Pixelart Inspirations 360: A Look At Current Design Trends

Pixel art refers to digital art created through the use of software, where images are edited on the pixel level. It emerged in the 1980s as graphics technology advanced to enable computer displays and image editing software to render art at the resolution of a single pixel. Early pixel art was associated with 8-bit games, demoscene art, and custom computer graphics.

While pixel art declined in popularity for a time as higher resolution displays became more common, it has seen a resurgence lately. The nostalgia for retro video games and their iconic pixelated aesthetics has driven new interest. Pixel art has also become popular for mobile games and animations, since its simplified style is well-suited for small screens. Additionally, the constraint of working at the pixel level provides a unique creative challenge for artists.

Today pixel art is appreciated as an art form in itself, practiced by hobbyists and professionals alike. New tools like Aseprite have emerged to support pixel art creation. A vibrant online community shares pixel art across sites like Reddit. Pixel art offers endless avenues for experimenting with color palettes, dimensions, and visual storytelling.

Retro Nostalgia

Pixel art has experienced a resurgence in popularity due to its ability to tap into nostalgia for retro video games and pop culture. The pixelated aesthetic immediately transports many people back to the 8-bit and 16-bit eras of gaming in the 1980s and 1990s. According to the Museum of Play, “Some commentators believe nostalgia is propelling the popularity of new pixel art games. Pixel art recaptures the feeling of early video games” (Pixel Art: Nostalgia or Visual Style?). By embracing the pixel art style, contemporary games and art pay homage to classic consoles like the Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy, Super Nintendo, and Sega Genesis.

Beyond video games, pixel art also evokes pop culture from the 80s and 90s more broadly. Pixelated renderings of famous movie characters, retro toys and technology, pixel landscape art, and more allow artists and viewers to reminisce about a beloved cultural era. Whether it’s the blocky characters from classic games like Super Mario Bros. and Tetris or recreations of movie icons like Marty McFly from Back to the Future, pixel art taps into collective nostalgia for the art, entertainment, and technology that defined previous generations.


Minimalism has become a popular trend in pixel art, with artists embracing simplicity and negative space in their designs. As Reddit user u/Kyzrati notes, “Basically find more pixel art and study it to notice what rules to certain elements follow. Try to recreate them and you’ll start finding what works for pixel art minimalism.” (source). The constraints of the pixel art medium drive creativity, as artists must convey complex ideas or emotions with very limited resolution and palette. Pinterest boards like Ben Myres’ showcase stunning examples of minimalist pixel art, often with bold colors and geometric shapes (source). This simplicity can create a retro nostalgic feel, while still feeling fresh and modern. Pixel art minimalism allows artists to focus on core shapes and ideas, stripping away the unnecessary details. This reductionist approach creates accessible and iconic designs that users instantly recognize and understand.


Pixel art has a relatively low barrier to entry compared to other art forms. The simplified nature of pixel art makes it more accessible to beginners. All that is needed to start is a basic graphics editing program like MS Paint, Photoshop, or Piskel. There are many free and low-cost options available.

There are ample pixel art tutorials available online and in books that teach the fundamentals. For example, this Medium article provides a step-by-step introduction to getting started with pixel art.

The limited resolution and color palette of pixel art can help focus learning. Aspiring pixel artists can develop foundational skills like shape, color, and composition more easily than jumping into high-resolution digital art.

Online pixel art communities provide feedback, encouragement, and inspiration for new artists. The accessibility and simplicity of pixel art means beginners have lots of support available as they learn.


Online pixel art communities are vibrant spaces for sharing, appreciating, and learning about pixel art. Sites like lospec.com aggregate many of these communities and provide tools and resources for pixel artists. One of the most popular online pixel art communities is Pixilart. With over 4 million users, Pixilart allows artists to create pixel art and animated GIFs, share their creations, and connect with other pixel art enthusiasts. Social interaction is a big part of these communities. Artists can get feedback on works in progress, find inspiration from others’ artworks, collaborate on projects, and participate in challenges and events.

online communities like reddit and pixilart have connected pixel artists around the world.

Reddit is another platform with several pixel art subreddits like r/PixelArt, r/PixelDailies, and r/PixelArtCrits. These thriving groups share pixel creations, tips, and constructive critiques. Discord servers, Facebook groups, Instagram hashtags, and Twitter threads further enable pixel artists to connect. Overall, online communities let pixel art flourish, evolving the artform through collective learning, support, and inspiration.


