Beginner’S Guide To Pixelart Stickers: Designing Custom Stickers

Pixel art stickers are a form of digital art where images are created and edited at the pixel level. Artist “Pixel” defines pixel art as “raster art created using computer programs, where each image is made and modified at the pixel level.” Like traditional stickers, pixel art stickers feature creative designs that can be printed and shared. But unlike traditional art, pixel art relies on placing individual pixels to create the image.

Pixel art emerged in the 1980s with the advent of personal computers like the Commodore 64. Early pixel artwork was created by hobbyist computer users experimenting with computer graphics. The limited processing power meant images could only be displayed at low resolutions using blocky pixels. Artists embraced these technical limitations as part of the aesthetic. MarcoKfir’s pixel art evokes the nostalgic, low-fi origins of the artform.

Today, pixel art continues to grow in popularity. The constrained nature of pixel art presents creative challenges for artists. At the same time, the simplified visuals have wide appeal for sticker designs. The digital medium also makes it easy for artists to create custom pixel art stickers for different themes and interests.

Benefits of Designing Custom Stickers

One of the biggest benefits of creating your own custom stickers is the ability to express your creativity. With sticker design software, you have the freedom to turn any idea into a sticker, no matter how unique or quirky. You can create stickers with inside jokes, fandom references, artistic designs – anything you can imagine.

Custom stickers are also great for personalization. You can design stickers with your name, initials, favorite colors and patterns, etc. Personalized stickers make fun gifts and let you put your own stamp on your belongings.

Another advantage of custom stickers is the ability to choose any size and shape you want. Get circular, star or heart-shaped stickers, large stickers that take up an entire notebook page, tiny stickers to use as seals – the options are endless. This level of flexibility isn’t available with premade sticker packs.

Finally, creating your own stickers is extremely cost effective. Since you can print only the quantity you need, custom stickers allow you to test designs without having to order in bulk. Even large orders of custom stickers are very affordable compared to having stickers professionally designed and manufactured.

According to this source, custom stickers also help promote your brand and express your style.

Tools and Programs

When getting started with pixel art and custom sticker design, it’s important to have the right tools. Here are some recommendations for the best software programs and tools for pixel art beginners:

Many pixel artists recommend starting with free and open source software like Krita or GIMP. These provide powerful capabilities for beginning pixel artists, without the cost of paid software.

Clip Studio Paint is also highly recommended as one of the best paid options, with versatile tools optimized for comic artists, illustrators, and pixel artists. It’s available on Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android.

For quick sketches and practice, mobile apps like Pixilart Draw allow beginning pixel artists to start creating artwork right away. Many also suggest getting a graphics tablet, which makes digital drawing much easier.

When exporting your final pixel art designs, specialized software like Aseprite provides options tailored for pixel art, sprite sheets, and animations. This helps prepare clean files for stickers and other uses.

With the right creative tools, beginners can start immersing themselves in the world of pixel art sticker design. Experiment with different programs to find your favorite workflows and capabilities.

Pixel Art Styles and Techniques

example of pixel art sticker design

Pixel art comes in many different styles and requires various techniques to create the desired look. Some common pixel art styles include:

  • 8-bit – Mimics the style of old 8-bit video games with large, blocky pixels. Limited color palettes are often used.
  • 16-bit – More advanced than 8-bit with smaller, more defined pixels. Allows for more detail and shading.
  • Isometric – Rendered in isometric projection with a 3D look. Often makes use of dithering for shading.

There are a variety of techniques pixel artists use to achieve certain effects:

  • Dithering – Blending colors to create shading using a pattern of different colored pixels.
  • Color palettes – Restricting to a limited set of colors, like 16 or 32, helps unify the look.
  • Anti-aliasing – Smoothing jagged edges and resulting in more natural curves.

It’s helpful to study the works of talented pixel artists to gain insights into different styles and techniques. Video tutorials and online courses can also teach effective approaches to pixel art creation (source).

Planning Your Design

Before opening up your graphics software, it helps to spend some time brainstorming ideas and sketching out concepts for your custom sticker. Gather inspiration by looking at examples of other sticker designs and jotting down any words or phrases you’d like to incorporate. Think about the purpose of your sticker – is it just for fun or will you use it to promote a brand or event? If promoting something, be sure to represent it accurately in your design.

Once you have a rough idea in mind, do some quick pencil sketches to explore different layouts. Consider the shape, size and orientation of your sticker and where you’ll position any graphics or text. Play around with different fonts and hand-drawn elements. While sketching, also think about the practical constraints of your materials and printing method to make sure your design will translate well to the final product.

It can be helpful to gather some visual references as inspiration. Look at stickers in similar styles to what you have in mind. Pay attention to how elements are arranged and fonts are used. Think about the colors, shapes, and overall aesthetics. Gathering these references can help spark ideas and provide examples to draw from as you plan your own custom sticker.

Taking the time to thoughtfully plan and sketch out ideas will provide you with a solid starting point before you start creating your design digitally. Brainstorming and gathering references will help develop the concept and make the process flow smoothly.

Creating Pixel Art for Stickers

When creating pixel art specifically for stickers, there are some important considerations for the size, shape, layout, and simplicity of your designs. Stickers come in all different sizes and shapes, so you’ll want to tailor your pixel art to fit the type of sticker you plan to print.

