Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How To: Make and Rescale Pixel Art

*** Updated to super simple method ***

I've been looking around for a way to do this for some time and last night I stumbled upon a pretty great working method. It's great in how simple and straight forward it is.

What you will need:
Photoshop (or any image creation program I assume)

1. Create a very small blank image in photoshop (for this example I'll use 40x40 pixels)

2. Zoom right in and draw your image at the pixel level. I would suggest using the Pencil tool at 1 pixel diameter for the best results. Also use the eraser in pencil 1 pixel mode. And turn Anti-alias off the paint bucket! If you want to create a sprite or an image with transparencies be sure not to do it on the background layer.

3. Then it is as simple as going to Image>Image Size and change the width and height to something large, ie 1024x1024 and set the bottom drop down menu to "Nearest Neighbor"

4. Now just save out an image version, I recommend .PNG to preserve alpha (provided it's on a clear background) AND BAM. Magic does happen, and it has happened. Right here, for you. Your magic. You are now a wizard. A pixel wizard. Congratulations.

Click to see it in full resolution GLORY!


  1. Doesn't Photoshop have an option for linear scaling?

  2. In GIMP all I do is set Image -> Mode -> Indexed and then Scale Image -> Linear.

  3. You could have just scaled from photoshop all along. Just set the interpolation method to 'Nearest Neighbour'.

  4. There are countless programs that can do nearest neighbour upscaling just as easy or easier than this, that includes Photoshop. You could even use MSPaint if you don't need the alpha.

  5. Well... haha. I will have to try all them!

  6. Fellah if you're interested, and are both great resources for you to broaden your pixel vocabulary (the first for galleries of pieces, the second for tutorials, programs and critique).

    I saw your video and I have to say I have mixed feelings; I'm glad you're interested and like what you're doing but it could have used a lot more research, and also a lot more sources. Most frustrating is that your first guest just...doesn't know what he's talking about at all and puts out a lot of false/foolish information, especially about screen quality and the ability to show information. Many retro games, 8-bit and many more 16-bit showcase fantastic visuals, and there's an entire history of highly-detailed retro pixel-art on the home computer system that's yet to be explored.

    We'd love to see you stop by and show you what pixels are really about :).

  7. My first guest was Jason Rohrer, who is probably the most influential art game developer.
    You can go debate with him.
    Love to show me what pixels are about?
    How many pixels does it take to draw a high horse?

  8. The debatable fact that someone is influential does not mean he knows what he is talking about. His answers or opinions, to put it simply, were uninformed. It's not your job as an interviewer to make sure your guests make accurate or even valid points, but if you wish to further your skills as a documentarian, it is well-worth tempering your guests opinions with broader and better insight. This should be everyone's goal - to improve on what they are doing.

    I believe that I wrote you a respectful message. That you focused on a very narrow set of values in the video, provided no contrast or counterpoint to your poorly informed guest, and here were using tools ineffectively led me to believe that you were someone who, although ready and willing to learn, doesn't have a huge amount of experience with the subject, which is exactly the type of enthusiast that we like to see come to both communities to share and to learn.

    I've pointed you to two great, open places full of information on exactly what you're exploring - and I hope that you take the opportunity, rather than become unnecessarily defensive.

  9. Haha yeah, I apologise for being so defensive.
    I think the line "Show me what pixels are really about" set me off.

    As you seem to be a professional pixel sprite maker you will obviously see it from a very different perspective from basically anyone else. This documentary is targeted at people who may not have ever even seen pixel art.

  10. but then the problem about focusing your documentary in just one single aspect of "pixel art" and portraying it as a vehicle for nostalgia is still a bit off. i don't believe that this work's goal was to show "pixel art graphics inthe 80's" because in that case it would make sense to just focus in the iconic aspects of earlier graphic displays and their impact on popular culture. but it just centers itself too much on the issue of seeing 'blocky images and having childhood memories'.

    it does spread a lot of misleading(or incomplete) information regarding what is going on with pixel art in general. even if we compare how is shown in the documentary chiptune music ceased to exist just as a tool for providing a background mood for games and arise as an artform and a way of expresion on its own in the last years, in the same way pxiel art has(no suprise, considering both share the same origins). it makes me wonder why wouldn't you try to interview a visual artist with some years in the field when it comes to talk about a vsual art form, or any of the several demoscene artist that still develop this as an artform nowdays and back in the day did pushed the boundaries of both technical restrictions of the hardware in order to simplycreate art of what was just a tool, or anyone with some sort of connection to the topic, at all. instead this limits itself to a game developer and a music artist's external views of their own experience(in wich both are still valid as opinions, but not as reference). pixel art is nowdays much, much more that a tool for engineering of visual interfaces, and thats why adarias just sugested you these two sites, wich both share one single goal: the difusion of pixel art nor only as a tool, but also as an art form.

    in the words of 'Frost'(an user from PixelJoint on the subject of this documentary): "I don't make "pixel art" to make it look more "pixel" than "art". I'm trying to make "art" with pixels, not the other way around."

  11. Then I suggest you write a formal apology for your failed documentary.

  12. As a complete noob in the complexities of pixel art I found the documentary to be the perfect launching pad for my own independent further research. Perhaps instead of moaning about how the doco should have addressed the numerous multiple discourses and associated readings on the subject all in a 10min documentary (which would have turned into a full length feature or mini series), u should acknowledge the fact that it highlights an often underrated artform.

  13. there seems to be a missing post from the original poster or rather, it has been deleted.

    "Simon Cottee said...
    Yeah I see what you are saying Tarro. I admit that I'm not deep within the pixel world. It was also my personal views on the subject. It was a research project. I only had 11 minutes (due to youtube lengths) to fit in interviews and info. Organizing interviews can be pretty complex, I had an interview with a fine artist that fell through. Obviously people deep in the pixel scene want it represented as they see and feel it accurately, which perhaps is something I can't provide.
    May 28, 2010 11:01 AM"

    this should encourage Nat the noob to question the content. as it is implied that pixel art is an often underrated artform, it shouldn't be alarming that others are speaking out against its under-representation.