional pixelling, however I'm also still looking very seriously at the mixed media category for hybrid pieces, as they tend to fall entirely outside the definition of pixel art itself. I'm being very loose with the "technical limitations idea"- I'm not saying they need to be heavily restricted to something like 32 or 16, but they need to show that they obviously don't have brushes and gradients over the top and so many colours that it can't easily be measured. That defeats the whole point of pixel art and only really becomes sharp or sketchy digital art.
Darkshire's avatar
queued uploads, Accept on approval from the mods, not automatically...
ClefairyKid's avatar
Sadly, I don't think deviantart is likely to hire me or anyone else full time in order to do that job, although it would be nice if they did :P In the grand scheme of things, pixel art is a small category and not likely to warrant that much time/money/attention.

I'm looking at as many other things as possible in order to try and improve the general understanding and use of the category though, feel free to suggest anything else you might think of c:
skeddles's avatar
This has been long needed. I would start by making Iso just one category, not being at the end of each category, definitely. There's also a pretty big difference between "sprites" and "pixel art", so maybe it could be divided up like that too. Maybe there could be one for animations too? I feel like a lot of animations get judged differently than static pixel art, so you could have a bad sprite animated well and it would get very popular. So it might be more fair to separate the two.

I WOULD suggest a sprite recolors / edits category, just based on the sheer amount of them that get submitted, but according to the rules, they're not even allowed on DA! I guess they belong in scraps.

If something is part pixel art, but has anything non-pixel art, it doesn't belong in pixel art IMO, and you're right to put it in mixed media.

I think in pixel art, the content of the piece is pretty irrelvant (so things like sci-fi, fantasy, nature would be useless). It's really more about technique and style. I know that would mean adding more categories, but it makes more sense. There are certain categories that are very different than others, such as 8-bit. But then you don't know where to submit it to, and it would basically create the same problem that iso has now. I think if you really wanted to adress this issue and have things super well categories deviant art would need to change how things are categories are made, and allow you to pick multiple things for categies (so you could check off 8-bit, animation, sprite). But I don't expect that to happen.

I really really wish there were less miscats, pixel art is one of the worst categories for this. Lots of people just don't understand what pixel art is. And when you try to explain, people say that you can put it where ever you want, or that this IS pixel art!

So yeah, I would do "Sprites", "Scenes", "Animations". Maybe you can add "other", which will be mostly filled with non-pixel art things so that we can ignore them.
ClefairyKid's avatar
Yeah, I totally understand what you mean, I truly do feel the pain and frustration of having so many miscats and so many people who really do not know the definition. It's something I have come to realise can't be fixed by any single action (except perhaps being hired full time to approve the submissions individually which isn't realistic). It's something that will take education (articles, tutorials, showing people the definition more often), re arranging (the categories, category names and rewriting the definitions, which I've already done) and time (for people to stop passing on their misconceptions and for them to understand the concepts, not just these funny terms being thrown around).

It looks very much to me like a snow ball effect, where it was a cute little trick on some pieces and then people kept doing it because it was easier and now we are left with so little pieces that do things the old fashioned way that no one even realises what they are doing doesn't actually isn't much different to a mixed media or digital piece.

I can't help but feel that also, a lot of this has happened because there hasn't been a strong enough CV presence with the category, my mentor was "babysitting" the category for a long time, and although they learnt as they went, it went a long time without someone to truly say this is enough or lets change this etc. Not to say I'm a super pixel god or anything, but I can see the situation, consider the options available and actually make a change, whether it turns out for the better or not remains to be seen. I think it would be worse if nothing was done at all, it will only continue to get messier and less pixelled over time. I know that a lot of people, especially at PJ are jaded and maybe even a bit hostile towards us here, but I believe I'm doing my best when there wasn't exactly a line up of people willing to tackle the issues.

I agree that isometric is most likely going to become a single category, most people have been in strong agreement about that and it will stop a lot of confusion. I also agree that the styles like fantasy aren't really that relevant, although also as you said, I'm not sure we're ready for the really particular things like 8bit, because it will be very much like iso's problem. I would love to see that become a focus for the category in the future, if it develops more into understanding of the definition.

I've done my best to start some articles that help people to understand the concepts behind pixel art, but it is very slow work. I still get people finish reading something I tried to make as simple as possible, and they still manage to miss the point entirely. This may be that I haven't worded it well enough, or it may be that the concepts are harder to access, I'm not sure. I think what would be good, is for more and more people to do their own versions, because the more people who read them, the more who will start to understand, or at least realise there's a difference. I get the feeling that a lot of people have been sitting back saying "everything's a mess that CV needs to do something about it!" but it truly won't work unless a large part of the community start helping out too. I can move the categories, change their names and even potentially start moving hybrid type art, but it won't stop people having those misconceptions and getting confused, only education via articles, tuts etc can start to address that deeper understanding.

