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Submitted on
June 8, 2010


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Hello fellow members of deviantART!
You may be wondering what this article is about, well let's get to it:

Pixel-art, more especifically, dolling.

I bring this to you because in the past two years, the dolling community has been recieving deathly punches to the gut, and it's reputation has fallen down the gutter.

The reason being there are several kids who enjoy tracing anime, manga and original works, they call them bases and then other kids slap badly drawn clothes on them and call them dolls.
Due to this several people - who do not know real dolling - have taken a hate for dolling and more especifically bases, going to extreme measures as to not call them art.

But they are not my focus.
My focus is real pixel-art.
My focus are real dollers.

This article may strike you as long, but unless you want to continue hurting a community of artists, I beg of you to continue reading - or at least jump towards the feature area.

Disclaimer: this article deals with dolling, especifically pixel-art dolls. There are other dolls which are tooled - this means using normal digital art tools.

Pixel-art is the art of placing each pixel of an image individually, thus requires patience, concentration and a meticulous mindset.

Add to that, pixel-art "rules" include having a restricted palette of colors, this means you have to know much about color theories in order to achieve a good picture.

Pixel-art is often done in small canvases, thus you need to be able to fit all you want in that small space, be very detailed and know that one single pixel can change the whole picture.

The only tools allowed for pixel-art are the pen-tool (sized 1) which is to be used to place your pixels, the bucket tool to fill areas with a single color, and the eraser - the use of tools such a bezier, line, square, circle, spray paint, etc. will render your image unfit to be called pixel-art and become "tooled".

Pixel-art does not allow the use of special effects such as gradients, opacities, or any other computer generated effect in order to achieve a certain look, you must be able to achieve said look with the basics of computer imagery.

Pixel-art was born with videogames, the artists that worked for these had a limited amount of space (kb) thus requiring no anti-aliasing, no more than a few colors.

These are some examples of magnificent pixel-art:
Into Werewolf RETURNS by AbyssWolf Curiousity by fool Pigrate ship by tsutsu-di

Now that we have the basics of pixel-art covered, we can move over to dolling. Dolling is a branch of pixel-art.

Dolling and Bases
Dolling is often a pixel-art collaboration between two or more artists. Very similar to an artist coloring another artist's lineart, or two or more artists working on the same picture.

This collaboration has two elements.

The base, like I mentioned, is done using the art of pixelling. It's point is to present a nice, well balanced pose. There are several types of bases, such as full bodies, portrait, couple, etc. They can come in one pose and one color palette, or several poses and several color palettes.
Unlike popular belief, real bases are not traced.

They are perfectly capable of standing as beautiful pieces of art on their own.

The following are beautiful bases found around deviantART.

Stardust Base Set by lithriel :thumb165269120: Sassy Base by lithriel
Male Base Set- Jaris by lithriel Coquette - Medium-large base by RustChic Nano Base - Set 02 by dt8thd--pixels
Niku Base by KAR10SA Zomb3h :base: by wish04 Headbust Base updated by SakuraCherrie
Eureka :Base: by wish04 Princess :base: by wish04 Lynia base by sissy20021

The next step is editing the chosen base, this is done by adding clothes, changing colors, adding hair, and in several cases background elements - all of these done in pixel-art.

The results, done correctly, are absolutely beautiful.

Dragyn's Steampunk Princess by phoenix1784 I'm all eyes by wish04
Butterfly girl by oOAngeliceOo Think Greek by PackagedBliss Aphrodite by utenaxchan
Angels in the night sky by wish04 Wing dress by tinuleaf Hera. by oshibori
I can't see by mariiiis-dolls Digitalis Faerie by PhoebeRose Angel 2 by Trinus

Dollers also make their own dolls from scratch and other artworks.
The fact that a doll was produced on someone else's base does not take away the artistic merit of it.

Misconceptions and the truth behind them
The following are the most common miscopcentions in regards of dolls, along the real truth.

