Exploring Pixelart Animation Tutorials Online

Pixel art has become an iconic staple of video games and digital art over the past few decades. Though its origins trace back to the limited graphical capabilities of early computing and gaming hardware, pixel art has evolved into an artform all its own. The constrained pixel grid and low-resolution palette create a distinct aesthetic that many artists continue to embrace.

Creating animated pixel art requires patience, planning, and pixel-by-pixel effort to simulate movement frame-by-frame. The specialized process has led to a niche community of pixel art tutorials and guides online. While less prevalent than tutorials for other art forms, focused pixel art animation tutorials remain popular within retro gaming circles and indie developer forums, providing aspiring artists with the tips and tricks to master this unique craft.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of online pixel art animation tutorials, looking at recommended starting points for beginners, techniques and topics covered by experts, notable pixel artists leading the way, and resources for those ready to dive deeper into animating pixel art for games, animations, and beyond.

Basics of Pixel Art

Pixel art refers to digital art created at the pixel level, where each pixel represents an individual building block of the image. According to Wikipedia, pixel art is defined as “a form of digital art, created through the use of software, where images are edited on the pixel level.” Pixels are arranged to create recognizable shapes, characters, and scenes using limited colors and resolution.

The key characteristics of pixel art include:

  • Low resolution, usually with a retro, pixelated look
  • Limited color palettes, often 8-bit or 16-bit
  • Challenging detail work within a small resolution

Common pixel art styles include sprite art used in early video games, isometric pixel art with a tilt-shift perspective, and dot art built with small, individual pixels. Pixel art can mimic styles like impressionism and pointillism using pixels instead of brush strokes.

Pixel artists utilize techniques like anti-aliasing, dithering, and interpolation to add visual interest and the illusion of additional colors within a limited palette. Mastering shading and highlight placement is also key for depicting form.

Making Animated Pixel Art

Creating animated pixel art requires carefully planning out and constructing each frame of animation. Some key steps in the process include:

First, create a storyboard to map out the overall animation sequence and key frames. This helps visualize the animation before getting into details.

Design the character sprites and elements that will be animated. Pixel art characters and props are made up of limited pixels, so simplicity is key.

Construct the individual frames of animation one by one. Make incremental changes between each frame to create the illusion of smooth movement. Keep frames consistent by working on a fixed canvas size.

Some commonly used tools for animated pixel art include Aseprite, Piskel, Pro Motion, and Photoshop. These provide specialized features like onion skinning, layers, and timeline management.

To create smooth animations on a small budget of frames, focus the animation on key poses, limit secondary movements, and maximize the impact of each frame change. Reuse elements like smoke or dust particles to inject liveliness.

Test the animation playback to fine tune the timing and flow. Export as a sprite sheet or animated gif when complete.

Finding Pixel Art Tutorials

For beginners first getting started with pixel art animation, knowing where to find high-quality tutorials can be challenging. The internet is full of both amateur and professional tutorials of varying depth and production quality. Here’s an overview of some of the most popular places online to find pixel art animation tutorials:

YouTube is a great source of free video tutorials from dedicated pixel artists. Channels like Pixel Pete and MortMort offer beginner to advanced pixel art animation lessons and speed art videos. While quality can vary, looking for channels with high view counts and positive ratings is a good start.

Specialized blogs and websites like Lospec curate high-quality text and image-based pixel art tutorials. Their animation section covers walk cycles, frame-by-frame techniques, and more. These websites often organize tutorials by difficulty level, software used, and other topics so it’s easy to find what you’re looking for.

Forums like Reddit’s r/PixelArt have dedicated communities where users share tutorials and resources. Their wiki offers animation-specific guides. While quality varies with user-generated content, this can be a good source of feedback and discussion with fellow learners.

When evaluating any pixel art animation tutorial, it’s important to look for ones that provide context and explanation, not just instructions. High-quality tutorials will teach the principles behind techniques so you can apply skills to your own art versus just mimic a process. Understanding why certain practices work is key for animation mastery.

Key Tutorial Topics

There are many common themes and subjects covered in pixel art animation tutorials. Some of the most popular topics include:

  • Character animation – Tutorials on animating characters and people are very common, covering walk cycles, idle animations, attacks, etc. These allow artists to breathe life into their pixel art characters.
  • Backgrounds – Creating animated backgrounds like parallax scrollers, water, weather effects, and more.
  • Visual effects – Such as smoke, fire, explosions, magic spells, etc. These add excitement and interest to animations.

For beginners, character animation and background tutorials tend to be the most useful starting points. Learning to make a character walk or idle realistically, or creating a living world for them to inhabit, are foundational skills for pixel art animation. The Lospec pixel art animation tutorial database covers all of these topics and more in-depth.