For small circular or square stickers, simplicity is key. Keep the design clean and minimalist, focusing on recognizable shapes and bold colors. Avoid intricate details, gradients, or complicated backgrounds. A character, object, or text works best. According to Let’s Stick Together, pixel art stickers often use 16×16 or 32×32 canvases.

If designing a larger die-cut sticker, you can get a bit more creative with the layout. Play around with geometric or abstract shapes. Leave some negative space in the design. You can also create a scene or landscape, just keep some whitespace so it’s legible on the sticker. Remember the sticker needs to be cut out along the edges.

When layouting your pixel art on the canvas, be mindful of where the sticker cut lines will be positioned. Avoid having any important design elements too close to the edge, as they may get cut off. Center focal points in the middle of the sticker with enough padding.

Bold, high-contrast colors tend to reproduce best on stickers. Limit your palette to 2-4 colors for the cleanest results. Outlines and black backgrounds help elements stand out. Refer to RedBubble’s pixel art tutorial for more tips on creating bold, minimalist sticker designs.

Choosing Colors

Color is a critical element of pixel art sticker designs. Unlike traditional artwork, pixel art has color limitations due to its low resolution. Most pixel art uses a limited color palette of around 16-32 colors ( Choosing an effective color palette is important for creating appealing pixel art stickers.

Pixel artists often start by selecting a limited base palette with primary colors, then add secondary shades and highlights. It’s common to use a program like Lospec’s palette generator ( to curate color palettes. Complementary, triadic, and analogous color schemes work well. Avoid colors that are too similar, as they won’t provide enough contrast.

Strategic dithering can add the illusion of more colors and shading with a limited palette. Dithering blends pixels of two or more colors to create a visual mix. Some best practices are using noise patterns and concentrating dithering in shadowed areas.

Overall, carefully choosing and limiting your color palette creates a cohesive and stylistic look for pixel art stickers. Reference game art and pixel artwork when selecting colors to inspire your palette.

Adding Text and Effects

Text can add a lot of personality and visual interest to your pixel art sticker designs. When adding text, you’ll want to choose a font style that matches the retro pixel aesthetic. Bitmap fonts like Bitmap from work perfectly. You can also find bitmap fonts in programs like Photoshop.

To make the text stand out, try adding outlines or shadows. An outline in a contrasting color around each letter can help the text pop. Applying a slight shadow behind or underneath the text is another option to give it dimension. You can adjust the shadow distance, angle, opacity, and blur to get the desired effect.

When shading the text, use shades of the same color rather than stark black. For a retro look, stick to dithered shading rather than smooth gradients. Place darker pixels strategically to create the illusion of curved or angled surfaces on the letters. Avoid shading every letter identically.

The placement of the text is also important. Be careful not to obscure important design elements with text. Put most of your text along the edges or transparent areas to maintain the sticker’s visual balance. With thoughtful text formatting, effects, and placement, you can take your pixel art stickers to the next level.

Exporting and Printing

When exporting your pixel art sticker designs, it’s important to use a file format that preserves image quality without compression. Common formats like PNG and TIFF are recommended for retaining the crisp pixels in your artwork. According to a Reddit user, “Pixel art is never high quality and is always scalable. Simply use a format without compression for export (like Tiff).”

For printing, you’ll want to export your designs at a high resolution of at least 300 PPI. This ensures the image will print sharply and not look pixelated. Standard printer paper stocks work well for stickers, but you can use glossy, matte or vinyl sticker paper for different finishes. Layout your stickers on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet in a grid to maximize the number you can print. Leave a small margin between stickers to make them easier to cut out. Refer to your printer’s specifications for the best paper type, printable area size, and layout settings.

Overall, exporting as PNG or TIFF and printing at 300+ PPI will give you clean, crisp custom stickers from your pixel art designs. Adjust paper stocks and layout as needed for your desired sticker quantity and quality.

Showcasing and Selling

Once you’ve created your pixel art sticker designs, it’s time to get them out into the world! There are a few popular options for selling custom stickers online:

Sharing designs on social media sites like Instagram and Twitter is a great way to showcase your work and potentially attract customers. Using relevant hashtags like #stickers and #pixelart can help people find your designs. You can direct interested buyers to your online shop if you have one set up. According to an article on Medium, building an audience on social media can lead to sales of your sticker designs. [1]

Print-on-demand (POD) websites allow you to upload your designs and have them printed on stickers as orders come in, so you don’t have to worry about printing and shipping stickers yourself. Popular POD sites for stickers include Redbubble, Zazzle and Sticker Mule. These platforms make it easy to get your custom stickers out to customers all over the world.

Setting up your own Etsy shop is a popular option for selling handmade and vintage items, including custom stickers. Etsy provides an established marketplace for art and crafts, and allows you to set up your own online storefront. You can upload your sticker designs, set prices and shipping rates, and manage orders. According to an article on a student news site, some creative entrepreneurs have been able to turn Etsy sticker shops into successful small businesses. [2]

The key is finding ways to share your pixel art sticker designs online, so you can start building an audience of potential customers. With persistence and stellar artwork, you may be able to generate steady sticker sales over time.