Misconception: Bases are just poorly traced anime screenshots and the people who use them just slap poorly done clothes and hair on them to make dolls.
Truth: While it is indeed truth that the site is filled with the aforementioned, these are not bases, they are not dolls, and they are most certainly not pixel-art. Comparing these and giving them the same names of Dolls and Bases would be like calling a stick figure the Mona Lisa.

Misconception: People who use bases don't know anatomy, can't draw, etc. That's why they use bases.
Truth: The people who use bases are perfectly capable of making bases themselves, make dolls from scratch, make other type of pixel-art and are also capable of other forms of art, which you'll be able to see once you check out the galleries of the artists featured in this article :).

Misconception: Using bases is cheating. It's just a way for the lazy to not do the bodies.
Truth: As mentioned before, dollers are perfectly capable of making their own bases and several types of art pieces. However, they choose to take up the challenge of creating a beautiful art piece by combining their skills with someone else's.

Misconception: Bases and dolling are only good for newbies, or to pass time.
Truth: The art of dolling takes long time to master, just as any other style of pixel-art. A doll can take literally hours to be finished, same with the base it was made with. It requires a vast knowledge to get it right - for both the base maker and the doll maker.

If you still have any form of bias towards bases and dolling, I kindly invite you to take up the challenge of making a doll for yourself - find a base and edit it, or make it from scratch yourself - while I can present you all the facts, it is only by trying it yourself that you'll realize the effort it takes to be a doller :heart:.

Extra features
Please check out the following news articles which have also stepped up for dolling:

And well this is the end of the article, I am very happy with how it turned out.
If you'd like to spread the world about dolling, please love it and share it!

If you are one of the people who enjoy tracing pictures, claim them as bases - or use these, please do not cause any drama. You've hurt the dolling community enough, thank you! :).
Add a Comment:
PoisonIvy524 Apr 11, 2014  Student General Artist
I stopped using bases [ Even if I've used them before a couple of times for the lols ] because I was naive and I am so so sorry I feel like apologizing to the world. This article opened up my eyes tbh vuv
Idontknowwhoyouknow Jan 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, I used a base for a dolling try once, this: I ruined it, I guess.
ReVercetti Nov 5, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
What I nice article! :aww:  Thank you! It was a pleasure to read it  
I fell in love with pixel art recently - specially dolling :D I'm reading a lot of tutorials to learn how to pixel right and it's real challenge to me to practice but I just feel so passionate about it  ^^  I respect all pixel masters and all their hard work and I dream to be as damn good as they are one day  
however, I don't  want to use the bases of the other dollers. I don't see anything shameful in this artistic collaboration - on the contrary it could be a lot of joy i'm sure :D But I just prefer to do anything completely on my own -  that's who I am :shrug: Though I don't mind if somebody would use my bases one day..when I'll learn how to create good ones at least :lol: I feel like I'm in church with this confession or something XD srry ;A; never mind :) just thanks again for being such awesome :la:
angelishi Dec 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
:giggle: Have fun pixelling! I'm glad you enjoyed the article :)
ReVercetti Dec 8, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is a really well written article. It was very informative, and I started to read the comments. I realize that you are a very rude person actually. But ignoring all that why do you care so much about what other people do? I mean you can just ignore those people.
angelishi Jun 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Sure, while I'm at it, I guess I could just ignore whatever other crime happens near me, who cares about calling the cops and getting justice? It's not my problem if your mom is being raped by 5 men, and I could do something to help, right? :unimpressed:
Wow someone is immature. Those real problems. I mean, I didn't say anything involving rape so why bring up something like. This is about bases. Now can we have a mature conversation or are you going to be making very rude comments. Which to me show you can't defend your point very well.
angelishi Jun 10, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Extrapolating your logic is the only way I can show you how stupid it is.
If everyone ignored problems just because they don't personally affect them, then the world would never improve.
Well the world isn't ever going to be "good". I just thought you would be smart enough to understand how this isn't a very big problem. So let me rephrase it better for you. I meant why waste your time on this small problem and focus on the more important things.
Add a Comment: