Pixel art: 37 great examples

Featuring everything from complex city scenes to simple character designs, these intricate illustrations were created one pixel at a time.

Pixel art is a type of digital art where artists specify the location of individual pixels, which are built up to create intricate scenes, game backgrounds, characters, and 3D effects – all with a limited colour pallet. Think about those 8-bit graphics first seen with the release of gaming consoles in the early '80s and you'll know what we mean.

Developing this artwork doesn't require expensive photo editing software and a load of other fancy equipment, just a lot of time. Here are 37 top examples of pixel art from some seriously talented, not to mention patient, artists...

01. Diego Sanches

The world's greatest ever minds get handy in Science Kombat

Diego Sanches is a Brazilian illustrator based in São Paulo, who has a great sideline in pixel art. We particularly love the animations he created for Science Kombat, a browser-based beat-em-up game for Superinteressante magazine. 

It features eight playable scientists, including Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie and Sir Isaac Newton, each with their own basic and special attacks, plus a final boss: The Divinity, able to take the form of various gods.

02. Pixel Jeff

"I've got a bad feeling about this."

Based in Taipei, Taiwan, Pixel Jeff has been making pixel art since 2013, usually creating work inspired by movies, video games and animation. His Tumblr page is a treasure trove of animated pixel joy; we were drawn there by his reinterpretation of Disney's Moana as a video game, but it's his take on Star Wars: Rogue One that really grabbed our attention.

03. Ivan Dixon

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Can you spot your favourite Bowie look in this pixel art tribute?

Following the sad news of David Bowie's passing on January 10th, illustrator and gif-extraordinaire Ivan Dixon paid tribute in the only way he knew how. Featuring a range of Bowie's iconic styles, the homage is a wonderful pixel art look at why he was so influential.

04. Gustavo Viselner

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Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope gets a pixel art makeover

It might have been released over a month ago but Star Wars fever is still rife among fans. Graphic designers and illustrators galore have been inspired by the new story, with some harking back to the old favourites – like this pixel art tribute by Gustavo Viselner. The artist has also created pixel art for Back to the Future, Aliens, Lord of the Rings and more.

05. Ben Porter

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One of Porter's most recent pixel art creations

Ben Porter loves pixel art so much that last year, he embarked on a 365 day challenge, producing pixel art every day for a year. He also launched Pixel Dailies, a twitter account which shares daily pixel art inspiration and new creations by the man himself.

06. Marty Guerero

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A look into Guerero's latest game design

A game developer and pixel artist, Marty Guerero produces some really incredible pieces. This pixel art is a snapshot into Guerero's latest game design, with the artist also produces homages to Mario and a range of Studio Ghibli characters.

07. William Alexander

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Some pixel fan art to feast your eyes upon

"Sometimes, I get really hyped about something, and I need to express it. Usually this involves just talking about it or reading more into it. Sometimes I do fanart! I was really hyped for the Witcher 3 earlier this year, and was listening to a lot of synthwave. That inspired this artwork," explains Ohio artist William Alexander.

08. Tom Schreiter

We can't help but love this pixel art interpretation of the 80's American musical class The Blues Brothers by Tom Schreiter. Pixelling since 1995, and doing so on a daily basis ever since, he's got a ton of brilliant pixel artwork under his belt – but this definitely one of our favourites.

09. Aled Lewis

Simon Pegg and Nick Frost star as 16-bit game sprites in this brilliant piece by Aled Lewis

Hot Fuzz meets Japanese arcade game Final Fight in this epic pixel artwork by designer and illustrator Aled Lewis. This piece forms part of an awe-inspiring portfolio, most of which has been influenced and inspired by his main passions in life; games, comics, film and television.

10. Pixellent

We love this unique Polaroid by Pixellent

You don't often see pixel art go vintage, which is one of the main reasons we like this 'Don't forget to fix your Polariods' piece so much. Created by the artist known as Pixellent, this piece has been executed beautifully, the design featuring gorgeous, detailed pixel art, framed and styled to look like an old Polariod shot.

11. José Eduardo Contreras Moral

"I am your father" - pixel-art style

We've seen many artistic tributes to Darth Vader over the years here on CB, but we particularly like this cool pixel art version by illustrator and pixel artist José Eduardo Contreras Moral. Despite being stripped back to basics, Moral's design of the dark lord still looks incredibly menacing.

12. Nasc

"Make pixel, not war," says Nasc

This brilliant 'Make pixel, not war' piece was developed by the artist known as Nasc. A developer specializing in Flash development, Nasc creates pixel art in his spare time. A minimal, yet expressive and powerful piece, this artwork. Expressive and powerful. This artwork is reminiscent of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

13. Wanella

Wanella produces wonderful pixel-based visual landscapes with fantasy possibilities

Wanella produces these wonderful pixel based visual landscapes with fantasy possibilities. Her love for pixels is evident and original. Adding movement to her work with these vast examples of moving pixel worlds is a great example of how a combination of colour, squares and movement can be combined to great an original dynamic world.

 Next page: 12 more stunning pieces of pixel art