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What makes Paper Mario look flat? - Printable Version

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What makes Paper Mario look flat? - Mariotroid - 01-13-2021

I've been told my art has a certain flatness to it. So I'm asking you people here: what makes art like Paper Mario's look flat? Also how do you avoid flatness in general? Thank you.


RE: What makes Paper Mario look flat? - Evil Yoshi Toes - 01-13-2021

What a good question however this question as a whole requires a two part answer, one which is related to paper mario and one which is related to your art, whose flatness has nothing to do with paper mario. 

The flat papery effect in Paper Mario (pre-Sticker Star, of course) comes from a number of factors only easy to explain with provided visuals:

[Image: icX50Ig.jpg]

The characters are flat of course because they do not have a lot of shading on them and they are 2D graphics. That's easy. What's much more interesting is the environment. Look at the lighting. There is no sense of realistic lighting going on here, everything is lit based on planes of the objects (flat surfaces). Look at the houses. You have light surfaces and dark surfaces. Look at the bridge too, and the stairs, the walls, etc. It's all flat shading that only changes value when there is a change in plane.

When you combine this shading technique with the cartoony textures and - even more interesting - the way the camera position and environments are set up to make it look like little paper dioramas, the game gets its fantastic subtle but there papery look. Much more interesting than the literal paper environments of current Paper Mario in my opinion! 


As fascinating a topic as this is, I imagine it has nothing to do with why your art looks flat. This in an intentional flatness that looks really really good and, while flat, does not lack form. I imagine people tell you your art looks flat because it is lacking in form, which is something that really just comes from practicing drawing things in real life and observing how objects overlap. There's not much I can say since it's such a broad topic, but if you want to share one of your pieces of work that you were told looks flat I could give you some advice. Just keep in mind that not having shading doesn't equal not having form. Paper mario characters have no realistic shading, but they still have form to them. In my own work I use only line and pattern, but I still try to create a lot of form by respecting overlapping, anatomy, and by finding ways to compose an image that give it an illusion of depth and do not flatten it out (another can of worms, please share your work so I can comment on it more appropriately).


RE: What makes Paper Mario look flat? - warioCritic - 01-13-2021

hes paper.


RE: What makes Paper Mario look flat? - Evil Yoshi Toes - 01-13-2021

(01-13-2021, 09:31 AM)warioCritic Wrote: hes paper.

Unhelpful to the max. Shame on you.


RE: What makes Paper Mario look flat? - warioCritic - 01-13-2021

(01-13-2021, 09:51 AM)Evil Yoshi Toes Wrote:
(01-13-2021, 09:31 AM)warioCritic Wrote: hes paper.

Unhelpful to the max. Shame on you.

hide in shame for me Sad


RE: What makes Paper Mario look flat? - Mariotroid - 01-13-2021

[Image: lmcpw7.png]
This dog doesnt seem too 3D in my own eyes.
[Image: ein4fl.png]
this is an newer one, I think I do have some better form
[Image: roo6mh.png]
this is an older one, doesnt look like it has much form
[Image: gk81l5.png]
this is newer, someone said not very good perspective
[Image: 9zo5pe.png]
this one the chest and arms are flat


RE: What makes Paper Mario look flat? - Evil Yoshi Toes - 01-13-2021

The lack of 3D in your art when it comes to the figures and animal comes a lot from a lack of form, which comes down to observing the way things overlap each other and wrap around each other. The dog has very "3D" looking shading, but it still comes off flat because the drawing underneath all that shading was lacking form (can't polish a turd, as they say. Not to say your dog drawing is a turd, just to say that if there's a foundational issue with the drawing, the rendering cant cover that up). Your figure drawings seem to be more line oriented so the lack of form you see really just comes down to not having things overlap and wrap around appropriately in some areas.
The flatness of the man's chest has more to do with how you added dark shadows all around his pecs with the front surface left white, so it looks like theyre flat. Try looking at how pecs catch light in real life. With a normal light source they will have shadow on the bottom and not much shadow at the top.

[Image: 23f1bfba3d747a57f63ce0c129573199.jpg]
Look and squint at the shadows on this handsome man's chest. I could study them all day!  Nerd

The pink one is just kind of confusing because you have so many lines going on, so even if there was a strong drawing underneath it got covered up by lines that don't look like they were very intentional. Remember when you're inking that each of your lines you create must have a purpose, otherwise they should not be there.

I do also want to address another thing that I've seen in other samples of your work that you've called flat, because it's very important. It comes into play A LOT in full scene illustrations, and it's tangent lines. They're just when lines meet together at a point, which is harmless in some cases, but in some cases can really flatten something out.

[Image: Untitled.png]
The overlapping in the top image pushes the depth in the piece. The way they meet together at the edges in the bottom piece flattens the whole image out and ruins the potential depth.

I also want to mention my point earlier about shading not guaranteeing form, and form not relying on shading. I think we have somewhat similar interests in our art, as we are both black and white artists who seem to reject the idea of rendering (it sucks, so we are smart). I don't like to use my own work as an example because I think it's annoying, but in this case I think it appropriate as I can talk about exactly why I made the choices I made instead of guessing why some awesome artist who died years and years ago probably did the things he did. To be clear I don't mean to say that I am better than you or to show off or brag, but I cannot deny that I have knowledge in this area and that the easiest way for me to share it is by showing you an example that I created myself with such techniques in mind.

[Image: IMG-2929.jpg]

The depth in my artwork is completely reliant on line, because that's just what I'm into. I  believe that I captured a good amount of depth in this piece, and I can explain why. I think you can get the idea that the arm, which is attached to the prince's body in the front of the image, is going back in space, and that it touches the woman's arm, which helps to solidify her position much farther back in space than he is. Then the overlapping comes into play and sort of "organizes" the piece by layering everything and telling the brain what's behind/in front of what. If I did not have the prince touching the princess, and if her rump was scooted up in the image so as to not be behind the man's, and if her hair did not go behind the bed's structure, her placement far back in space would not be quite as clear, and the image would have much less depth and the story of the image would be destroyed.

So really it's all about the illusion. Art is flat we gotta make it 3D, and we do that with perspective, overlapping, form, and the interaction between objects in an image. And some freaks do it with shading too, but shading means jack s*** without a proper drawing beneath it.


RE: What makes Paper Mario look flat? - Mariotroid - 01-14-2021

[Image: 85enzc.png]
[Image: yr0yng.png]
[Image: nwiijg.png]
Do these have better form?
[Image: 8jvgt1.png]
[Image: 7unpn7.png]
[Image: tsyuqz.png]
Or these?


I think I was polishing many turds for a long time with my art. I was practicing bad habits that seeped into my work. I believe I should tackle some more art books. School helped with cartooning I guess... Hopefully it wasn't a waste.

 what do you think? @Evil Yoshi Toes