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Cover image for Pixel art and the art of doing nothing

Pixel art and the art of doing nothing

Núria
I code stuff.
Updated on ・3 min read

Originally published at Medium on Sep 23, 2018

So, summer has just ended. I’ve hardly felt like staying home and work on the game these past months. I don’t feel too bad, I’m doing this for fun if something else sounds more fun, well, so be it. Also, if I’m being completely honest, I’ve been dreading a bit the next step I had planned: start working on the art. It’s funny, because I actually have a design background, and I’ve always liked to draw.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I had planned for the game to be pixel art, for a few reasons. One, I like it, and two, I thought it would be easier. Right? WRONG. I really haven’t done any pixel art before, unless you count my first game for Ludum Dare. And one would think that pixel art is just any other art, just drawn in a smaller space. Oh boy.

The tools

So, pixel art. It’s just big pixels. You basically only need pen and eraser. Without softening, good old sharp edges. Layers would be a plus. Any program should allow you to do this in a super easy way, right.

I’ve always used Photoshop for graphic editing, but it’s not an option for me anymore, because I really dislike the subscription approach Adobe is using, and I don’t want to download it illegally when there are so many alternatives. I’m just going to skip the rant about Gimp and the sad times I spent searching for alternatives. Just buy Aseprite, it’s great.

The art

Did I mention it’s basically my first time doing pixel art?

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So, after realizing I don’t know shit about pixel art, I started gathering a few resources to learn, like Retronator and Pixel Art Academy 101, MiniBoss Pixel Art Tutorials, Slynyrd’s blog and of course, kept staring at Pixel Dailies and Pixels Huh.

And then back to work:

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That’s a little bit better

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I’m having a hard time with backgrounds and colors, so I also did some gray scale backgrounds to practice

The doing nothing

But really, these past weeks I’ve been mostly doing nothing. It kinda breaks your motivation, when you are stuck doing something that you don’t particularly enjoy and you keep not seeing any good results. I feel it’s the point where most projects just get abandoned. I’ve felt like ditching this a few times. But I also found a few ways to keep the spirits up.

One is sharing with people what you are doing, the ideas you have. It’s a good way to remember why you started the project, plus when people know you are working on something, there’s a small pressure there — the good kind of pressure, I think — that keeps you going.

Another is to switch tasks and do something else that is less frustrating. Sure, it’s good to have a plan and actually finish tasks, but it’s no good if you are so stuck you want to throw everything away. In the moments when I really didn’t feel like doing pixel art I’ve been working on the story, and it’s been great because I’ve gotten really excited about certain scenes or characters, and that brought back the will to l̶i̶v̶e̶ draw.


So, still a lot of artwork to do but summer has ended and I’ve managed to get some of my motivation back, so I’m hoping to start working on the game more often now.

Discussion (2)

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luturol profile image
Rafael Ahrons

Nice series of articles!!! I'm loving it.

I got stunned from the pixel art references that you post. Aseprite look really amazing. I'm using Krita to make pixel art, but it doesn't seems to have the same features from Aseprite.

Just saved the Pixel Art Academy to see later, Retronator just blowed my mind and Miniboss tips for pixel art is great!! I'm not good in art at all, but i'm trying to learn more about it too.

Keep doing your great work!!

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pincfloit profile image
Núria Author

Thank you! I tried Krita but honestly I got a bit lost, it has so many features. I guess it's a great general-purpose image editor but since I only wanted to do pixel art, Aseprite has just what I need and the interface is really easy to manage. I think it has a trial version if you want to check it out!