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!