Creating the Pixel Art

Creating the Pixel Art

Apr 11 jimmyvosler  

If you were to ask a three different pixel artists what tools they use to create their art, there is a good chance you’ll get three different answers. One artist may say photoshop with some special add-ons. Another could say Spriter, or Piskel, or some combination of tools. There are many ways to pixel a cat, as they say. This post I’ll focus on PiskelApp and highlight a few things I personally like about it.

While I enjoy using Photoshop to do complex sprite sheets that require me to mess with specific angles, resolutions, and layering, I also enjoy the simplicity offered by PiskelApp. Piskelapp is an open source pixel art tool created by Julian Descottes. It’s been around for a few years and seems to have built quite a following. I’ve highlighted a few key features that I personally enjoy taking advantage of while I sketch in Piskel below.

Piskel Offers several great features. For me personally, having the robust export functionalities available along with public gallery is fantastic for quick sketches to share with team members.

One of my favorite features about Piskelapp is the ability to view your pixel art frame by frame. You can duplicate frames to make it easier to animate your art.

 The vertical mirror pen tool  provides a way for you to sketch one side of the piece without having to worry about duplicating the other side. This becomes incredibly useful for pieces where symmetry is critical (e.g. Baskets, Pots, Potions, and even Characters).

 The palettes section of the tool is useful when you need to create a palette to reference throughout several pieces of artwork. As a forgetful artist, I often times don’t remember what colors I used on a previous piece. The palettes section automatically tracks every color you’ve used throughout each frame.

When you’re all done creating your pixel masterpiece and you’re ready to export, Piskel offers several options. You can export a gif version, or create a png spritesheet. If your work is a large file, you can also Zip the content for download. The scaling option has become incredibly useful for me. Since I develop in Unity, scaling the art to a larger resolution has become a consistent requirement. Piskel offers a way to easily scale on a slider. You can take advantage of this to scale your art and not have to worry about manually scaling and breaking the power of two rule. The power of two scales being being 2,4,8,16,32,64,128,256,512,1024…but we can take about that rule another time, as it warrants it’s own discussion.

Whether you’re creating pixel art for a game, or just for fun, I highly recommend PiskelApp.

Leave a comment below and share your opinion on your favorite pixel art tools. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

About jimmyvosler

I've been involved in various technology roles over the past 10 years. I've also been making games part time for almost 5 years. My main focus is Unity development and providing developer tools to help others create their games.


  • Apr 14, 2017 @ 0:41 am

    I spend most of my time dungeon crawling in 3D MMORPGs but I really liked your 2D dev kit! I could really see myself immersed in it for a long time! Great job!

    • Apr 14, 2017 @ 0:48 am

      Thanks Kazuto! I’m glad to hear that. We are working hard continuing to make it better and are open to any feedback you have. Also if you decide to create a game with the kit, we love to see people’s creations if you’re willing to share!

  • Andrew
    May 11, 2017 @ 15:23 pm

    Excellent blog post! Love the 2d Dev kit! Any updates on the Pro version?

    • May 12, 2017 @ 0:33 am

      Hey Andrew,

      Pro kit is most likely going to be released this Fall. I spoke with Joey recently about releasing more updates, blog posts, and examples of what we are building out so we can get feedback early on from everyone. Check back on the site every once in a while for updates and we’ll do our best to post more content and a more in depth release schedule.

      One thing we are debating is do we release early with less features and release updates, or later with more features available on the onset. Any feedback you have in this regard is appreciated.



      • Dani
        May 13, 2017 @ 9:57 am

        I would welcome it if you release early with less features and add regular updates later on.
        I bought the Starter Kit and reached the limits what i can do with it. To continue building my game i heavily rely on new features from your awesome programming skills 😉 and i think there are more people in the same situation as i am.

        Also it can motivate you to keep working on the kit when it already generates sales. And you probably will get more and better feedback from the community.

      • Andrew
        May 13, 2017 @ 17:07 pm

        Thx for replying JV

        I love this template. I’ve been playing around with it lately after taking a break from Unity (frigging real life) and finally getting a better handle on how it works. I had some pretty lengthy emails with Joey when I first purchased it and I love how dedicated you guys are. I am very much looking forward to what you guys come up with. Please do post more! even little teasers.

        • Jimmy
          May 13, 2017 @ 19:11 pm

          Sure thing. I’m actually game planning some little teasers / blog posts with Joey today! 🙂

          • Andrew
            May 14, 2017 @ 1:10 am

            Thanks again for replying Jimmy!

            Tell Joey i”m preparing a big email for him!

  • Andrew
    May 15, 2017 @ 11:51 am

    Send the email Sat! Looking forward to your reply


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