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Pixels Go Mad: The Celebration Of Pixel Art


Pixel art lives both in and beyond computer screen. Artists design pixel art posters, magazine covers, album covers, desktop wallpapers, paintings, “pixelish” video ads and even pixelated tattoos. And there is a good reason behind it: in times when popular design solutions strive for real-life-look or perfection pixel art offers a distinctive and creative artistic approach which is extremely expressive. In fact, pixel art can be impressive as well. This post attempts to prove just that.

Below we present over 50 excellent pixel art designs — illustrations, paintings and posters as a part of our ongoing monday inspiration series. Some of the works presented below have an extremely high level of detail which is why you can observe pixel art for hours and still miss some details it contains. You can find ever more resources related to pixel-art in an overview we’ve presented in the end the post.

Please be patient: the images may take some time to load.

The Celebration Of Pixel Art Link

Einstein in the Swiss patent office1
Keen attention to details: the Swiss cheese looks tasty. An ad for SIM Global Education designed by eBoy pixel artists — the recognized masters of pixel art. Resulting pixel animation2.

Pixel Art - MCS_Einstein_patentoffice.jpg (thumb)3

Pixels gone mad. Jason Huang, a designer and illustrator from Taiwan has created a… well, unusual splash-page for his portfolio web-site. The “size” of this pixel city is over 10 Mb. Resolution: 10.000×10.000px. Well, that’s A LOT of pixels. We are speechless and feel smashed.

Pixel Art - LOVEPIXEL5

Polyfonken’s Pixel Art6
Pixel art illustrations by Tuukka of Finland, Helsinki a.k.a Polyfonken of Ghost Monkey. Outstanding shadows and lightning.

Pixel Art - Polyfonken7

Pixel Art - Polyfonken8

Rubik meets pixel art. Don’t forget to check out Rubik Cubric’s Pow Poster Matrix.

Pixel Art - artworks / rubik10

Pixel Art - artworks / rubik11

Rod Hunt’s pixelart12
Rod Hunt’s illustrations are realistic and colorful. The artists mixes vector graphics and pixel art.

Pixel Art - In a middle of nowhere13

Pixel Art - In a middle of nowhere14

Brazilian and German bloggers Thiago, Pi, Jojo and Mariana present themselves as friendly and laughing pixel characters.

Pixel Art - burp!

Illustration Friday: Green15
What about using pixel art to visualize real projects? “This illustration started out as a way to help visualize what the deck on the back of our house is going to look like when it is finally done. This artwork was done pixel by pixel and then some raster art frames and shadows were added to m ake the piece look a bit nostalgic and antique.”

Pixel Art - Illustration Friday: Green16

Pixel Art Desktop Wallpaper17
This artwork was created by Juan Manuel Daporta (Caracas, Venezuela) in MSpaint in about 8 months in and out. Impressive.

Pixel Art - Pixel Art Desktop Wallpaper18

3 Square19
A painting in the pixel art style. Pixels also live beyond computer screens. Notice how well we can understand the idea behind the pixelated painting. That’s a hard thing to achieve.

Pixel Art - 3 Square20

Pixel Art - 3 Square21

Paul Robertson’s Pixel Art22
Space battles, Super Robot Wars style. Roberson has his own style in the pixel artwork.

Pixel Art - Paul Robertson23

Adobe Air poster24
A pixelated poster designed for Adobe Air launch. So many details in one single image. By the way, can you find a monkey on the image below?

Pixel Art - ADO_Airposter_45t_CUT.jpg (PNG, 1088x704 Pixel)25

Men’s Health: Back Pain
How would you interpret this artwork?

Pixel Art - Picasa Web Albums - Mike - Pixel art - MensHealth_Ba...

City of crazy dolls26
This illustration is vector-based, but it is designed in the pixel-art-look. An interesting idea.

Pixel Art - WN CityOfCrazyDolls Incomplete27

Kirby’s Cupcake28
A painting in the pixel-art-style. Created by Ashley Anderson.

Pixel Art - Kirby's Cupcake29

Pixel City30
Pixel cities deserve their own post. This one has a beach, colorful baloons, a fishman and protesters.

Pixel Art - Pixel City31

King Henry32
A vivid illustration of a theatre stage with King Henry and his court. Resulting animation33

Pixel Art - MCS_ShakesBack_17t_henry.jpg (thumb)34

Make Pixel, Not War35
Expressive and powerful. This artwork manages to deliver the message directly and reminds of Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Pixel Art - Pixel NascImpact - Pixel Art, Galerie, News, Brushs, Goodies, Tutorials (Photoshop, Flash MX)36

Space Invaders, Mario and Pacman on a pixelated playground. The black cat is pretty sweet, too.

Pixel Art - Space Invaders38

Pixel City39
Notice the how well different perspectives are used. For instance, Sony and Coca-Cola logos are orthogonal to each other.

Pixel Art - FTN_glbl500cover_11t.jpg40

Ms. Pacman41
“This is part of a wedding gift I did for two very good friends. Guess what the other painting is.” Created by Ashley Anderson.

Pixel Art - Ms Pacman42

Einstein in front of the blackboard43
Notice how well shadows are used. And coffee seems to be pretty hot. And yes, the mass-energy equivalence is actually E = mc2.

Pixel Art - MCS_Einstein_bboard.jpg (thumb)44

Christ the Redeemer45
The famous statue in Rio de Janeiro in pixels. The guy at the top of the statue seems to be a pretty cool one.

Pixel Art - pixel_corcovado46

Communication City47
Pixorama one more time. iPods seem to be pretty happy. The six birds too.

Pixel Art - FTN_CommunicationCity_06t.jpg (thumb)48

Darth Vader49
This one is freaky. José Eduardo Contreras Moral designs Darth Vader.

Pixel Art - Darth Vader al no tan detalle50

Panda Chart51
We are not sure if pandas actually eat strawberries. Apparently, they do. A simple yet cute pixel artwork.

Pixel Art - Panda Chart52

City Glow53
Pixel art meets vector art. Multi-panel graphic installation at Union Square subway station in Japan. An interesting artistic approach. By Chiho Aoshima.

Pixel Art - Little Boy: The Arts of Japan - Exploding Subculture54

Don’t forget to fix your polaroids55
Pixel art goes vintage. A creative approach.

Pixel Art - Don't forget to fix your polaroids56

Pixel Art – 1px Solid57
“Just playing with some pixel art and 1px solid branding. That’s me sitting all alone on my Mac.”

Pixel Art - Pixel Art - 1px Solid58

Warrior of Light59
Yes, that’s pixel art. The colors and shading are incredibly smooth. The used palette has only 32 colors.

Pixel Art - Warrior of Light60

Album Cover61
A pixelated cover for Groove Armada’s album “Get Down”.

Pixel Art - N73_GAsingle_08k.jpg (th)62

In a middle of nowhere63
36 colors, 40 hours of work: stunning result. Notice how well shadows are designed. You can also take a look at how this image was created step-by-step64.

Pixel Art - In a middle of nowhere65

Waiting Room66
Of course, pixel artists have pixelated wallpapers in their offices. Example: Israeli pixel design studio “Three Squared”.

Pixel Art - 3 Square67

8BitBuddy V0168
“Rendered in Cinema 4D, part of my 8BitBuddy Pixel inspired 3d 8 bit chaps.”

Pixel Art - 8BitBuddy V0169

BerlinKiosk is a game about combining over 300 pixel-products to form the layout of a berlin-underground kiosk. To pixelate 300 products a designer from Berlin, Germany needed two weeks.

Pixel Art - Das Pixeln der BerlinKiosk Produktpalette mit 300 Produkten hat 2 Wochen gedauert.71

Pixel Art - Das Pixeln der BerlinKiosk Produktpalette mit 300 Produkten hat 2 Wochen gedauert.72

Pixel Art - Das Pixeln der BerlinKiosk Produktpalette mit 300 Produkten hat 2 Wochen gedauert.73

Pixel Art – Sky TV74
A pixelated advertisement for Sky TV.

