Pixel art, the forgotten art

Joseph explains the history of pixel art and shares some of his artworks.

Joseph Caddick
9th April 2022
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons, Joseph Caddick
When people think of art, they often think of drawing, paintings, sculptures and things of that nature. One form of art is often overlooked, and that is pixel art.

In the early days of computers, less powerful hardware meant that only simple images could be displayed at any given time in Video games. Pong was one of the earliest video games and used a very small number of pixels to emulate a tennis match. As consoles increased in power, they were able to increase their visual complexity, with consoles like the Sega Mega Drive and Game Boy Advance taking pixel art as we knew it to the next level.

Joseph's own sprite, images credit: Joseph Caddick

Pixel art in many ways resembles mosaics; small blocks of colour being combined to form a recognisable image or pattern, which pixel artists refer to as sprites. And there are so many different styles; whereas something like Super Mario World is very cartoony, Street Fighter opts for a more realistic look. In that respect, it parallels the different artistic movements seen in other mediums.

Similarly to how people relax by drawing or painting, one of the ways I relax is by making sprites of characters from the games that I enjoy by turning their official artwork into sprites. At first, my attempts were absolutely atrocious, I made every rookie error you could imagine. It didn’t help that I was around 10 when I started out. I’ve been doing this for over a decade now and have been able to learn from a lot of people. Outside of cartoony doodles, I can’t do any other type of art, so this has been a great way to build some artistic skills over the years.

Joseph's own sprite

Because it’s a hobby that developed in the digital age, there is an abundance of resources for people just starting out for a lot of the different styles that are out there. It’s very accessible. There are thriving internet communities for anyone interested in pixel art, like Discord servers and forums. When you’re stuck, people can be very helpful, and it’s so satisfying to look at your finished creation.

Although it is often forgotten about, I definitely believe that pixel art is up there with the other forms of art. If you’ve tried art classes and felt that they weren’t for you, maybe give pixel art a shot - you could surprise yourself.

Artwork from The Pokémon Company that Joseph made into a sprite
Artwork from Nintendo that Joseph sprited
Artwork from Toei Animation that Joseph sprited

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