The next London Gaming Market is almost upon us, and this time I'm fully prepared! I'll be taking over 100 handmade pieces of pixel art to the Market on 19 Nov, and thought I'd provide a preview of what I'll have available:
Frame sizes range from 18x24cm to 50x50cm. A few more pieces will be added to this gallery between now and the 19th, so do check back to see what's new! Also, if you'd like to see any other games represented, please let me know and I'll see what I can do!
Yesterday I made a pixel portrait that combined black and white for the skin tones with full colour for the hair and lips. I like to do this with certain portraits as the results can be quite striking. Here is the original picture, side by side with the finished pixel piece:
I originally planned to do the portrait in full colour, but wasn't satisfied with the skin tones in my design. Black and white skin tones generally look pretty good when using Artkal and Hama's range of greys (I use six shades between black and white), so I decided to go that route. I didn't want to lose the striking colour of the hair and lips though, so I combined the two.
Without editing the photo, a combination design like this isn't easily done in the Perler program (my design software of choice). I could have used a photo editing app on my phone to make the pic black and white, while including colour where I wanted it, but this can be a timely, tricky process when trying to do it on a small phone screen. For this reason I used a technique I have used in the past - making a colour design as well as a black & white design, and use them both. Here's what I came up with:
As you can see on the left, just changing the colours to black and white with the reds and pinks included too doesn't give the finished result I was looking for. As the design is based on a colour photo, the software puts some colours where I don't want them, as they are closer to the actual colour than a shade of grey is, for example in darker areas.
So with this portrait I worked from both designs, and also continually referenced the original photo to check where the greyscale should end and the colour should start.
As with all my portrait designs generated by computer software, there is an element of cleaning up by eye to be done. This usually means tidying up the eyes and mouth, and this picture was no exception. While the lips only needed minimal improvements, the eye in the original designs was a bit lifeless compared to the real eye in the photo. For some reason the whites of the eye were interpreted as grey by the software, the pupil was indistinguishable, and the iris shaped all wrong. It took some trial and error to get the right shade of grey (using white proved to be too jarring in this picture) and the right shape, but I think the final eye is a big improvement. She now looks like she's looking at something specific, rather than just vacantly staring into space.
From starting the design process to laying the last bead took about 4 hours. And this is the smallest size I make portraits in - had I been working at 30x40cm or 40x50cm it probably would have taken at least twice as long.
And for those of you wondering, the model is Sway Fierce, and a fun fact about her is that she likes retro gaming! Check her out on Instagram (@swayfierce).
Yesterday I made a trip to visit one of my favourite game dealers, Ally The Retro Hunter. Since I've been selling art, he's had a stall at most games fairs and markets I've exhibited at. He's bought art from me, and I've bought games from him, but we never get a lot of time at markets to chat, so it was good to catch up. Recently he was able to make the jump to full time games dealing, and has opened his own shop in Southend. There's something special about retro games shops, as there are so few in the wild these days, so I'm keen to support them when I can. So here's a little about The Retro Hunter shop!
I was impressed by the size of the shop and the amount of stuff for sale. Most retro games shops I've been to in recent years (not that there are many around these days) tend to be much more compact, with little of interest (to me anyway) actually on display. This place isn't like that, and after seeing the amount of stock out back that hasn't been sorted or just won't fit out on the shop floor, I'd definitely recommend asking if there's something specific you're after - chances are it just hasn't made its way to the shop floor yet! There were so many consoles and games in the store room, it was like an Aladdin's cave for retro gamers - I would have loved to sit in there all day and sort through it! For example, there were two Virtual Boys sat around in the back. I'd never played one before, so Ally Kindly let me have a go on one.
I'm not going to lie, I couldn't get the hang of it, visual-wise. There were a few seconds when my brain managed to interpret the images as one 3D scene, but then my eyes lost it again and I was trying to play tennis with two overlapping images in my vision. Not ideal... I soon gave up and decided I'm glad I never bought one of these curiosities, even being the Nintendo fanboy that I am. I have my 3DS and I'm more than happy with that!
The store has loads more to keep retro gamers interested though, including a few playable arcades, and of course plenty of games and consoles, as well as old board games, toys and action figures.
There's also a little bit of my pixel art on display in the shop (the framed Mario piece), with maybe more to come!
So where can you find this den of geekiness? The address is: 1172 London Road, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 2AH. You can also find him on Twitter (@TheRetroHunter) and Facebook (@TheRealRetroHunter). If you're into retro games and/or toys, this place is well worth a visit!
Tomorrow marks the start of my latest exhibition at The Star Pub in Dorking, Surrey. For the month of October, a variety of my artwork will be on display and available for sale. Please take a look at the Event page on Facebook here.
Here are some of the other pieces that will be available:
My name is Iain and my addiction is making pixel bead art. My main inspirations are comics, video games and movies.