Pixel art is a form of digital art wherein images are created and edited at the pixel level using a graphics editing software. What defines pixel art is its unique visual style, where individual pixels serve as the building blocks that make up the image.
The influence is very close to that of mosaic painting, cross-stitch and other kinds of embroidery techniques in a visual style.
5 Best Pixel Art Tools
We’ve already covered how sprites work but now it’s time to start making them. To make it easier for you to experiment with sprite creation, you can use one of the pixel editor tools listed below.
They’re all free to download or use online and can help you to create the pixel art for your sprite sheet.
PiskelApp is a free online pixel editor with an emphasis on sprite creation. It allows you to save your pixel art online and also has an import function so you can use it to edit your existing pixel art.
PiskelApp has a simple user interface and is a great choice if you want to dive right into creating your sprite sheet.
GIMP is an open source image editor for desktop that can be used for everything from photo manipulation to creating original artwork. You can also use GIMP to create your pixel art and sprite sheets.
Although there is a bit of a learning curve for beginners, GIMP is a powerful tool that can cater for almost all image editing needs.
Pixlr is a slightly more advanced pixel editor in comparison to the previous editors with a large range of drawing tools. It offers the same online saving feature as PiskelApp but isn’t as well suited to sprite sheet creation.
If you want to avoid the 16-bit style that PiskelApp encourages, check out this tool instead.
GrafX2 is a bitmap paint program that includes a number of tools and effects that make it especially useful for designing game graphics, pixel art and sprite sheets.
It’s free to download and available on all major desktop platforms
Pixie is another fully functional online pixel editor. Although it’s not as well suited to sprite sheet creation as PiskelApp, it’s still very easy to use and is a good choice for anyone looking to let their imagination run wild.
The white canvas is the standard starting point for this tool and encourages free hand drawing rather than rigid grid designs.
If you’re looking for a stripped down tool that lets you focus on creating great pixel art, you should check out PyxleOS.
This open source desktop application is specifically designed for the creation of pixel art and it’s extremely easy to pick up and use.
LunaPic is an online tool with a number of capabilities for image editing. One of its many features is the ability to pixelate images, even photographs.
You just need to upload your image, click adjust -> pixelate, choose how much you want to pixelate your image and there you go!
GraphicsGale is an animation graphic editor that’s available in both free and paid options. The free version still allows you to create and save pixel art in png format, which is all you need for your sprite sheet.
GraphicsGale is an easy to use tool with a wide range of tools for image creation.
Paint.net is free image and photo editing software for Windows. This is a powerful tool with a great community behind it to show you how to create pixel art and sprite sheets.
You can find many pixel art tutorials, such as the one below, on YouTube.
10. Make Pixel Art
Make Pixel Art is a fun online tool that lets you start drawing your pixels straight away.
Although it might be considered a little basic compared to some of the other tools, it could be your best bet if you need to quickly sketch an idea or prototype an object or character for your game.