Exploring Pixelart Texture Packs

Pixel art texture packs are collections of bitmap images used to texture 3D models and environments in a retro pixelated style. They allow game developers, 3D artists, and hobbyists to achieve a cohesive retro aesthetic in their 3D scenes and games.

The purpose of pixel art texture packs is to wrap 3D assets with a low resolution, blocky texture that mimics the style of older video games and pixel art. This transforms 3D models into something that looks hand-drawn and evokes nostalgia for retro gaming eras. Pixel art textures help unify a low poly art style and can be used on everything from characters and props to environments and UI elements.

Pixel art textures packs originated in the early days of 3D gaming during the 1990s. Early 3D games embraced pixelated textures as a natural bridge between older 2D pixel art and new realtime 3D technology. Using low resolution textures helped optimize performance on limited hardware. The technique has persisted over time as a popular art style choice, allowing modern games to emulate retro graphics.

Popular PixelArt Styles

Pixel art has seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, with a number of distinct stylistic trends emerging. Some of the most prevalent pixel art styles include:


Lo-fi pixel art embraces a raw, low-resolution aesthetic. With a limited color palette and low frame rates, lo-fi pixel art evokes a nostalgic, old-school videogame vibe. This style became widely used for animated GIFs and sprites in indie games. Examples of lo-fi pixel art can be seen in early Atari and Game Boy games.


The 8-bit art style refers to the 8-bit graphics and sound capabilities of early consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System. With a maximum of 256 colors and low resolution, 8-bit pixel art has a distinctly blocky, chunky look. This style was seen in popular 80s games like Super Mario Bros, The Legend of Zelda, and Tetris.


Emerging in the 90s with the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo, 16-bit pixel art increased the color palette up to 65,536 colors. This allowed for greater detail, more fluid animation, and visually impressive graphics at the time. Populated with vivid colors and fine gradients, 16-bit art was showcase in games like Sonic the Hedgehog, Street Fighter II, and Donkey Kong Country.


The retro and vintage pixel art styles play off nostalgia for the simple yet charming graphics of past eras. With purposefully antiquated technology aesthetics, these styles evoke gaming’s early pioneers. Retro pixel art can be found across media like arcades, music videos, and apparel.

Some common pixel art styles are: 8-bit style (low resolution and limited colors), 16-bit style (higher resolution and more colors), isometric style (3D illusion), and retro/vintage style (nostalgic old school graphics) [1]. The most common styles vary ranging from 8-bit, 16-bit, 32-bit, and to 64-bit digital designs [2].

Sourcing Quality Texture Packs

When it comes to finding quality texture packs for your pixel art projects, there are a few key places to look:

Marketplaces: Sites like itch.io and Steam have vibrant communities of pixel artists selling texture packs. These marketplaces make it easy to browse, search, view previews, read reviews, and purchase packs. The built-in rating systems help surface quality packs.

Individual Artists: Following specific pixel artists on sites like Twitter, DeviantArt, and ArtStation can alert you when they release new texture packs. This allows you to source packs directly from artists you admire.

Communities: Pixel art communities like Reddit’s r/PixelArt subreddit frequently share texture packs. You can discover new packs and see reviews/feedback from fellow artists.

When evaluating packs, look at the completeness of the textures offered. High quality packs will provide comprehensive textures for a theme (e.g. over 50 medieval textures), whereas lower quality packs may only offer a handful of textures.

Also check that the pack has textures fitting your resolution needs. Some packs focus on 128×128 textures, others on 16×16. Make sure the resolution matches your pixel art style.

Finally, pay close attention to licenses and usage rights. Many texture packs allow free personal/commercial use. But some have restrictions, so read the fine print. Using textures without proper rights can lead to legal issues.

Taking the time to properly source high quality, complete texture packs helps elevate your pixel art to the next level.

Texture Resolution Considerations

Resolution simply refers to the number of pixels in a texture. A texture with higher resolution has more pixels and thus more detail, while lower resolution textures have fewer pixels and less detail. The resolution you choose for your pixel art textures will have an impact on the overall style and optimization of your game.

Higher resolution textures allow for more detail and precision in the pixel art. This can create a richer, sharper look. However, higher resolution textures also take up more memory and can impact performance, especially on mobile devices or weaker computers (see Reddit discussion). Lower resolution textures, on the other hand, are optimized and fast loading but can sometimes look blocky or pixelated if scaled up. The ideal texture resolution balances optimization with the level of detail needed to achieve your desired visual style.

For retro or intentionally blocky pixel art styles, lower resolutions like 32×32 or 64×64 are common. More detailed pixel art may benefit from resolutions like 128×128 or 256×256. Photorealistic 3D games will use much higher texture resolutions like 1024×1024 or 2048×2048. Consider the target platform, your chosen art style, and performance requirements when deciding on texture resolution. Sometimes combining low and high resolution textures is an effective optimization strategy as well.

Tools for Working With Texture Packs

When working with pixel art texture packs, it’s important to have the right tools to import, edit, and optimize the textures for your game. Some key file formats used for pixel art textures include PNG, JPEG, GIF, and BMP. PNG is a common choice as it offers lossless compression. JPEGs can also work well for more photographic textures if compression is needed.

Most game engines like Unity and Unreal support importing PNG, JPEG, and other standard image formats. Once imported, you can view and modify materials, shaders, and textures directly in the engine editors. For sprite sheets and tilesets, editing the source files in a pixel art program like Aseprite or Piskel before reimporting is recommended.

