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I am a programmer in the process of making a stick figure game and I draw the figures myself. The thing is that they look like they are made of black pixels, but I want them to look photorealistic as if they were drawn on paper. They are also animated with short 4 frame loops, each frame drawn individually.

I want my game art style to look somewhat like the following drawings, enter image description here enter image description here but imagine this is actually a game where everything is animated. Is this possible with proper art style alone or shading techniques should be involded in the process? If so, can you point me in the right direction?

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If you want to replicate the aesthetics, you could try to replicate the process.

Instead of trying to pixel your graphics in an image editor, hand-draw them with pencil on paper and then scan them. Use an image editor to convert brightness to alpha transparency so the white parts are fully transparent and the dark parts are as opaque as they are dark (how to do this depends on your preferred image editor). If you prefer to work purely digital, you might want to use a graphic tablet and experiment with different brush settings which emulate pencils or felt tip pens. I would recommend working with black on an alpha-transparent canvas.

Objects like buildings or vehicles have white surfaces which are supposed to be opaque and obscure objects behind them. In order to do this, you should create a new layer in your image editor below your lineart. Fill the solid areas on the background layer with fully opaque white.

Then organize your animation frames into spritesheets. You should be able to use any 2d graphics API which can draw sprites with alpha transparency (most reasonably modern APIs should be capable of that).

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    \$\begingroup\$ This process of hand-drawing sprites on paper was recently used to great effect in Hidden Folks (see source example here), though there with pen drawings rather than pencil. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Oct 4 '17 at 22:56

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