Notable Pixel Artists

Pixel art has seen a revival in recent years, with many modern artists carrying on the craft and pixel art making its way into popular video games and animations. Some artists that have made a significant impact in pixel art animation include:

Paul Robertson is a renowned pixel artist known for his work on games like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Mercenary Kings, as well as animations like Pirate Baby’s Cabana Battle Street Fight 2006 and Kings of Power 4 Billion%. His animations display smooth movements and exciting action sequences through limited pixel art animation.

Thomas Feichtmeir, also known as Cyangmou, creates beautiful pixel art with a painted, naturalist style. Cyangmou contributed to indie games like Nuclear Throne and Hyper Light Drifter. Their animations have an organic, hand-crafted look while maintaining the constraints of pixel art.

Alberto Velez, aka AlbertoV, produces animations and sprites using deliberate color palettes and shading to achieve a three-dimensional illusion. Their site Pixel Joint highlights some of their best animated pixel art like Flyby Shooting and Street Fighter vs. Darkstalkers.

These artists demonstrate that dynamic, stylized animation is possible even when working within the limits of pixel art. Their innovations continue to influence new generations of pixel artists and developers.

Pixel Art in Games

Pixel art has a long history of being used in video games, dating back to the early days of gaming. As one of the earliest digital art styles, it was the only viable option for depicting visuals in games on platforms with very limited processing power and memory like the Atari 2600 and Nintendo Game Boy. With the rise of 3D graphics and greater processing power in the 1990s, pixel art usage declined. However, in recent years pixel art has made a major comeback thanks to indie game developers.

Many popular indie games are designed using a pixel art aesthetic, including hits like Stardew Valley (2016), Undertale (2015), and Terraria (2011). According to an article on Wired, “Over the past decade, pixel art has experienced a renaissance thanks to the popularity of indie-developed games like Celeste and Eastward” (https://www.wired.com/story/modern-pixel-art-games/).

There are many benefits to using pixel art in games, especially for indie developers with limited budgets. The retro pixel aesthetic is often seen as charming and can elicit nostalgia. Pixel art is also easier and faster to produce than high-resolution 3D assets. The limited color palettes and blocky style allow artists and animators to convey intricate detail, emotion, and fluid movement in a simplified form. Overall, pixel art can lend a unique style and personality to games that might not be achievable with more realistic graphics.

Expanding Skills

Once you have mastered the basics of pixel art and animation, you may want to expand your skills by learning more advanced techniques. This can help take your pixel art to the next level. Advanced pixel art tutorial topics allow you to go beyond the basics and tackle more complex animations and effects.

Some key advanced skills to learn include:

  • 3D pixel art – Adding depth and perspective
  • Lighting and shading – Creating realistic or stylized lighting
  • Textures – Making surfaces look realistic
  • Long-form animation – Creating story-based animations with multiple scenes

By mastering advanced pixel art skills, you can create stunning game art, animations, and more. Highly skilled pixel artists are in demand, so expanding your knowledge can open up professional opportunities. Dedicated practice and studying advanced tutorials will level up your pixel art abilities over time.

Community and Resources

Pixel art has a thriving online community full of talented artists who are passionate about the craft. Here are some of the main places pixel artists gather to connect, get feedback, share their work, and collaborate:

Online forums like Pixel Joint and Pixelation allow artists to share works in progress, get critiques, enter contests, and chat about techniques. These tight-knit communities are welcoming to pixel art newcomers.

Social media groups on platforms like Facebook and Discord give pixel artists a casual space to share their latest creations, ask questions, and find collaborators. The Pixel Art Discord has over 15,000 members actively discussing pixel art daily.

Events like JSConf’s Pixel Art Code Jam bring artists together to create pixel art collaboratively during a set timeframe. The communal spirit pushes participants to experiment and learn from each other.

Helpful learning resources for pixel art include books like Pixel Logic by Ivan Sucic and tools like Aseprite. But the most valuable resources are often found within the pixel art community itself, where artists share techniques and helpful feedback freely.


In summary, pixel art animation tutorials are an invaluable resource for learning the technical skills and creative techniques needed to produce captivating animated pixel art. With patience and practice using the methods shown in quality online tutorials, anyone can unlock their potential for making fluid animations with a retro pixel aesthetic.

The charm of pixel art comes from simplicity and constraints, but that doesn’t mean creative expression is limited. On the contrary, embracing the available colors, dimensions, and tools allows artists to focus their visions. Online tutorials pass down this mindset and equip animators with the fundamentals to tell any story or evoke any mood frame-by-frame.

For those intrigued by the nostalgic pixel aesthetic, now is an ideal time to try your hand at pixel art animation. An abundance of insightful tutorials make the learning process smooth and rewarding. Start simple, be patient with yourself, and let your imagination guide you into this colorful retro world one pixel at a time.