I'm interested in working as an artist in the game industry. Many job postings contain the phrase "pixel art". What exactly is pixel art?


5 Answers 5


This is the kind of question that's better answered with google. Pixel art is game art that is very restricted - you are literally using pixels to draw something, so they end up having a very boxy look. (Though a lot of pixel art now is done on a much larger scale and then made to look like it's been edited pixel by pixel.)


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You can see in the bottom right of this image the actual size of the art, and then the larger left portion what it looks like zoomed in. Lines and shading are implied by individual pixels put in a particular colour. (An outline, for example, is achieved by making all the pixels along the outside edge black.)

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    \$\begingroup\$ "There are no lines, or shading, but instead are implied by individual pixels put in a particular colour." - Er, there are lines and shading. "Pixel art" just refers to the fact those elements are usually hand-drawn at a pixel or near-pixel level, rather than by a 3D rasterizer with equations to model lighting. \$\endgroup\$
    – user744
    Oct 16, 2010 at 16:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Joe Wreschnig When I say Lines I mean them as in line art. There are black pixels representing lines but they aren't conected and the image wouldn't read without the colour in them. Colour change isn't shading - shading is dependent on background and surrounding elements. Hence why I said the shading and lines are implied by changing the pixel colours. Since that's probably a confusing statement, though, I'll edit my post! \$\endgroup\$
    – daestwen
    Oct 16, 2010 at 16:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ Agree with Daestwen \$\endgroup\$ Oct 22, 2010 at 0:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ This answer is not entirely accurate. Pixel art does not imply a "boxy look", nor is "a lot of pixel art" done on a large scale and colour-reduced. Any pixel artist will tell you that automated size- and colour-reduction is in fact not pixel art at all. Though there is a substantial amount of "low-spec" art these days, there is in fact very little actual pixel art in high-profile games. And your example is of poor quality. If you want to see many good examples of great pixel art, check out the hall of fame at PixelJoint. pixeljoint.com/pixels/new_icons.asp?ob=rating \$\endgroup\$
    – Jon Purdy
    Oct 22, 2010 at 2:43

As a quick search will tell you, pixel art is digital artwork that is created by drawing individual pixels in an image rather than say, rendering a 3D model. It commonly refers to clean, cartoonish graphics reminiscent of old 2D video games.


This forum is a pretty good place to get a good idea, because they also have a forum for "low spec art", which you can compare to their "pixel art" forum and see the difference.



For loads of examples, links to resources and tutorials, a thriving, friendly, no-nonsense community, pixel-art-related news, and weekly challenges, check out PixelJoint and your perspective will be forever changed.


According to Wikipedia,

Pixel art is a form of digital art, created through the use of software, where images are edited on the pixel level. The aesthetic for this kind of graphics comes from 8-bit and 16-bit computers and video game consoles, in addition to other limited systems such as graphing calculators. In most pixel art, the color palette used is extremely limited in size, with some pixel art using only two colors.

In further detail, most pixel art creators are trying to imitate the look of video games from the 80's, because it gives a "retro" feel, due to consoles of the day only being able to render images in small sizes, such as 8x8 tiles. Additionally, some pixel artists limit the amount of colors in their assets, in order to imitate the color limitations of old technology, as stated in Wikipedia.


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