Test Flight by Vanja Utne

One the best pictures ever released for the Commodore 64 has got to be this one, by Vanja Utne:

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What it looks like on the monitor:

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Released just a couple of days ago in 17th November, 2016 shows everything one can hope from craftmanship. This picture was drawn in AFLI mode, which means that the artist could only use 2 colors per line in each character block. This is more apparent if you turn on the 8×8 grid…

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…and zoom in a bit:

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No matter how hard you look, one line in one block will only have at most two different colors displayed from the fixed 16 color palette.

The picture is amazing. If you look at it, additional shades are created by mixing colors together either by dithering or switching colors every other line. (Look for the parts in the monitor photo!) Neither technique is new, but if just by glancing on it, it really displays something more than what it had been considered possible on the platform. Commodore 64 never ceases to amaze me.

Why AFLI? Vanja originally drew this picture years ago for the original MSX. Fixed 15 colors, 256×192 resolution, and, not surprisingly, same limitations as AFLI: max 2 colors per line in a char block. It was not a scan, she started to doodle a bit, then it just came to be. Here are a couple of steps of the MSX picture:

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If you then swap the MSX picture with the C64 one, it becomes apparent what the difference is between the old and the new version:

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There is more. A scener, Carrion took the C64 version and converted it into a Plus/4 version picture. The pixel data remained the same, but he applied the platform specific colors. Here is the result:

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Sources: I used the CSDb page and Vanja Utne’s public Facebook page to dig up the information as the basis for this post. The comparisons were made in Photoshop, if you’re interested in the file, you can grab it from here.