Pixel art: 30 great examples

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, character designs and 3D art – all with a limited colour palette. Think those 8-bit graphics first seen with the release of gaming consoles in the early '80s.

Developing this artwork doesn't require expensive photo editing software and lots of fancy equipment, just a lot of time. Here are 30 top examples of pixel art from some seriously talented, not to mention patient, artists...

01. JaeBum Joo

Street Fashion Fighter mixes celeb couture with arcade man-punching

Street Fashion Fighter mixes celeb couture with arcade man-punching

South Korean designer JaeBum Joo caught our attention with a splendid take on classic arcade game, Street Fighter 2, in which he kitted out the game's characters in the achingly hip threads of modern celebrities; check out Street Fashion Fighter to see the full results.

However it's his contribution to a Korean campaign for Nike that really got our pulses racing; a six-second animated segment depicting an imaginary arcade basketball game; we'd love to play it for real.

02. Nevan Doyle

Nevan Doyle provides a glitchy, psychedelic twist on pixel art

Nevan Doyle provides a glitchy, psychedelic twist on pixel art

Nevan Doyle is a videographer, graphic designer and photographer from Portland, Oregon, who specialises in eye-catching abstract designs with the occasional touch of glitch cool. And it's this extra bit of glitch that drew us to Doyle's Intro to Pixel Art; while it lacks the painstaking intricacy of much pixel imagery, his project mixes up pixel techniques with glitches, grunge and visual feedback to create some stunning artwork.

03. Diego Sanches

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

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.

04. Pixel Jeff

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

"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.

05. Ivan Dixon

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

Following the news of David Bowie's death, 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.

06. Gustavo Viselner

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

Star Wars fever is ever rife among fans and graphic designers and illustrators galore have been inspired by the films, 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.

07. Ben Porter

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One of Porter's most recent pixel art creations

Ben Porter loves pixel art so much that a few years ago, 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.

08. 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 one of Guerero's game designs; the artist also produces homages to Mario and a range of Studio Ghibli characters.

09. Tom Schreiter

Tom Schreiter created a pixel art interpretation of The Blues Brothers

Tom Schreiter created a pixel art interpretation of The Blues Brothers

We can't help but love this pixel art interpretation of the American musical classic 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 is definitely one of our favourites.

10. Aled Lewis

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

Next: 10 more amazing pieces of pixel art