I also like that you've suggested Animation, it's something I had honestly overlooked when I considered the restructure, and several others are suggesting for and against it. I'll certainly be giving that idea more thought.

Oh and about the edits, yes, they aren't supposed to be here, but currently CVs don't have the ability to move things to scraps or delete them, so my hands are tied on that problem. Although there is "other", I also am not supposed to be moving things within their parent categories, so that is not really an option either.

Apologies if there any points I've failed to address, I've got a lot of responses and a lot of thinking to do about them all, but just poke me if there's anything else you wanted to be sure to discuss, and thanks for contributing to the discussion!
skeddles's avatar
After looking through the gallery, I noticed that 90% of the top pixel of all time are animated. So it's like you have to animate if you want to be on the top. And some aren't even that well pixeled, they just get attention because they're moving.

So yeah, I really really think an animation subsection is needed.
ClefairyKid's avatar
Yep, that's a great point, I've brought that up with the team discussions for sure c: I can't promise anything but I don't think it'd be too much drama, aside from moving things and people getting used to something new. Would make for very interesting browsing I think c:
skeddles's avatar
Forgot "Iso" as a category in my last sentence. =]
wezenbeesje's avatar
What I miss in the pixel art gallery is an animation category. I think many people would search specifically for animated pixel art. So sometimes I have to submit an animated pixel art in another gallery, like icons or animation.
ClefairyKid's avatar
Yep, this has been a point several people have brought up and I'm very interested in looking into a category for this purpose, it'l bring forward different parts of the gallery well and allow for some good browsing options c:
SassySnivy's avatar
Oh thank GOODNESS someone is finally getting this done! :dummy:

I feel as if a clearer category description for pixel art submissions will help
"Pixel Art using tools that do not produce automatic anti-aliasing, [etc]"
this is probably a good reason that Oekaki gets mixed into the pixel art category. There is a thread on Pixeljoint's forum that perfectly defines what pixel art is:
It goes to state that it isn't ALL about the tools used. An Oekaki is not pixel art due to the fact that the individual pixel entirely loses meaning. Basically, Oekaki are not paid much attention to on the pixel level. This level of detail is also what makes pixel art...well, pixel art.

I've noticed the orientation focuses more on games as well; perhaps we should have the best of both worlds combined in this sense. Then again...not all indev game art is pixel art. Video game art had its own category, right? Then again, what to do with deviations that are good examples of both video game artwork AND pixel art...? Hmm..
That's the conflict about the Game Development art subcategory; both regular digital and pixel art can go there, so long as they're intended for a game and whatnot.

That's my two cents; however, sorry if my train of thought appears a little jumbled, here. ^^;

Also, just out of curiosity...will anyone ever be able to do anything about the masses and masses of video game sprite edits (especially Pokemon) that loom over the entire pixel art category like a thick, smothering blanket of fog? ._.
ClefairyKid's avatar
That category description is actually brand new, I just wrote it a few months ago ;)
Sadly, I can't fit several paragraphs, examples and a tutorial into the definition square, and my description had to go through multiple approval stages, and therefore the parts I included about hand defined details were cut, in order to make the description more presentable and practical. I found that this wasn't such a terrible sacrifice, as oekaki in pixel art is not actually a huge issue at all compared to the hybrid type pieces, and icons, emoticons etc that belong in other places.

I'm aware of what oekaki is, and I realise that some people would like the differentiation made stronger, however due to the large number of other definition related issues, I'm taking a stronger focus on pixel art itself, at least oekaki pieces are a lot closer than the hyrbid ones, and are following the right direction. If it's in my power to do more on that, in the future, I certainly would like to address it as well.

Trust me, the current description has been a huge improvement over the old one, which didn't appear to have been changed for a very long time. The key issue with the old one was that the terms were probably so advanced that few people could understand them, somewhat like what happens with people who guess between iso and non-iso because they just don't know what isometic even means. The new definition involves some technical terms too, but I felt it was impossible to separate the medium from it's technical limitations entirely, at least at this stage in my thinking, and I spent months considering the issue and rewriting the description. It was the whole reason it was invented, and the whole reason it's not just a "Style" of digital art, but actually a medium standing on it's own. I certainly don't claim to be an elitist who only likes the old school, strict pixel art, I'm just trying to differentiate between the pieces that openly use brushes and gradients and those that just use a lot of colours.

Ah, the sprites, sadly, I don't have the power to do much about them, I can't move them, and I can't delete them, since the new requirements mean that the direct copyright holders would have to send dA a completed DMCA report form, and it's highly unlikely that nintendo is about to do that (just an example). I can sit and attempt to report them one at a time, but even then they are unlikely to be removed without a copyright form. Perhaps the only way they may be removed, is if a particular user has a LOT of obvious violations in the one gallery, with linked proof in a report to the help desk, which might result in the galley itself being investigated as a whole. Again, no promise, but it's the only example I can think of where these would be addressed.

