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I'm starting to learning pixel art and I have doubts.

My idea is do something like this:

enter image description here

The pixel is perfectly defined. I'm trying to do this in Photoshop and I cannot do it unless point by point with the pencil set to 1 px square. But I want to do, for example, a perfect pixel art circumference with the ellipse tool, and I have this:

enter image description here

The pixel is not definted with the perfect white. It creates shadows and lights.

With Filter > Pixelation > Mosaic happens the same; not perfect defined and contrasted pixelation, but with shadows and lights.

What do you recommend me? Use another software to create pixelart? Use a different process in Photoshop?

Thank you!

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    Pixel by pixel is how it's done if the desire is quality work.
    – Scott
    Sep 29, 2022 at 12:35
  • Not asked, but you may get interested in using existing images as converted to pixel art. That subject is discussed for ex here. graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/155972/… Check also the comments. Generally a competent pixel artists do the conversion manually much better than any filtering.
    – user82991
    Sep 29, 2022 at 14:56

2 Answers 2

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The purist's answer would be that if you use a tool to draw the circle, it's not pixel art: every pixel should be placed by hand. I'm not that much of a purist, but the underlying philosophy is valid: good pixel art has all its pixels placed deliberately.

So, the blunt answer would be to put in the work and learn to draw circles by hand, pixel by pixel. This image is great reference for symmetrical circles of different sizes.

The more pragmatic solution is what user287001 suggests: using all your tools with the anti-alias set to none and any Interpolation (when transforming) to 'nearest neighbor'. Both of these settings will prevent Photoshop from drawing pixels of an intermediate colour you haven't asked for.

Even dedicated pixel tools like Aseprite have tools like circle, and they will by default be set to no anti-aliasing and nearest neighbour.

I myself have used both Photoshop and Aseprite for pixel art, and each has their pros and cons.

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  • That's a good point. I take note of it. Thank you for your help and I'm going to try Aseprite. Sep 29, 2022 at 14:25
  • To be honest they were drawn pixel by pixel because that was mostly the only way to get what you wanted
    – joojaa
    Sep 29, 2022 at 14:56
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Low resolution pixel perfect circles are crunchy, but they are possible in Photoshop. See the next image:

enter image description here

It was drawn by using the ellipse tool in fill pixels mode, antialiasing was turned OFF. There's several ways to add a pixel perfect stroke. One possibility:

enter image description here

The blue area was selected by clicking the layer icon in the Layers panel and by holding the Ctrl-key at the same time.

The selection was expanded by 1 pixels. A new bottom layer was inserted and the selection was filled with the paint bucket (no anti-alias, tolerance=255)

There are better programs for pixel art. The starting point in them is "this is for pixel art". There for ex. an one pixel wide curve or line doesn't leak when one wants to fill an area. I shouldn't advertise any programs because spammers lose easily their accounts here, but check for ex. Aseprite.

Note: Pixel artists draw their shapes so that they do not look ugly like my pixel perfect circle. That's all about the artistic ability to select forms and colors so that there's in the same time the wanted content and an illusion of achieved smoothness. Every detail may look coarse in isolation, but as a whole the image may still look fine. If you want to reach it you really do not want especially little.

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  • Thank you. Yes, I know pixel art is hard to learn but I love it and I'm prepare to spend time for having good skills. Sep 29, 2022 at 13:59
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    Even though it has the right non-AA aesthetics, the circle you obtained here still isn't very good from a pixel art perspective. Note how asymmetrical it is: the top flat edge is about 12px wide, and the bottom one is only 6. Best way to go about pixel art is to do it by hand or use dedicated pixel art software. Aseprite is a great suggestion.
    – Vincent
    Sep 29, 2022 at 14:05
  • It happens to have the diameter = an odd number of pixels. It cannot be symmetric.
    – user82991
    Sep 29, 2022 at 14:11

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