Pixel Pete: A YouTube Channel with Pixel Art Tips and Tricks
How to Make Pixel Art: The Ultimate Beginner's Guide
Pixel art is a type of digital art that looks like it was intentionally created with the placement of pixels. Each block is a brushstroke; and, together, the bunches of pixels make a whole piece. In this way, pixel art has a mosaic-like quality to it. Many mosaics create images of tiny squares similar to the blockiness thats inherent in pixel art.
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In the early days of computers, the hard edges of pixel art were the only type of computer art that you could make. Technology wasnt advanced enough to create the anti-aliasing that were used to now. But as computer graphics continue to become more and more lifelike, pixel art now references a retro style and a callback to those early computer graphics.
Pixel art is not only a nostalgic and aesthetic choice, but also a creative and technical challenge. It requires you to think carefully about every pixel you place, every color you use, and every detail you add. It also allows you to express yourself in a unique and fun way, whether you want to make a video game, an animation, or just a cool artwork.
In this article, we will show you how to make pixel art from scratch, using some simple tools and techniques. We will also give you some tips and tricks to improve your skills, as well as some resources and challenges to inspire you. By the end of this article, you will be able to create your own pixel art masterpiece!
To make pixel art, you don't need any fancy or expensive software. You can use any basic drawing program that allows you to draw pixels on a grid. Some popular examples are Pixilart, Piskel, Aseprite, GIMP, or even MS Paint. The main features you need are:
Pencil: your basic drawing tool that places one pixel at a time.
Eraser: erases or removes pixels that you have drawn.
Eyedropper: copies the color of the pixel you select for you to reuse.
Bucket: fills an empty area with one solid color.
Selection: selects an area or an object for you to move, copy, or edit.
Line: draws a straight line between two points.
Recolor: changes the color of an existing pixel without affecting its shape.
Rotation: rotates an object or an area by a certain angle.
You can also use other tools like brushes, gradients, filters, or layers, but they are not essential for pixel art. In fact, some purists prefer to avoid them altogether, as they can make your pixel art look less crisp or authentic.
As for hardware, you can use anything that lets you control your cursor. A mouse or a trackpad is fine for most cases, but if you want more precision or comfort, you can use a graphics tablet or a stylus pen. You can also make pixel art on your smartphone or tablet using apps like <a href="(^ Size
One of the first things you need to decide when making pixel art is the size of your sprite or canvas. This will depend on what you want to make and how much detail you want to add. Generally, the smaller the size, the more pixelated and retro your art will look, but also the more challenging it will be to draw. The larger the size, the more smooth and realistic your art will look, but also the more time and effort it will take to draw.
A common way to measure the size of pixel art is by using pixels per inch (PPI), which is the number of pixels that fit in one inch of your screen or print. The higher the PPI, the higher the resolution and quality of your image. For example, a 32x32 pixel sprite at 72 PPI will look much smaller and sharper than a 32x32 pixel sprite at 300 PPI.
Another way to measure the size of pixel art is by using scale, which is the ratio between the size of your pixel art and the size of the real object or scene it represents. For example, a 16x16 pixel sprite of a character at 1:1 scale will look like a tiny dot on your screen, but a 16x16 pixel sprite of a character at 10:1 scale will look like a large and detailed figure.
The size of your pixel art will also affect how you display it on different devices or platforms. If you want to show your pixel art on a website or a game, you may need to resize or scale it up or down to fit the screen resolution or aspect ratio. This can cause your pixel art to lose its sharpness or quality, unless you use a technique called nearest-neighbor interpolation, which preserves the original pixels without blurring them.
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There is no definitive answer to what size you should use for your pixel art. It depends on your personal preference, style, and purpose. You can experiment with different sizes and see what works best for you. However, here are some general guidelines to help you choose:
If you are making pixel art for a game, you should consider the genre, platform, and resolution of your game. For example, if you are making a platformer game for mobile devices, you may want to use smaller sprites (16x16 or 32x32 pixels) and lower resolution (320x240 or 640x480 pixels) to create a retro feel and save memory. If you are making a role-playing game for PC, you may want to use larger sprites (64x64 or 128x128 pixels) and higher resolution (800x600 or 1024x768 pixels) to create a more immersive and detailed world.
If you are making pixel art for an animation, you should consider the length, frame rate, and style of your animation. For example, if you are making a short and simple animation with few frames per second (FPS), you may want to use smaller sprites (16x16 or 32x32 pixels) and lower resolution (320x240 or 640x480 pixels) to create a smooth and fast animation. If you are making a long and complex animation with many FPS, you may want to use larger sprites (64x64 or 128x128 pixels) and higher resolution (800x600 or 1024x768 pixels) to create a more expressive and dynamic animation.