Pixel Art - Pixel Art - Sky TV75

Beer meets pixel art.

Pixel Art - BEER77

Pixel-Art in Real-Life Link

Sometimes pixels leave the boundaries of computer screens as designers sometimes experiment with pixels and “pixelate” their own environment. This design approach looks distinctive and somehow attractive. Maybe because we all have once stuck on some level playing Mario, Pac-Man or Space Invaders.

Wall designs at BNN/ 101 TV headquarters78
570 5.25″ painted floppys glued to the wall. “Walldesigns created together with my buddy Formaddict. Interior design (not finished on this photo) by Workshop of Wonders.”

Pixel Art - Wall designs at BNN/ 101 TV headquarters79

Pixel Art Wallpaper80
Excellent for gift wrapping and interior design.

Pixel Art - pixel art81

Panda Cross Stitch82
A pixelated cross stitch. We’ve seen panda and strawberies above already.

Pixel Art - Panda Cross Stitch83

Cooking the OXO way84
We’ve all seen books like this. “Pixel art” from 1940s.

Pixel Art - Cooking the OXO way85

Pixel Art - Cooking the OXO way86

Baldomero el cocinero87
Pixel art meets Lego.

Pixel Art - Baldomero el cocinero88

Pixel Art Tattoos89
Beautiful and unusual.

Pixel Art - Pixel Art90

Bead Pixel Art91
Pixelized video game characters built out of beads.

Pixel Art - Funny Pictures - Cats - Bead Pixel Art - Cool Pictures92

Pixelcouch93: what about some nerd’s furniture for true pixel ninjas? Royal College of Art graduate (UK) Cristian Zuzunaga has devised a fabric based on a ‘pixel’ concept, which is being produced by Danish manufacturer Kvadrat and sold through Moroso94. The price is unknown yet. [via95]

Pixel Art - - Pixel Couch96

It’s Raining Drea97
Pixels meet architecture.

Pixel Art - FFFFOUND!98

Pixel Block Chocolates99
This chocolate bar also delivers a “social” message.

Pixel Art - Pixel Block Chocolates With A Social Message - Yanko Design100

Richter’s Pixel Window in Cologne Cathedral101
Gerhard Richter has recently redesigned the 113-square-meter Cologne cathedral window. The window is literally pixelated as it is made up of thousands of colorful squares of glass. “Pixel art” large scale.

Pixel Art - Photo Gallery: Richter's Window in Cologne Cathedral - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News102

Space Invaders103
Ghost guys from Pac-Man are out there, in front of you and me.

Pixel Art - P1020827104

Admire your handy-work105
Not bad considering it was all done rather spontaneously over lunch one day.

Pixel Art - Step 6: Admire your handy-work106

Last Click Link

Arjan Westerdiep Pixel Art107
This video documents the construction of a massive and minutely-detailed pixel illustration. It’s the work of Arjan Westerdiep, who created the image in MS Paint in a process that took him 560 hours. Arjan’s website allows you to click around the entire piece and watch it get drawn pixel by pixel.

Move Your Feet – Junior Senior108
A pixel-based music video. Pixels old school. Smashing!

Game Over109
“Game over” is an art project developed by the Swiss artist Guillaume Reymod. It consists of a series of collaborative animation movies which revive some of the very first video games. The pixels are replaced by a group of real human-beings that are moving from seat to seat in a theatre during about 4 to 6 hours.

Sources and Resources Link

Footnotes Link

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Vitaly Friedman loves beautiful content and doesn’t like to give in easily. Vitaly is writer, speaker, author and editor-in-chief of Smashing Magazine. He runs responsive Web design workshops, online workshops and loves solving complex UX, front-end and performance problems in large companies. Get in touch.

