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Painting With Pixels

I’m talking pixels here. Those little dots on your screens that have been meticulously placed side by side to form an object of crispy clean beauty. I realize most people might not consider things created digitally as “art”, but I do and after all it is MY art right?

Pixel art is more or less what inspired me to get into multimedia design. I remember the first graphic design project I tackled on a computer vividly… I used an archaic version of Microsoft Paint and painted pixel-by-pixel a design for our high school datebook competition. It was a pixilated masterpiece with no anti-aliasing. Fortunately, my design won and it got published… but unfortunately, somebody had taken my artwork and re-created it with smooth vectors! They just didn’t get it.

According to Wikipedia, “Pixel art is a form of digital art, created through the use of raster graphics software, where images are edited on the pixel level. Graphics in most old (or relatively limited) computer and video games, graphing calculator games, and many mobile phone games are mostly pixel art.”

Basically, what started off as a necessity due to display and computing capabilities, has stuck around as its own stylized form of design, or art if you will. One might also argue that pixel art is a descendant of Pointillism.

So, what makes something “pixel art”? The biggest thing that makes something pixel art is aliasing, specifically the lack of anti-aliasing. I always get tripped up with words trying to explain the difference so you can check out my example.

What made me want to write about this, is this game I downloaded from iTunes called Hamster House. I’m not yet sure what the point of it is and, quite frankly, I don’t care because the detail of the game is amazing! And it’s all beautiful pixels.

As always, I’ve compiled a short list of must-see pixel sites. In no particular order…

  • Pixel Art Tutorials – Take a look at some examples of great pixel art and then learn some of the techniques involved.
  • Gmuer Studio Blog – This blog of a pixel artist is quite good if you are looking for examples and inspiration. In particular, check out the piece called A Day In The City.
  • Star Wars Collection – This is a collection of hand-made pixel art characters based on the Star Wars series. This collection is pretty extensive.
  • Orgdot open source – This is a collection of free open source pixel and led fonts for Flash. Also you might want to check out miniml for a reasonably priced bigger collection.
  • Pixelation – A great community of pixel art enthusiasts. Discuss pixel art and its related topics, and get your own artwork critiqued if you dare here.
  • Kaliber10000 – I’ve linked this once, and I’m doing it again. The interface contains very little anti-aliasing, and they’ve paid a lot of attention to the detail with this pixelated design.

Also, be sure to check out Gary’s blog posts, as he has created some great aliased comics inspired by characters here at the museum.

Filed under: Art, Technology

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