If you are making pixel art for an artwork, you should consider the theme, mood, and message of your artwork. For example, if you are making a minimalist and abstract artwork with few colors and shapes, you may want to use smaller sprites (16x16 or 32x32 pixels) and lower resolution (320x240 or 640x480 pixels) to create a stark and simple artwork. If you are making a realistic and detailed artwork with many colors and textures, you may want to use larger sprites (64x64 or 128x128 pixels) and higher resolution (800x600 or 1024x768 pixels) to create a rich and complex artwork.
Now that you have chosen your tools and size, you can start drawing your pixel art. The process of drawing pixel art is similar to drawing any other type of art, but with some specific techniques and tips to keep in mind. Here are some steps to follow:
Sketch: Start by sketching the basic shape and outline of your pixel art using the pencil tool. You can use a light or neutral color for this, and don't worry about being too precise or detailed. The sketch is just a guide for you to refine later.
Refine: Next, refine your sketch by adding more details and defining the edges of your pixel art. You can use the eraser tool to remove any unwanted pixels, the eyedropper tool to copy any colors you need, and the recolor tool to change any colors you want. You can also use the selection tool to move, copy, or edit any parts of your pixel art.
Clean: Finally, clean up your pixel art by removing any unnecessary or messy pixels, and making sure that your edges are clear and crisp. You can use the line tool to draw straight lines, the bucket tool to fill any gaps or areas with one color, and the rotation tool to adjust any angles or orientations. You can also zoom in and out to check your pixel art from different perspectives.
Some tips to remember when drawing pixel art are:
Use a grid: A grid is a helpful feature that shows you the individual pixels on your canvas. It helps you to align and place your pixels more accurately and consistently. You can turn on or off the grid in your drawing program, or use a separate grid overlay.
Use references: References are images or examples that you can use as inspiration or guidance for your pixel art. They can be other pixel art works, photos, drawings, or anything else that relates to your theme or style. You can use references to get ideas for colors, shapes, textures, or details.
Use symmetry: Symmetry is a technique that makes your pixel art look more balanced and harmonious. It means that one half of your pixel art is a mirror image of the other half. You can use symmetry to draw characters, objects, or patterns that have a symmetrical shape or design. You can use the selection tool to copy and flip one half of your pixel art to create symmetry.
Use dithering: Dithering is a technique that creates the illusion of blending colors by placing pixels of different colors next to each other. It helps you to create gradients, shadows, textures, or effects that are not possible with solid colors. You can use dithering to add more depth and variety to your pixel art.
Color is one of the most important and expressive elements of pixel art. It can create mood, contrast, harmony, or variety in your pixel art. However, color is also one of the most challenging and limited elements of pixel art. It requires you to think carefully about every color you use, and how it interacts with other colors and pixels.
One of the main limitations of pixel art is the color palette, which is the set of colors that you can use for your pixel art. The color palette can be determined by the drawing program, the device, or the platform that you are using for your pixel art. For example, some old-school consoles or computers had very restricted color palettes, such as 8-bit (256 colors), 16-bit (65,536 colors), or 32-bit (16,777,216 colors). Some modern devices or platforms have more flexible color palettes, such as 24-bit (16,777,216 colors) or true color (millions of colors).
Another limitation of pixel art is the color count, which is the number of colors that you actually use for your pixel art. The color count can be influenced by the size, style, and complexity of your pixel art. For example, some small or simple pixel art works may only use a few colors (2-16 colors), while some large or detailed pixel art works may use many colors (32-256 colors). Some pixel artists prefer to use a low color count to create a more retro or minimalist look, while some pixel artists prefer to use a high color count to create a more realistic or vibrant look.
Some tips to remember when choosing and applying colors for your pixel art are:
Use a color picker: A color picker is a tool that lets you select any color from a color wheel or a color spectrum. It helps you to find the exact hue, saturation, and brightness that you want for your color. You can use a color picker in your drawing program, or use a separate online tool like Color Picker or Color Wheel.
Use a color scheme: A color scheme is a combination of colors that work well together and create a certain effect or mood. It helps you to create harmony and balance in your pixel art. You can use a color scheme based on different principles, such as monochromatic (one hue with different shades), complementary (two hues opposite on the color wheel), analogous (three hues adjacent on the color wheel), triadic (three hues evenly spaced on the color wheel), or tetradic (four hues forming a rectangle on the color wheel). You can also use a pre-made color scheme from online tools like Coolors or Paletton.
Use a color ramp: A color ramp is a sequence of colors that gradually change from one to another. It helps you to create gradients, shadows, highlights, or effects in your pixel art. You can use a color ramp based on different factors, such as value (lightness or darkness), hue (color), saturation (intensity), temperature (warmth or coolness), contrast (difference), or harmony (similarity). You can also use a pre-made color ramp from online tools like Lospec or Pixel Joint.
