Pixel Art or 3D in kids illustration?

  • I just happened to think about this today, and maybe it exists I just haven't ever seen it. but I think it's interesting to think about.

    Some might say pixel art isn't 'artsy fartsy' enough for kids books, but kids LOVE minecraft. So why would hasn't any publishing houses tried to capitalize on that look?

    And secondly, why is there never any 3D rendered illustrations in kids books? (maybe this IS in some books based on kids cartoons, like Tru and the Rainbow Kingdom)

    Anyways with just a google or pinterest search, you can see that pixel art can look amazingly beautiful. I think it would be awesome to see that in a kids book.

    If someone were to make a whole pixel portfolio for kids illustration, do you think they'd be completely wasting their time?

  • @Frost-Drive I can see pixelart in a picture book concept where the story is about a pixely world, or a pixel character or so. However it is such a strong visual style that it would deviate from any storytelling in a book that is not about this topic. So I think thats the reason that you don't find that book. Minecraft is its own world, but if you tell Snow White in a pixelart style it would feel a bit off.
    It is a bit like the "tough" topics in kids books. You can't just let Granny die in a kids story, without the whole book being about that.

  • SVS OG

    @Frost-Drive do you have samples of the pixel art you have in mind?

  • Moderator

    The handful of Minecraft books that I've seen aren't really actual pixel art... They're either "photographs" that emulate the play environment of the game itself, or they're illustrated versions of the blocky bodies that are sometimes rendered with shadows that create a more three-dimensional feel...

    A quick google search using Pixel Art and Children's books rendered some interesting results of people who are using pixel art for storytelling for children:

    Penguin Books: https://www.pcgamesn.com/penguin-books-reimagine-classic-literature-with-pixel-art

    The work of Octavi Navarro: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/aenedj/intricate-pixel-art-peels-back-the-layers-of-imaginary-worlds and https://octavinavarro.com/

    The Story of eBoy: https://www.theverge.com/2014/6/17/5803850/pixel-perfect-the-story-of-eboy

    There are also a number of Pixel Art coloring books and activity books available on Amazon, too.

    I think pixel art could work for children's books, but it would certainly need to be the right project--in other words a project/story that needs to be told using pixel art. In my personal opinion, any medium works as long as it can be manipulated to visually tell a story. Fingerpainting, oils, collage, block prints--it's all fair game. And all the different art styles--Pointillism, Cubism, Pre-Raphaelite--it doesn't matter what it is as long as it helps tell the story.

    Some methods might be more effective than others, and certainly more conventional or preferable in industry circles. That would probably be the biggest hurdle. I don't think the visual capacities of pixel art are in question at all--there's certainly enough video game interfacing and screen imagery for decades that have demonstrated how it can be used effectively. A lot would depend on the nature and logistics of the project itself (including the target demographic), the scale of the "pixel-ization" (a small enough scale would actually hearken to Pointillism in some ways), and how it is used to help tell the story in an effective way.

    To your second point: 3D tools are used by children's book illustrators all the time--often to determine shadows and camera angles in environments before translating that information to a more traditional-appearing medium. The realism and depth that can be achieved with 3D rendering is just another tool--the question is whether it's any more effective than anything else. It may be more appropriate for books illustrated for older age groups, like Middle Grade and above, as the highly detailed and accurate dimensional rendering is probably lost on very young children...

  • I am not talking about art because of course we cannot judge it. Here, in terms of business, 3D products often have higher production costs and require more modern printing techniques. So the price of books will also be higher, and of course harder to sell when the media grows too strong.

  • @Coreyartus Wow those are some really cool projecsts, thanks for showing me those!!! That's pretty much exactly what I was meaning about really beautiful pixel art!!

    It sparked a ton of ideas for me too.

    I also see your point!! You're pretty right that in order for pixel art to not be a little jarring, the story would have to be very fitting for it!! So if I ever wanted to illustrate a book in pixel art style, I should wait till' I can write a story myself.

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