How can I make a stroke look pixellated like this in Photoshop CS6?

pixellated border

I'm talking about the sign's border specifically (not the text). Ideally I don't want to have to manually draw the pixels, so it's repeatable at different sizes.


2 Answers 2


After a fair amount of fussing around with slight tweaks here and there, I was able to achieve something similar, using 36 Pixels/Inch for the image resolution.

I think there is a sweet spot between 29 - 40 PPI that will provide the best results, but I don't have all day to experiment.

The slightly tricky bit is if you want to start it as a larger image. I created it with exactly the number of pixels I could count on the actual object which was 25 x 198, it allowed me to apply a 1px Stroke to match what I can see in your example. Now, if you wanted to create it at three times the size, you would have to triple the stroke size to.

That's why I recommend creating it with the exact amount of pixels and scaling up when you save.

There are repeatable ways to achieve this, but no matter what, if you want exactly those results in your example, it will take a fair bit of tweaking.

Removing Anti-Aliasing where you can, on the type specifically, makes it far more possible. I used Arial, and after trying various transformations, I'm fairly certain it isn't Arial in your picture. It's definitely easier to use a purposefully pixelated font as Scott suggests.

You can then scale it up when saving, make sure to use the Nearest Neighbour quality option otherwise it will apply a lot of anti-aliasing.

Also, the gradient appears to be custom made.

Pixelated Image

As per the method in the very similar question linked to this one, using a Drop-Shadow and adjusting the Contour achieves a better effect than the stroke, using the settings you can see in this screenshot:


This is the final result using the drop-shadow method:

Pixelated Image - Second Method

If you look closely at the corners, the drop shadow method achieves tighter, thinner corners with less aliasing.

  • This works kind of, but it's pretty blurry. You're right about it being difficult to reproduce at larger sizes.
    – Dcritelli
    Sep 16, 2013 at 14:40

You will have to draw the edges that way, or find a pixel font without any anti-aliasing (for the text).

Great pixel fonts at http://www.fontsforflash.com/

For the stroke....

It's really a simple matter to grab the Rectangle Shape Tool, tick the Align Edges option on the Control Bar and set the Shape Mode to Combine, then zoom in and draw rectangles. It only takes a few moments.....

Drawn Shape

And once you do this you can enlarge all you want and retain the edges....


In addition, you can use Edit > Define Custom Shape... to save this shape and reuse it later easily. Like all vector shapes, There's no worry about ppi of the image, layer styles, anti-aliasing... or really any of the other inherent issues with pixels if you utilize vector layers this way. The vector layer will work on any image regardless of resolution, color mode, etc.

  • This makes me sad
    – Dcritelli
    Sep 12, 2013 at 19:08
  • @Dcritelli Not sure why this makes you sad. I've added a bit more to my answer. It took me about 1 minute to draw the shape using the Rectangle Shape Tool.
    – Scott
    Sep 13, 2013 at 10:24
  • Heh, my guess was that the Flash website you linked to made him sad...
    – Brendan
    Sep 14, 2013 at 22:29
  • I misunderstood what you meant by draw. I was thought you meant manually drawing the corners which would be nearly impossible to do reliably with any speed.
    – Dcritelli
    Sep 16, 2013 at 13:40
  • Also, I don't understand how this is supposed to work. Clicking align pixel grid doesn't seem to change how the rectangle is drawn.
    – Dcritelli
    Sep 16, 2013 at 14:34

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