Before our computers and mobiles had such high-resolution screens, graphics were pixelated because there was no other option. It was during this time in the 1980s that Pixel Art was created – a style of technological art that uses pixels to create images and graphics.
When we moved from 8 bit to 16 bit and then to vector design, pixels fell into disuse. In fact, when an image appears to be of low quality, we say it “looks pixelated.”
But pixels never disappeared; our screens are still packed with them, and now they are very small and almost imperceptible. In fact, designers use pixels and the ‘pixel perfect’ format to create high-quality icons that are easy to insert into Figma grids and other design platforms.
And now, Pixel Art has appeared as a cult, nostalgic style. The video game Minecraft is the perfect example to demonstrate how Pixel Art is still alive and kicking.
The pixelated world of Minecraft
Minecraft is a video game based entirely on pixels. Compared to the Pixel Art of yesteryear, the big difference is that Minecraft is in 3D, whereas before, it was all 2D. The creators of Minecraft took the idea of Pixel Art and expanded it, giving it a more immersive dimension. Instead of a flat square representing each pixel, the designers at Mojang Studios came up with the idea of building with cubes.
Minecraft’s iconic pixel cube is half earth and half green pasture – grass. Players use cubes of different materials to build all sorts of things. The playing field is made up of cubes/pixels that can also be destroyed or mined. The player smashes pixels to create caves and collect building material.
More examples of Pixel Art today
Mojang Studios’ designers are not the only ones to put a new shine on Pixel Art, but they have definitely contributed to the style’s comeback. If you like Pixel Art, there’s a lot to explore, from icons, characters and landscapes to animated GIFs.
Here is an inspiring list for you to explore in your spare time.
◾️Minipops – Pixel Art from musicians and bands. The project has been running for over 20 years and includes thousands of designs.
◾️Pixel Art TV – Pixel Art recreations of scenes from TV shows like Stranger Things.
◾️Pixelomics – Animated GIFs of comic book characters.
◾️Pixel Jeff – Elaborate landscapes and designs with lots of depth, all with pixels.
◾️#Pixelart on Instagram – Thousands of Pixel Art designs and creations from global creators.
◾️Prodigal – A pixel-based video game inspired by The Legend of Zelda.
How to design your own Pixel Art
Now it’s over to you! Creating Pixel Art is easier than you might think. Our designers have put together this step-by-step guide so you can easily follow it in Adobe Photoshop.
For inspiration, open the links in the section above. There you will see different styles in depth, color and pixels. This step-by-step guide is a tutorial for creating two-dimensional Pixel Art in Photoshop.
If you want to create 3D Pixel Art like Minecraft, you need a program like Blender where each pixel is a cube.
Here are the steps to follow. When you share your work on social media, don’t forget to use the hashtag #Pixelart.
- Step 1: Open your document and set it up, ready to create. Select the size of your project and portrait or landscape orientation. Make sure you choose pixel format.
- Step 2: Prepare your brush, choosing the pencil tool. Once you have chosen the pencil tool, make sure it is 1 pixel thick and 100% hard.
- Step 3: Display the grid to help you. Select the grid options so that the horizontal and vertical lines appear for every single pixel.
- Step 4: Unleash your creativity to make your own Pixel Art icon. Draw lines and shapes pixel by pixel, just as you would on a grid paper in math class.
- Step 5: Export it and use your icon wherever you want. Your Pixel Art is ready! Now you can download it as an image. Add animation, and create a GIF.
Explore Pixel Art icons on Gogeticon
If you want to save yourself the trouble of creating your own Pixel Art icons, Gogeticon has thousands of Pixel Art icons ready to use. You’ll find various themes, including hearts, smiley faces and fighting aliens.
All Gogeticon’s pixel icons can be customized in your favorite editing and design program. Use the icons as inspiration to create your own. Put several icons together and build compositions or landscapes.