Pixel art is commonly used in 2D animation and sprite sheets. Its low resolution makes it easier to create fluid animations compared to high resolution art.[Aseprite – Animated sprite editor & pixel art tool] Because pixel art has a limited color palette and resolution, animators can focus more on the motion and timing rather than getting caught up perfecting intricate details. This allows for rapid iteration and prototyping.

Many retro 8-bit and 16-bit video games utilized pixel art for their sprites and animation. The style gives games a nostalgic and iconic look. Using sprite sheets allows game developers to store all the frames of animation together for efficiency.[Piskel – Free online sprite editor] Even today pixel art remains popular for 2D indie games that want to evoke the feel of classic games.

Pixel art can also be used to create animated GIFs and short videos with a retro flair. There are many online and desktop tools available for animating pixel art, making it easy for anyone to try their hand at pixel animation.


Pixel art has played a major role in the indie and retro gaming scenes. The constrained resolutions and limited color palettes of early gaming systems necessitated a pixel art aesthetic. While modern games have largely moved to more realistic 3D graphics, pixel art remains popular for its nostalgic retro feel. Indie developers in particular utilize pixel art as it allows small teams to create appealing visuals without the need for large budgets or staff. Some of the most beloved pixel art titles include platformers like Fez, Metroidvanias like Owlboy, and roleplaying games like Octopath Traveler. The constrained nature of pixel art can encourage creativity, like using color to convey emotion or carefully placing pixels to suggest shapes and textures. Pixel art evokes gaming nostalgia while allowing developers to create beautiful, expressive games with limited resources.

Art & Design

Pixel art has had a major influence on graphic design, UI/UX, and other visual arts. The constrained nature of working in a low resolution grid pushes pixel artists to carefully choose color palettes and simplify forms and details. This minimalist aesthetic has impacted many modern digital design trends. Many popular indie games utilize a pixel art style, both for nostalgic retro appeal and efficient production. Pixel art is also widely used for icon design, as the format naturally lends itself well to small images. The pixel art community at sites like Pixilart has connected artists around the world, providing inspiration and feedback to create amazing designs. Though originally born out necessity by early computing and gaming limitations, pixel art continues to thrive as an artform because of its unique charms and focus on core design principles.

Tips & Techniques

Pixel art can seem deceptively simple, but creating appealing and polished pixel art requires knowledge of some key tips and techniques. Here are some best practices for creating great pixel art:

Start with a small canvas size. Restricting yourself to a small space forces you to simplify forms and be efficient with pixels. 16×16 or 32×32 are good sizes for beginners. As you gain experience, you can scale up.

Use a limited color palette. The most iconic pixel art uses a palette of 16 colors or less. Limiting your options helps achieve a unified and retro look.

Learn dithering. Dithering refers to using patterns of light and dark pixels to blend colors and create the illusion of shading or textures. Mastering dithering brings pixel art to life.

Outline important shapes. Dark outlines around key forms help them stand out and make the composition readable.

Animate sparingly. Simple animation like blinking eyes or swaying hair can inject personality. But only animate essential elements so as not to distract.

Study real pixel art and borrow ideas. Looking at classic games for inspiration can teach you composition, color, and style.

Practice frequently. Pixel art takes time to master. Dedicate time to honing your skills and learning new techniques.


Pixel art continues to thrive for several reasons. First, it evokes a sense of nostalgia for the pixel art featured in classic video games from past decades. Many gamers feel a strong connection to the pixelated graphics they grew up with. Additionally, pixel art’s constraints drive creativity. With limited resolution, pixel artists must get creative to convey emotion and tell stories. The restricted palette makes every color choice more meaningful. Pixel art also fosters community, as aspiring artists learn techniques from pixel art masters. Sharing feedback and admiring each other’s work brings pixel artists together.

Looking ahead, pixel art will likely expand into new mediums like virtual/augmented reality and 3D. As display technology advances, artists may experiment with ultra high-resolution “pixel” art. AI generative art poses interesting questions about human vs. machine creativity. Still, hand-crafted pixel art will remain popular for its personal touch. Most importantly, pixel art will keep evolving as new generations put their unique spin on this nostalgic artform.