Before we prepare our arsenal we have to ask the question. What is Pixel Art? To put it simply, pixel art is a digital art form that most people use for video games especially in the early days as they were very limited in their color palettes and file capacity. However, nowadays has become its own respected medium that a lot of people actually admire due to its simplicity and nostalgic vibe. Also, it is pretty easy to get into due to its size restriction and how many squares you have to work with making it a go-to style for non-artists.
Full disclaimer I’m also just a beginner and this article will serve as a guide if you’re planning on transitioning or trying pixel art. With all that being said, let’s now talk about the tools that you need. I personally use “Aseprite” because of the straightforward UI and simple commands of the tools in it. But there are other tools that you can use like photoshop or gimp, but you should see your software as an investment making your life easier for the long run if you’re going to take this route seriously so you might as well pick something up that is built for pixel art.
Now, if you already have the necessary tools to make pixel art and have no idea where to begin, you can start with an 8 x 8 or 16 x 16 canvas, as you progress you will be able to do art in 32 x 32 or 64 x 64. But for now, you should stick with 16 x 16 which is the best resolution as you can still apply in a lot of detail at this level without the worry of overwhelming yourself and having too much blank space to work with.
The most important thing you need to understand about pixel art is that every pixel in your art serves a purpose. Working in a small canvass has a limited amount of pixel you can manipulate on your image, so make sure you use every pixel to its full potential making your pixel art distinguishable at glance.
For making structures, you need to create a silhouette of your image first and experiment until you get the image that you desire, then work on adding details and shading afterward. As for the colors, you have a lot of rules that you need to follow, but the only important stuff that you need to know is you’re always going to have a base color that you use to color an image in, then you’ll usually have a shadow of this color in a highlight of this color. If you want to learn more about color palettes, I highly advise checking https://lospec.com/palette-list.
Lastly, if you’re starting out, I highly advise looking at references and see how the best-looking rock, diamond, or robot was made. You should analyze other people’s art and breakdown their work and how they manage to solve a challenge that you are currently working on.
Final thoughts. With consistency and correct practice, you will be able to develop your own art style and you will be comfortable in choosing the correct palettes. The key here is to look for references, watch videos from veteran pixel artists since this is where you will be able to enhance your skills.