Pixel Art Outlines Part 2: Using Color

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:

Pixel Art Outlines Colored Bush

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.

Pixel Art Outlines Multiple Colors Man

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.

Maintaining Contrast

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.

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Pixel Art Outlines Tutorial

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.

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Photoshop Pixel Art Tips: Palette Adjustments

Photoshop is a huge, multipurpose program. Because of this, some of the features that can be very helpful for pixel art are somewhat hidden, and not well known. I will try to highlight some of these features in a series of blog posts.

Making a palette is hard, especially in programs such as paint where you adjust colors one at a time. The hardest part is getting started, but what you need to remember is that the palette you start with can be very different than the one that is used for your final piece. Colors constantly need to be tweaked in order to fit in correctly, and you can’t always predict what’s going to happen. Luckily Photoshop makes this easy.

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Photoshop Pixel Art Tips: Multiple Views

Photoshop is a huge, multipurpose program. Because of this, some of the features that can be very helpful for pixel art are somewhat hidden, and not well known. I will try to highlight some of these features in a series of blog posts.

Pixel art requires working on your piece at lots of different sizes. Now there is always the navigator, but it offers a very limited, and non-pixel-perfect view,  so you find yourself zooming in and out a lot. This has been known to cause zoom fatigue, a very serious condition that affects 1 in 3 pixel artists. But hark, for I have the cure.

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Photoshop Pixel Art Tips: Animation

Photoshop is a huge, multipurpose program. Because of this, some of the features that can be very helpful for pixel art are somewhat hidden, and not well known. I will try to highlight some of these features in a series of blog posts.

Animation is a pretty common thing in pixel art. Unfortunately Photoshop has a strange way of doing things, and it can be confusing to figure out how it works.

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Photoshop Pixel Art Tips: Drawing Straight Lines

Photoshop is a huge, multipurpose program. Because of this, some of the features that can be very helpful for pixel art are somewhat hidden, and not well known. I will try to highlight some of these features in a series of blog posts.

Drawing straight pixel perfect lines can take FOREVER. If you’re still using the pencil too to create lines one pixel at a time, there is an easier way, and this is for you.

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Photoshop Pixel Art Tips: Isometric Grids

Photoshop is a huge, multipurpose program. Because of this, some of the features that can be very helpful for pixel art are somewhat hidden, and not well known. I will try to highlight some of these features in a series of blog posts.

Isometric grids can be very helpful for creating isometric pixel art. They will help you draw straight lines and keep your objects aligned. Here I will teach you how to create your own. Below is an example I drew up in just a few minutes using an isometric grid I created.

Isomentric Grid Example

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How To Make Pixel Fonts Tutorial

I have searched high and low for a way to make pixel fonts, and let me tell you, it’s a cold, unpixelated world out there. People are making the tools, but they either aren’t meant for pixel fonts, or aren’t worth the price. So after searching for long time, here is everything I’ve learned.

FontStruct

The first pixel font creator is FontStruct. It is a free, easy to use, online font creator. With this tool you create your fonts out of blocks of all different shapes on a grid. The default shape is a square, which just happens to be what shape pixels are! How convenient!

The interface is easy to understand, and while it may not be as high powered as Photoshop, I think it will give you everything you need.

Making A Pixel Font In FontstructThey support every character set you could imagine, and once you’re done, you can either publish it to their website or download the font as a .TTF TrueType Font file, and do whatever you want with it.

I created my pixel font called Renew using FontStruct a couple years ago, and it has fives of thousands of downloads. You could be famous like me!

http://fontstruct.com/

BitFontMaker 2

Now the one tiny downside to FontStruct is that you need to sign up. If you are better than everyone, or that’s just too much for you, luckily this tool has you covered. Just click the link, and you’re making a font.

Making A Pixel Font In Bitfontmaker2The interface is a tad less feature complete, but you can’t beat the simplicity.

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