Pixel Joint

Part 1: The Past

Retronator Community Feature

Early 2000s were kind of a magical time. Message boards, a.k.a. forums, started cropping up big time and it seemed every community/internet hobby had one.

PixelJoint circa 2005 (left) and 2010 (right). The grey version remains unchanged until today.

As everyone had at least a brother of a friend of a classmate who have just learned PHP, it started a golden era when every community also built their own websites around the forums (GameDev.net, deviantART, DI.fm, to name a few I visited).

Shark, Travis ‘Blick’ Umbinetti, 2004

2004 marked the start of one of those communities, specialized for pixel art. While forums like Pixelation and GMPixel stayed at the message board stage, PixelJoint soon had a gallery running, along with classic things like news, resources, chat and of course its own boards.

Clockwork Rian — intro image 3, Jan ‘Riva’ Halfar, 2005 (left), Jokers Wild, Captain ‘The B.O.B.’ Boboso, 2005 (right)
RED ROBOT ON FIRE, Telemachus ‘Helm’ Stavropoulos, 15 colors, 2005
Anubis, Mike ‘Archer’ Nash (lineart) and David ‘neota’ Gowers (coloring), 2003–2005

When the let’s-build-a-website golden era winded down towards the end of the decade, the original developers eventually moved on with their lives, leaving the communities to one of three possible fates.

Girantis, ‘Snake’, 12 colors, 2006

The big ones, like DA and DI, grew into sustainable businesses and continued their development. On the other side, the ones that were already on the brink of collapse simply died off when domains weren’t renewed.

Shrewd, ‘buloght’, 32 colors, 2006

The third group, where community stayed strong, persevered. Even though the sites got technologically stuck in the past, the activity continued. PixelJoint is such a place.

Kingpin, Ian ‘big brother’ Schlaepfer, 10 colors, 2006 (left), Light Fantastic, ‘cocefi’, 9 colors, 2006 (right)
The Pixelz of Oz, Captain ‘The B.O.B.’ Boboso, 2006
The Spartan, Telemachus ‘Helm’ Stavropoulos, 4 colors, 2006
Sarah Brightman portrait, Andy ‘AndyOaks’ Oakley, 16 colors, 2006
Fishing Ogre, Gary J ‘Gunstar_Red’ Lucken, 2006
Adam and Eve, Yuiry ‘Fool’ Gusev, 64 colors, 2006 (left), Locke’s Bandana, Victor ‘happip’ BS, 33 colors, 2006 (right)
Candy Corp., Martin ‘miascugh’ Wörister, 42 colors, 2006
Colossal Katamari, Snake, 15 colors, 2006
Star Wars characters, Nicolas ‘ElectroNico’ Villeminot, 2006

I joined in 2009 when the background color was still the happy blue, but apart from the background change and the wider arrangement, the site remains the same.

The art, however, keeps on coming.

Scottfro’s Treehouse, ‘jalonso’, 51 colors, 2007
Poison tree, 21 colors (left), Same dragon. Again=), 16 colors (right), Yuriy ‘Fool’ Gusev, 2007
Adventure Background: Graveyard, ‘buloght’, 2007 (top), Burning_Sunrise(panorama), Sergey ‘raynoa’ Kostik, 16 colors, 2007 (bottom)
Tesla Zeppelins attack!, Emanuel ‘Emanu’ G, 15 colors, 2007 (left), Winter Scouts, ‘buloght’, 32 colors, 2007 (right)
how appropriate, you fight like a cow!, Tom ‘tomic’ Schreiter, 127 colors, 2007
Warrior of Light, Wendy ‘Wayuki’ de Boer, 32 colors, 2007
Rust Mesa, Oli ‘Larwick’ Lee, 14 colors, 2007

Every month, the top 10 highest rated artworks are showcased in the news section. It represents the best works of currently active artists, filtered by traditional pixel art values that remain in high regard with the community.

protecteur, karl ‘IGoRge’, 2008

The golden rules are: no rips, no filters, no paintbrushes, no gradient fills. Low color count is not required, but appreciated. While new pixel art games rely more and more on dynamic lighting effects, PixelJoint stays true to the limits of the old days.

In a middle of nowhere, Yuriy ‘Fool’ Gusev, 36 colors, 2008

In 2014 I began featuring the monthly top 10 selection and it immeditely became the most loved series of posts on my blog, eclipsed only by individual artist features. But more about the present days in part two.

Captain Exocet at Flaber Cove, ‘jalonso’, 29 colors, 2008
Curiousity, Yuriy ‘Fool’ Gusev, 24 colors, 2008
Scratch my back, would ya’?, 18 colors (top), Say no to booze, 61 colors (bottom), Yuriy ‘Fool’ Gusev, 2009

Images speak for themselves. It is not hard to say that PixelJoint is home to the best contemporary pixel art pieces with roots in the era when pixel art was not a style choice, but simply the way things were.

While that doesn’t make it a place where beginners are welcome to post their first pieces, it provides an invaluable resource for finding the best the traditional pixel art community has to offer.

Elk’s Deathwing, Alexander ‘Elk’ Steiner, 64 colors, 2011

I hope some minds exploded somewhere down the road of this article. I’m not even going to ask if you enjoyed this one. But still, big thanks for reading Retronator Magazine and all the recommendations.

As the title suggests, this is only part one. I was initially going to post just a feature of the latest artworks, but as I started to write about the history, it became obvious I will need to split it into two amazing collections of the best pixel artworks out there.

With that said, see you soon in part two!

— Retro

Retronator Magazine

Pixel Art, Gaming & Saturated Colors

Matej ‘Retro’ Jan

Written by

I run Retronator and make Pixel Art Academy. https://patreon.com/retro

Retronator Magazine

Pixel Art, Gaming & Saturated Colors