Use contrast: Contrast is the difference between two colors that makes them stand out from each other. It helps you to create depth, focus, and interest in your pixel art. You can use contrast based on different aspects, such as value contrast (light vs dark), hue contrast (red vs green), saturation contrast (bright vs dull), temperature contrast (warm vs cool), complementary contrast (opposite hues), or simultaneous contrast (colors that enhance each other).
Shading is the process of adding light and shadow to your pixel art. It helps you to create a sense of volume, form, and realism in your pixel art. Shading can also enhance the mood, atmosphere, and style of your pixel art. However, shading is also one of the most difficult and subjective aspects of pixel art. It requires you to understand how light works, how it affects different materials and surfaces, and how it creates different effects and illusions.
One of the main challenges of shading pixel art is the limited space and resolution that you have to work with. You have to use a small number of pixels and colors to create a smooth and convincing transition from light to dark. You also have to avoid creating banding, which is a visible stair-like pattern that occurs when two colors are too similar or too far apart in value. Banding can make your pixel art look flat, jagged, or noisy.
Some tips to remember when shading pixel art are:
Use a light source: A light source is the origin of the light that illuminates your pixel art. It can be natural (such as the sun or the moon) or artificial (such as a lamp or a fire). It helps you to determine the direction, angle, intensity, and color of the light that affects your pixel art. You can use one or more light sources for your pixel art, depending on the scene and the effect you want to create.
Use a shadow map: A shadow map is a simplified representation of your pixel art that shows where the light and shadow areas are. It helps you to plan and apply your shading more easily and consistently. You can create a shadow map by using a grayscale color palette, and drawing the light areas with lighter shades, and the shadow areas with darker shades.
Use ambient occlusion: Ambient occlusion is a technique that simulates the subtle shadows that occur in the corners, crevices, or edges of your pixel art. It helps you to create more depth and realism in your pixel art. You can create ambient occlusion by using a darker color than the base color, and placing it in the areas where two surfaces meet or overlap.
Use highlights: Highlights are the bright spots that appear on your pixel art when the light source reflects off a shiny or smooth surface. They help you to create more contrast and interest in your pixel art. You can create highlights by using a lighter color than the base color, and placing it in the areas where the light source hits directly or at an angle.
Animation is the process of making your pixel art move and come to life. It can add more personality, expression, and interactivity to your pixel art. Animation can also create different effects and illusions, such as motion, transformation, or distortion. However, animation is also one of the most time-consuming and complex aspects of pixel art. It requires you to create multiple frames of your pixel art, and then play them in a sequence at a certain speed.
One of the main challenges of animating pixel art is the limited space and resolution that you have to work with. You have to use a small number of pixels and colors to create a smooth and convincing movement. You also have to avoid creating flickering, which is a visible change in brightness or color that occurs when two pixels switch places or values. Flickering can make your pixel art look unstable, noisy, or glitchy.
Some tips to remember when animating pixel art are:
Use a timeline: A timeline is a feature that shows you the sequence and duration of your frames. It helps you to organize and edit your animation more easily and efficiently. You can use the timeline in your drawing program, or use a separate animation program like Sprite Animator or Piskel.
Use onion skinning: Onion skinning is a technique that shows you the previous and next frames of your animation as transparent layers on top of your current frame. It helps you to see the changes and movements between your frames more clearly and accurately. You can use onion skinning in your drawing program, or use a separate animation program like GraphicsGale or Aseprite.
Use easing: Easing is a technique that changes the speed of your animation according to a certain curve or pattern. It helps you to create more natural and realistic movements in your animation. You can use easing based on different principles, such as linear (constant speed), ease-in (slow start), ease-out (slow end), ease-in-out (slow start and end), or bounce (overshoot and return).
Use anticipation: Anticipation is a technique that prepares the viewer for an action or movement that is about to happen in your animation. It helps you to create more impact and interest in your animation. You can create anticipation by using a pose, a gesture, or an expression that indicates the direction, intensity, or emotion of the action or movement.
Styles are the distinctive and characteristic ways of making pixel art. They can reflect the personal preferences, influences, or goals of the pixel artist. They can also reflect the historical, cultural, or technical contexts of the pixel art. Styles can vary in many aspects, such as size, color, shading, animation, or detail.
There are many different styles of pixel art, and there is no definitive or objective way to classify them. However, here are some common and popular styles that you may encounter or want to try out:
Pixel Perfect: Pixel perfect is a style that aims to create pixel art with no errors, flaws, or inconsistencies. It follows strict rules and guidelines, such as avoiding jagged lines, banding, flickering, or anti-aliasing. It also uses minimal colors and p