We understand that you want to know how to make pixel art, and this type of digital art created by computer is becoming more and more popular. Pixel art has retained its appeal since the 1980s, when arcade games such as Pac-Man began, and today it has been revitalized by its use in games and in the sale of NFT art.
In fact, some game creators are adamant not to leave pixel art aside, a clear example is Minecraft. This famous game still endures with this format, in fact, there is a game mode that is rightly called pixel art.
Knowing how to create pixel art can help you participate in an infinite number of creative projects, especially because there is a trend to retake the retro style. This is expanding not only for video games, but also for graphic design.
In this article we will explain how to make pixel art, and we will recommend a list of programs that can be very useful to develop your projects. By the time you finish reading, you will have the knowledge you need to start creating pixel art.
1. Select a program
To learn how to make pixel art, you must first know the tools you are going to work with. Later we will leave you a list of programs to make pixel art that can serve as a reference, but ideally you should find out more about each one and its features to see which one suits you best.
Although anyone can tell you that with any editing program you can make pixel art, the truth is that having certain functions available can make the difference.
Also, you have to know that some programs are free, while to make pixel art with others, you must pay for the program license. Choosing one in particular, will be totally up to you.
2. Prepare your tools
While the mouse or your cell phone screen can help you create images for pixel art, it is recommended that you have a digitizing tablet or a Wacom at hand. Particularly, because this tool will help you create pixel art in a much faster and easier way.
Still, you don’t need to have the latest or most expensive model, just look for one that fits your budget. Any graphics tablet will do for you to start creating pixel art.
3. Open your program, set up your canvas and your sprites
One of the programs for pixel art that you can start learning with is Photoshop, although ideally you should use the specialized pixel art programs as you develop your skills.
If you’ve already watched a couple of tutorials and feel you have what it takes to make pixel art, you might even start with one of the more complex programs. But there is no rush, the idea is that you will be able to do good work, regardless of how long it takes you to do it.
To set up the canvas on which you are going to make pixel art, you need to select the size, the color output and some other things like whether you will have a transparent background or a solid color.
To learn how to make pixel art you can start by working with a small project, so you can use an 8×8, 16×16, or 32×32 sprite. This way you can try simple and easy to make designs.
Resolution matters, all screen resolutions, since the origin of computing are based on multiples of eight. For example, the Nintendo NES has a resolution of 256 pixels by 240 pixels; Mario, as a character, is eight pixels wide by 16 pixels high. Even today resolutions are based on that mathematical formula.
So basing your pixel art resolution on a multiple of eight is an excellent idea to make the pixel look stiff and well-defined.”
It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the interface of the program you choose to use to make pixel art, since the results you get will also depend on how well you know how to use each program’s functions.
4. Start making your pixel art designs
Now that you have everything set up you can start creating pixel art drawings. We recommend you to have a clear idea of what you want to draw before you start, this way you will be able to focus your energy on each of the details of your drawing.
To guide you through the process, we will discuss some steps you can follow to make your pixel art designs from scratch. Likewise, you can make pixel art however you feel more comfortable, after all, the creative process has no exact or unique formula.
Make a sketch of your pixel art design
Assuming you know the types of sketches that exist, we recommend that you choose a sketch style that you are comfortable with and start getting your pixel art ideas out of your mind and onto the canvas.
You can start designing your pixel art sprite using the pencil tool, just as you would on paper. It doesn’t matter if you are not happy with the results at first, because little by little you will improve everything you need to.
At this point the important thing is that the idea you have in mind can begin to take shape. The composition details will be fixed in the following steps.
Perfect the lines
Now that you have your pixel art sketch, it’s time to start polishing the details. In pixel art, one of the most important parts are the lines, so you should make sure they have the right shape and are presentable.
Itdoesn’t matter if they are straight lines or curves, you have to make sure there are no imperfections in any of them. Pixel art experts call any inconsistency in the shape of the line “jaggies”, so you should remove any jaggies from your drawing.
Once you do this, your pixel art project will be closer to becoming what you originally planned.
it’s time to color it!
At this step, you could practically say that you already know how to make pixel art, especially because you already have a basic drawing and you only need to make some small adjustments to finish it. The most important of them is to apply color, so prepare your color palette to give life to your pixel art design.
The pixel nacho color palette can be a good reference to get you started, although you can also check some pages that specialize in color palettes for pixel art.
The idea is that you use colors that allow you to generate contrast, play with shades, and make use of shadows and highlights to improve the perspective of your drawing. And although it may seem attractive to create your own color palette for pixel art, as you are just learning how to make pixel art, we recommend that you play it safe and take advantage of the resources available on the Internet.
Add all the details of your design
For some artists, this is the most fun part of pixel art, as the designs take their final shape. What you should do at this point is to add the shadows, glows, and whatever elements are needed to make your drawing stand out and attract attention.
To do it properly, you must select what will be the light source of your pixel art drawing, and shade the parts that are farther away from it. You can also give a more personal touch to the drawing by applying any other detail that is consistent with your style.
Save your pixel art design
Last but not least, you must save your work. At this point you must select what will be the scale of your pixel art design and choose the format in which you prefer to save it.
If it is an image, the ideal is to save it in PNG, this way you will get a pixel art design that will not lose any quality. If it is an animation, then the appropriate format is GIF.
If you followed this step by step, then the chances are very high that you will know how to make pixel art, you just have to try as hard as you can and practice every time you have some free time to improve your skills.
