October '19

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 6 P R I N T W E A R O C T O B E R 2 0 1 9 2 6 P R I N T W E A R O C T O B E R 2 0 1 9 Get in the Game! EXPLORING PIXEL-ART EMBROIDERY TALKING TEXTURE As stated previously, what makes this par- ticular style of pixel-art embroidery spe- cial is the texture. Simply put, each pixel is represented by a block of satin stitches set either horizontally or vertically with its angle offset from any neighboring pixel by 90 degrees. This full offset makes the natu- rally shiny satin stitch block that makes up each pixel reflect light at a different angle, causing a slight color variation between the pixels, even in a field of pixels rendered in the same thread color. The play of light as directed by altering the angle of stitches O ften, my embroidery experimentation starts with a simple question. This time, one of my compatriots asked if I knew how to digitize 'pixel embroidery'. Being the geek that I am, I was immediately aware of the style in question. I've spent more than my share of hours playing 8- and 16-bit games as well as creating pixel art for fun and game projects in my earliest experiments with digital art. Pair that with my love of retro design and pixel art in general, and it's no surprise that I had already noticed the recent wave of merch embroidered with the video game protagonists of my partially misspent youth. Stores selling geek gear are full of pixel-art emblazoned caps. The difference between recent decorations and earlier efforts is that the latest crop renders sprites with an interesting texture that makes it more than just a reproduction. This textural style gives pixel art embroidery- specific visual interest that adds to the value of the finished piece in ways a standard, flat embroidery or a simple printed rendition can't. To help you crib this radical retro style, I'll start by describing its defining characteristics and follow up with a detailed and technical description of how I achieved it in my own sampling. EMBROIDERY Erich's Embellishments E r i c h C a m p b e l l Top: The satin-block pixel art style adds a great deal of interest to images like this, particularly for simple single-color images. Above: In this detail of the digitized file, you can see the difference between the edges of the edge pixels and how pull and push distor- tion must be compensated for, which changes the shape of the pixels to ensure that they ap- pear roughly square in the final design. On this retail-available branded hat, the pixellated image was rendered in a very small area to conform to the classic 'dad-hat' style. (All images courtesy the author)

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