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Pixel Art Tutorial - Basics for Beginners by Gasara Pixel Art Tutorial - Basics for Beginners by Gasara
I've been asked rather a lot recently how I make my pixel art, what program do I use, how do I make avatars..? I thought about making a quick little tutorial explaining the hows of my pixel art but then it occured to me that some people might need a little more than that. Some of you might not have the first clue of what pixel art is or how you go about making it but still want to give it a go. This tutorial is for you guys. If you've played around with pixel art before or have read other tutorials then you probably don't need this but if you've never seen anything beyond someone's icon on dA then please pull up a chair.

I also just want to say please don't be put off by its wordiness. I'm a very visual person, I learn better from images and diagrams than descriptions, but for some reason my tutorials seem to end up as a wall of text. I think it's somewhat justified in this case as I've tried to explain things rather then just saying 'this is how you do it, you don't need to know why'. Sometimes that extra information can be beneficial.

I always think of Delia Smith in situations like this, when she started her How To Cook programme and spent half an hour explaining how to boil an egg. People called it condescending and ludicrous but the fact of the matter is if you don't know how to turn on a cooker and heat water to boiling point then simply telling you to 'put an egg in a saucepan of water and boil it for five minutes' isn't going to help you at all. Sometimes you really need to explain everything. I love you, Delia ♥

I really do hope some of you find this useful. Remember though that this is just a guide based on what I know of pixel art and how I work with it. You'll naturally develop your own techniques over time and how you colour will reflect how you might colour digitally or paint traditionally - and all of that is perfectly okay. Wonderful, really, because uniqueness is great. And like I mention in the tutorial, there are loads of other things you can look into if you're interested, such as anti-aliasing, isometric pixel art, creating palettes... There's so many great ways to work with pixel art, and so many wonderful things to create. So good luck, guys, and remember to have fun.

Oh, and if you create your first piece of pixel art using this tutorial then I really would love to see. Feel free to link to it in the comments so I can take a look. :tighthug:


--> Pixel Art: Basics for Beginners
--> Pixel Art: Animation for Beginners


I'm posting this tutorial up in time for Gasara's Birthday Celebration Contests. Hopefully some of you will be able to join me in making March pixelicious and joyous!
Add a Comment:
Marrie98 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2015
Thanks for the tutorial :D
I never thought that it was possible to make pixel art in GIMP xD
this is what I made after I've read your tutorial:
Kawaiikutie778 Featured By Owner Aug 14, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Awesome! I've been trying to transition from Photoshop to GIMP (Didn't want to pay every month for it), and I've been wanting to do pixel art for a while. Thank you, this simplifies it and makes it easy to do!
Gallinaceus Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Very nice! :D
Du-kapitainak Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
which software do you use?
BEAPANDA Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
GIMP! Read Step 2 
AquaSparkles Featured By Owner May 23, 2015
Thank you so much for the turtorial! I made my first pixel icon: Animated donut icon  Bunny Emoji-87 (Thanks) [V5] 
SpaceKitty320 Featured By Owner May 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very helpful! Adding to faves.
TrollingtonTrollifer Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2015
I needed to refresh on the basics again, so I made the cute pig. Also, the bit on how to make a bouncing effect really helped, I had no idea of how to make things bounce! (>3<)
I linked to this tutorial when I uploaded, thanks for the help! This is the final product.
drawinggirl13 Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2015  Hobbyist Artist
Thank you :)
Girasoleada Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you, it helps me a lot!!!
Illeh-Monster12 Featured By Owner Mar 3, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
YAAAAAAS someone who uses gimp toooooooo OwO

i swear to god its hard to find people who use gimp and prefer it
WintergreenSwirl Featured By Owner Feb 11, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I used your tutorial! ^D^
Gladiatore79 Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2015   Digital Artist
Congratulations great job !! Sent you to add your work in my group, thank you:
zoenotnightshade Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
this was really helpful! thank you!!
ZexyZakura Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you :D
undefinatble Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2014
Thank you!!
I'm getting back into pixeling, so this will definitely be of use. cx
TheBlackSpiritOfMine Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2014
how do you delete your backround?
MsKittenPanda Featured By Owner Nov 8, 2014

