Everyone can learn to draw. And everything else.


I’m creating an adventure game called Pixel Art Academy. It is set in a sci-fi city of Retropolis where you take role of a student at the Retropolis Academy of Art.

There’s a reason why the game takes place at the Academy of Art, not Academy of Pixel Art.

The game itself is called Pixel Art Academy as it is presented with pixel art graphics. But the school in the game is called Retropolis Academy of Art because pixel art is art first and pixels second.

Here’s my journey through the world of making things:

To learn pixel art is to learn art.

Most pixel art tutorials teach you the specifics of pixel art style. But you also need to learn how to make art in general.

Pixel art is a good start. It has an easy learning curve. It doesn’t require days of practicing eye-hand coordination. You don’t need a graphic tablet. You’re ready to start from day one.

I got asked a couple of times if practicing pixel art will help with other things you’re primarily invested in, from graphic design and visual communications to game and web design. I think so.

I think it helps if you’re a game developer (a coder) too. Not just for upgrading your level of programer art, but also everything else, from designing levels to creating particle systems.

Your overall sense for aesthetics will raise.

As a kid I made pixel art because I wanted to make graphics for games. I didn’t know it was pixel art. It was just how it was back then.

In high school I followed with pencil drawings, inking and digital coloring.

I tried 3D modeling. I learned coding from my brother and went on to study Computer Science. After getting my CS Master’s Degree in 2011 I watched Feng Zhu’s concept art videos and remembered how much I loved drawing and painting.

I decided to draw one portrait every week for one year straight. I fell behind after 13 weeks and quit at 17 out of 52 portraits. Typical.

But instead I released Tribute. It got popular and I started focusing my blog Retronator on pixel art. I continued digital painting on the side.

2012 was a huge year for my art. This doesn’t come from artistic talent. It came from drawing a lot because I had fun doing it.

My life was not just art though. At the time I coded games for a living. For a while I was a teaching assistant. I made webpages for friends. For the last 2 years I’ve been using the latest web technologies at work. It all adds up.

Now I’m at the point when I’ll be finally making my own video game for a living. This is a dream come true for me. All the things that I did in my life are coming together.

Making pixel art was my start and it is now my future.

Has pixel art helped with my other things? Yes!

Has everything else improved my pixel art? Definitely!

Like Steve Jobs put it:

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Doing everything I did accumulated into confidence that allowed me to stand before people and share my game idea. I hope after the next year it will give me the opportunity to continue working on my projects for the rest of my life.