By user1086516

2019-02-07 06:56:53 8 Comments

There is an often stated claim on discussion boards like Reddit that now retro games of the 8 bit and 16 bit era actually had their art designed with CRT's in mind. I am not talking about video modes or video signals or hardware limitations as a lot of games supported multiple options. I am talking about the final output on the physical device that you observed with your eyes. Did artists really make conscious changes to their art because of this ? (eg. draw the edges of a sprite differently to appear less aliased in a given display)


@Felsir 2019-02-07 09:26:00

Yes they did. That is, expert pixel artists on some systems were able to pull this off.

Some of the pixel artists used dither patterns to change the hue of an object and create gradients.

Note to leverage the effect, the system had to have a palette and resolution to create such effects. The Atari 2600 pixels were too big and the palette to limited to use these techniques. This was first employed in coin-operated arcade titles. Later with more sophisticated monitors, capable of resolutions above 640x480 this technique became obsolete due to the fact that color bleeding pixels simply became a thing of the past- even on CRT displays.

There is an example of a car in a top down racer (I couldn't find the image) where the car has a strange pattern of green and red pixels when viewed on a LCD screen. When viewed on a CRT screen the pixels somewhat blended and gave the car a pinkish color which was otherwise not possible with the standard palette of the system.

The image below shows how different a CRT image looks from the sharp pixel one: Wizardy 1987 Famicom

With the example cited above; yes some pixel artist leveraged the bleeding of pixels on CRT screens.

Keep in mind though that at the time, the pixel artists viewed their art on CRT screens as they were creating them. So they tweaked these things as they went along. Expert artists knew to leverage these effects, good artists simply drew it and it looked good. Then there is the group who created pixel art and weren't aware of these techniques or worked on a system where it was no option.

Added example of DMGregory's comment: This is the waterfall in Sonic: The Hedgehog 2, where the CRT bleeding effect is used to create transparancy (something not possible on the Sega Genesis/Megadrive) One can imagine that this technique in the hands of an expert artist provided new options in creating colors and contours. Sonic 2's waterfalls

@DMGregory 2019-02-07 13:23:13

The alternating opaque stripes used in Sonic games in the Genesis to create the appearance of translucent waterfalls & foliage would be another good example, using the slight fuzzing of CRT phosphors to do a kind of alpha blending the console itself couldn't.

@Patrick Hughes 2019-02-07 18:47:59

The best pixel artists I've worked with knew how the different primaries bloomed and could create some amazing "details" and "shading" that didn't exist in the original data, just like waterfall example, and used mostly for animated character art.

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