Pixel art for Video games
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Pixel art for Video games

The essential course for creating stunning pixel art graphics for video-games or stylish illustrations and designs
Best Seller
4.5 (1,314 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
10,570 students enrolled
Created by Marco Vale
Last updated 9/2016
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  • 10.5 hours on-demand video
  • 11 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Learn the fundations for creating anything in pixel art
  • Create solid line work and stunning shading
  • Learn how to build video-game mockups for your games
  • Create create characters and animated them in minutes
  • Create tiles in the top down RPG style
  • Drawing pixel art in Isometric view, like an RTS game
View Curriculum
  • basic Photoshop knowledge is a plus

Imagine how cool your game would look in pixel art! Stop imagining!

==== UPDATED 5th of September ==== *NEW SECTION* - RPG character
This section shows good methods for creating top-down rpg characters and the considerations to take when designing a character for this perspective.

In this course I'll use my 10+ years of experience to teach you all you need to know to start making your own pixel art. You'll go from zero to full speed in no time with simple exercises that will teach you the foundations as well as advanced concepts that help give your pixel art creations that professional look.

Featuring over 6 hours of footage, you'll be able to follow step by step as I take you through the creation of some really cool pixel art!

You'll learn:

  • Configuring Photoshop to draw in pixel art
  • Drawing lines and smooth shapes, such as circles
  • Shading and texture
  • The use of outlines

And once you get these concepts settled, you'll learn:

  • Creating tiles and adding detail to tilled images
  • Creating sprites while using a tile grid
  • Creating tiles in the style of top-down RPG games
  • Creating characters in top-down perspective
  • Creating some medieval style hud elements

You'll also:

  • create a CHARACTER
  • and ANIMATE it within minutes!
As a bonus round you'll get a chance to create a unity project and actually see your character move and jump around on the screen just like if it was in your video-game

Take this course now and you will see your pixel art skill skyrocket!

Who is the target audience?
  • Programmers who want to create art for their video-games
  • Artists and Designers who love the style of pixel art
  • Game artists looking to expand their toolset with pixel art
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Curriculum For This Course
89 Lectures
2 Lectures 07:05

Welcome to my course!

Preview 01:43

What is pixel art? how is it different from the other digital arts? have a listen as I talk and put some examples on the screen!

Preview 05:22
Creating pixel art - Lineart
7 Lectures 35:16

before we can confortably work in photoshop, lets take some time to learn the basic tools and some tricks to feel more at ease with photoshop it self. You'll learn how to create, duplicate and move layers. And also how to copy parts of a layer onto a new one, or onto itself.

Working with Photoshop

Using Photoshop for pixel art is perfectly fine, but give that its a very complex software with loads of features, we want to make sure that our tools are set specifically to work with pixel level illustrations

Configuring the tools for pixel art

Drawing a line isn't just a matter of creating pixels next to each other. there are optimal line directions and optimal placement of pixel, to suggest a specific shape. In pixel art, every single pixel counts.

Creating lines

Since a circle is the smoothest shape you can draw, its also the most complicated one to replicate in pixel art, while still ensuring it doesn't look like something else. In this lecture, I'll guide you through the smallest sizes you can draw a circle in, and what are the best aproaches.

Preview 05:28

Creating Pixel art - Lineart
5 questions

With the fundamentals or line and shape drawing, its time to draw your first sprite: A Sword!
We will create a simple shape, and fill it in with simplistic and flat colors.

Drawing your first sprite - a Sword!

Use this photoshop file to practice tracing over a drawing. Use the layer above all the others, and with the pencil tool create a line as clean as you can, over what YOU think, are the most important features on the drawing.If you are not using photoshop, you can use the png version of the file that you can find in the resources.

Exercise - trace over a book drawing
32.2 kB

Conclusion section 2
Creating pixel art - Shading
10 Lectures 47:21

Before we can shade in pixel art, we should look at some real life examples, and see how light affects different surfaces

Shading in the real world

In Pixel Art, everything is 2D. But how can we make objects look three-dimensional? We have to use shading. When we shade an object, we give it a sense of volume. there are a few rules to this. This lecture explains them by using primitive solids as an example.

Shading a sphere and a cube

After learning the most simple solids (Sphere and Cube) its time to have a go at another couple of simple volumes: A pyramid and a cylinder. These two new volumes follow the same rules, but have unique characteristics.

Shading a pyramid and a cylinder.

With the skill of shading, we now have the power to move into a three-dimensional object: An Apple. We discuss the apple's unique shape, and how it affects the shading.