At the end of the day, whether it is pixel art, another type of art, or any other activity, practice is what will help us get better results.
Frequently asked questions about pixel art
We know that you not only want to learn how to make pixel art, but you also want to find an answer to all the questions you have about this type of digital art. That’s why, at this point we will try to solve all the unknowns you have about the process of creating pixel art.
what is pixel art?
In a brief definition of pixel art, we could say that it is a type of digital art generated by pixels. That is to say, to create pixel art we work pixel by pixel until we build the design we want.
In addition, pixel art is characterized by the use of editing software. With these programs, which are not exclusive to make pixel art, you can draw pixel by pixel each of the elements that will make up an image.
The appearance of pixel art is similar to that of other art styles such as cross stich or mosaics, although the purposes for which they are made are very different. As we mentioned in the introduction, those who want to learn how to make pixel art, regularly want to apply this knowledge to the world of video games, since this sector is where this type of art has more popularity.
how many types of pixel art are there?
If you want to create pixel art, you should know that there are two main styles, which are basically characterized by the amount of dimensions they use. Generally speaking, the categories are: isometric pixel art and non-isometric pixel art.
Let’s take a closer look at what each of these types of pixel art is about.
1) Isometric pixel art
This type of pixel art consists of creating angles in each pixel. The purpose is to make a three-dimensional projection within a 2D space.
Itis one of the most used types of pixel art, especially because it is not necessary to resize objects or calculate their perspective distortion. For the composition of this type of pixel art, the artist must focus on the use of colors, since they give perspective to the drawing.
For example, in a pixel art drawing the brightness of the colors is used to represent the distance of the objects. The farther away the object is, the less brightness it has.
This technique was used by old school video games such as Final Fantasy, Pepsiman, Metal slug, Tarzan, among others.
2) Non-Isometric Pixel art
This type of pixel art only projects a plan image within a space, that is, instead of three-dimensional drawings, with non-isometric pixel art only height and width dimensions matter. For some people it is a style that allows creating pixel art in a simpler way, although its uses are more limited.
The early Mario Bross installments are a prime example of what non-isometric pixel art looks like.
what is pixel art used for?
Believe it or not, creating pixel art is not a useful skill only for video games. While this art started in this industry, it eventually managed to expand into multiple sectors of digital art.
Nowadays, we can find pixel art in:
Web and interface designs.
Designs for clothing.
Comics with pixel art style.
Art exhibitions based on pixel art.
Knowing how to make pixel art allows you to work on different types of creative projects. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you can create a line of infographics made with pixel art.
what does it take to make pixel art?
To make pixel art you don’t need much, at least in terms of equipment or software to work with. With a low mid-range computer, a good mouse and keyboard, and a digitizer tablet, you have enough to get started.
On the other hand, you have to keep in mind that pixel art is another kind of art, so you have to approach it with the level of knowledge that is required to make an oil painting, for example. We mean that to make pixel art you must know a bit of perspective, anatomy, color theory, lighting and shading techniques, among other things. In general terms, and to summarize, you should know at least a little bit of drawing and have skills to make art.
If you meet the requirements we mentioned, you are undoubtedly ready to start making pixel art. So, let’s get to work.
Tools to create pixel art
As we mentioned at the beginning, there are many tools to help you create pixel art. And so that you don’t get confused with the amount of pixel art programs out there, we have created a list of the best of the best.
If you want to know how to make pixel art in no time, you should familiarize yourself with all the programs that we will leave you with in this list.
This tool is very popular among pixel art artists. Its platform is very easy to use and it is very useful for those who are just starting to create pixel art drawings. Piskel allows you to create small animations from frames, so you can make a difference in your creations.
This application also allows you to create pixel art drawings and animations. With Aseprite you can work in layers, like in Photoshop, so you can make your pixel art works in a simpler and faster way.
With this tool you can create pixel art designs and get very good results. In addition, it has a great list of functions that can be very useful for you when designing video games or characters.
Draw is a very interesting tool, since it has two functions: the simple form, in which there are only tools to draw pixel art, and the advanced form, in which you can make designs on an image. all this online!
Although Pickle was created with the idea of creating and designing repeated mosaics, over time it added more functions and, now, you can form scenarios or RPG-style backgrounds, like those of old 2D video games. Also, you can create pixel art and make animations with this online program.
5. IDraw Chara Maker 3
This tool is one of the most complete tools to learn how to make pixel art. IDraw3 is very easy to use and its export formats are quickly adapted to current programs
This program not only has templates for pixel art, but also works with multiple internal tools that allow you to create a more complete pixel art. Within its platform you can find an infinite number of frames, layers, transparencies, alpha channels, among other things.
Source: 80 Level
Artists that inspire you to create pixel art
One of the best ways to learn how to make pixel art is to get to know artists who have been captivating the public with their designs for a long time. Therefore, in this part of the article we will share with you the work of some pixel art experts that can serve as a reference and that will definitely inspire you at the time of making your work.
They are a collective of digital artists who create urban landscapes in pixel art.
He is a Peruvian creative who makes sci-fi pixel art works.
An artist well known for creating cartoon pixel art in urban and fantasy scenes.
Source: Valeriya Sanchill
Now you know how to make pixel art on any platform. Remember that this is a job that gets better and better with time, so don’t give up if you still can’t get it right.
We hope that our article will help you develop your passion for pixel art and that you can grow professionally with the tips that we have given you.
see you soon!