How to Make Pixel Art: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Pixel art is a type of digital art that developed due to the necessity to convey visuals on the constrained storage capacity of 8- or 16-bit computers and gaming consoles.

How to Make Pixel Art: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Spriting—a term derived from the word “sprite”—is occasionally used to describe pixel art creation. An integrated two-dimensional bitmap that is part of a more comprehensive picture is referred to by this phrase in computer graphics (usually a video game).

A pixel art project might be something you’re interested in. You can start by reading this if you want to.

Tools That Are Crucial For Pixel Art

Contrary to popular opinion, high-end or powerful software doesn’t always equal high-quality artwork! Program selection is purely a question of taste.

You can even use something as simple as Microsoft Paint if you use Windows. Here is a longer list of some of the resources you can use to make pixel art.

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The following tools are all you really need to create pixel art, so make sure your program of choice has them:

  • Pencil: your basic drawing tool that, by default, places one pixel
  • 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

The selection, line, recolor, and rotation tools are additional helpful features. They aren’t strictly necessary because you can get identical results by employing the aforementioned tools.

Brushes, blurring, gradients, and other automatic tools should be avoided if you want complete control over every pixel on the canvas.

Anything that controls your cursor in terms of hardware is acceptable. For accuracy and fine details, a mouse or trackpad works well. While a graphics tablet may be your preferred option for superior control over lengthy strokes.

How large should your canvas or sprite be?

Sprite size is a question that has no right or wrong response. But because older computers could not show them correctly, multiples of eight in powers of two are more prevalent (e.g., 88, 1616, 3232, etc.).

Personally, we advise beginning modestly because doing so can speed up your acquisition of the fundamentals. Because their electronics could only support so many colors and pixels, artists created pixel art to make the most of each one.

When you have to operate under constraints, you are compelled to be inventive. Concentrate on improving your ability to make the most of a little sprite’s available space. Then you may move up to larger sizes to cram even more detail in.

The canvas size will also need to be taken into consideration if you wish to include a character in a scene.

The ratio of your sprite to the rest of the screen is a good factor to take into account when tackling this. In relation to the environment they inhabit, how big or little do you want your character to be?

The majority of modern monitors have a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is important for game developers to know. The result is that there are nine pixels in height for every 16 pixels in width.

Generally, you would start with a much smaller canvas size, scale up to that bigger resolution once you were finished, and then work in whatever resolution you ultimately want.

When scaling your pixel art, you should do so simultaneously and in whole numbers to avoid any wacky effects. Before you begin making pixel art, it’s crucial to double-check your math!

Suppose your goal was to obtain 1080p, which is the industry standard. You may start with a canvas size of 384 x 216 and then scale it up by 500 percent.

The final action you should take is to scale. It’s not a good idea to scale up before sketching more with your one-pixel pencil tool. You’ll then have varied pixel ratios, which is never appealing.

Process of Spirting

What do you do now that your canvas is open? Well, there are countless options, just like with every other type of art. There is more than one method to go about it.

How to Make Pixel Art: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners

Here is a guide that walks you through the first steps of how to start your project to give you a place to start. You are free to follow along step-by-step exactly, omit some steps, or add new ones.

1. Start With a Rough Sketch

Using the Pencil tool, begin drawing on your sprite in the same manner that you would on paper and a pen. It is not required to be flawless.

You can make a mess, and we’ll clean it up later. Getting your idea and its composition on the canvas is our only goal at this early stage.

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2. Line Art Cleanup

It’s time to organize the situation a little bit more. For the purpose of removing errant pixels, we’ll take your rough lines and chip away at them.

“Jaggies” are a term used to describe a single pixel or a collection of pixels that detract from the smoothness of a line. We specifically want to steer clear of jaggies.

A line segment that is either too long or too short, resulting in an awkward jump, is frequently the cause of the issue. To create a smooth-looking transition on a curve, utilize pixels of a consistent length. A row of pixels shouldn’t be surrounded by larger ones.

Even while it’s impossible to completely eradicate jaggies (unless your artwork is exclusively made up of simple shapes), you should aim to limit their presence.

3. Present Colors

The line art for your sprite needs to be colored in with the Bucket tool.

You should often stick to a limited color scheme. When I was a kid, the number of colors on the palette and sprite size were frequently determined by each other. The painters have 16 colors available to them while creating a 1616 sprite. The good news is that this regulation no longer applies thanks to advancements in technology.

The ideal color schemes include a mixture of light and dark shades, as well as various complementary hues and saturation levels. Creating your own palette can be challenging if you don’t have a solid understanding of color theory.

If you’d rather someone else do the planning for you, Lospec is a fantastic online resource with a ton of pre-made color schemes.

4. Add Details, Highlights, and Shadows

The culmination of the procedure is at this point. Your painting starts to really pop off the page at this point. Since we now understand the fundamental concept, we can add all the minute details to give the appearance of form to your flat work.

Choose a source of light, then begin to use a darker hue to shade parts that are farthest away from that source of light. Areas that receive direct light should have highlights placed there.

Depending on your particular taste or artistic style, you can either color or leave your line art black.

5. Save Your Art

Your work needs to be saved now. After scaling to the size you want, select a file format. If your image is static, you’ll generally want to save it as a PNG.

However, if your artwork includes animation, save it as a GIF. What is key is that both formats can accommodate substantial sections of transparency and solid color.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, avoid using JPEGs. It is a lossy file format designed for digital photos and other images with gentle gradients.

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Pixel Art: Easy to Learn, Hard to Master

Digital drawing is different from pixel art because of the limitations imposed by its grid-like structure.

Nevertheless, it makes use of many of the same ideas, making it easy for painters and other creatives to pick up. Pixel art is a skill that anyone can master with a lot of practice.

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