Preview 08:40

Outlines are one of the best ways to make objects stand out from the background. In this lecture we give a try to 3 types or outlining.

Creating an apple sprite - Outlines

While still using the colors from the shading, we can add a layer of texture buy changing how we shade the volume. If instead of smooth shapes we take the care to add some variation to our transitions, we can suggest texture.

Creating an apple sprite - Texture

Shading gives and object volume, and an outline makes it stand out. But how do we make and object seem to belong in a scene? We need to light it with additional light. In this lecture I should the use of bounced light, so help place an object on the scene

Creating an apple sprite - Bounced Light

5 questions

With all that we learned about shading, we can now go back into our sword sprite and add even more detail what what we had previously, turning it into a fully shaded sword.

Revisiting the Sword sprite - Adding shading and outlines

Please use the file attached and shade it to make it look like a gold chalice with encrusted rubies.

EXERCISE - Shading a chalice
1 page

Conclusion Section 3
Working with tiles
4 Lectures 26:30

Tiles are by far the most used technique for filling the screen with a world. From Platformers to RPGs, tiles have always been widely used . This lecture serves as an introduction to the concept behind tiles.

The basic concept of tiles

With the concept sinking in, we can now go and make out base tile. This will be our main orientation, as it will provide size, style, color palette, volume and camera perspective.

Creating the base tile

With a bunch of things established, we can move a little more forward with the mockup, by adding a background. In this lecture I show a really quick and simple way to create a background scene that will serve as a backdrop for the mockup.

Creating a simple background and adjusting colors

Conclusion Section 4
Improving the environment
6 Lectures 38:54

The game world will be made with all these tiles, so it would be nice to have some variation. Taking some of the lessons learned in previous lectures we add variation and depth to out mockup by adding variation in the tiles

Aditional Tiles for variation

Extra tiles will help solidify the game world, and make i more believable. This lecture shows how you can do it, and what problems you'll face, and, obviously, how to solve them!

Preview 08:37

Since the world right now is only made up with terrain, its time to add some additional elements for decoration and scale.

Creating a pine tree

Its time to turn our attention to the background, and make sure that it also follows the rules of tiles.

Reworking the background

Imagine your side scrolling game is set in a metropolis. see how little tiles you need to make a big building.

Exercise - Building walls
1 page

Conclusion Section 5
Creating a character
5 Lectures 27:57

With out mockup now ready, we can start working on our character. There are a lot of considerations to take into account. We start by just creating the head, and with that we define the size, color, age, and sex of our character.

Creating the head

While the head provides with the identity of the character, the body provides with an attitude. Pose and shape will help convey a personality for out game character.

Creating the body

Once we are happy with a body shape, we need to make it as interesting, easy to read and as recognizable as possible. For this we use shading techniques to help give a sense of depth and scale

Detailing the body

Just like we did with the apple and sword, we will also now use the same outlinning technique to help our character stand out. But while doing this, we must understand that it will have consequences in out workflow in the future.

Preview 04:38

Conclusion Section 6
8 Lectures 40:18
The tools and basics of animation

Now is the time to take our character from a mockup into a living thing. We do this with animation. Its no the most simple thing, but it is a key aspect of suggesting that the character is alive and ready for action

Creating the base for animation

Simple as it may be, we need to add more detail to out animation, for it to read well, and look more alive. In this lecture we go into the issue of secondary animation and how we can make something look more organic rather than stiff and robotic.

Preview 05:20

Running animation is one of the most important to learn and master. They convey weight, speed and agilty. But before you can do one on the go, we first should learn how to plot and plan a running animation.

Animating a run cycle

With out animation planned out all we need now is to go in an fill the gaps. It takes time, but is so much faster once we have everything in place.

Completing the run cycle

Idle and running so far were animations with continuous frame rate. Each frame was on the screen the same time as the others. In this attack animation we see how we can make a frame be faster or stay longer on the screen, to change the animation dynamics.

Animating an attack

This exercise was designed to let you not only practice your character drawing skills, but also develop the capacity to interpret a concept design, and try and translate that into pixel art.

Exercise - Character
1 page

Conclusion Section 7
Bonus Round - Importing to unity
3 Lectures 17:29

In this lecture you'll learn how to save one image with all your frames, and how you import that image into unity and configure it for use in a video game situation.

Importing sprites into unity

In this lecture we look into the animation panel in unity to rebuild our animations to work with unity.

