Even though the gaming industry has come a long way from those boxy 8-bit graphics, retro games are still popular. If you ever wondered about creating your own pixel art or sprites for yourself then this would be a good place to start. Sure, you can create your own pixel-style art in Photoshop or use this $4 plugin to make things easier. But using this plugin still requires a significant amount of Photoshop experience to achieve the desired results, that’s why, I’ve made a list of best pixel art apps which would help you create 8bit style pixel art on Android, iOS, and the web. Let’s begin.
Best Pixel Art Apps
Best for new users
Dotpict is a simple pixel art editor which lets you create 8bit style art from scratch. You get a square canvas with a customizable layout. The tools in the app include a brush tool, eraser, a color picker, bucket, and a complete color wheel. Just point the cursor to a pixel and tap the big button to fill it with color. You can directly save the project to your Photos app or share it within the app or to your social media. The app is free on the Play Store, the App Store and has ads.
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Best for people who want an advanced Pixel Art app
If you want to get serious with your pixel art and want an advanced pixel art editor then give this a try. Powered by unity, you get a pixelated UI which fits well with the theme. Along with all the standard tools you get on every pixel art editor, you also get advanced tools like layers, canvas resizing, symmetry tools, transparency options, etc. You can move around the canvas, zoom in and out easily with the trackball and a slider. The selection tool lets you copy parts of the canvas and paste it anywhere on the canvas.
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Pixelheart is intended for game designers but you can use it to fill your Instagram page with slick artwork as well. The app is free on the Play Store but if you’re on iOS, you can install Pixelable on your iPhone and iPad. Pixelable is almost similar to Pixelheart in terms of features and functionality.
Install Pixelheart (free, Android)
3. Pixel Station
Best for animating Pixel Art
Okay, you’ve created your first-pixel art and it looks great. Now, we’ll move a step ahead and animate the art. It works just like a stop motion app if you’ve ever used one. The 8bit canvas editor is the same as the previous app, with the same controls, brushes, and tools. The animation tab lets you duplicate the frame and make adjustments to create a moving image. You can set the delay time, add copy frames, and adjust the position of each frame. The most intuitive part about the animation tab is that you get a translucent image of the previous frame which makes it easier to make changes on the current frame.
The app is free on the Play Store and would be a great app if you want to dabble in animating pixel art. However, if you want an iOS equivalent app, Pixcel is the closest option.
Install Pixel Station (free, Android)
4. Pixel Paint
Best for Animating Real-world objects
Let’s say you want to animate a real-world object in 8bit layout then you can simply capture the image using the smartphone camera and then start editing using the inbuilt editor. The app lets you capture an image in four different retro layouts namely, Gameboy, Dot Matrix, MSX, and C64. After capturing the image, you can open the file in the editor and make changes accordingly.
Pixel paint is iOS exclusive but you can check out 8Bit Photo lab to capture Retro style images on your Android phone but you won’t get a pixel editor on this app.
Install Pixel Paint (free, iOS)
Best for generates 8bit avatars
Bitface has 18 different avatars and you can change the appearance on every single one of them. For example, I have brown skin, a beard, and short hair, I can simply choose one that resembles these features and edit those features. You can change the face, shirt, jacket, hair, and glasses. After you’re done, save the avatar to your Camera roll using the share button.
Install Bitface (free, iOS)
Best for iPad users
Pixaki is designed for iPad and comes with the Pencil support. It’s a full-fledged app comparable with desktop apps like Aseprite in terms of features. You get features like image import, transform, resize, onion layers, animation, etc. You can animate high frame-density animation with up to 50 FPS. Pixaki has a few different color palettes which you can switch any time. What makes this tool better is the file import feature, it can import layered PSDs, GIFs, Sprite sheets, PNG, and Zip.
Pixaki is the best tool to create beautiful isometric scenery, animated sprites, and pixel art. The added Pencil support seals the deal, you can get this app for $24.99 on the iPad.
Install Pixaki ( $24.99, iPadOS)
Best for Web users
We’ve checked out apps for both Android and iOS, although you can do some serious artwork on your phone, a computer makes more sense when you want to go full out. Piskel is a professional pixel art editor for the web. You can create stills and animations in the online editor and use keyboard shortcuts to quickly toggle between tools. You can easily animate frames using the onion options with a preview of the resultant sprite on the side. Transforming functions are easy and you can flip, rotate, align, and clone frames with dedicated buttons. You can save the project locally in the proprietary format or export in standard formats like PNG, GIF, Zip, etc. Piskel is free and open-sourced with ads.
Visit Piskel (web)
Best 8Bit Pixel Art Apps
These were my picks for the best apps to help you create your first project. You can use these apps to recreate your favorite moments from retro games or even better do a crossover. Pixel editors are available in hundreds if not in thousands all over the internet and this list sums it up for all the major platforms. However, you can try Aseprite if you want to design a retro game as it has all the tools built right in. Which apps do you use, let us know in the comments below?