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Those dark outlines around RPG sprites, what's the deal?

 
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Are outlines of sprites a good idea?
No, they are ugly and unrealistic. Black outlines do not exist in nature.
5%
 5%  [ 1 ]
Come on, without outlines we would all go blind from garish graphics.
5%
 5%  [ 1 ]
I can't decide which is better...
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Either style is acceptable as long as the graphics have quality
88%
 88%  [ 16 ]
Total Votes : 18

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BaitshopBob
One disgruntled Scottish American




Joined: 03 Mar 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 29, 2003 11:46 pm    Post subject: Those dark outlines around RPG sprites, what's the deal? Reply with quote

There are many different styles used to create many different games. Part of what defines a game is its graphics. Are outlined sprites (such as earlier Final Fantasy characters) better than non-outlined sprites? As an aspiring young artist I tend to not use dark outlines because it is unrealistic and can make an RPG look cartoonish. However, outlines serve a practical use in RPGs. Outlines make sprites more visible and easier to see because it prevents the colors of the sprites from blending with the background outlines also help to create emphasis.

I've been debating this issue with myself for a long time. Even though I've been on my school's debate club*, I still can't come to a resolution...

Please, discuss.

* I am proud of this fact since I was the first successful debator from my school (everybody else in that club was [insert synonym for "idiot" here], but bless them, they tried). Debate also made me REALLY popular with the ladies Neutral , yeah right.
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Last edited by BaitshopBob on Sun Mar 30, 2003 1:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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MultiColoredWizard
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Joined: 01 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2003 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Graphics are outlined that way so that characters stand out better.

Take Fortis's Awkward Stage for example.

The characters don't really stand out much. My eye is brought to the mashed potatoes; neither Dan nor Zack.


See the difference?

I'm all for black outlines.
Also, we don't care if you're "really popular" with the ladies, because about a third of the people here have female friends.
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Squall
is fantastic




Joined: 02 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2003 12:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In the first pic, that's supposed to be a blob of fat, but good points anyway, MC.

Yeah, I like the black outlines too, it makes the characters stand out more.
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Friend




Joined: 06 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2003 3:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like both styles equally... as long as the sprites drawn with the outline method use proper anti-aliasing to polish the rough, jagged, edges... and the ones without outlines are done with the proper sel-out technique.

ps: I think Bob's last comment is meant to be a sarcasm. Please don't bite him Neutral

Friend,
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Komera




Joined: 07 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2003 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It depends on the game and the mood/style (choose one, I care not) trying to be set. But whichever is chosen, it has to be consistant about it. I think outlining gives a game a more lighthearted feel (but only to a point). Not outlining lets characters blend with surroundings a bit easier and thus (IMHO) is better suited to dark mooded stories.

Or in my case, W;P1 intentionally tries to invoke the feeling of SNES RPGs, which were mostly outlined. While Zelda; Doujingeemu tries to invoke the original Zelda's feel so it is not outlined, but it is bright.
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Setu_Firestorm
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2003 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Personally, I prefer the non-outlined character look, but even with outlines, they still don't look that bad. Outlines give it a more "cel-like" look, which if you're doing anime, could improve your quality.
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Chocobo




Joined: 19 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 7:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe that the outlines of sprites allow it to be shaded more. As a result, they look more realistic, but that's just my opinion.
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Setu_Firestorm
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 9:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

THERE!! I DID IT! I MADE OUTLINED SPRITES FOR .HACK//OHR! ..........................................................................................................and it doesn't look too bad...it's just a different style, that's all........
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Chocobo




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PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 3:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

lol...good job Cool
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no_shot
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Joined: 28 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Mon May 12, 2003 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, it all depends...a skillful artist can make anything look good, whether it has the black outlines or not.
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SunsOfFlame




Joined: 28 Apr 2003
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do you all care?

I use both, but normally a dark gray outline. Why? Because the OHR's GFX editor's backround is black. Foo.

Debate Club gettin you popular with the ladies? That's wierd. All the kids that are debaters at my school are friendless losers.
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Blazes Battles Inc.
I'm a chimp, not a




Joined: 25 Jan 2003
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 04, 2003 4:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm guessing most people at your school aren't very intellectual?
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Ronin Catholic
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 9:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have enjoyed success with both styles. I don't give a rip about shading, but using black outlines does give extra leeway for doing things like using the same color in the backgrounds that is already on a hero. Without outlines, even if the color is a single shade away the character is liable to blend in.

