What is missing with my pixel art?


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So ever since I have started making games (2 months ago) I have been trying really hard to get good at pixel art. Everything is going alright, but my next game will be all pixel art, and after making a couple scenes I have begun to realize that my art looks kind of bland.

I will attach some of my pictures to show you what I mean:

Picture 1 is a house I made.

Picture 2 is some grass.

Picture 3 is a screenshot of one of my dungeons.

Picture 4 is an unfinished town I am working on.

I just feel like it is missing something. Any tips, and opinions?

« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 08:53:20 pm by lazyboygames »


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An image tag. Don't attach images


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I think some lightning and shadowing could be improved. Something like this:

« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 11:39:53 pm by Satyre »


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Oh man, bland is right o.O

First thing's first, don't draw pixels on a different scale.  That's what popped out to me as wrong.  It is probably placeholder for all I know though...

Anyways, to address the blandness of your art, you should consider adding detail/texture and lighting.  And actually, I'd describe your art as flat.  Just take a look at some pictures from games on the internet and copy them.

For example, a dungeon room from the Zelda series!  Notice that the lighting of the wall changes with height.  And the coloration of some areas of the floor tiles break up the monotony, giving it a more natural feeling and look.

« Last Edit: June 21, 2012, 11:23:55 pm by Kajitii »


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Yeah it is placeholder art to test my dungeons, but it was also practice. Thanks for the tip with the shadowing. That seems to be one of the problems.

Where did you get those tile sheets? I would like something to compare mine to.

does the same go for my outside scene?


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Where did you get those tile sheets? I would like something to compare mine to.

does the same go for my outside scene?

The same advice applies to the outside scene.  I think it's just crazy amazing what life it brings if you just draw the shadows.

The "tile sheet" I "got" came from googling.  I recommend starting your search at pixeljoint.com, just to see how materials and things are drawn using pixel art.  It is unlikely that you'll find tile sheets though.  Other places I would look are pictures and graphics from SNES or Nintendo DS games.


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Awesome. I am actually a member at pixel joint. It is sort of crazy what people create there.

Also what program would you recommend for pixel art. I am using Gimp which seems good, but I have heard that graphics gale is better. What is the difference?


  • Posts: 485
Okay I have added some shading to one of the walls of my dungeon. I think it looks a lot better. What do you think?

I had to attach because I don't know how to use an image tag  :P Could someone also tell me how to do that?


  • Posts: 184
You can simply quote a post that uses the image tags to see how it works.  Just insert the URL of the image itself inside the tags, and it should work.

The dungeon wall looks a lot better now!  I would go ahead and add some texture to the bricks now.  Also, I would avoid having bricks align with each other in the middle of your walls.  It doesn't look good imo.

As for what the best pixel art software is, I couldn't tell you.  I just use MS Paint and Paint.NET for all my needs =/

« Last Edit: June 22, 2012, 03:14:43 pm by Kajitii »


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Add more grass types (e.g no grass, some grass)
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Yeah. For each type of land you have, grass, dirt, forest, havem any tiles that are similar, but not the same, and place them in no pattern.
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Ok, surprisingly, i know exactly what's wrong (i say surprisingly, because i'm still bad at pixel art, so i have been working one it, but i DO know what your primary problem is, because i just got over doing it myself, or should i say them. XD)

The first, and largest, problem is that you are only using 3 shades. Pixel art, generally speaking, is tends to be at least 4 shades, and even then, it's usually 5-10. (5 is the most common, if it's 5 shades, then it usually looks the best, unless you are going for REALLY detailed, but REALLY detailed pixel art needs a lot of skills that 99.99% of us don't have, including me T_T). If you use just 3 shades, then it tends to look very flat and childish (I can't remember who the heck pointed this out to me, but it did WANDERS for my tileset art. If I could remember who it was, I'd probably kiss them).

Anyway, the second issue is that your outlines of your roof shouldn't be that obvious. the shading itself should take care of that, would you like me to make a tutorial to help? (again, i'm not great, but i do know a few basics that can help)

And the third and last issue is that your art seems be 4*4 pixel color blocks(at least your house is), it should never be more then 2*2 pixels per color block.

Anyway I've started making color pallets for myself to make things easier, would you like me to post some of them?

Oh, and don't ask for animated water yet, i'm only good at drawing still water, and that's because it's easy. And lastly, what art programs are you using? (that question is in case you want me to make a tutorial, but please remember that i have no money, so it has to be a FREE art program that you want me to do the tutorial with)

« Last Edit: June 23, 2012, 10:29:05 am by TrinityGamer »


  • Posts: 65
The first, and largest, problem is that you are only using 3 shades. Pixel art, generally speaking, is tends to be at least 4 shades, and even then, it's usually 5-10.

This is so much bullshit. Anyway I'm going to help you solve your problem RIGHT NOW.

First, tinypic.com upload your shit there get the image tags paste it here. Why does it matter that much? You can't see the attachments when replying to the thread and for obvious reasons I won't state.

Basically, what you're doing is shading the wall block-by-block. DON'T do that. If you notice the Legend of Zelda example Kajits gave you, the wall makes use of the palette which allows the player to acquire a sense of depth among these walls.

Basically, the most bottom ones are darkest and the top ones are the brightest (because the light source is above holy shit) Do NOT shade the wall block-by-block but shade it as a whole

Q: Then the bricks would look flat right? hahaha NO.

Q: Then wtf do I do how do I separate them? Other than using outlines (which I can see you have) make use of shines (bright colors) instead of the top outline. That means that the brick isn't flat, a small part of it is being hit by the light from above.

Q: How about them colors? Here's what I know about color choice..

Dark Floor: Bright Wall
Bright Floor: Dark Wall

The walls need to contrast the floor to represent the obstacle (WALL) difference from playing field (FLOOR) Your colors are both too dark as of now.

PS: When doing these kinds of tilesets, it's best to have the light source come from above (your house has some freaky angled light source)

Anyway good luck just come back when you get stuff done bro


  • Posts: 485
Ha thanks for your tips Medevenx. It was very helpful even though you have an unconventional way of teaching. I will post back after I get some more done. My plan is to do all of the art first before I go, and do the programming. At first I was doing both at once and it was very slow progress, so I should have more by the end of the week.


  • Posts: 65
I said come back when you got stuff done! lmao

Anyway, here's another example.

Ailit's Ship (shaded by part/by brick like yours right now)

Metroid Zero Mission Ship (shaded as a whole)