Sunday, June 16, 2013

Using GIMP for learning and working with Pixel-Art

I have been using gimp for pixel-art and it works great with almost everything i needed for pixel-art. Even more than that!

I have written a tutorial how gimp can be used for pixel-art with some techniques to enhance pixel-art work.

Please download the tutorial in PDF format for offline use:


Or online version below:

Setup GIMP for pixelart work
  1. Start GIMP ( v2.8 recommended )
  2. Create new project 32x32 with background transparent.
  3. Zoom-in till the working canvas gets screen-fit size.
  4. Select pencil tool with black foreground color (default).
  5. Choose any brush which doesn't has blur. Simply select the black circle without blur.
  6. Now set brush size to 1 pixel in GIMP 2.8 OR minimum scale in GIMP 2.6.

Now the above steps have made a pixel art environment in GIMP.

Setup color palettes
  1. Go to any of your favorite TAB ( layers tab at right is recommended ) and click [<| ] button which shows tooltip “configure this tab”. See following image:

  1. Click -> Add Tab -> Palettes. Same way add FG/BG color

  1. Always work in Greyscale using Greys (32) palette. Click this palette then switch to FG/BG Tab pane. You will get black to white color in order.
  2. Why greyscale only? Its because realism doesn't reside in colors but number of colors. Doesn't a black & White image look real? It does. Therefore work in greyscale without caring colors just focus on shading and dithering then after completion give colors using fills or “select by color tool”.
  3. Instead of selecting darker OR lighter color from color chooser just change the Opacity of the selected color. E.g. Use black color over lighter backgrounds with varying opacity to get desired black/grey color.
  4. Another fast way of getting similar colors to image is to pick colors from the image itself using “color picker tool”.
  5. To get dispersed pixel like spray set “Apply Jitter” checked with desired value.

How to get pixelart samples?
This can be done easily using GIMP. Following steps will let you get loads of pixelarts from images/wallpapers we have.

  1. Import/Open any camera picture in GIMP.
  2. Resize to acceptable size so that image becomes pixelated but clearly recognisable.
  3. Now click in menu Image => Mode => Indexed => Generate Optimum palette with maximum 256 colors.
  4. This will reduce total colors used by the image. This can make image low-colored but this is exactly what we wanted. Because most of pixelart is done with 256 colors only.
  5. Now look at the parts of image how the pixels are organised :)

Indexed image will not offer flexible alpha values, only visible OR invisible pixel are there. To edit indexed image convert it back into RGB format.

Few pixarts i made in GIMP :