Pixel art is having something of a renaissance. A throwback to vintage arcade games such as Pacman and Space Invaders, a whole new generation of digital artists are seeking to recreate some of the beauty of this 8-bit universe. In an age of high definition televisions and 50 megapixel camera sensors, pixel art seeks to take things back to where it all began, one pixel at a time.
A real boost to pixel art fans came with last week’s release of Pixelmash 2020, a creative suite for pixel art creators seeking to pixellise their artworks. Something of a newbie on the market, Pixelmash seeks to rival the likes of Asprite and Pro Motion, both hugely popular among pixel and sprite artists. Developed by Nevercenter, and available to download on Steam, this new addition includes a bunch of new features that takes this fledgling piece of software to the next level.
The new version allows the user to paint or import high-resolution artwork and then non-destructively pixellise it, animate layers using transforms, and apply advanced layer effects with less time-consuming 'blocks' in the process.
Hi-res layers can be mixed with traditional hand-drawn pixel-by-pixel layers, while intricate objects can be rotated without losing detail. Complex effects being applied non-destructively gives you borders which auto-update when contents move, which is a fantastic new addition.
A few of the awesome ways Pixelmash make it easier to produce great pixel art include:
The ability to create rigged (moveable) characters using parented layers for easy character animation with keyframes.
Being able to create template files with layers and effects pre-set-up to help get set up as soon as possible
The capability to mix and match traditional pixel-perfect and dynamic-resolution layers.
Importing high-res art, animating it with transforms, and using layer effects for outlines and other effects.
Nevercenter released a short video on their Youtube channel, which gives a brief overview of these new features, and - if you’re new to the world of pixel art - a fun introduction to the design process.
As production studios face a lengthy hiatus to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re excited to see animators rise to the challenge to provide us with some great art and entertainment. And, as we’re all (hopefully) emerging from lockdown with a whole set of new skills and hobbies, the release of Pixelmash 2020 has come at just the right time for those trying to immerse themselves in the world of art and animation.
Pixelmash is available for USD $25 as a cross-platform license for Windows and MacOS via nevercenter.com/pixelmash. It can also be purchased on the Mac App Store and Steam (pricing and license options may vary per platform).
By Richard Oxley