  1. 1

    Hmm, where is the mention of Paul Robertson? Also, about 30% of all the works you showed here were from eBoy. There’s a lot of diversity in pixel art, this is in the end quite a shallow slice of it all.. Just browse through PixelJoint and you’ll tumble across LOADS of beautiful and varied pixel art and talented pixel artists.

  2. 2

    Nice pixels! but you forgot about pixel fonts, you can download some free ones from this page. Gotta love those pixels!

  3. 3

    Thx 4 fonts:)

  4. 4

    wow this one is amazing!
    my kind of art :D
    love it!

  5. 5

    I love it! Seems like a lot of work for just one piece of art though.

  6. 6

    Nice choices! Pixel art rules!

  7. 7

    one link is missing to ur amazing list : Edushi and their pixel cities on Google Maps !!
    Hong Kong for example

  8. 8

    You brought it back! Another quality post from Smashing Magazine to prove you can do better than dodgy photo posts.

    I love the way you explore more ‘out of the box’ ideas, like the paintings, tattoo and sofa, it makes for inspiring stuff!

  9. 9

    The latest SKY commercial has some amazing movie pixel art.

  10. 10

    Vitaly Friedman & Sven Lennartz

    May 5, 2008 4:56 am

    @RlemBCN: Edushi isn’t missing. Please check out the References section.

  11. 11

    Which software do they use to create it? Photoshop for example isn’t realy a good tool for this sort of jobs imho, and paint has to little options and tools. I realy want to know which software has been used for this one:

  12. 12

    The indie-rock band “The Format” has a pretty awesome website. It is a pixel art flash-based website.

    Check it out at

  13. 13

    Absolutely love pixel art. Great article!

  14. 14

    mooooooooy bueno

  15. 15

    you spelled excellent incorrectly in the bold text (2nd para)

  16. 16

    You forgot about pixelated audio!

    For starters, there’s the infamous 8-bit Construction Set, and 8bitpeoples record label!

  17. 17

    Peter Hirschberg

    May 5, 2008 7:18 am

    I can’t believe you didn’t mention my stuff.

    Check out the Frogger animation, Chasing Ghosts characters, and Berzerk animations.

  18. 18

    Wow… great source of inspiration!
    Just one thing that i miss here:
    Nitrome Games
    Definitely the best browser game company out there, and if you play games like Dirk Valentine or Off The Rails, you definitely see why i think they should be listed here too… Just don’t click the link if you still have some work to do today.
    btw, everyone who’s into pixel fonts and wants to create some on his own: Fontstruct it! – maybe you already know the page. if you don’t, you really don’t want to miss it if you like typography… definitely my favourite discovery on the web of the year so far.

  19. 19

    Hey, thanks for adding my pixel illustration to the list. I am humbled to be included with such wonderful talent. And for those that want to know, I’ve never used anything but Photoshop since I started out making pixel art way back on version 2.0. Nothing else compares or gets the job done faster since I have used it for so many years. Kim

  20. 20

    Great list. I respectfully submit my own pixel work:
    -Eric Daigh

  21. 21

    Love it!!! Totally awesome Monday inspiration, guys! Gave me a better kick than redbull and donuts. :3

  22. 22

    For some pixel artworks made of wood, check out Cubic Pixel

  23. 23

    Ms Pac Man looks like it was drawn by a 7 year old, no idea why it was included in this otherwise great showcase of fantastic art.

  24. 24

    The “Einstein in the Swiss patent office” reminds me of a lego creation!

  25. 25

    Um, what about ? Only one of the coolest comics around…

  26. 26

    Isotown is a fun webcomic about a town being built, step by step. No plot, and very little in the way of characters, it still somehow manages to be pretty charming, and well drawn in that pixel style we all love.

  27. 27

    The one you titled Space Invaders is not actually from space invaders, but from pac-man (it is one of the little ghost guys)

  28. 28

    Einstein was a white-haired old man when he was working in the patent office?

  29. 29

    That must take lots of patience :-)

  30. 30

    Its the LEGO of computers!! :D


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