How To Create Pixel Art GIFs? An Interview With Illustrator Yuuta Toyoi
Today I'm interviewing Yuuta Toyoi (@1041uuu), illustrator and pixel artist who is also part of Geek House, a project that collects various creators and which was introduced in the Japanese TV program The Non Fiction. His pixel works are beautiful and have a strong retro vibe, and have gathered a lot of attention from media. Toyoi has refused to release interviews up until now, but I took advantage of my friendship with him to visit him in Wakayama prefecture, where he currently lives. Surprisingly, he agreed to answer a few questions.
This is going to be a very rare interview article, so I hope you're grateful it exists.
The truth is, pixel art is an ugly form or art that comes in low resolution.
Also, the appearance of each motif is very important. For example, real goldfish are very detailed and move in a very complicated way. If you try to replicate them as they are, they will look terrible. You need to simplify their movements and to drop the frame rate.
Even with the light coming from light bulbs or streetlights, it's essential to draw them carefully with anti-aliasing to give them a shape. You have to start from tiny white squares and create a whole picture.
You have to make loops almost unnoticeable. By inserting different objects in the same illustration, some looping at multiples of 3 and some looping at multiples of 4, I try to make the general loop less noticeable. The placement of the objects moving is also important. I try to sprinkle them over the whole canvas, while checking the overall movement.
There are images called cinemagraphs, which combine still photography and video to create an almost perfect loop. In those GIFs, it's very common to move the background (the sea, clouds) and to make characters in the front stand perfectly still. By making the background move, you can express a feeling of time going by.
By inserting many different elements all over the canvas, you can create the illusion of time moving. Something I use often is a scrolling background, rain or petals.
They were simple sketches at the time. When I moved to Tokyo, I kept drawing. However, the only mean I had to draw was the touchpad of my PC. I used that to create pixel art in my spare time.
Specifically, the Esaka stage of King of Fighters 96. It's not particularly beautiful, it looks like a plain city landscape. There are some girls cheering with banners, people behaving in a weird way, and you can see employees through the office windows. I like the sense of reality conveyed by this background. I also like old gal game backgrounds. A perfectly normal bus stop, that could as well be the one in Ogikubo, becomes a wonderful painting.
But I really love gal game backgrounds, like stations, squares and so on. You could see them in Hachioji.
I'm a perfectionist. I tend to aim very high, but ultimately what I want is for the illustration I'm creating to look good. It makes things pretty easy.
If you're interested in his work and want to support him, here's his Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/1041uuu
By the way, take a look at the production process GIF that I posted in the middle of the article... The original one is quite large, close to 200MB. The artist requested that I posted it exactly how it was, but of course, I gave myself permission to fix it.
Essentially, both Toyoi and I suck at waking up at a certain time every day and work following a schedule. We enjoy working from time to time, but most of our days are spent relaxing. I think it was fateful for us to be connected in this work-related way.
There was another picture that I really wanted to show you - a sight of the river by night, with fireflies all around. Unfortunately, my camera didn't catch those fireflies and the natural light. I hope Toyoi will succeed to capture that magical moment in one of his pixel art animations.
This is it for today.