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The question may sounds weird (and very noobish but i'am :p) but i can't find any answer. When making pixel art, it is often said that a color palette could be 2, 4, 8, 16 or even 256 colors, through it is not recommended. When it comes to the palette choice, is it for a single sprite (like a character, and another palette for the landscape for example) or for an entire game (and in this case i must stick to the same palette for every sprites) ?

Honnestly i think it is for an entire game, but my mind is stuck with the second question implied by this answer: how could i do everything (characters, trees, rocks, explosions, sky...) with only - let's say - 8 colors ? All my sprites looks flat because of this, i can't find a suitable color to make a nice shading.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you trying to match the style of an Atari, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, or Sega Genesis game? Or are you just wanting to have pixelated graphics? \$\endgroup\$ – Ed Marty Jun 22 at 22:38
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The thing is, it might be either.

256 colors is not recommended mostly due to it being simply overkill for pixel art, since all we need is usually as fewer colors as possible to imitate visual style of the old consoles.

Considering how limited some consoles were, 8 colours for an entire game might be a realistic choice, but in the end it all boils down to the art direction and that is up to you to decide.

my mind is stuck with the second question implied by this answer: how could i do everything (characters, trees, rocks, explosions, sky...) with only - let's say - 8 colors ?

If you decide to go with a minimal amount of colors, there are techniques like dithering to create an illusion of a gradient, but it depends on the resolution of the image.

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Pixel art is a stylistic choice. How many colours you want depends on the style that you are going for.

You might want to limit yourself to 8 or 16 colours through the game to mimic the style of retro-consoles, or you might want to match the 16-bit colours of the Amiga days. You may even want to limit yourself to the exact set of colours these systems allow. Alternatively you might just want the visual look of pixelated art and be happy to use as many colour as you want, or choose a happy medium where you limit yourself to 16 colours but allow lighting effects to use more, or introduce occasional exceptions to the rule.

Either way, choosing a colour palette for your entire game is likely to produce a more harmonious look that picking palettes on a per-sprite basis, while choosing on a per-sprite basis will make those sprites look more distinct.

It's all down to what your aim in producing pixel art is at all.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Honnestly your answer is as good as the one i validated. Take my upvote for a second validation :) \$\endgroup\$ – toyi Jun 23 at 15:02

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