If you are engaged in creating mobile games, cartoons and other content that requires pixelated graphics, you definitely need the best pixel art software. Finding the one on your own may be a time-consuming task, so we have described the most efficient programs you can use to produce cool pixelated images, GIF animations, and sprites.
The best software for pixel art should have all the necessary tools and features, which allow you to achieve the desired result whenever you use them. This includes various drawing instruments, adjustable color palettes, live preview, and some advanced functions like adding pixelated texts, filters, tilemap processing, and onion skinning. The overview below provides the description of the top 11 software you can use for creating pixelated images for your projects.
Verdict: Though Photoshop wasn’t intentionally designed as a program for pixel art, it has many handy tools that you can use for this purpose. For example, the Pencil Tool and a timeline facilitate the process of creating pixelated elements and allow outputting them as GIFs or in MP4 format.
Besides, Ps supports layers and allows you to develop and edit pixel art characters with utmost precision. Other handy tools you may take advantage of are brushes, color palettes, and textures. Moreover, Photoshop is ranked as one of the best programs for pixel art because its functionality can be extended with the help of plug-ins.
Verdict: GIMP is one of the free pixel art programs that attracts users with the possibility to work without installing it on a computer. The software has different painting and editing instruments that are optimized for work with pixel art, photo manipulation, and even graphic design. Thus, you can benefit from the toolset if you work in several design spheres and don’t want to jump from several programs.
You can use a convenient timeline to produce pixel sprites for games with ease, while an integrated player is absolutely great for viewing your animated characters. Another advantage of GIMP is that it supports different plug-ins, so you can upload the proper ones and speed up your workflow even more.
Verdict: Krita is a photo editor with open source code, which you can also use for your pixel art and illustration needs. The variety of cool brushes each of which has a preview mode adds diversity to the animation process. You can easily find an ideal brush for a certain task. Besides, experienced users can create their own brushes.
Similar to Adobe Photoshop, Krita pixel art software supports layers and allows performing merging, blending, and grouping with ease. Here you can create different types of layers – paint, vector, fill, and file layers. Besides, Krita read Ps-native files, so you can start working in Photoshop and then switch to Krita.
Verdict: Pixlr is a web-based program highly popular among users engaged in creating animation. Though it works online, the developers took great care of security measures so you can be sure no one ever gets access to your project. Another handy feature is that Pixlr pixel art program automatically saves your progress in case of internet connection drops.
Using the available tools, you can cope with most design tasks. Here you can find all sorts of brushes, customizable color palettes, pencils, eraser tool, filters, ink instruments, and more. In addition to the regular toolset, the software offers Ps-like instruments – Magic Wand, layers, and Lasso. Besides, you can replace colors without free of charge.
Verdict: Choosing Pyxel Edit, you get not only a powerful program for producing awesome pixel art works, but also the one suitable to make a photo mosaic and edit it if needed. The software is supplied with tools aimed at creating static pixel art and animated sprites. You can upload ready-to-use tilesets and mockups, and the software will apply them automatically.
What sets this program apart from similar software is the possibility to work with tile references. In other words, you can edit links without replacing the entire tile. Moreover, a built-in tile editor allows you to create tilesets for your environment and levels, and then adjust them in accordance with iterating level design.
Verdict: GraphicsGale pixel art software is packed with top-tier drawing and animation tools that allow fulfilling the most complicated tasks with ease. Thanks to the adjustable color palettes, you can get an ideal hue for your project and preview the result in real time.
Artists who like creating sketches on paper and then turn them into a digital form can make good use of the software. There is also the TWAIN imaging option, which allows importing photos from a scanner or a camera. When you’ve finished, you can save sprite sheets and animations in PNG or GIF formats. However, mind that the program works only on Windows computers and the interface may seem really dated.
Verdict: Pixel art Aseprite program is a frequent choice of novice users, who want to create catchy animations without tackling with numerous settings. There is a traditional set of instruments that you can use to create sprites and animations. The purpose-built pixel mode adds smoothness and accuracy to the process of drawing shapes and lines.
The program is crammed with different features needed to master the art of creating pixelated images – onion skinning option, the possibility to see all the frames of animation, export the entire sprite sheet, save projects as GIFs and more. You can test the capabilities of the software for free and they spend $15 to continue using it.
Verdict: Not only is this feature-rich photo mosaic software, but also a wonderful program for sprite animating and tileset editing. It has advanced layer effects, color settings, instruments to draw tiles, automatic dithering and more.
Similar to other pixel art software, this one is available as a free trial version and ф full-featured paid program. Thus, you can test the functionality for free and then get more profound features on a paid basis. After paying, you’ll be able to change keyboard shortcuts, open several projects simultaneously, use automatic backups, and more. Though the program is designed for Windows devices, you can run it on macOS via Wine simulator.
Verdict: The program is an ideal choice for an average user as it has all the necessary basic tools for creating static pixel images. It works online and keeps your project protected even if there are some problems with the Internet connection.
Novice users often consider it the best program for pixel art, because it is designed in a straightforward way and also has an open community gallery where people share their photo manipulation ideas and get inspired by other works. You can easily create interesting pixel art pieces thanks to a collection of drawing tools (pencils, brushes, etc.) and customizable color palettes. The highlight of the software is its Tune composer highly appreciated by game developers, who need to make sound effects for games.
Verdict: This is a straightforward pixel art program that is also used as a free mosaic maker online and offline. If you decide on the online version, mind that it is optimized for Windows devices only, while the downloadable one works smoothly on Windows, Mac, and Linux platforms.
Piskel is fitted with regular tools for creating animation, exporting sprite sheets, and producing static images. Though some users may call it a bit limited, everything needed for pixel art is presented here. Anyway, it appeals to people with a comprehensible interface and neatly arranged tools.
Verdict: Pixilart is often called the best pixel art software by game creators and design enthusiasts. It keeps attracting more and more users with an extending set of basic and advanced tools.
You can resort to the program if you need to create pixel drawings, such as sprites, GIF animations, and even pixel texts. All the tools here are customizable to assist you in different types of projects. Once you are done creating the pixel art pieces, you can view the result in a full-screen mode. All in all, there are many handy features and instruments that are bound to satisfy both beginner and professional needs.