....what have I done? o-o
Ferrets4ever Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Helpful but I still struggle a bit.... BUT THANKS!!!!!
ArtisanDwarf Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for this! It was very helpful. :nod: I haven't tried pixels in years (and even back then it two tries :XD:) But I'm quite pleased with new attempt :la: Page Pixel Gifty
Thank you :heart:
quee-n Featured By Owner Sep 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you! i made a baby pig, my first ever pixel xEek by issapiie  
ronysgames Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2014
thank's i mad a cute little piggy! :D 
this helped a lot thank you very much sir! 
Argentea-Pluvia Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your tutorial is really helpful! Love I made this pixel: [Link] 
Gasara Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014
I'm happy you found it useful - thank you!
Your pixel art looks amazing! ♥
Argentea-Pluvia Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you so much! 
OwlSips Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2014
Can you do a tutorial on making pixels in the dA muro?
richardmillers Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Gimp is free so you should download it. o: It's safe too!
Gasara Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
I haven't really got any experience with Muro. I wouldn't know how to do that I'm afraid. Sorry, my dear.
OwlSips Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2014
That's ok
I'm new.
Adzuma Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
can;t wait to break out the wacom tablet and give this tutorial a shot, just wondering though; Are you using the vanilla gimp, or are there some addons that i will need to have for this tutorial?
Gasara Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2014
No, this is just the basic version. No add-ons, scripts or anything. :D
yusay Featured By Owner Jul 2, 2014
This tutorial is awesome! You explain things very well :D I just have one question about moving the image in gimp though. I selected the picture with the rectangle select tool and then used the move tool to try to center the picture, but it moves the whole layer with it. Do you know how to move the image without moving the layer? ^^;
Gasara Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2014
When you move things in Gimp it will usually move the whole layer. You can reset the boundary of your image though so the layer edge matches up with the canvas edge again.

Simply drag your image as you have been doing. Like you mention, this will move the entire layer. Once you have your image centred click on Layer in the menu bar and then Layer to Image Size. This will change the layer boundary back to the edge of the canvas and your image will still be in the center. If you have a coloured background you can simply fill in any bits you need to with the bucket tool. 

Hope that helps!
yusay Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014
Thank you so much! :glomp: This solves my problem :D
Gasara Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2014
You're welcome, my dear. :hug:
Fario-P Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2014  Student Digital Artist
thank goodness!
there's hardly any GIMP tutorials!
chazb22z Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2014  Student
I'm such a noob, thank you sooo very much:happybounce: 
baileyjustin14 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2014
baileyjustin14 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2014
what size shoulfd the beginning pic be
Betherno Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014
Thanks for all the tutorials  i'm newbie with Gimp and i want to do awesome pixel art like u :D
Gasara Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2014
You're absolutely welcome! I wish you all the best with your pixel art. :dance:
ProOshawott Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2013
Nice tutorial!
MaxTheEspeon Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm using Sai paint tool urrrgh. Does it work pretty much the same on there? I don't know if you would know that...

Though, it's a helpful tutorial. I'll follow it the best I can and make sure I can post a link to it, though it won't be on deviantart. ^^;

Thank you so much, I'm so excited to start pixel artl! <3
Gasara Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2013

Hi there.

I've never made pixel art in Sai myself but it is possible using the Legacy Pen. You can't animate in Sai but everything else (such as using layers and the other tools) is pretty similiar. If you need any help with it just let me know and I'll see what I can do.

Have fun, m'dear!

FeatherWolfStudio Featured By Owner Dec 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Is really helpful! Thanks for posting this:D
TheDesignSlab Featured By Owner Nov 29, 2013  Hobbyist Interface Designer
And queue commendation for the best and most detailed tutorial ever!
CiegeGrrl Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Love this thank you! My first avatar I made is the one I'm using now. I can't wait to do some more. :)
buenodavista Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2013   Traditional Artist
this might be a question that has already been asked and answered... but how do you "delete" a background? The last step in this tutorial, to be precise.
Dizzi-Alex Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, thanks, dude. I tried making something. Though I use the really old MS paint, still worked fine. Again, thanks.
RiseandBe Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Awesome resource! I've been wanting to try pixel art for some time, and just dled GIMP yesterday. This was a great tutorial for understanding the basics. I can't wait to get started!
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