How to Make Pixel Art

In this article we will go over how to make pixel art. We will also cover which pixel editor works best for your pixel art projects.

How to Make Pixel Art


If you follow retro style art channels on Instagram or Facebook you most likely have seen some of the incredible pixel art created by pixel artists from all around the world. Everything from vehicles, buildings and trees to knights, castles and mystical creatures are created and shared everyday to millions of different people everyday.

So how do you make pixel art? The good news is making pixel art is very easy to learn and quite fun to pick up. Of course some of the more detailed pixel sprites you see will take more time and usually require more advanced techniques and software. But to go and make something great using pixels is definitely attainable even for beginners.
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Basic Steps to Making Pixel Art

Basically speaking, these are the steps you will need to take to start making pixel art today:
  1. Choose a Pixel Art Software like Photoshop or Aseprite to create your pixel art
  2. Learn how to add, delete, select and paint pixels using different tools and brushes inside the editor software
  3. Export your pixel art as a sprite or sprite sheet for your project
We will explore more into each of these steps mentioned, but this all you really need to understand to begin making amazing pixel art today.

Choose a Pixel Art Software

The first step to becoming a professional pixel artist is to choose a pixel art software also called an editor. Now even though an editor is a type of software program that runs on your computer, think of it as a toolbox for creating pixel art sprites. Just like a painter has their own set of paint brushes, paints and canvases, you as a pixel artist will have your own set of tools for making artwork.

> View our list of Best Pixel Art Software for 2021

What is a Pixel Art Editor? 

So like the name implies, a pixel art editor is a software for creating pixel sprites. Most pixel art editors give artists the ability to add, delete, move and paint pixels on a canvas. The differences come with more advanced features like drawing lines or creating shapes. However the main purpose of all of these different programs is to help creators draw their own pixel art.

> Read more on What is Pixel Art?

Which Pixel Art Editor should I use?

Now how does one choose which pixel art editor to use? As for which ones are the most popular, we have noticed a trend between two major programs. The two are Adobe Photoshop and Aseprite. Photoshop is used widely by digital artists around the world because of its diverse toolset that not only allows you to create pixel art but other art forms as well. It also supports necessary tools and features such as Nearest Neighbor resampling and the ability resize pixel art with out distorting the image. It even comes with many of the popular export formats such as JPG and PNG. The only catch is that Photoshop is a little more expensive due to the subscription model. The other popular pixel art software is Aseprite which you can purchase for a one time fee. This software was designed specifically for creating pixel art spritse. Because of that every tool you learn can be applied to creating sprites with ease. It also comes with features you can't get from Photoshop such as automatically creating sprite sheets for game engines and exporting animations using animated GIFs. Both programs as of today, support the common feature set you will need to make your own pixel art such as adding, deleting and coloring pixels on a canvas. Now we highly recommend you read our post Best Pixel Art Software so you can make sure you choose the pixel editor that fits your needs depending on your type of project. If you read our post and still aren’t sure, don't worry. These programs for the most part support each others files so you can transfer back and forth.
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Learn How to Create Pixel Art Sprites

So if you made it here you most likely have chosen a pixel editor. Before you jump into any tutorials I want to shed a little light on making pixel art. When working with pixel sprites its like working with tiles in real life. Basically imagine you have an empty floor in a house. Just like you would lay out tiles to cover the floor, pixels work exactly the same way. You lay out different colored pixels on a blank canvas to create an image. The only difference is that you will be using the tools inside of the pixel art editor to align these tiles together.

If you visit our Pixel Art Tutorials page, you can find tutorials on just about every aspect of pixel art that we talked about. Let us know if you need any help!

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