I've been noticing a lot of really nice, blocky, pixelated images used in design projects in recent years and just wondering if anyone has any suggestions on how to create similar effects?

So far the process I have come up with is to design your graphics at whatever resolution you want, then place them into a low-resolution photoshop document and drag from there into illustrator to vectorize.

This is pretty long-winded though and requires quite a lot of trial and error to get good results so I just wonder if anyone knows of any plugins that might do the trick, or at least a faster approach?

I have attached some examples to show what I mean, looking forward to hearing from anyone who has ideas on thisenter image description here

1 Answer 1


You could use Photoshop for the whole design, avoiding the need to vectorise anything in Illustrator:

  1. Begin with a small document, for example 100 x 100px.

  2. Use the Pencil Tool to create the pixel art, set text anti-aliasing to none, etc.

  3. When you've finished convert all content to a Smart Object.

  4. In Preferences > General, set Image Interpolation to "Nearest Neighbour"

  5. Back in the main document increase the canvas size for a high resolution document.

  6. Add a green fill for the background

  7. Scale the smart object

  8. Add some more anti-aliased text

Example showing large high resolution, document with lower resolution Smart Object rescaled using interpolation set to "Nearest Neighbour", and opening the Smart Object.

enter image description here

One benefit of using a Smart Object is that it's non-destructive, so all the artwork and text contained within it is still editable as pixel art.

  • Hey, this was super helpful thank you! Using the nearest neighbor function I'm also able to scale pixelated graphics to a quality that does allow me to trace them into vectors in Illustrator so you have solved both my problems. Many thanks! Commented Nov 18, 2019 at 23:10

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