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One of the very first types of artworks that came out on the television screen is the pixel art. It comprised of little colored squares which when put together gave life to bigger images like Mario, Pacman, and other retro game titles. Now, pixel art is making its way back into the lime light because it’s still a great medium that brings out the creativity in a lot of people

You can have it in flat format or in jaw dropping three dimensional rendering. No matter the output, the artist is in charge and the tools shall be the bridge which takes the artists’ creativity and brings it to a modern canvas. If you think of it in another perspective, you can doodle away and even add animation to your unique doodle characters.

1. Aseprite

Aseprite

The first on this list is Aseprite. It’s a great pixel art editor. It starts with a blank grid canvas which you can edit however you want. It has layers for better editing so if you’re familiar with Adobe Photoshop, you’ll find that similar tools work on Aseprite. This program also has features that allow for creating motions so you can create dynamic art work which can find themselves into games, apps, or videos.

Aseprite is by David Capello and the software only goes for $14.99. The bundle also includes future updates so don’t worry about the app going outdated. Aseprite works for Windows, MacOS, and Ubuntu.

2. GIMP

GIMP

GIMP is actually short of GNU Image Manipulation Program. It’s an open source editor which works on a lot of operating platforms. This program is actually very powerful because you can create amazing images with this, not just pixel art. GIMP offers quality image manipulation, retouching, restoring, and creative composites.

GIMP is free to download so this should be in your line of sights if you’re out hunting for a new image manipulation software.

3. Graphics Gales

 Graphics Gales

Did you ever tinker with the Paint program that came with the Microsoft Windows PC? If you did, then you might find Graphics Gales as an extended version of that. This pixel illustration program is so great because it adds more depth and clarity to the pixel art you’re making.

The Graphics Gales also has onion skin functionalities which let you see previous and next frames so this is especially great for creating sprites. If you aren’t already familiar, sprites are the pixel art characters from the video games of old. They usually have a one-two motion which acts like a gif in loop.

Graphics Gales is a freeware program so this is free to download and use.

4. Krita

Krita

Krita should be another editor that you have to try out to create your pixel arts. It’s basically an open source painting program made by artists for artists. This means that your best interest is put forward because the developers really understand the challenges and pains of limited tools.

Krita has multiple brushes, brush stabilizers, capabilities to create vectors and text, wrap around, and more. This tool is really great for aspiring and veteran artists. If you’re looking for another great editor, consider downloading Krita for all your artwork needs.

5. Piskel

Piskel

Did you ever want to know how Megaman was created? Well, if you’re an artist, you would’ve experimented with the edge of a flipbook to make a moving animation which got you through a boring lecture in class. Piskel can help you make your characters come to life with it’s animation features which turn basic images into sprites.

Piskel is open source so you can download it and use it for free. Piskel can be used through the web portal or through an offline program which you can install on your Windows, MacOS, or Linux.

6. Pixilart

Pixilart

Pixilart is another web based editor that allows you to make and edit images and sprite animations through your web browser. Usually, when students are bored, they doodle on their notepads. Now, in the modern age of computers, if you’re trying to kill some time before a meeting or shaking of some boredom, you can create digital doodles that might end up to be awesome pixel art.

Pixilart is web based so you can share your creations, engage the community, and possibly find someone to collaborate with. This is great for social interaction and creative expression.

7. Pyxel Edit

Pyxel Edit

Pyxel Edit is another great pixel art illustrator. It helps create stand-alone images and moving gifs/sprites. The program has embedded onion skinning feature so you can align the movements properly. In addition to that, it has importing features which allow the program to easily identify tiles and frames and where they should be.

Pyxel Edit is created by Daniel Kvarfordt and only goes for $9.00. This includes the program’s license and the free future updates. This editor works on Windows and MacOS.

Bottom Line

When you’re talking about pixel art, you’re going to be encountering static and dynamic images. This means the editor you need must be able to help you create stand-alone images or moving gifs. This just completes the character of gifs and sprites that usually go into retro video games and themed mobile apps.

If you’re starting out as a pixel editor, you may want to keep practicing and practicing day by day so you can get exceptionally better at this craft. It might take a while because you have to edit pixel per pixel or tile per tile but the effort is well worth the hard work.

Pro tip: use a free, open source type of software first. This helps you get the hang of things, especially when you’re just starting out. When you find that your existing tool is starting to become a little restrictive, then try other paid apps for improved work flow and illustration tools.