Some of you experienced users are set in your ways about using new technology and techniques to help your work go faster. Using some techniques and software have led to some horrible art, be it clunky functions that offer little control, or unexperienced users that believe techniques that make things quicker also negate having to do actual work. Using the advanced features of art software like Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, GIMP or Paint.Net might seem like trying to kill rats with a bazooka at first, but with a little bit of learning, you can crack out higher quality art in a fraction of the time.
Dithering is a pixel art technique in which you alternate two colors together to simulate shading, if done correctly (and not overdone), it can enhance your images where needed.
I'm going to show you a quick technique in Photoshop to allow you to create a texture brush that will allow you to quickly dither your images accurately, while refraining from placing each individual pixel. Check with your programs options to see if this is possible for what you use, be it GIMP or Paint.net or whatever(if you're still using MS Paint, you need an upgrade)
To start, load up photoshop and start with a blank image.
Select the pencil tool
Make sure you have selected a single pixel, and the color black.
Draw two pixels as shown.
Select the Rectangular Marquee Tool.
Using the Marquee Tool, Select the two pixels as shown.
With those pixels selected, go into the edit menu and hit "Define Brush Preset..."
Name your brush whatever, it won't matter because you'll most likely delete this one.
Open up the brushes menu. (Note, the one on the side has the options we'll need, as opposed to the quick right click brushes Menu)
Select the brush we just created, note that if you try to draw with it as it is now, you will only get a streak.
Enable the texture option by clicking the checkbox next to it.
Now you'll notice if you draw with the brush, it now creates that checker effect.
Before you do anything else, make sure you hit "Create New Brush", otherwise you will not save the changes made to that brush. After that, you can feel free to delete the previous brush.
Give it a shot, pick two shades of the same color and throw them on there
Grab one of the colors and your shiney new dither brush and draw in between them. Viola!
Expiriment with the other options in the brushes menu, as well as creating brushes from an image, there are tons of different brushes you can create for any situation, and help you achiever your goals faster with a little more brain power and a little less effort!
If someone can confirm if this is possible in GIMP or Paint.net, be my guest and post it in the comments below!
I haven't rated the article, but since you asked, I can see two issues people might have had with it:
1.) It's not very creative - it's just an example of using a pretty straight-forward tool, in the way it was designed to be used. There's nothing here that couldn't be learned by simply reading the Photoshop help file.
2.) The end result isn't very good. Dithering generally looks much better if you take the time to place each pixel by hand. And your example image isn't exactly inspiring either - a big orange splodge.
1.) It's not THAT straight-forward, and that's not necessarily it's intended design, as the brushes tool can be used to make a multitude of different brushes. I myself didn't even know how to produce something like this until I worked at it, there is not a single tutorial on-line about creating brushes that have this specific effect. It's simple to do, but it needs a specific set of instructions in order to get the desired effect, which was the point of this series, to demonstrate tools that many people would not normally have known about before.
2.) The end result (the orange blob) wasn't the point of the article, hence why it wasn't a focus of mine, it was simply a demonstration of the tool, and a simple checkerboard dither, I mentioned that it is possible to create other types of dither simply by changing the texture that you originally load in.
With CS5, I simply just define the textures that I want as a pattern then, use a normal brush and just change the pattern in the brush options, without saving the brush, it makes it easier to switch between dithering styles, so you aren't stuck specifically with a checkerboard pattern. I was going to include that in a new article, but I don't think I'm going to continue the series. I was planning on showing off my animation engine/workflow as well, but not like anyone will care.