My only method of combating the issues of incorrect submissions is education, although on my own it can be slow going, I only reach a small number of people, and the more who write articles and make tutorials and engage people in what the definition means and what the basic technique are, the better the understanding will be of what goes in there and what pixel art really is.

I think the issue is not that the definition is too difficult, but that no one sees the definition, I know that personally before I started the work on the new one, I had never seen a category definition, I actually didn't even know where to find them and needed to ask for help to even find them. This clearly shows we need to have more promoting of the definitions, they should be clearly visible to the people both submitting to AND browsing the category, and I want to try and to more of my articles that target the terms and technical things too, which contribute to understanding.

Sorry for the delayed reply, I've been working to catch up and get back to people in a reasonable manner :P I'll be doing a new journal when I can say for certain what will and won't be happening, so you'll know if progress is being made C:
API-Beast's avatar
- Mockups
- Animations
- Sprites
- Tiles
- Scenes
- Portraits
- Characters
- Objects
- Icons
Maybe additional categories for certain more or less popular styles:
- Chibi
- Dolls
- Furry
- Isometric
ClefairyKid's avatar
Dolls and Icons both already have entirely separate categories, ^Lyricanna is currently "babysitting" the Dolls category and organising it's restructure before a new Dolls CV is chosen, and ^ValaSedai is currently the CV for Icons and is organising their restructure stuff as well.

Things such as "chibi" and "furry" are more appropriate as search terms, not category names, although I understand that people are bringing them up because there is a large amount of those in the gallery.

I like the rest of titles, especially mock ups, however, the main focus of this "restructure" project, is to reduce things by deleting redundant categories and/or merge them in order to simplify things and thus reduce confusion and miscats. Although I like the extra categories you've suggested, we are currently only looking to remove things or rename etc unless something is desperately needed to be added, rather than "flesh out" categories.

Thank you for your contributions c: Isometric is certainly looking like it will be a strong contender for it's own stand alone category and this will reduce confusion greatly.
API-Beast's avatar
okay lets look at it from a "what is needed perspective", currently we have this categories:


From my experience I miss the following categories:
Game Mockups ([link])
Tiled Pixel Art/Tiles ([link])
Portraits ([link])

Text can definitly removed.
Looking at the "Other" category it could be removed too, art in there either fits into the categories mentioned above or don't belong into the pixel art category in the first place.

Isometric should be just one category instead of a subcategory.
ClefairyKid's avatar
Thanks for your feedback, that's very helpful and I'll keep it in mind along with the rest of the discussions on here c: Certainly, the push for removing text and simplifying isometric down to one category is sounding like a common theme in the feedback.
SassySnivy's avatar
Chibi and Furry are more types; like how Kira-Tobu stated on a comment here: you can upload things of a specific style type / fandom to an associating group. The other things you suggested are a bit more so like categories, though I feel like some of those categories could be subcategories for what you mentioned here.
API-Beast's avatar
Well, point of those categories is that they fall out of the "usual" spectrum of pixel art. People who like Pixel Art in general might or might not (probably not) like art from those categories. And while they are technically Pixel Art the focus is usually a different one, which makes it impossible to compare them to "regular" pixel art.
Carnivius's avatar
I don't think I have much to suggest that hasn't been already but it pleases me someone's serious about sorting out the pixel art categories here.
ClefairyKid's avatar
I'm glad to hear some good and detailed feedback on the category, it's useful because I haven't been involved with it as long as some members have been interacting with it, and it increases the perspective.

What I do have to stress for people though is that the restructure aims at minimising things, be that deleting redundant categories and/or merging things to avoid confusion, rather than adding much, unless truly necessary. That isn't my personal agenda, and I don't even have the final say of what happens, but I do want to help things move in a better direction as much as possible, and this is what we have to work with.
Carnivius's avatar
Hm, I did try reporting various wrongly placed pieces some time ago but there was just so many I knew I'd soon be driven insane. I suppose it's true a lot of people don't even understand what is pixel art and what ain't though some of the stuff was just idiotic.
ClefairyKid's avatar
Oh yes, a lot are not even a matter of pixel or no pixel, because it accepts gifs, the category gets used as a bit of a scrap bin sometimes :c Sadly, I don't have the power to even move illegal things like sprite edits and memes to scraps, let alone remove them from the site entirely, so there's not much I can do to clean it in that sense. I can't move things within a parent category either, so it's very hard for me to think of ways that will significantly make a difference. The biggest thing I could potentially do is to move the not quite pixels into mixed media, but even that would be a massive effort from the CV team, and it wouldn't stop a lot of people continuing to post them in pixel regardless. It needs to be a community wide effort to educate people I think, it's all well and good that I go on about the differences, but not many people hear just one person.
Carnivius's avatar
Well I look forward to seeing how it all works out this time. =)
anonymous's avatar
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