Hey! you have 8 minutes? That’s what you need to read the whole thing!
Some weeks ago we released the first part of the pixel art tutorial, leaving animated pixel art to be released someday as a second part. That day has come! Today we are going to make the pixels move and show how to do it using Photoshop.
Before the pixels, there are tools and models
Before painting some pixels, we need some software to work with, and most of the times, a model is needed too. I’m using Photoshop, and this post will focus on how to use it. I’m using it because I feel so comfortable with it, and it offers so many tools to make the process and post-production easier even if is not a software designed especially for pixel art. There are other options like Pickle or Graphics Gale, which are good options as long as you feel ok with them, for example:
About the model, I’ll use as reference the incredible work the guys at Deconstructeam are doing for their “Gods will be watching”. It’s an open secret that I love so much how this game looks and how hard they’ve worked to create a unique atmosphere using tons of little pixels. The result won’t be even near their quality, I’m not that good, but be sure I’ll try my best. Deconstructeam – Gods will be Watching
Gods will be watching
It’s time for drawing and moving pixels arround
Let’s start! For the first steps, anyone can go back to the first part of the pixel art tutorial and find out how to create a basic model without any animations. For this example I’m using a 64 pixels squared canvas, but the canvas size depends on the pixel size needed and the size of the design. Notice that every example I’m showing here has been scaled using the first article process, increasing the image size with the nearest neighbor method. If anyone of you try to follow these steps, you’ll have to increase the zoom to 800% or more to work with the 64 pixels canvas. One of the easiest way to go is to create a basic shape to fix proportions and size of the character. As shown in the first part, a sketch drawn using Photoshop can be used to achieve the pixel over technique and fit a good shape to work with. Once the basic shape is created, I’m only adding some base colors and some lights and shadows to create some volume. In this case the layer support of Photoshop allows having each step in one layer, making each edition and correction much easier.
building pixel art
It’s done, finally we’re going to make some animations!
Yay, the model is done. Now another flash back is needed. Once upon a time I posted something here about animation using Photoshop’s timeline right here. The next step is more or less the same I wrote there, adding a new frame to the timeline for each frame in the animation, lowering the last frame layer to have something as a guide, and the redrawing each pixel again in a new position to create an interpolation. As soon as the model is simple, I’m working over the base layer without details, because is enough to see what I’m doing and adding details is as simple as adding a new layer to each frame. Everyone has to find his workflow; it’s not a mandatory to work like this. Is useful to have a layer with each base color used for the model, because while using the pencil tool in Photoshop, you can press “alt” key and click over any color to switch to it and paint without messing with color pickers to find the color you has been using for the last 30 layers.
pixel art animation process
That’s how it should look at the end.
basic pixel art animation
Adding some pixels as details
Once the base animation is finished, the model needs some details for each frame. That’s as easy as create a layer for each frame over the base layer and painting some lights and shadows as we did in the first step, but now the work is multiplied for every animation frame. Again, having every color needed in the process in an independent layer is quite useful.
adding details to pixel art
And that’s all folks! this is how it looks at the end, a though guy firing to someone or something.
pixel art result
As I said at the begining, I like photoshop so much because I feel confortable working with it, but there are more reasons, like adding some cool efects like the following to a pixelart work with ease.
pixel art post production
The final psd files are available through this link
Want to know more about pixel art or watch more tutorials?, we have more for you:
That’s all for now. Hope to see all of you as soon as possible!