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What is Pixel Art?

Updated on January 10, 2020
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Andrew has been a creator on Hubpages for over 10 years. Greeting new users as a Hubpages Elite member and helping through the forums.

Making Pixel Art

Pixel Art is a form of artwork that is derived by the early days of graphical computing.. It's all done on a computer using the smallest part of an image, a Pixel. Most people would assume that because a work is "pixel art" that means it is old, but people make the active choice nowadays to create signatures, videogames, and other various applications of pixel art. This artstyle allows small images to contain a lot of detail and the illusions of depth can be made very easily with shadows as small as (you guessed it) a pixel.

First let's learn what a pixel is.

A pixel is the smallest part of an image. The word pixel is based on a contraction of pix (for "pictures") and el (for "element") Pixels are normally arranged in a regular 2-dimensional grid, and are often represented using dots, squares, or rectangles.

Basic Pixel

Here is a pixel man on a gradient backdrop. Simple and easy to create.
Here is a pixel man on a gradient backdrop. Simple and easy to create.

What is Pixel Art?

Now we know what a pixel is, how is it art?

Well, you have probably seen a basic pixel image before. Most of online games are made with pixel art, like Habbo Hotel. The art of pixeling is basically making the eye think a color but blend them together. Ok, OK! I know that wasn't too clear, what I mean is by making each pixel a slight variation of that color, the eye then sees it as one color changing.

Pixel Art - How is it generally made?

Pixel Art is normally made almost one pixel at a time! (that's why its RARE to see LARGE pixels.) Using a graphic program of choice, you don't use any fancy filters or softening smudges or any of those tools. It seems simple enough, but it really is difficult to master. Here is an example of a complex Pixel:

This is a complex Pixel, so much detail is in this it's hard to believe!
This is a complex Pixel, so much detail is in this it's hard to believe!

What are some of the uses of Pixeling Art?

Pixeling Art can be applied almost anywhere computer graphics are used (because there basicly the same thing, but done manually and not with code filters etc). Pixels normally have a more "edgy" look to them, but they are appeling and high in demand!

Pixeling can be used in all of these cases:

  • Logos - using pixel art for logos has a vintage, uncommon feel that can help a business stand out. They are perfect for gaming companies, artists, and technology based
  • Site Banners - this creates an elegant solution to enhancing websites.
  • Signatures - one of the most common applications of the art-style in current times, high grade pixel signatures stand out and show the community someone is a part of that they are very engaged and enjoy the subject so much that they made or had made a pixel artwork to show it.
  • Avatars - just like signatures, avatars are another popular use of pixel art. Lots of people wish to be represented by a classic character.
  • Word and other print-outs (business cards, flyers, etc) - pixel art helps bring attention to printed out materials in a world of glossy smooth images.
  • Computer Games - one of the best applications, old and new games such as 2D side scrollers use pixel artwork to add depth to each frame of gameplay. Another large section of pixel art is arcade style games that recreate and relive the glory days of games like pac-man.
  • Flash movies
  • Flash Websites
  • and many more!

Here is a bunch of players in Habbo Hotel, a pixel graphic based chat game.
Here is a bunch of players in Habbo Hotel, a pixel graphic based chat game.
A very good Pixel Runescape Signature.
A very good Pixel Runescape Signature.

I want to do Pixel Art! What must I do to start?

So you want to try your hand at pixeling? It is A LOT harder then it looks. But do not fear, practice makes perfect. The best platform for pixeling (and my choice) is Microsoft Paint (if your on a windows computer, you have it!). Another free option you might wish to use (Don't cheat!) is

Paint.Net is a super version of MS Paint, it is hosted for free and can be downloaded at: (the right one, not the left!)

If set correctly all of these other programs will allow you to pixel with them:

  • Photoshop (all versions)
  • Corel Painter Essentials (all versions)
  • Ms Paint (all versions)
  • Paint.Net (all versions)
  • there are a TON more out there, almost all programs that allow you to create an image you can pixel with.

Here is a tree and a red dragon I made! Pixel art is really fun and doesn't take much to get started.
Here is a tree and a red dragon I made! Pixel art is really fun and doesn't take much to get started.

Here is a Video I created about making a quick simple Pixeling Art picture using MS Paint.

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