Pixel Line Types

There are two main types of lines that are used in pixel art: straight lines and curved lines. And since every pixel matters here, the appearance of the illustration as a whole depends on how good your lines are. How do you know if your line is perfect or not?

In pixel art, a line is considered to be good if it has a minimum of jaggedness (from English jaggy). For example, on curved lines, jaggedness occurs when the length of the line segments does not increase or shorten evenly.

As mentioned above, every pixel in this digital art has a weight. Imagine that you are drawing a straight line on a piece of paper, and suddenly someone slaps on the table – you startle and your line is not so even, a sudden curve appears on the drawing – the same thing happens with an extra pixel.

In fact, jaggedness cannot be completely avoided, especially if your pixel art is not made up of only the simplest shapes. Any drawing cannot be completely perfect. Your goal should not be to completely get rid of serrations, but rather to minimize their amount without sacrificing quality. On curved lines, jaggedness occurs when the length of the line segments does not increase or shorten evenly.

Application of the first flowers

Have you already chosen your palette? Time to color your drawing. There is nothing complicated at this point, just paint the details in the colors you want.

By the way, a ball was added to the character for an example, so that further steps would be more understandable and simple.

Step 3. Applying colors

If you want to add volume to your drawing, then you can not do without shading. Adding darker colors will simulate a shadow that will make your illustration look three dimensional. The example assumes that the only light source is above and slightly in front of the orc, so darker colors have been added to the bottom and back of the character.

Pixel art for dummies example

Until now, the outline of the drawing has been pure black, giving the character a cartoony look. It also creates hard segmentation. For example, the black lines on the arm clearly define the musculature, making them look less like part of the same body part.

To give a character a more natural look and soften segmentation, artists use a technique called selective highlighting or selectivity. Its essence is to replace most of the black outline with a lighter color.

For example, at the top, where the light falls on the character, the lightest colors are used in the example. Darker colors are used instead of pure black to emphasize certain parts of the drawing (eg muscles, fur textures, etc.).

Also, at this stage, you can add another layer of darker shadow. For example, Orc skin now has three shades of green.

Final edits

At the end, you can add highlights (the brightest points on the character), details (earrings, scars) and continue to make changes until you are completely satisfied with your result.

There is one more trick you can try at this stage: flip the image horizontally – this will help to detect possible imperfections in proportions and shading. Another trick is to remove color from your image (i.e. set saturation to zero) to see if your shading reads well.

However, be careful, one of the dangers of pixel art is that many people spend too much time creating it. In a way, it’s like a puzzle to be solved, and it can be highly addictive. As a result, creating pixel art becomes a real trap for perfectionists, so be careful not to stay on one drawing for too long.

For example, in game development, static pixel art is just one small piece of a larger system, and it’s important not to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Even if you are not yet experienced enough in creating pixel art for games, you need to learn at some point to tell yourself “Stop!” and move on. The best way to improve your skills is to work on different illustrations from start to finish as many times as possible. Also, if you leave your work for a while, you can look at it with fresh eyes later.

File formats

In what format should you store your first pixel art drawings? We do not recommend saving your work in JPG format. Because your data will almost be lost when saving due to the way the file is compressed to reduce its size. This means that your beautiful, crisp pixel art will end up looking blurry and you won’t be able to easily revert to the original palette.