Pixel art & Character design

For the virtual pet assignment we’ll start from the design and animation of a character in 32×32 pixels.
Pixel art is not just drawing in low resolution or in the style of 80s videogames, it has his own processes and techniques. Let’s see some non-retro examples:






Curated graphics

PixelJoing sharing community

Pinterest curated list

Way of the pixel message board for in-depth feedback

Character design

Realistic, Iconic or Abstract?

Cute characterization seems to appeal to people across generations and cultures


The expectations that come along with cuteness can be subverted People like to look at cute things, but your expressive goals may be different. The original characters in Unmanned were a bit cuter

Distinctive features
Some of the best character design in contemporary games is iconic. Originally Mario’s distinctive big nose and mustache was a low-res necessity.

This is crucial for all characters in animation and games, if your character can be effectively rendered in a few pixel, that's a good design. This is crucial for all characters in animation and games, if your character can be effectively recognized in a few pixel, that’s a good design.

In short animations, characters may have specific built-in affordances. They are designed to perform certain actions:

This happens more frequently in videogames, where characters are defined by what they can do and the actions they perform are limited.

When designing cartoonish, memorable characters it’s easy to recur to stereotypes and cultural markers.
Game designers often need to communicate threats, goals and roles without going through narrative character establishments. To do so they often recur to problematic strategies such as stereotypes and stock characters: zombies, princesses in distress etc..
Let’s be thoughtful about that.

Modern day Native American wearing feathers… Magic-Yoga-practicing, skull-wearing Indian… traditional-but-sexyfied chinese dress… evil Russian brute… Princess Peach fights enemies by using her mood swings

Ms. Male Character

Pixel Art




These principles can be applied to pixel art as well


Animation Smears

Don’t reinvent the wheel
See how successful animations are made and literally copy them.
Walking loop tutorial

Don’t animate in full detail frame by frame!

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