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I need a new art program - GolfHacker - Jun 17, 2011 09:29 AM

I need to update my art program. I've been using an ancient copy of Corel PhotoPaint 6 that I run from my Windows XP virtual machine via VMWare Fusion. What I have loved about this program is that it is perfect for pixel art. With the brush tool, I can set individual pixels to exactly the RGB color I want and not have to worry about it trying to do add/subtract, blending, antialiasing, or whatever. The problem, though, is how the antivirus on Windows keeps kicking in and slowing the virtual machine to a crawl. It's finally become annoying enough for me to want to make a change.

So, can anyone recommend a native Mac art program that would be perfect for pixel art?


RE: I need a new art program - EvolPenguin - Jun 17, 2011 11:10 AM

I'm no expert on art programs, but try out Pixelmator ( http://www.pixelmator.com/ ) and see if that's what you need.
Alex


RE: I need a new art program - ThemsAllTook - Jun 17, 2011 11:20 AM

Pixelmator is pretty good. If you don't mind the foreign UI, GIMP is also a solid choice.


RE: I need a new art program - Frank C. - Jun 17, 2011 11:38 AM

Photoshop makes for a fine pixel editor if you tweak the right prefs. Might be overkill if all you need is a pixel editor though!


RE: I need a new art program - AnotherJake - Jun 17, 2011 12:50 PM

I'm still using Photoshop as well.


RE: I need a new art program - AndyKorth - Jun 17, 2011 01:17 PM

Pixen was designed for pixel art. Some people like it, but I don't care for it too much. It's been abandoned for a while.

http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/13363/pixen

I use Photoshop CS4.


RE: I need a new art program - skyhawk - Jun 17, 2011 03:16 PM

Pixen is pretty crappy.

I recommend Pixelmator for native, but most recently I've been using Graphics Gale (http://www.humanbalance.net/gale/us/ ) under Parallels. I wish they made something comparable for OS X =\


RE: I need a new art program - GolfHacker - Jun 17, 2011 05:20 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone! Looks like they uploaded a new version of Pixen a couple of days ago - it's dated June 15, 2011.

I downloaded Pixen and the Pixelmator trial. Looks like both require Mac OS 10.6. I'm still running 10.5. Guess I can't put off the upgrade much longer...


RE: I need a new art program - johncmurphy - Jun 17, 2011 07:12 PM

The problem with modern painting programs (Photoshop, Corel Painter, etc.) is that they can do pixel art, but are not really optimized for a pixel-based workflow.
The classic pixel art program was Deluxe Paint (DPaint) for the Amiga, which is no longer made. The closest reproduction of DPaint that I have been able to find is ProMotion (http://www.cosmigo.com/promotion/index.php), which has some pretty impressive tile-mapping capabilities. Here is an example.
Alternately, there is Graphics Gale, or even Paint Tool SAI, if you want pixel-art friendly programs.


RE: I need a new art program - Frank C. - Jun 17, 2011 08:30 PM

(Jun 17, 2011 07:12 PM)johncmurphy Wrote:  The problem with modern painting programs (Photoshop, Corel Painter, etc.) is that they can do pixel art, but are not really optimized for a pixel-based workflow.
Photoshop can be coaxed into a very capable pixel editor. I felt compelled to point this out on twitter a couple months back while developing my last game: http://twitpic.com/4ht1tp It even handles frame animation pretty easily.

Not saying a dedicated app wouldn't be better, but I honestly don't know of a decent one that's Mac native.


RE: I need a new art program - AnotherJake - Jun 17, 2011 10:25 PM

I've been doing the pencil with swatches and super magnification thing for many years. Works great, which is why I haven't felt compelled to use other programs. However, I never did like that I was forced to be focused only on the magnified window, having to zoom out to check out the product once in a while...

After seeing your screenshot I noticed the little duplicate window in the upper right. I was about to post here asking how to do that but instead poked around in P-shop for 30 seconds and found the "New window for blahblah" menu item. All I can say is heck yeah!!! Man that is going to make things so much easier!


RE: I need a new art program - GolfHacker - Jun 18, 2011 07:27 AM

(Jun 17, 2011 08:30 PM)Frank C. Wrote:  Photoshop can be coaxed into a very capable pixel editor. I felt compelled to point this out on twitter a couple months back while developing my last game: http://twitpic.com/4ht1tp It even handles frame animation pretty easily.

I notice the latest version of Photoshop supports 10.5.8, which is what I have. So maybe with that I wouldn't need to upgrade to 10.6.

What settings do you have to have to "coax it"? Are these settings documented anywhere?

Thanks!


RE: I need a new art program - Frank C. - Jun 18, 2011 09:28 AM

(Jun 18, 2011 07:27 AM)GolfHacker Wrote:  What settings do you have to have to "coax it"?

Enable the Pixel Grid (in the view menu):
View->Show->Pixel Grid

Then as AnotherJake described, you'll probably want a secondary window open so you can work zoomed in and zoomed out at the same time:
Window->Arrange->New Window for ...

From there just use the Pencil tool and go nuts Smile

To get the most out of it you can also set the Eraser tool to "Pencil Mode" and load up some square brushes into the brush palette. And turn off antialiasing for tools like the Marquee selections, Magic Wand and Paint Bucket (set the "tolerance" to 1 for the latter two as well to select only 1 colour at a time).

You might also want to set the default Image Interpolation to "Nearest Neighbour" in Photoshop->Preferences->General... And set the shape tools to "Pixel" mode, and disable anti-aliasing for those as well!

If you're hardcore you can even change the image mode to "Indexed Color" to forcefully limit yourself to a specific colour palette.

I will admit it's kind of a PITA to go between pure pixel workflow and back to "regular" mode with all those scattered prefs though!


RE: I need a new art program - AndyKorth - Jun 18, 2011 09:30 AM

It's nothing really that complicated. And I don't really know of any feature a pixel editor program would have that photoshop does not have. Just zoom way in and use the pencil tool. Once you zoom in past a certain point, photoshop gives you a per-pixel grid automatically. If you are laying out a sprite sheet on a grid, you can set up the grid option to be 32x32 pixels (or whatever). That's in the preferences.

Settings-wise, that's it. (unless others have suggestions)


RE: I need a new art program - skyhawk - Jun 18, 2011 09:55 AM

(Jun 18, 2011 09:30 AM)AndyKorth Wrote:  It's nothing really that complicated. And I don't really know of any feature a pixel editor program would have that photoshop does not have. Just zoom way in and use the pencil tool. Once you zoom in past a certain point, photoshop gives you a per-pixel grid automatically. If you are laying out a sprite sheet on a grid, you can set up the grid option to be 32x32 pixels (or whatever). That's in the preferences.

Settings-wise, that's it. (unless others have suggestions)

try out graphics gale or promotion, and then tell me that photoshop feels just as good =)

It's night and day. I won't argue that photoshop isn't satisfactory. It gets "the job done" for the most part. But it's really a shovel when what you need is a bulldozer.