Seth Woolley's Blog

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Sun Jul 1 19:19:33 2007 -- vexels - style or technique?

vexels - style or technique?(0)

Style or Technique

It has come to my attention that my last installment on vexels didn't adequately address a particular debate around what counts as a "vexel".

I mentioned that the community should decide what's really a vexel and what's not, however, some may want to know what I think.  Here it is.

The Debate

The particular debate revolves around the original style of vexels -- images that look like linearly posterized vector graphics that are originally concieved in a raster format.  While the technique remained similar, one longstanding member of the vexel community, as I understand it, began to add gradients to the layers.  The vast majority of the techniques used were identical and this was portrayed as a gradual evolution of the process.

The question was: is this change significant to create a new, different category of art that is not called a "vexel".

My Response

I don't believe a "gradient vexel" is not a true vexel, and here's why:


  • Vector graphics applications already support gradients natively.

  • As a results, VML, SVG, Flash, AI, and other vector formats all natively support gradients.

  • Gradients also scale like normal graphics.

  • Gradients are described with the same direction and magnitude as normal vectors in addition to specifying at least two colors (and optionally control points and curve descriptions) for the gradients.

  • The definition of a vexel, which I discussed in my previous post, which relies upon its relationship to vector graphics in a rasterized medium, doesn't preclude gradients -- I never made an exception for them.

  • The addition of gradients to the layerization process thus may be considered a more sophisticated form of "vexel" graphics.


The only major arguments against that I recognize are that:

  • The archetypical vexel when the term was coined did not use true gradients.

  • The addition of gradients may make vexels less recognizable an distinct as a style.

Why Ignore the Cons

While these are both true, they don't change the fact that the term and definition of "vexel" is just too general to prevent "gradient" vexels from being called proper vexels.

Further, they are the arguments of Platonic Idealism -- that Vexels have a "form" that they must follow, and that the nominalistic variations are not true to the "perfect" and "archetypical" form of the perfect "vexel".

I've never been an adherent of Platonic Idealism -- I'm an Ockhamic Nominalist.

Resolving the Dispute

Now that we know that gradient vexels are true vexels we should create a texonomy of vexels by making a couple terms for those that are "gradient" vexels or "non-gradient" or "classic" vexels.

I'm not going to say everybody should use my definitions, but I have some suggestion of "adjectives" that the community could use to modify the noun "vexel".  Which ones are the better adjectives (which may not even be these) will be determined by actual use in the community.

for "gradient" vexels
for "non-gradient" vexels


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