Turn images into legit Commodore 64 pixel art



In a previous discussion on CGA graphics

I came across this code which will turn input images into Apple II graphics.

Sonow you can have legit Apple II pixel art too.


Boo, 16-bit, cheating.

Mind you, there were some upgraded 8-bits (for example, later models of the selfsame Commodore and Amstrad home computers) which brought in hundreds/thousands of colors.) But by the time they were out 16-bit was affordable and they were basically curiosities.

Given the limitation of “8-bit machine with more than insignificant market share,” what might be the official all-time Best Graphics winner? My guess is it would be Gameboy Color.

Turbographics/PC Engine (and its handheld equivalent) were 8-bit, but had 16-bit GPUs as I recall, so are INELIGIBLE for Best Graphics.

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OK, here are some of the outputs form that program
Atkinson dithering
double HiRes


Floyd-Steinberg dithering

double Hires


All four of those predate the GS, and are properly “8 bit”. Although, creating a properly dithered image on a machine so limited as an Apple II is hard work.


Not quite legit: The 64 allowed only three colors in each character square, plus a background color that was the same across the image.




I wanna see a ZX Spectrum version

Looking at these pics has got me feeling nostalgic for some retro pc gaming, grab me a sword and some potions and I’m ready to go.

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The Double Hi Res ones are pretty sweet.

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Doesn’t seem to do that color-fringing effect that Apple ][s did in hi-res mode though.

q.v. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_II_graphics#High-Resolution_.28Hi-Res.29_graphics

I did want to see what a 320x200 4 color amstrad one would look like: here’s what I got. The amstrad’s advantage was that it had graphics modes in the modern sense (x number of colors straight up) whereas other 8-bit platforms had weird limitations even if they were otherwise superior (e.g. hacks to get around attribute clash) that make it hard to just throw together legit screens in photoshop


Your favorite images, rendered at 160x200 in 16 grim, muddy colors!

That’s a little unfair when you chose such a grim, muddy image to begin with. (Green sky and yellow clouds? Was there an accident at a chemical plant?) The C64 was capable of bright-and-cheery with a good artist:

And at least the palette was better-chosen than the eye-searing ZX Spectrum.


There is an app to create legit ZX spectrum images! http://www.silentsoftware.co.uk

Using the original painting crop gets vomitory results with most settings, though this is OK:

Using the hi-res Amstrad one as an intermediary (simplifying the choices of colors) gets something a little better, in a vague artistic sense, though it also loses the harsh contrasts that make it clear what it is (trees!)

Some hand-tuning gets a more “intentional” result, though I think I might have a few cheaty pixels in there (more than 2 colors in a block somewhere on the 8x8 grid)

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I think with the ZX spectrum you have to do it by hand or it becomes mud, one way or another. True pixel art!




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This one also turned out well:


Of possible interest to some of you, is that we can enter images as base64 encoded data, instead of an upload or hotlink.

No idea if system will do something to them, however.


Consider this and imagine what it could have been


Oh, that one works really well. Did you choose it specifically for that?

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Out of curiosity, I went and had a look at the actual ZX Spectrum palette, and sheesh. It looks like they did almost exactly the same thing as the 16-color modes in CGA/EGA, i.e. pick 8 arbitrary “bright” colors and then reduce their brightness to produce the other 8–except they did it even worse.

In CGA, black was the dark version of “dark grey,” but the Spectrum palette used black as one of the eight “bright” colors and didn’t change it at all for the dark version, so there’s actually only 15 colors. And CGA specially modified what would have been “dark yellow” to display as brown, just so that, you know, they could have brown.

The Spectrum palette has no orange, brown, or anything resembling any real world skin tone (most games used either white or yellow, both of which sucked) but by God it had magenta and dark magenta! Eh? Eh?

The C64 palette by contrast was maybe a bit dark, but at least someone had clearly put a few minutes of thought into it. Its pink was a subdued one that worked well enough for Caucasian skin; they limited the “light+dark” pairings to red/green/blue to free up space for useful colors like brown and orange (did anyone really need “dark cyan,” honestly?); and it notably had three different, well-spaced shades of grey, which (combined with black and white) meant that you could get reasonably detailed gradients going if you were willing to use greyscale.

I’m told that 64 vs. Spectrum was a topic of intense debate on the playgrounds of early '80s Britain. The Speccy fans must have had their work cut out for them.

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