Smashing Magazine celebrates Pixel Art
May 5, 2008 5:28 PM   Subscribe

Those are pretty neat. I have a friend who does 8-bit art. His paintings are much better than any of those in that link. Check out his deviant art page. He also has a myspace page.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 5:37 PM on May 5, 2008

Fantastic. The best 8-bit art is not necessarily the most complex, for instance the backrounds in the first Monkey Island and Broken Sword games.
posted by fire&wings at 5:42 PM on May 5, 2008

Nonono, Kirby's cupcake has been scientifically proven to the finest piece of 8bit style art.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:47 PM on May 5, 2008

This is pretty and all but, uh, how would that weapon work in a fight? It looks like the only move it's capable of being used for is pulling your enemy closer to you so you can be more easily disemboweled.

Now, if she was to lose that bit of modern art and pick up a vagina-shaped shield then she'd pose a credible threat to the forces of evil or rival flocks of geese or whatever it is winged women fight.
posted by bunnytricks at 5:54 PM on May 5, 2008

(re: the Kirby's cupcake link - when did Flickr get unblocked at work? Yay!)

I was prepared to hate this stuff, but I liked some of it. The Rubik's cube thing is a work of genius.
posted by desjardins at 5:55 PM on May 5, 2008

My own 1-bit-per-pixel gallery.
(Palm OS, my own software).
posted by hexatron at 6:25 PM on May 5, 2008

Thanks, Brandon, that is wonderful. In particular the cupcake, but the rest is great too. It evokes, in those of us who dream of alternate romantic worlds, several perfect ones.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:00 PM on May 5, 2008

Gosh, do I ever love pixel art. It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy!
posted by Eideteker at 7:41 PM on May 5, 2008

Awesome stuff! My attempt.
posted by piratebowling at 7:48 PM on May 5, 2008

In the same spirit, Pixelblocks are pretty amazing too. Make pixel art and stick it in the window for the light to shine through. I still haven't got me some of these. I should - the price seems pretty reasonable for the amount of reuse you can get.
posted by Zack_Replica at 8:05 PM on May 5, 2008

Our own iconomy made this awesome pix-art polyorama.

I remember getting a Nintendo-themed calendar for Christmas one year when I was probably eight or nine—during the early peak of my NES enthusiasm—and being dismayed that it featured pixelated art but the scale and rotation and coloration of the pixels varied form what could be done on a real Nintendo! Mario's pixels were bigger than the pipe's! He was at a jaunty 15 degree angle! There was a gradient, over on that metroid! It really upset me aesthetically at the time, about which I now feel a bit ridiculous.

My first home computer growing up was an Amiga 500; when we got it, we didn't really have any game software for a while, so my sister and I killed a lot of time customizing the pointer. On (that version of) the AmigaOS Workbench, you could make your own 16x16, four-color (well, three colors and a transparent fill color) "arrow", and I was pretty excited to find that you could recreate an awful lot of NES sprites fitting exactly those contraints. I'm annoyed these days when I use someone else's computer and the pointer is a goddam dancing bear or something, but back then my parents were stuck using Link or small Mario or a Brinstar Spiny if they wanted to double-click anything.
posted by cortex at 8:12 PM on May 5, 2008

I love pixel art, but at what point does it stop being pixel art and start being a bitmap-encoded image? I mean this is impressive and all, with a small number of colors, but why is it pixel art? Some of the high-res stuff preserves that isometric-overview look that is so popular, so I guess I can understand that, but I feel like there's a difference between pixel art and art that just happens to have a low resolution.
posted by ErWenn at 8:18 PM on May 5, 2008

ErWenn: For me, the reason it's pixel art is that it's done pixel by pixel. All the shading is done by hand by changing the colors of every pixel that needed to be dark. There's no brushwork or any "shortcuts."

I'd say this is pixel art.
posted by flatluigi at 8:38 PM on May 5, 2008

The 3D model creators I worked with in the 90s in Japan called the extant bitmap people "dottas" . . . dotters.
posted by tachikaze at 10:58 PM on May 5, 2008

Well, that makes sense, flatluigi, but I'd be really surprised if nobody used any shortcuts on these images. I've seen how some pixel art (icons, mostly) is created, and the process often begins by creating a higher resolution image using standard techniques (I've seen physical drawing, digital brushwork, even heavily filtered photographs), and then dropping the resolution. Of course that's only the first step; if they stopped there, the images would look terrible. Next is pixel-by-pixel editing. I'm sure the production of every image on the site included some pixel-by-pixel editing, but I'm also sure that some of them also included some brush work, copy-and-paste, auto-generated gradients, dithered fills, etc. Not that these are somehow bad. But I expect that using this as a definition for "pixel art" would disqualify quite a few of these images (not to mention that it would be impossible to prove).

And yay, needlepoint! The original pixel artists.*

*I refuse to believe that mosaic artists ever worked with square tiles until well after Pong.
posted by ErWenn at 1:32 PM on May 6, 2008

I saw this the other day, great stuff!
posted by dombruno at 11:52 AM on May 7, 2008

Impossible! Say it isn't so.
posted by msaleem at 1:15 PM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]

Early NES sprites had only 3 or 4 colors, and even modern pixel art would probably never have more than 30 colors, for instance. It's the limited palette more than anything else that gives pixel art its clean, distinctive look. Taking shortcuts as ErWenn suggested will often result in small images with 16 or 24 bit color. I don't think anyone would look at Windows XP-style icons and think "pixel art". You can use an image processing program to flatten the palette, but you would still need to go through the image pixel-by-pixel to get it to look acceptable, especially to achieve anti-aliasing, which must be done by hand unless you're willing to sacrifice your limited palette. Obviously most artists would start from a sketch and draw over it, but I'm not sure if this is really a shortcut.

For an example of what's not pixel art, look to any 2D game where the artists just used renderings of 3D models as sprites. This invariably looks like ass.
posted by zixyer at 4:39 PM on May 7, 2008

That's a good point about the color limitations, zixyer. That definitely makes a difference. I was going to grab some of the more colorful images off that site to count the colors, but I soon discovered that they used jpegs for all of them. No respect for pixel art whatsoever.

I just spent 15-20 minutes staring at that image msaleem linked to. Crazy.
posted by ErWenn at 9:06 PM on May 7, 2008

Ok, not all of them. But some of them.
posted by ErWenn at 9:06 PM on May 7, 2008

One of those castle images (went and tracked down the original) uses 1,154. However, it was created in MS Paint. So I guess there are multiple ways to qualify here. Using low colors, limited tools, and possibly just using the style that's become associated with the methods all seem to be valid ways to show up on this list. I'm cool with that.
posted by ErWenn at 9:13 PM on May 7, 2008

« Older A polaroid a day keeps on keeping on   |   Bionic Dolphin. Contagious grin. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments