Trendy Pixelart Styles: Inspirations For Creative Artistry

Pixel art refers to digital artwork created through the use of raster graphics software, where images are edited on the pixel level. Unlike vector graphics, pixel art relies on pixels as the fundamental elements that come together to form the completed image.

The origins of pixel art can be traced back to the 1970s and 1980s, when home computers and game consoles first gained the ability to display graphics. Early game developers worked within the limitations of low-resolution and low-color displays to create the visuals for games. This spawned the signature 8-bit pixel aesthetic that is now strongly associated with retro gaming [1].

Today, pixel art continues to be popular and is created in a wide variety of styles. Some emulate the limited color palettes and resolutions of retro games. Others utilize more modern techniques like anti-aliasing and gradients while remaining distinctly pixelated. The field has expanded beyond games into all kinds of digital art and animations.

Retro and 8-bit

Retro and 8-bit pixel art is inspired by old video games from the 1970s to 1990s. This style emulates the limited color palettes and blocky, low-resolution graphics of early consoles like the Atari 2600, Nintendo Entertainment System, and Game Boy.

Artists working in a retro pixel style intentionally limit their color options to recreate the distinct look of these classic games. The restricted color palette often consists of just 4-16 colors in shades like neon greens, deep blues, and bright yellows. Vibrant primary colors and high color contrast help pixel art pop even at low resolutions.

The blocky 8-bit aesthetic comes from the technical constraints of early gaming hardware, which could only display chunky rectangular pixels. Modern pixel artists embrace the chunky squares and low fidelity as an intentional artistic choice. The retro look triggers nostalgia for the simple games of the past.

Famous examples of retro pixel art style games include Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, Mega Man 2, and Tetris. Contemporary pixel artists are still inspired by the 8-bit era over 30 years later.

Flat Design

Flat design pixel art is characterized by minimalist, geometric shapes, bold colors, and clean lines to create a simple, two-dimensional look. This style became popular in the early 2010s with the emergence of flat design in digital interfaces. It moved away from the skeuomorphism of earlier digital design to embrace bold, blocky aesthetics.

In flat design pixel art, artists use simple polygons, squares, circles, and rectangles to construct images and designs. This gives the work a bold, graphic look reminiscent of print media. Shapes are usually filled with bright, solid colors with limited shading or textures. This reduces visual noise and focuses attention on the crisp lines and blocks of color.

Artists like using flat design pixel art for its retro videogame aesthetics. The limited color palettes and blocky shapes are reminiscent of 8-bit and 16-bit games. But it has a refined minimalism compared to true retro pixel art. The simplified geometric forms create a clean, contemporary vector-style look.

Flat design pixel art is popular for mobile game art, graphic design elements, logos, and more. Its bold simplicity makes it readable at small resolutions while retaining a stylish modern look. It’s a versatile style that adapts well to a range of digital media.

Pop Art

Pop art pixel art is characterized by vivid, psychedelic colors inspired by the pop art movement of the 1960s. Pop artists like Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein used bright colors and commercial printing techniques to depict popular culture in their artwork. This translated well to pixel art, which also utilized limited color palettes to create stylized illustrations of celebrities, products, comics, and other elements of pop culture.

Like traditional pop art, pop art pixel art features bold colors, thick black outlines, and collage-like compositions. The low-resolution nature of pixel art gives pop art pieces a distinctly digital, video game aesthetic. But the pop art style is still immediately recognizable. Pop art pixel artists simplify real-world subjects down to basic shapes and solid fields of color in order to recreate them on a pixel grid. This reductionist approach combines perfectly with the high contrast and graphic commercial style of pop art.

Some examples of pop art in pixel art include the recreation of famous Warhol pieces like the Marilyn Monroe or Campbell’s Soup Cans paintings. Pixel artists also frequently make pop art inspired fan art of pop culture figures like Spiderman, Sailor Moon, and more. Overall, the combination of limited resolution and a bright, graphic pop art aesthetic makes for eye-catching pixel art compositions.


Low Poly

Low poly refers to a three-dimensional pixel art style that uses geometric polygons and flat planes to create a blocky, angular aesthetic (Sketchfab, 2022). The style is characterized by polygonal textures, triangle-heavy meshes, and simplified 3D models with sharp edges and minimal details.

Low poly emerged in the 1990s due to technical constraints but has since evolved into an artistic and stylistic choice. It evokes a sense of nostalgia for retro video games while still feeling clean and modern. Low poly art can range from static 3D models to complex animated scenes.

Pixel artists utilize low poly techniques to create striking geometric landscapes, characters, objects, and more. Triangle meshes can be arranged to convey form and detail in an impressionistic manner. Color palettes tend to be vibrant yet muted to match the blocky surfaces.

Low poly pixel art provides stimulating visual textures that are endlessly zoomable andfaceted. The angular, crystalline style also allows light to reflect dynamically off the multi-sided polygon surfaces. This creates depth and dimension while still maintaining a distinctively flat and pixelated look.


Isometric pixel art creates a 3D look by using an angled viewpoint to give the illusion of depth and perspective. This technique is based on an isometric grid where the horizontal and vertical axes are set at a 120 degree angle. By following the grid, artists can create pixel shapes and designs that appear to have a 3D form1.

The angled isometric viewpoint allows pixel artists to add convincing depth and dimension to their work. Objects rendered in isometric pixel art can take on qualities like shadows and highlights that make them feel more realistic. The grid-based methodology also enables symmetrical and orderly designs. By incorporating shapes like cubes, cylinders and spheres, artists can construct intricate isometric worlds and environments.

Mastering isometric pixel art takes practice and patience, but allows for incredibly diverse creative expressions. From landscapes to architecture to abstract art, the isometric perspective opens up new possibilities for pixel artistry2.


Dithering is a technique used in pixel art to blend colors and create the illusion of additional shades by using dot patterns. It allows pixel artists to add gradients, textures, and depth without actually increasing the color palette (source: Dithering works by interspersing pixels of different colors to simulate a third color that is not actually present.

For example, alternating pixels of black and white can create the appearance of gray. More complex dot patterns produce smoother blends and gradients. Common dithering patterns include the checkerboard pattern and Bayer matrix pattern. The density and arrangement of the dots creates various effects like gradients, diagonal lines, circles, etc. (source:

Dithering adds detail and visual interest without increasing the number of colors. It’s an essential technique for achieving depth and dimension while working within the constraints of a limited color palette. Pixel artists use dithering to create textures like grass, brick, and fabric that would be difficult to portray otherwise.


Pixel art animation brings static sprites and characters to life through movement and expression. Animators carefully craft short loops and subtle motion to create living, breathing pixel artworks.

Moving game sprites and characters is one major application of animated pixel art. Artists design smooth walk cycles, attacks, jumps, and more to give motion to heroes and villains. The limitations of low resolution pixel art can make this animation work challenging. But talented animators use techniques like smearing, swapping, and nudging to achieve fluid motion despite the constraints.

Short looping animations are another popular pixel art animation form. These hypnotic loops can showcase anything from abstract shapes to weather patterns to animals. By keeping the loop short and seamless, it creates a pleasing repetitive motion.

Cinemagraph-style subtle motion also brings pixel art to life. For example, blinking eyes on a portrait or swaying leaves on a tree. This gentle motion adds dynamism without distracting from the overall composition.

With the right tools and techniques, animators can transform pixel art from static to animated. Breathing life into game characters or creating captivating loops allows artists to expand their pixel art skills into the fourth dimension.

Pixel Art Tools

When creating pixel art digitally, the software and tools you use can make a big difference. Here are some of the most recommended programs and apps for making pixel art:

Adobe Photoshop ( is one of the most popular choices thanks to its advanced editing capabilities. While not designed solely for pixel art, it provides control over index colors and pixel dimensions.

Aseprite ( is a dedicated pixel art program with specialized tools like palette management, layers, and onion skinning to aid with animation.

When making pixel art, set your canvas to the exact pixel dimensions you need, and use indexed color. Turn off anti-aliasing so edges appear sharp. Use layers to separate components, and the pencil or line tool to draw single pixel width lines. Onion skinning allows you to see previous frames while animating. Start with simple geometric shapes and low color counts until you get the hang of pixel-level precision.

With the right tools and practice, you can bring your pixel art visions to life!

Inspiring Pixel Artists

Pixel art has exploded in popularity over the past decade thanks to talented artists who have pushed the medium into new and exciting directions. Here are some of the most inspiring pixel artists to follow for creative ideas and jaw-dropping artwork.

Michał “Michafrar” Frąckowiak

Michał Frąckowiak, who goes by Michafrar online, is a Polish pixel artist known for his vibrant, dreamlike creations. His pieces often feature surreal landscapes or imaginative characters rendered in a distinctively soft pixel style. Michafrar has published multiple books of his work, including The Art of PixelArt and PixelArt 2, and sells tutorials on platforms like Gumroad. His soothing animated scenes can be found on Twitter and Instagram.

Grace “Neoriceisgood” Li

Grace Li, better known as Neoriceisgood, is a Canadian pixel artist admired for her cute and energetic art style. She brings charming characters to life through brilliantly bold colors and expressive pixel techniques. Neoriceisgood’s work has been featured in books like Pixel Logic and Pixel Art Vol. 2. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for her latest vibrant creations.

Pedro “Pixelshuh” Medeiros

Brazilian artist Pedro Medeiros, or Pixelshuh online, is renowned for replicating retro pixel art styles from consoles like the SNES. His pieces capture the nostalgic magic of classic games with limited color palettes and meticulous attention to detail. Medeiros frequently posts Nintendo-inspired pixel art on his Twitter and Instagram accounts, along with behind-the-scenes looks at his artistic process. He also sells excellent pixel art tutorials on Gumroad.