Recreating the animations in unity

Now that we have all our animations we can turn the player into a movable character with a couple of free scripts and some layer fiddling around. Find the attached resources to get the scripts and character sprite or follow the instructions on the lecture.

Preview 05:02
16 Lectures 02:02:24

Before creating terrain tiles, we need to understand what the "game camera" is meant to see and show to the player or user. So in this lecture we'll look at a 3d model and see how a topdown perspective is built.

What is topdown perspective

Even though its hard to find names to call these different techniques of creating and using terrain tiles, I've created a selection of the four I feel are the most important and most used in pixel art.

Different types of techniques

Creating tiles can be intimidating if you think about the amount of variations you have to make. So we start with the most straigh forward one: Path Tiles. We'll create a fundation for all the tile pieces we need.

Creating Path Tiles - Setting up the pieces

With the most basic pieces created, we now have enough material to create the next pieces with ease, by just reusing parts. We do this to create the base pattern for out tileset

Creating Path Tiles - Creating a usable pattern

The main pattern is done, the road is very evident on the screen, but we can still add a little depth. We'll do that by creating a sense of relief on the road and grass

Preview 10:02

Now that it's complete, lets take it for a spin, and see how it behaves. We'll build road using the tiles we created.

Creating Path Tiles - Trying out the tiles

In this lecture, we'll look at how complicated the patch tiles pattern can be. We'll see how its used, and find a solution for a much simpler pattern that will do the same job

Patch Tiles - Understanding the pattern

Before we do our patch tile set we want to create some base tiles for use later on. We start by making a standard grass tile

PatchTiles - Creating a base grass tile

After we got a base grass tile laid down, we want to improve on its look so that it breaks the grid effect and looks like grass

Patch Tiles - Improving the grass tile

To go with the grass tile, we'll create a dirt tile as well, that we'll later use to make all the transitions

Preview 07:01

With our base tiles created we can go ahead and start putting a pattern together so that we can build our tile set

Patch Tiles - Creating the pattern

Elevation is one of the main features of the block tile technique, so lets take advantage of that. Since we already have a grass texture and a dirt texture, all we need now is a cliff side texture to use as an elevation indicator.

BlockTiles - The cliff side

With the cliff tile created, we need not to make transitions from the grass tile to the edges of the cliff side. One those are made we can more effectively suggest height.

Block Tiles - Creating the transitions

To further increase the effect oh height the ideal is to add a shadow to the tile set. in this lecture we go about doing that and what tricks you can use to achieve that

Block Tiles - adding a shadow

With the small pattern complete, we can take the tileset for a spinn and see how it looks like.

Block Tiles - Trying out the pattern

With a grass tile and a cliff/dirt tile, it is fairly easy to create now a river pattern to add to the world.

Exercise - River Pattern
1 page
Top-Down RPG Characters
10 Lectures 01:27:01

Short introduction to the section.


In this first lecture we have a look at the considerations to have when designing a character for a top down perspective, especially if its going to be viewed in a small area. 

Design considerations

In this size of characters, the line art process can clutter the sprite. So most of the time, its better to avoid tracing over a complex drawing and instead define solid shapes.
Solid shapes provide a quick understanding of the model and its parts.

Basic Shapes Method

This lecture focuses on explaining the shading method and the facial features.
Before we move on to shading the body, we get a notion of the reasons behind the type of shading methods.

Shading Principles

In this lecture we go ahead and create more colors to shade the body completely. We use techniques such as cast shadows and outlining to give form to what was only flat shapes.

Shading the body

From the front view we create the side view and shade it using the same colors.

Creating and shading the side view

Creating the back view for the character is a matter of editing the front view and make sure the elements of the body are kept in perspective.

Creating and shading the back view

A simple 4 frame walk animation can be made just from moving the legs, but we add more detail to the whole body to really improve the animation

Front view walk animation

The side view is the easiest to animate, as the feet are very visible to the game camera. Still, we must worry about the perspective they are in.

Side View walk animation

After adding back a few details here and there, this lecture serves as a demonstration of what can be done with a few additions.

Complete animations demonstration
3 More Sections
About the Instructor
Marco Vale
4.5 Average rating
1,437 Reviews
11,113 Students
4 Courses
Game Artist

I have been working in the games industry as an amateur since 1998. In 2003 I started as a professional. My projects range from all forms of game art, from 3d low-poly to 2d pixel art, vector or even animation. I've also taught illustration, 3d modeling, Flash animation and Photoshop at a professional school. I am currently working in mobile gaming