For modifying individual textures, pixel art tools offer features like layers, masking, filters, and color adjustment. This level of control is useful for touching up textures or creating variations. Always save uncompressed master copies before exporting compressed versions for import into game engines.

Using the right tools tailored for pixel art can help streamline creating, importing, and customizing texture packs for any art style. Plan how textures will be utilized early on to optimize formats and workflows between tools.

Texturing Tips and Tricks

When working with pixel art textures, there are some key tips and tricks to maximize efficiency and maintain a cohesive artistic style.

One of the most important techniques is maximizing texture reuse. Since pixel art uses a limited resolution, it’s crucial to get the most out of each texture asset. Strategies like creating tileable textures that can repeat seamlessly allow a small number of textures to cover a large area. Using the same texture in clever ways across multiple objects also stretches assets further.

example pixel art texture packs with textures like brick, wood, metal, stone, fabric, terrain, etc

Maintaining consistency in texturing is also vital for a polished pixel art aesthetic. Using similar texture sizes, color palettes, and shading approaches ties the visuals together. Create style guides and templates to ensure assets fit within the established look. Plan out textures that will be used together, like flooring and walls, at the same time for cohesion.

Some advanced texturing techniques like normal maps and displacement maps can also be adapted for pixel art styles. These add shading complexity and the illusion of depth while maintaining the rasterized look. However, special export steps are required compared to standard PBR texturing [1].

With careful planning and smart reuse of textures, pixel art styles can produce beautiful game visuals with surprisingly compact asset packages.

Stylized Texturing vs. Realism

There are pros and cons to both stylized and realistic texturing approaches in games. Stylized texturing tends to feature exaggerated shapes, bright colors, and hand-painted or cartoon textures. This can help create a unique aesthetic and impart more mood and emotion. However, stylized textures may lack realism and immersion for some games (Source). Realistic texturing aims for accuracy, high fidelity, and photorealism using techniques like photogrammetry, physics-based rendering, and high-resolution photos. This can greatly enhance immersion in realistic games, but takes more work and can look out of place in a stylized world.

Stylized texturing excels in games with fantasy, sci-fi, or lighthearted themes where realism is not the main priority. It also works well for indie games on a budget. Realistic texturing shines when accuracy and next-gen graphics are key, like AAA shooters or simulators. However, many games blend both approaches. Stylized textures with exaggerated shapes and colors can be combined with detailed normal, specular, and roughness maps for added realism (Source). This hybrid texturing allows artists to achieve a unique and cohesive style with elements of realism only where needed.

Optimizing and Performance

When working with pixel art textures, it’s important to optimize them for performance to avoid slowdowns and lag, especially on mobile devices. There are a few key techniques to focus on:

Reducing Draw Calls and Batching – Minimize draw calls by combining multiple small textures into texture atlases. This allows them to be rendered in a single batched draw call rather than many small individual ones. Tools like TexturePacker can help automate this process.

Compression Formats – Use compressed texture formats like ETC2 or PVRTC for OpenGL ES/Vulkan, or ASTC for Vulkan/DirectX. These formats significantly reduce the texture size and memory bandwidth needed while maintaining visual quality. Test different formats to find the optimal balance.

Testing on Target Platforms – Continuously test performance on actual target devices, not just in the editor. Profile GPU usage, draw calls, and frame times to catch any optimization opportunities. Tweak texture sizes and compression formats iteratively based on real-world testing data.

With careful texture optimization and batching, pixel art games can achieve smooth 60fps performance even on mobile. Test often, use profilers, and aim for the minimum viable texture sizes and draw calls.

Artistic Principles for PixelArt Textures

When creating pixel art textures, adhering to strong artistic principles is key for creating a cohesive and visually appealing style. Here are some of the most important principles to keep in mind:

Color Palettes – Choosing a limited color palette is crucial for pixel art to maintain a unified look. Stick to a palette of 5-15 colors maximum. Ensure there is enough contrast between colors while keeping the palette cohesive.

Contrast – Strategic use of contrast draws the viewer’s eye and creates focal points. Use contrast sparingly to highlight key elements. Keep large surfaces low in contrast.

Style Cohesion – All elements should feel cohesive, from textures to characters to environment assets. Maintain consistency in the color palette, level of detail, texture style, etc.

Guiding the Eye – Use color, contrast, and detail strategically to guide the viewer’s eye through the composition. Lead the eye toward focal points and areas of interest. Let less important areas recede.


In this exploration of pixel art texture packs, we’ve covered a range of important topics for creating stylized pixel art textures. From examining popular pixel art styles and where to source quality texture packs, to texture resolution considerations and tools for working with textures, this guide aimed to provide pixel artists with helpful tips, tricks and insights.

Looking ahead, we can expect to see continued innovation in pixel art texturing. As new tools and techniques emerge, artists will be able to create increasingly complex and detailed pixel art textures. AI-generated textures may play a role, allowing pixel artists to quickly generate textures as a starting point. Stylized texturing will likely move beyond the retro 8-bit and 16-bit eras into new stylistic territory. The vibrant pixel art community will continue driving progress through their creativity, collaboration and commitment to the craft.

Pixel art textures enable us to transform digital worlds into beautiful works of art. By mastering texturing techniques and understanding artistic principles, pixel artists can bring their unique visions to life. The future looks bright for this specialized art form that turns simple pixels into stunning visual feasts.