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Pixel tutorial - Seven solutions to color banding

By Pix3M
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EDIT: Enlarged so you don't need to stick this in an image editor to see the pixels.

After poking around with whatever tutorials happened to be on deviantART, pixel art tutorials happen to strangely offer dithering as the only solution to a particular problem of color banding. Color banding is an effect when you can see bands of color when something is supposed to look like a gradient.

Of course, most tutorials will offer dithering as a method to create the intended gradient for shading purposes. There are at least seven different ways to approach the same problem. Dithering is only one solution but it is often poorly controlled and in some cases, the dithered colors do not blend via being too high contrast, and it creates an inappropriate texture for the given subject.

The 'use a different medium of art' example was painted in GIMP in a minute. Achieving a similar look with pixel takes a lot longer to do.
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Comments25
anonymous's avatar
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Clockblockers's avatar
I tend to use banding in my MS Paint stuff. *Shrug* People use it in certain art styles. Depends on what the picture is.
AzKai's avatar
Awesome! Great job, thanks for sharing.
Almadeia's avatar
I find the different medium of art as amusing and I like to thank you for that hahaha <3
Ultimaodin's avatar
Banding is more frowned upon when it's the staircase banding where it makes things blurry
Pix3M's avatar
I used the term 'color banding' to focus on the more traditional sense of the term, so staircasing or that other kind of banding in general is kind of out of scope of this little thing. Then again, I do see colorbanding and staircasing to be very similar though, when it creates lines in places where it's just not necessary.
AzulNaranja's avatar
Great advice, Ill think of it
zomgmad's avatar
The "ugly" sphere at the top doesn't look bad at all unless you zoom in. And all pixel art looks odd, or different at least, when zoomed in. *shrug*
But good suggestions. :thumbsup:
GraphicHead's avatar
I've played with pixel work before, but aside from my twin brother, I have had little to no guidance for it. Thanks.
ryolo132's avatar
I lol'd when it said 'use a different medium of art'.
It's like telling someone "clearly you're sh*te so please go and do something else"
Pix3M's avatar
I'm serious though. Some people try to make ENORMOUS spheres but as you can imagine, it's extremely annoying to have gradient-shading on something that huge. Only advice I can give to somebody who works super huge (like at least as big as a thumbnail) is to just... don't use pixel art. It's poorly suited for what you're doing.
ryolo132's avatar
I completely agree, I just found the way it was stated so 'matter-of'fact'ly quite amusing
Pixelkh1's avatar
Hm, see this on pixelation, while later, in DA inbox.
Pix3M's avatar
I remember at least two posts from pixelation that dealt with color banding. Comparing those other posts, this little tut brings up the idea of working smaller or just not using pixels for the sake of using a medium to your advantage, but there are probably ideas brought up in said posts that this tutorial doesn't bring up.
Tauman-exe's avatar
You forgot one: "Add squiggles to distract!"
TheWrongestTrousers's avatar
"Change your form" Damn. Looks like I'm going to have to become a cube, again.

In all seriousness, this is pretty helpful.
Faeyurne's avatar
Obvious solution is obvious. Use fewer! Simplicity isn't such a crime...

And I hate dithering. Dithering offends my sensibilities (which are usually lacking anyway)
Pix3M's avatar
Seriously though, it depends on context. Dithering probably works best for hyperealism and is probably usually only used right in the hands of somebody who already knows how to 'paint' anyways. Much like soft shading works best for really skilled artists.

Heck, I can say that my attempt at dithering the bands away is kind of a questionable example. If anything more strong shading that is convincing has to look something like my condensed version so even that is a better alternative than dithering. Just took some weak shading and dithered it without optimizing the original.
Michos9's avatar
It's a good tutorial, shame I have to look at it through a magnifying glass ^^
Pix3M's avatar
with* dammit.
Pix3M's avatar
Lol I was hoping to make an entire tutorial crammed into a thumbnail, but I found that there's too many possibilities and examples. So, the scale sucks a bit.

Also, what kind of monitor or screen are you looking at this work?
Michos9's avatar
ah, forgot to mention: I'm only 1280x1024 at the moment, so, pretty tiny screen, considering recent standards.
Pix3M's avatar
I have the same resolution but the bad pixel technique still sticks out to me.

However, I'm the sort of person who hates MSpaint's antialiasing with its text tool because it creates really saturated colors on the edges.
Michos9's avatar
I can fully agree with the terrible antialiasing in MSP. That's why I use pretty much only System font in it ^^'


well, you obviously know much more about pixel art than I do, so who am I to argue. Everything becomes clear once I zoom it just a little, so yeah, no problem with the techniques themselves.
Michos9's avatar
It was supposed to be just a joke, though after a second look, it's actually kinda hard to see much difference between original/band even more and other medium/condense bands without zooming. Though it might be the fact that I'm in a poorly lit room, or my bad eyesight.

Although I have to admit, it would be pretty funny to squeeze entire tutorial on something into the thumbnail : D
anonymous's avatar
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