Pixel Art & Psychology
I don't know much about the psychology involved while creating (pixel)
art, so please don't take this part too seriously or as hard science.
I took some time to think over how the process could work in our most precious tool: the brain.
The brains steers our hand to create a part of an illustration. As soon
as we have drawn something, the brain analyses what we have just drawn.
Basically the result of this analysis could be either 'right' or 'wrong'.
If we are lucky, or have spent a lot of time sharpening our drawing skills, our brain tells us, 'good, well done'. Our journey quickly ends here. Though the most preferable situation, this is not always the most interesting situation.
In case our brain decides to disapprove and ignore our ego, an
interesting situation appears!
We have to find out what it is that causes the brain to tell us things aren't right. This sounds easy, but most of the time it isn't at all easy.
It can be very difficult to find out what's exactly wrong, most of the time it's more of a feeling.
The visual problem could, in a case where we draw something realistic,
be an unnatural situation; e.g. the shadow of an object could be
conflicting (see illustration).
The shadow an object causes can't be pointing towards the light source, since shadow appears when something blocks the rays of lights from the light source.
This is a fairly simple error, which can be solved by applying some analytic thinking.
A more subjective - less exact - visual problem is the choice of visualizing
The illustration on the right shows this problem. I drew the ship based on some reference material. The first version is based on one of these reference images. There is nothing wrong with it; it's realistic, but my brain is not telling me 'good'. After some thinking, I decide to change the ship. The overall look of the sails is too complicated, visually overcrowded.
I let go of the original construction and simplify it, so my eye - and hopefully yours - can perceive it more easily.
It's disputable if this is really the case, but my brain tells me this version is better.
Flowchart Creation Process
Things don't look so good at the start, but that's no problem. Try to
arrive at the point where you raise your artwork to the 'good' status.
Next, work from 'good' to 'great' ('perfect' can't be achieved, it's
only a state of mind).
Review your work with an objective eye. If it's great, you are done. If not, go back to 'good' and ask yourself what's still the problem.
If you've tried a few times without success, consider starting from
scratch again; try another approach. Maybe the composition is not right,
or you have to change the topic.
This situation is far from ideal, since you've 'wasted' some time. But this is the price you pay to improve your skills and grow as an artist.