Pixel Art

What Does Pixel Art Mean?

Pixel art is a form of digital art wherein images are created and edited at the pixel level using a graphics editing software. What defines pixel art is its unique visual style, where individual pixels serve as the building blocks that make up the image. The effect is a visual style very similar to that of mosaic art, cross-stitch and other types of embroidery techniques.


Techopedia Explains Pixel Art

Pixel art has existed ever since the first image editing software and the first 2D games with graphics came out, but the term was first published by Robert Flegal and Adele Goldberg of Xerox PARC way back in 1982, although the concept existed 10 years prior such as in the SuperPaint system created by Richard Shoup back in 1972, also at Xerox PARC.

Pixel art, though not yet considered an art at the time, was a way for developers to create images using limited graphics and computing resources. Graphics cards were not yet able to render more than a few pixels, so programmers had to work with each pixel and ensure that the overall image made sense. This was meticulous and difficult work because of the aforementioned restrictions, but as technology progressed, this technique became obsolete. However, because of both nostalgia and the uniqueness of the visual style, this method of creating images has carried on as a digital art style. Many modern games still use pixel art as the main visual theme, but they are no longer limited to the number of pixels that can be rendered by a graphics card and displayed on the screen. Pixel art is not limited to games and is widely popular in the digital art community.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.