In Wolf's Quest I used outlines because I was trying to imitate the aesthetics of the GameBoy Color RPGs that introduced me to the genre as a callback to some of my early rips/fan sprites.

When I went back and remade Wolf's Quest, at first I was going with no outlines and try to make things look more like an NES Dragon Quest game, but a hard drive wipeout killed all of that version aside from a couple character portraits and Wolf's walkabout (which I later re-used as Lesley in Maces Wild).

So I remade it again, this time not restricting myself to 8-bit and after showing some of my early graphics off I kept running into a conflict with Wolf's tunic being the same or nearly the same shade of green as the grass, Wolf's hand overlapping his tail, and suchlike - the outlines were recommended to me and worked out nicely. I even gave Akira blue outlines instead of black to show how powerful he was.

In Nintendo Quest some of the sprites I ripped had outlines and some didn't, but most of my original graphics for it didn't. This disjointed aesthetic was part of the point, but "I was doing bad on purpose" isn't necessarily the same as "I am funny because I'm bad on purpose" and I don't think I'll be able to make myself go back and finish it.

In Maces Wild, I went with the no-outlines style for Ken, Lesley, and Hera since I had Ken and Lesley's walkabouts first, and by the time I got to Hera I already had a solid style going. TOBMAC had battle graphics before a walkabout and I decided to make use of the black backdrop - I would have done so for the other heroes were it not for concern of the 8-bit contest's rules (using a black outline would be four colors as I read it, even on an all-black background). Lesley would originally have been carrying a sword around at all times on his graphic, but again I had to remove it because of the three-color limit.

In Weegee, I went with no outline to get one extra color and black outlines on most enemies in battle. Weegee himself probably should have been color outlined to go better with Doki Doki Panic/SMB2's graphic style and the other beings styled accordingly, but I wasn't thinking that far ahead and my Weegee sprite was repurposed from an abandoned joke game I'd been working on prior to it.

In No Eat, most things have a black outline -and- are reused from other games I'd been working on. The chickens use a red outline to save a color despite the game not being strictly 8-bit like many of my others. The one ripped enemy sprite actually doesn't stand out all that much, but the resized Public Domain sprite of the dragon very much did...for different reasons. These outlines help the colorful characters stand out against the nicely detailed tiles and background I borrowed from James.

...

Anyone else have specific games where they outlined or did not outline, reasons for doing it, and what effect you felt you got out of it?
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Gizmog1
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Are we psychic or something? I was actually thinking about bumping this one myself!)

Looking at FF6 sprites, Doomgaze's body has a solid black outline all around it, save for a few pixels here and there which help give it a curvy shape than a straight-up outline would allow. Also, the ribbons (on closer inspection they might be guts) hanging out of his skull only have outline at the bottom, and it's more as a third shade than as an actual outline.

I think this agrees with Wiz's earlier theory that a black line is intended to seperate things from the background. But I think it also adds an interesting wrinkle, which is that just because you outline part of something doesn't mean you have to outline all of it. Looking at the floating head dude, also from FF6, you can see that the bottom, left and right sides, aka, the darkest spots are black outlined, but the brighter part of his head at the top isn't. Probably because you'd have to be an idiot to think that big shiny forehead is part of the background. If you put a black outline around it, it WOULD be part of the background, or at least tied to the background and that would get rid of some of the contrast in depth.

I think the way I had it explained to me once is like... pure black is the flattest, the lowest of the colors. Pure white is the closest to the camera, the highest, let's say. So when you give a sprite a black outline, you're saying "This isn't part of the background it's popping right out of the deepest depths there of!".

A bush, a tree, a house, generally aren't popping out of the background any more than the other bushes trees or houses, so you wouldn't necessarily want to always outline them. The bottom part of a bush DOES pop out from the grass beneath it though, so you could use black around the bottom and maybe even sides of a bush to help illuminate that it is a bush and not grass.

You could also argue this about anatomy. Like, a person's fingers don't really pop out from their hand like magic, so you don't need a black line between the finger and hand, but fingers do pop out from each other so that merits a black line seperating fingers. A dude with bulgy muscles might get some black lines to help distinguish his rad glutes from his abs and triceps and biceps and all that stuff that a scrawny dude wouldn't.

Pretty much just stating the obvious and rambling at this point, but black outlines rule.
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Bob the Hamster
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am personally a big fan of black outlines. They are not just about spatial separation, but also about contrast.

That being said, I do love good sprite art that lacks outlines, and I do feel that it requires a higher level of pixel-skill to create.
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