Let’s keep pixel art Alive — a response to “A Pixel Artist Renounces Pixel Art”

I just read a blog post about a Pixel Artist that wants to give up because of the pressure. It seems that a lot of people don’t really “get it” and call these pixel art games “pixelated”. They don’t understand the effort that the artists have put in, and they don’t understand that this is how it was meant to look like. And here is my response:

I totally understand his point of view. But I think this is a big mistake and I think I have a possible solution for all of this. I think the artists are missing something important here: why not create a NEW style that has the advantages of pixel art and is making use of the current technology? After all, some older games used pixel art in a great way and they are still appreciated by a lot of people even today. And just think about this: even a game with a very “poor” graphics (actually very low poly) became a huge hit, even among young gamers, and you would say that they are used to play Full HD titles running at 60fps. Yes, I’m talking about Minecraft. So, I would say the art style itself is not the problem here. Let’s try to find out what it actually is and find ways on how to fix it.

So now, I think we should concentrate on what was so great about pixel art and try to keep that and adapt it to the current times. I would say that the hand drawn pixel by pixel is a great thing for both the artist (you have a great feeling while you’re doing it), and as well for the gamers: yes, a lot of people do appreciate this art style, including kids and people that didn’t played older games. But some of them do have a point when they call these games “pixelated”, because that’s what they really are. Just try to look objectively at some great pixel art images and you’ll see I’m right. They DO look pixelated, and that was indeed the intention of the artist. And this is because artists try to mimic the same limitations that we had 20 years ago. But you know what? Those limits are long gone. Screens now have millions of colors, so why limit yourself to only 4, 8 or 16 colors? Instead, you could create a palette of 16 colors, but feel free to add lighter/darker shades. You will still draw everything pixel by pixel, but what is the harm in using more colors? And What if you use real lighting as well? Too many shades? So freaking what? Yeah, sure, it’s not going to be “retro” anymore, and some may even call it “cheating”, but it’s not like you have a 286 computer with 8 Mb of RAM. So how is that cheating? It’s an updated art style, and no, it’s not retro, it’s just hand drawn pixel-perfect art. Why would you use dithering if there’s no need to do so? I understand when some artists do this when they want to achieve a “retro” feeling, but I think that should be optional today, since we have so many possibilities.

@DinofarmGames : I LOVE pixel art and I would really want you to reconsider your decision, at least in the near future, and I’m sure people will start to understand it better. Just as some people complain that the Minecraft graphics suck, but over 100 million people bought the game, I think you should start to understand that it’s ok to just ignore some people’s opinion. Don’t quit something you love just because some people don’t get it.

So if you don’t want to educate players yourself I think that’s fine. Just ignore them. If plenty of pixel art games will be released in the future, I think gamers will start to get it eventually. And even if they won’t, it just doesn’t matter. You can’t make everyone like the same things.

And regarding the HD displays on phones, I’ve seen this before and it’s fine: use 3x or 4x size for each pixel. That’s fine and looks great. And for people that say that it looks “pixelated”: ignore them. As for the journalists that say it looks “pixelated”: let’s make petitions and fire them! They should not be allowed to write an article if they don’t even know what Pixel Art is. THEY should be the ones that should inform the public about various art styles, not game developers!

TLDR; There will be always be haters but pixel art games will always have LOTS of fans. Just ignore them and think about making pixel art games again! And purism sucks: there is no point using a technology that is outdated since 20 years ago: just adapt the style to the current day and age, instead of quitting something you love for something that doesn’t even really matter (fixed palette, etc). It’s NOT cheating, it’s adapting and updating an art style and removing limits that don’t really make sense anymore.

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