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This is part 2 of my Pixel Art Outlines Tutorial. If you haven’t read it yet, you should read that first!
Black outlines in pixel art can be very versatile, but sometimes they’re a bit overpowering or too retro feeling. The solution to this is coloring your outlines, though picking the right colors is very important.
The most basic technique is to use an outline that’s a darker shade of the object they’re outlining. For example, this green bush gets a dark green outline:
The color can be different on different parts of an object, for example this guys red shirt gets a dark red outline, but his pants get dark blue.
This is pretty easy to do on a light colored background, but if you have something darker, or with more variation, you have to be more careful about the colors that you pick.
The most important part of using colored outlines is maintaining contrast. The point of outlines is to further separate two objects to make it more clear to the viewer that they are separate entities. This means that an outline should always increase contrast, and never decrease it.
Killer Robot Attack is a puzzle game where you are surrounded by robots and must defeat them all to move on. Every step you take the robots move closer to you. Luckily, the robots aren’t that smart, and will crash into each other, causing them to explode! By outsmarting them (as well as using the occasional bomb or teleport), you must defeat all the robots. Each level has more robots, and your goal is to get as far as you can, and get the highest score.
You can download the game for free on Google Play:
Outlines are an important part of pixel art, especially in cartoony styles like mine. Here I’ll share all my tips and tricks to making them work for you.
Why use outlines
Yes, outlines are not required for pixel art, but you may have noticed they are pretty common, especially in sprites. There are a few good reasons to use them.
Outlines help separate objects from the background, as well as other objects. This is used in many games to keep the characters from blending in to the background so the player can more easily keep an eye on them. It’s especially important in pixel art because of the small palettes. If an object shared a color with something behind it, they would blend together, making it harder to figure out what you’re looking at.
Single Pixel Wide Outlines
The most basic line in pixel art is a single pixel wide. This is easy to draw when the line is going straight up and down, or left and right, but diagonals and curves take a little more skill.
The trick to make the segments of the line only connect diagonally. This may seem like it makes the line more broken up, but in a finished piece of pixel art our eyes perceive it as a solid connected line.